Fashion and Gender in Japan

I went clothes shopping again today. Not that I really intended to. It just sort of happened. Once again I bought men’s clothing. When I looked briefly in the women’s section at a cute jacket (purple and complete with some kind of animal ears) my friend told me, “That wouldn’t suit you at all.” She was right. Men’s fashion all the way for me.

I have to wonder whether my suitability to Japanese men’s clothing spawns from me looking rather gender ambiguous or whether it’s from the fact that Japanese men’s fashion is so much more feminine than its Western counterparts.

We can use this magazine cover as exhibit A. This is actually the cover of a popular men’s fashion magazine from February of this year. The furry hoods, low-cut and decorated shirts, tight-fitting everything, the dyed hair and the styles that appear to have taken quite some time… These are common-place. I see them constantly on campus. Not that I’m complaining – I enjoy Japanese men’s fashion on men just as much as I enjoy it on myself. Other foreigners aren’t so pleased, however. They want “real men”, or so they tell me.

Whatever floats your boat.

And what do the Japanese girls think of it?

I can’t say I know exactly, but there seems to be mixed feelings about it. There’s plenty of popularity with Western guys, but there is also lots of popularity left for girly-boybands like Arashi, who you literally cannot go anywhere without seeing. Apparently the two most handsome guys in the Arts and Sciences department on the Hiroshima campus (I’m proud to say I’ve met them both) are a guy who spends hours on his hair and a guy who is never seen without a hot pink bear attached somewhere to his body. Yet at the same time, people are saying Korean actors and singers are gaining popularity due to the fact that Koreans tend to have more masculine physiques than Japanese men.

Sure, Koreans are more manly. Sure.

But even if Westerners might consider the men here more on the feminine side, when comparing them to the women, they still have more testosterone. I would venture to say it’s almost rare to see a girl in pants here, and a lack of makeup is unheard of. Apparently there are a fair amount of guys who like screechy, hyper-feminine girls who squeak about how cute something is while tripping over their ten centimeter heels. (So I might not have a favorable opinion about this type.)

In fact, you know how in America the word “cute” can be applied to a person of either gender to express attraction? In Japanese there are two words: かわいい (kawaii), which is applied to girls but can also be used for things like puppies, and かっこいい (kakkoii), which is typically used for guys but can also be used for things, like say, orange Gundams. Earlier this year I asked a guy friend of mine (who carries a man-purse, if you’re wondering about his fashion sense) who the cutest girl in our program was. He said one other girl was the most kawaii, but I was the most kakkoii. This comment has kept me interested since I heard it, and not just because I was complimented.

So there is a gap between the genders.

To be honest, I’m having a bit of a hard time of it with that gap. It’s strange, but much of what I’ve encountered here shows that girls and guys have a large difference in their interests. Outside of club activities I rarely see both genders spending their free time together. As I mentioned in a previous post, the game center rarely has girls. When I go to classes that only Japanese people take, the girls and boys separate themselves to opposite ends of the classroom just like a middle school dance.

Predictably enough I end up in the exact middle of the classroom in this situation. Back in America the majority of my friends were male, but here I feel like I am supposed to make friends with the girls. Again, I don’t mean to complain. I’ve met some very nice girls here. But when I want to spend the night at the game center it gets to be a conflict of interest.


~ by megumiwasframed on December 11, 2010.

5 Responses to “Fashion and Gender in Japan”

  1. It’s all the mercury poisoning, causes faggeotry you know. /random

    • Actually, I made a point of not delving into homosexuality in this post. It’s rather unrelated. (I think I almost made a fairy comment though.)

      • Who said anything bout homosexuality? I’m talking pure faggotry. Fag. Got. Tree. *shot*

        Again, I blame the fish. Mercury leaves no quarter.

  2. also, I like how that magazine cover has “by VICE FAIRY”

    tee hee. “Fairy”

  3. sorry, I just noticed “Black men’s style” on that magazine xP

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