Posts Tagged ‘山ガール’

Trends in Japan 2010: yama boom

Monday, December 20th, 2010

The phrases “yama girl” and “power spot” both appeared in Jiyu Kokuminsha’s list of the year’s popular Japanese expressions, reflecting the fact that during 2010 Japan’s hills were alive with hordes of young female hikers. These women, attracted by the promise of powering up on spiritual energy, while sporting fashionable threads, were dubbed yama gaaru (mountain girls) by the media and have fueled what’s been called the yama boom.

Yama girls united

Yama girls unit

Companies have been quick to cash in on the trend. Alpine-wear makers have  rolled out new lines with the stylin’ hiker in mind. Hotel Nikko in Nara is unveiled a yama girl plan, offering a discount for female hiking groups. Yama girls also have their very own magazine called Randonnée, which features articles on mountain fashion as well as the more practical aspects of hiking.

When they hit the countryside trails mountain girls wear sensible footwear and bright leggings coupled with cute short skirts. Some like this look so much that they wear it out in Tokyo’s concrete jungle.

Some  alpinists have said, however, that the city streets is where novice hikers should stay. The veterans’ warnings about the volatile weather conditions of Japan’s rugged mountains were proven right a couple of months ago when a group of young hikers got stuck on Mount Sawaguchi  in Kawanehoncho, Shizuoka Prefecture. According to Sankei News, the group of two women and three men were on a yamakon (mountain climbing group blind date), when a sudden change in the weather made them lose their way. Having no map nor compass, they were unable to find their way back to the relatively easy hiking course. Fortuntately, they were rescued two days after they went missing.

If only they had had Mapion’s new cell-phone 3D maps, which went on the market on Oct. 27, just a couple of days before they set off on their hike. The CG-illustrated maps, made to appeal to a younger generation of climbers, are reported to be visually stunning and give the user an easy-to-navigate view of the terrain.

Beautiful scenery is not the only pull of mountain climbing. Another attraction is the power spot, places that are purported to posses large amounts of spiritual energy. Earlier this year we wrote about the increasing growth of this trend and the publishing boom in books about power spots.

According to an article published yesterday in the Yomiuri Online, the power-spot trend shows no sign of abating and large numbers of young visitors continue to visit famous sites in search of enlightenment. While it’s now getting a bit too cold to hike up Japan’s mountains to gather spiritual energy, other urban power spots, such as Meiji Shrine, are still enjoying healthy numbers of visitors.

The new/old face of fashion: oji-girls

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Old-man cute

Old-man cute

The dapper old gents of Tokyo may may want to lock up their closets till the latest fashion wave passes. Their time-worn basics are new again for young women getting into one of this fall’s fashion looks: “old-man cute.” Boxy beige jackets, baggy trousers with suspenders, tweedy vests and wingtip shoes are all key items. The trend is being called ojikawa, a combination of “uncle” or “old man” and “cute.” The women who wear it have predictably been dubbed “ojigaaru (old-man girls),” adding to the growing list of “~girl” tribes.

As you would expect, the Oji Girl focus is on muted colors and comfortable, often oversized pieces. Oji-pan (oji pants) are rolled up at the ankles and often made to be worn with wide waists gathered with a drawstring, while blazers are roomy to the point of looking droopy. Suspenders (or braces, for you there in the back snickering) come with long pants or shorts or are sold separately. The ensemble can all be topped off with a necktie and some fatherly marumegane.

PS, a magazine aimed at women in their late teens and early twenties, is calling the trend “the next big thing” after Mori Girls, though it’s yet to be seen if the look will resonate with the masses. The magazine advises adding a  “slightly girly touch” to complete the look. They show actress Airi Taira wearing a tweedy outfit that any uncle would be pleased to take his Sunday drive in – except for the long lace shawl layered under the jacket.

Japan’s Women’s Wear Daily also highlighted the outdoor-to-indoor shift in fashion inspiration with a style showdown in its pages. They pit the free-spirited Forest Girls (Mori Gaaru, 森ガール) and spiritual Witch Girls (Majo Gaaru, 魔女ガール) against the granddad-chic Oji Girls.

Shoe store Magical, selling online through Rakuten, has a collection of desert boots with soft rubber soles “recommended for oji-girls.” They come in gray, green, and camel. The popular  women’s brand Snidel has several pieces in the fall/winter lineup that fit the trend, like this button-up vest and these pants with suspenders. How will you know if the clothes you’re eyeing are old-man worthy? Elementary. (Sherlock Holmes would surely be an oji-icon.)  Just keep an eye out for the “oji” prefix. It’s getting stuck in front of anything that can be shoehorned into the trend: Oji shoes, Oji pants, and overall “Oji- style.”

Whether or not people will love the look, it is a trend with budget-friendly potential. The aspiring Annie Halls of Japan could skip the online retailers, boutiques and department stores, and assemble an ensemble from thrift store finds. And of course, there’s always Grampa’s closet.

Yama girls take to the great outdoors

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Randonnee outdoor/fashion magazine demonstrates how trekking can be trendy

Randonnee outdoor/fashion magazine demonstrates how trekking can be trendy

Bugs, sunburn and lack of decent toilet facilities have traditionally kept fashionable young Japanese women from discovering the joys of the great outdoors, but this year – if the media buzz is to be believed – things are changing, as hordes of fledgling female climbers, attracted by magical “power spots” and cute mountain skirts, take to the hills.

This new breed of outdoor women, also predictably called yama gaaru (山ガール、mountain girls), even have their own magazine. Randonnée, a cross between a hiking and fashion magazine, gives tips on how to maintain trail cred at high altitudes. Launched last year, Randonnee celebrated its first birthday in early June with a picnic party on the lawn of Roppongi’s Midtown complex. In addition to checking fashion shows and cute tent displays, aspiring yama girls could learn how to split firewood (presumably without breaking a nail) and how to cook with a gas camping stove.

The hottest item at the show was the mountain skirt, a kind of skirt version of combat pants which, on closer inspection, is not a skirt at all but a pair of shorts with a bit of fabric wrapped round. The skirts are popular because they can be paired up with cute and colorful leggings, making the whole outfit extremely fashionable. Granted, these skirts didn’t originate in Japan, but they have clearly caught on in a big way.

Nikkei Trendy reports that staff at outdoor shops are experiencing high numbers of inquiries from young female shoppers about the mountain skirt. Some more traditional places were rather dismissive of the mountain skirt fashion, pointing out that they aren’t very practical. If you’re climbing Mount Fuji, the temperatures at the top average about 6 degrees Celsius.  Factoring in the wind chill factor, wouldn’t a pair of pants make a lot more sense?

Mount Fuji is reportedly one of Japan’s three main power spots, making it an attractive destination for the female climber. A power spot (pawa-supotto) is a site that is purported to possess great spiritual and healing energy and since the start of the decade, interest in these mystical areas has been growing. These power spots appear to be popular with yama girls, which dovetails nicely with the rise of the so-called witch girls, we reported on earlier this year.

Climbing season for Fuji starts from today; mountain skirts are optional.

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