Everything comes back into fashion. And that includes Japanese loincloths. Fundoshi are usually only seen on the bodies (and buttocks) of men taking part in Japanese festivals or on sumo wrestlers (technically called mawashi).
But how about girls? Yes, fundoshi for women is a thing.
Actually, for the past few years people have been talking about this. Even venerable Japanese subculture guru Danny Choo blogged about it back in 2009.
Wacoal were pretty pioneering in this with their Nana Fun fundoshi for women product back in 2008 (sadly no longer on sale).
It led to the start of a trend and a revival in fortune for fundoshi. The Japan Fundoshi Association was even set up a little while later to promote the loincloth. And if you thought that February 14th was Valentine’s Day, you are very much mistaken. It is (also) Fundoshi Day… since 2013 at any rate.
Retailers have sprung up to cope with the demand. Ai Fun is an online store that specializes in “stylish” fundoshi for women. Odakyu Department Store in Shinjuku has a shop called Desk My Style with around 60 kinds of fundoshi on sale for men and women. Apparently they are popular with women in their thirties. There is even growing interest in the trend in other parts of Japan. A specialist fundoshi select store, Teraya, opened in Nagasaki City last November.
As part of this, we recently saw the release of a “mook” for fundoshi. Mooks are a popular element of the Japanese magazine publishing world, semi-regular magazines or spin-off booklets which often include merchandise. In this case, the Fundoshi Panties Loincloth Underwear Mook includes a pair of fundoshi. While officially unisex, the cover and magazine make it clear that this loincloth is being marketed squarely at the girls.
But fundoshi are not just being promoted for girls (and men) because they are novel or traditional. There are health benefits, such as improved blood circulation. Most importantly, fundoshi loincloths are being suggested as excellent nighttime wear for women to help them sleep.
Morinaga opens pop-up “Kabe-don Cafe” in Harajuku with doll-waiter for seducing women against a wallWritten by: William on October 9, 2014 at 10:25 am | In CULTURE | No Comments
Food maker Morinaga is opening a pop-up cafe that has a special “kabe-don doll” artificial waiter to seduce female patrons.
To celebrate the release of its Cafe Marriage caramel and chocolate pudding dessert on October 7th and the Cafe Marriage Mont Blanc aux marrons and almond pudding on October 14th, Morinaga has decided to create an interactive experience for lonely women who want to get the sensation of being placed against a wall and kissed.
It is opening a pop-up “Melt! Kabe-don Cafe” in Harajuku’s SoLaDo from October 11th for six days, every weekend for the rest of the month. If you go there and try the new Cafe Marriage (that’s marriage in the French sense of the word, meaning a blend), you can then experience kabe-don with a special waiter/doll/mannequin contraption.
We expect most women in other countries would find this creepy but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say. And besides, there are plenty of odd cafes for men to perv over girls in Japan. Why shouldn’t the women get their fantasies realized once in a while?
Kabe-don is a word meaning when a man places his hand against a wall, trapping (in a good way!) his female partner there so he can lean in for a smooch. Okay, when we write it like that it sounds rather scary but you can imagine the pose, right? Of course, it is only a “fantasy” if the guy is a hunk.
Here the look of the “waiter” puppet (does
he it qualify as a “hunk”) is clearly a rift on the butler cosplay cafes that already exist for women who like to be served by a handsome man dressed to the nines like a servant.
Don’t believe us? Watch this promo video.
The kabe-don doll itself (or is it more like a puppet? The word in Japanese is the same, ningyou) is a bit reminiscent of a sex doll, which as we know has more mainstream acceptance in Japan and even appears in promos for major recording artists. Don’t get us wrong — we’re not suggesting that Morinaga’s cafe offers any extras on the menu that involve getting more personal with the artificial waiter! Either way, Morinaga’s “waiter” is definitely in an uncanny valley all of its own.
Try the sweets and kabe-don doll experience at SoLaDo Harajuku on October 11th, October 12th, October 18th, October 19th, October 25th and October 26th.
Japanese women are known for being on the slender side but beauty of course comes in all shapes and sizes. As such, we have seen a shift towards a greater mainstream acceptance of larger ladies in the Japanese fashion world, which is typified by women with spider-thin arms and legs and chopping board-thin bodies.
A pioneer in this was La Farfa, the first fashion magazine in Japan for women who can be described as pocchari — an informal Japanese word that can be translated as “chubby”, though its nuance is not at all negative (quite the opposite, the word often has a cute connotation).
The launch of La Farfa was followed by Japan’s first pocchari fashion show, featuring only women of a certain size range.
And now we have Yumetenbo + plumprimo, a new Android and iPhone app on the Yumetenbo (“Dream Platform”) system that showcases the apparel brand plumprimo, which as its name suggests, is exclusively for plus-size women.
Yumetenbo runs a fashion e-commerce service for women. The new partnership with plumprimo will allow users to search for plus-size plumprimo items on Yumetenbo + and buy them through the Yumetenbo platform. While there are a lot of niches in Japanese fashion and, as we said, you might be forgiven for presuming Japan didn’t have much demand for plus-size digital fashion tools like this, the makers are hoping for 10,000 downloads of the free app in a year.
Here are some examples of plumprimo’s range.
feast by Gomi Hayakawa: Video game-themed fashion show for lingerie brand for women with modest chestsWritten by: William on October 6, 2014 at 12:08 pm | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments
Less is more, as they say, and beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. These two truism perhaps best sum up one savvy project by a talented fashion design student who has found success already at a young age.
Let’s be frank, most Japanese woman are not well-equipped in the chest area. The slang for this in Japanese is hinnyuu — literally “poor breasts”. But Gomi Hayakawa doesn’t agree. The 19-year-old has taken the concept of being flat-chested and replaced the first Kanji character (for “poor”) with one that has the same sound but means “quality”.
