May 15, 2012

Summer Fashion in Japan

I have class at 9am every morning, and this is my typical routine: wake up at 8am, grab a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, slap on some make up, and check Facebook while eating breakfast. I leave my apartment at 8.45am, just as the Kandai-mae train pulls into the station, unloading about half of the student population. I join the mob of students, and we all snake our way up the hill to Kansai University.
Outside the Library at Kansai University
I always feel really inadequate during these daily walks to university. See, it's not like back home in New Zealand, where students wear leggings, puffer jackets and jandals to class (hell, I've seen people in pyjama pants). In Japan, university is the equivalent of a Nicki Minaj concert. Everyone looks fabulous. The walk up to Kandai is a sea of leather, lace and sequins - and that's just the boys!

I'm joking. Sort of. Japanese boys are noticeably fashion conscious. They will regularly wear suits to class, and snappy, expensive looking shoes. And the hair. We have a hair salon on campus, and I was in there one day waiting for Ryan to get his hair cut. There was a guy sitting next to me who had the most perfect locks I have ever seen. No idea why he needed to get his hair re-done. He kept fiddling with it as he waited, looking at himself adoringly in the mirror, tilting his head at different angles and making a pouty face. He was clearly obsessed, and I'm willing to bet he spends more time in that salon than in class.

It's the girls who really fascinate me. They get so dressed up for class. Almost all Japanese girls wear painful looking high heels to university each day. And when I say high heels, I mean sky-high stilettos that are made for clubbing. I just love the thought process behind these choices. 'Ooh, history class today... I know! I'll wear my Jimmy Choos.'

I'm quite happy wearing my converse sneakers. But if I wanted to, I could upsize to a scary looking platform sneaker. I'm having Spice Girl flashbacks so bad right now.

Summer trends in Japan are easy to pick up on, mainly because girls in Japan follow them religiously. Magazines just have to say the key word - for example, 'DENIM' - and suddenly, like magic, everyone is wearing something denim. Denim shirts, jackets and dresses are huge right now.

Another trend that a lot of Japanese girls are wearing are 'tattoo tights'. These are stockings that have tattoo designs on them so it looks like you have tattoos on your legs. Funky and rebellious!

Something interesting about summer fashion in Japan is that a lot of it is aimed at preventing exposure to the sun. While western countries find a suntan attractive, Japan (and Asia in general, I presume) see pale skin as highly desirable. Instead of fake tan, they sell skin whiteners. When it's a hot, sunny day, many women will actually carry umbrellas to shade themselves. I've even seen girls wearing face masks, the sort people wear when they have a cold, to hide their faces from the sun.

Surprisingly, one sun-smart accessory that hasn't caught on is sunglasses. I hardly ever see Japanese people wearing them. I asked my friend why, and he said sunglasses are seen as something that only 'Yakuza, rich people, and gaijin' wear. I wondered if I was being rude by wearing sunglasses, but my friend assured me no, I wasn't, but I was just acting like a stereotypical foreigner.

What a tourist.
I recently donned a pair of (ridiculously huge) sunglasses on a trip to Nara. It was a really sunny day, so I thought, why not. There were a lot of middle school students on a field trip in Nara that day, and my sunglasses became a topic of fascination. A group of boys came up to me, and one of them said 'Gaga, Gaga, I love you!' Then two groups of girls asked in giggly English if they could take photos with me. Oh, it was awkward. And I'm still not sure if being compared to Lady Gaga is a compliment. But hey. Sometimes it's fun to live the life of the rich and famous.


  1. I knew that the Japanese were into their fashion but wearing stilettos to class blows my mind lol. But then again, when my little sister was in high school she did the same thing. I like the tights and the denim though. At least they look good :D haha.

  2. Gaga? So the Japanese think you have a tiny penis?

  3. This is awesome, i am actually kind of jealous of you right now! I'd love to get all dressed up everyday but cause no one else does, i don't :( You should wear sunnies all the time, it might catch on and you could be the beginning of a HUGE fashion trend!

  4. Love this post!! Hilarious... and so true. I do like getting dressed up and living in Japan allows me to do so, but sometimes it's over the top, and if I dress casual I feel out of place. I remember, when I lived in Osaka I used to work at a kindergarten. I'd take the train dressed in jeans and Converse and all the meticulously dressed girls, with their impeccable styles made me feel like a lumberjack. Ha.

  5. Great post on Summer fashion! I didn't know that sunglasses weren't part of their everyday wardrobe.

  6. The darker your eye colour, the less sensitive you are too light so Japanese girls don't need to wear sunglasses as much as we do. That could be one of the reasons they aren't so popular. Some of the fake glasses (the ones that actually have glass in them) offer some sun protection though.

    Tattoo tights - they look more like you've drawn on your legs with sharpie pen. Still like to get a pair though :)

  7. I really like the look of those leggings! Glad you could post about them.