Sunday, November 04, 2007

Harajuku girl
Originally uploaded by Jonas B

Japan Part 2


One thing that was prevalent across Japan was the amazing sense of style. I found myself many times embarrassed to be donning the same Old Navy shirt, the same clunky red shoes, and the same fluorescent rain shell..yet again. I guess these are the breaks when you are traveling around for 3 weeks living out of your carry on. I was conscious of the style quotient in Japan before we left, so I made an effort to do a little shopping and bought some stylish walking shoes, and some pants other than my staple Levi Jeans, but I think that it is impossible to blend in here, regardless of the steps you take to look somewhat stylish.

On the first day, I pulled out my brand new stylish and comfy walking shoes and found myself cursing under my breath and limping from large blisters within the first hour. Note to self: break in shoes, especially those to be worn without socks. Another note: band-aids don’t stick, but moleskin does. I spent the rest of the trip trying to find the equivalent of moleskin, which I was successful in doing, and it really saved my a** because we walked a lot. A lot.

Women in Tokyo are so stylish and seem to wear anything well. The fad of the moment, while the weather was still somewhat warm, but Fall closing in, was shorts or skirts and high black boots, with a wooly ski hat. I found it somewhat humorous at first, I mean, why wear a ski hat and shorts when you could just put some pants on? Well, that is me…boring and practical me. After a day or so, I started thinking that it was actually kind of cute. All the layering, suspender-skirts, the long sweaters, the shorts, the boots.
And, then, there are the Japanese men. I saw more hair-do’s on the young men than the women. The young men really do it up, I mean, really. I think that they must go through more styling products than the women. It is so different. You see men walking in groups of three or four, checking out the girls, and they each have a different doo going on… puffy, slicked back, mullet-style…you name it.

Halfway through our visit to Tokyo, I decided that I wanted to dress like a Tokyo woman. So, after a long day of walking, I ventured into a cool shop. After grabbing a few things off the hangers, I motioned to the salesperson that I wanted to try them on. Instead of just pointing my way to the room, the woman, took my clothes from me, took everything off the hangers, folded everything nicely and laid everything out in the dressing room for me. When I went to step into the room, with my shoes on, I learned that you don’t do that here. You are to take your shoes off and leave them at the door of the room. The only problem here was that we had been walking all day. I am sure that you can imagine what that might mean in a pair of shoes worn without socks…walking all day, every day? Needless to say, I was horrified that I had to take the shoes off and leave them for all to whiff. So, I tried to mask the stench by placing them face down, cradling each other, and I made my way into the dressing room. As if I wasn’t already embarrassed, the saleswoman came over, and grabbed my shoes to re-arrange them just so, and in the process, she began coughing…presumably from the smell. Then, she started talking to her co-worker and giggling… I was so mortified that I snuck my way out of the dressing room and out the door. (everything was too small anyway..) After this, I was a bit intimidated to repeat the experience. Interesting though, when I did end up trying on more clothes, I found, not surprisingly, that clothes don’t fit the same here. particularly pants. They are made for a shorter more petite woman, and the hems are sewn very differently. Shucks, because there were some cute pants…

On the second to last day of our trip, I remembered that my boss was throwing a Halloween party. I cant believe that I went the whole trip, when I could have been gathering costume pieces along the way. Throughout our travels, we saw many stores toting the young style of the day, which was a lot like the retro-80’s look. On that day in Kyoto, I remembered some styles that we had seen in Tokyo, in the Harajuku district. Harajuku is where all the young kids hang out and on Sundays, many gather along a certain bridge, dressed to the nines. There are a few different styles: punk, goth, kawaii (which means cute, dressed babylike), decora (which means decked out in accessories) and cosplay (which means dressing like an anime character). With all of the creative dress here, I realized that my costume was staring me in the face. So, on our last day, I braved the shops once again, this time with my less offensive shoes…


Bonny said...

Young adults in Japan are so creative and have such a playfulness about their dress.
I love the photo of the Japanese girl...beautiful.
you should not have worried about the smelly shoes. I have done more embarressing things while I was nude in the Japanese baths. American tourists are probably good for many humorous stories among the Japanese.

mindy said...

love the outfit on you and the japanese fun to dress that way!

Sara said...

Hi, I am not responsible for the photo of the Japanese girl..if you click on it, it will take to the talent behind the photo. yes, it was fun to dress the part, and of course, it got me thinking again about dying my hair red...