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.
More yama-girl style links: