Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Meditation: Fashion


Something I am really not competent to discuss, unlike the other topics where I am now a non-resident expert. However, I love to people watch and try and make sense of what I am seeing. Here are some (? surely not all, the boy just goes on and on and on!) of my general observations:

• The youth of Tokyo is way more fashion-forward than anywhere else we visited on this trip. The casual young men were very hip western-looking, jeans and tops, some baseball style hats, and hoodies, not quite as unkempt as you might see in a large city in the US (no shorts, not as many t-shirts).
• The guys in Kyoto (as noted before) really wore more outlandish (to me) haircuts and would be out-of-place in Tokyo (or anywhere else, for that matter).
• Only on Sundays did we see more than a few women of a certain age wearing kimonos. However, when we did see women in kimonos they did not seem out of place, certainly not garish, and not particularly “in costume,” possibly because these weren’t their finest ones, usually in muted colors and not outrageous bows in the back.
• The young women, particularly in Tokyo, (overall, probably ages 13-30) were not averse to wearing very short skirts, sometimes with leggings, sometimes not, and a lot of time with some form of tall socks, usually black. Every once in a while there would be a real short skirt with frills (or white lace), again with or without tights or leggings.
• Women in jeans with a blouse or tee tucked in was NOT very common. Women in scoop necks also not very common, sleeveless blouses not common.
• A number of times we saw (usually young) women walking as if disabled. Their high heels were clearly way to tall and they walked as if hobbled into a weird S shape. If I wasn’t paying attention, at first I thought they were trying to walk without a cane. Seriously!
• In Tokyo, we saw young men wearing boots or shoes with amazingly long toes, so long they almost looked like something from a circus.
• Dress casual has not come to Tokyo. Men were dressed more casually elsewhere; in Tokyo the dark suit or gray suit (less prevalent) and white shirts and not particularly bold ties were everywhere, all the time. Sometimes in restaurants we would see men take off their suit jacket, rarely in public. Not too many three-piece suits, sometimes a sports coat instead of a suit jacket.
• The women generally wore muted colors, and a number of younger women wore muted printed dresses (or long dress tops with jeans or pants underneath). This was a very common look, sort of like Laura Ashley done in soft colors.
• A number of men and even more women had “henna’d” their hair, a brown look that was so common in Tokyo it probably accounted for 10-15% of the people. The henna’d hair was often longer than others, though not every time. Very short hair on women was uncommon, not uncommon on the guys. We only saw a few “punk” hairdos. No Elvis impersonators!
• In general, the population is pretty thin. We saw more overweight people in Tokyo than elsewhere, and of the school kids we saw as groups, maybe one in 15-20 kids or so is a lot larger than the others. That actually seemed a higher percentage than in the general population.
• As noted earlier, there are many more women wearing short-shorts than in the US, even in really cold or rainy weather. How many? Enough!
• Service people (e.g., someone behind a counter) almost always was in uniform, and uniforms in general were big, and wearing a cap (more like a pilot’s hat) was also very common. In fact, the high school boys wear sort of a militaristic uniform, and the one day we saw three or four of them holding sticks (the size of canes) made me very nervous (teens with weapons). However that was just my projection, there is no hint of violence anywhere and things left out are still going to be there when the owners return for them. This is a very safe and friendly and helpful place to travel (major side-benefit of never knowing how to get somewhere).

I have probably (assuredly) missed or misinterpreted or misstated a bunch of stuff DB would get right, and for that I apologize!

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