The result was feast, her line of bras and lingerie for women with modest chests.
And now to fund her first fashion show on November 30th at Shibuya’s Garret Udagawa, she has taken to crowdfunding service Campfire. She aimed to raise ¥250,000 (around $2,300) by the end of October.
Let’s keep in mind that Hayakawa is still only a first-year student at Tama Art University. She clearly knows how to market her ideas, not to mention having brilliant design ideas in the first place.
feast sold out of its entire 450-item run in the first day when it was launched earlier in the year. It received a lot of attention online and from some mainstream media outlets, and also found some free publicity from cosplay models like Luchino Fujisaki. She has since launched a second line of feast items (A cup or smaller!), with colors inspired by sweets.
The fashion show Hayakawa is planning will feature DJ and VJ performances, new feast lingerie, and other “interactive” elements. She said she doesn’t just want to present designs to people — she wants “to design people”. The fashion show “RPG” will be themed around the concept of a role-playing video game and in this vein Hayakawa has even created a video game as a taster, plus this promo video.
On her Campfire project Hayakawa offers donation packages starting at a mere ¥500 ($5). At the time of writing she has already achieved almost double her funding from over 60 funders, proving yet again that she has really tapped into a formidable niche here.
Feast or famine? I think we have the answer.
Japan has its fair share of wacky but fascinating beauty gadgets. There are also lots of inventive cosme items too. For example, we’ve already had the Cats Face Pack, the Kabuki Face Pack, and the Animal Face Pack.
All these face packs were created by Isshin do Honpo and designed based on genuine characters.
Now comes the Fashion Face Pack by Kansai Yamamoto, which features two face packs recreating actual make-up used by the eponymous veteran designer in a London fashion show.
These were in turn inspired by Kabuki kumadori make-up, so this is very much a mixture of avant-garde art from both the past and present.
Isshin do Honpo calls the series the “Japanese Face” brand.
JAPANESE FACE is a cosmetic face pack brand that introduces uniquely Japanese faces to the world.
With illustrated sheet masks and carefully selected moisturizing lotions, consumers have fun wearing the masks and then enjoy the benefits of beautiful skin afterwards.
It is a new kind of Japanese souvenir that introduces the great Japanese culture to people around the world and here in Japan, as well.
The Fashion Face Pack by Kansai Yamamoto is available worldwide from JapanTrendShop. It officially goes on sale in select stores in Japan on September 21st, which is actually the same day that Japan’s first ever fashion show was held at Mitsukoshi in 1927.
We can’t wait to see what Japanese Face is next! Tengu, perhaps?
Your Party (Minna no To) member Ayaka Shiomura (35) was jeered yesterday in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly as she tried to introduce a motion for better government measures supporting infertile women or women who need assistance when pregnant or raising children.
The opposition politician was abused by older male members apparently from the ruling LDP during a June 18 assembly session.
“You are the one who must get married as soon as possible,” one assembly member shouted, which was clearly audible to the TV cameras filming the session. Another joined in: “Can’t you even bear a child?”
Shiomura continued making her statement, though she paused and then sort of laughed in disbelief. She became more emotional, though, as she finished off her speech shortly afterwards. Later she was seen wiping tears from her eyes when she has sat back down. It was the first time that Shiomura, a politician representing Setagaya in west Tokyo, has asked questions to the assembly.
You can hear the jeers from around 08:48 on this video (sorry, no subtitles).
Leading national politicians from both the LDP and opposition parties denounced the comments and interruptions as “monstrous sexism”.
Shun Otokita, another young member of Your Party, has led the accusations, saying that Tokyo Governor Masuzoe, a known chauvinist, was reported to be smiling during the jeering, which came from the LDP benches. The exact offenders have yet to be identified.
Japan has a very poor female workforce participation ratio, since women receive little support during childrearing. This makes it hard both to afford children in the first place and also pay for day care if women wish to return to work. Right now, most women effectively cannot resume their career if they choose to have children since it doesn’t make financial sense, all of which does nothing to stop Japan’s birth rate from sliding.
Women returning to the workforce would help to assuage the fiscal crisis that will emerge as the large Baby Boomer generation retires and ages.
The Tokyo assembly has 127 members, but currently only 25 are women. In the national Diet, women fill only 78 of the 722 seats in the two chambers.
Your Party is a small liberal opposition party originally formed by Yoshimi Watanabe after he left the LDP. Though still a fringe party, it has made relatively quick gains, though it has suffered setbacks recently from both an internal split that reduced its numbers, and a scandal involving now ex-leader Watanabe and party finances.
Before her recent entry into city politics, Shiomura had been a model and broadcaster. As a young and attractive women in a world of old and unattractive men, she is an easy target for sexist abuse and we sadly suspect this will not be the last time we hear of such incidents.
Update: The Tokyo Assembly has been flooded with hundreds of angry emails and telephone calls, Shiomura’s tweet about the incident was re-tweet tens of thousands of times, it received nationwide and international coverage… but the LDP has closed ranks and is refusing to identify the hecklers. Remember, this is the city that is going to host the 2020 Olympics!
Update (June 24): LDP Assembly member Akihiro Suzuki, despite denying it before, has now admitted he was one of the jeerers and will leave the LDP.
Shiseido SK-II Pitera-rium Dock beauty counselor bus tours Japan telling women the future of their skinWritten by: William on June 5, 2014 at 11:56 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments
Have you spotted this red bus?
Shiseido is currently running a big SK-II Bihada Pitera-rium Dock campaign where women can see their “future skin” in 20 minute counceling sessions. A special pop-up store bus is now touring Japan for women to go and get predictions of their skin at special Pitera-rium events. It launched in January at Roppongi’s Midtown, and there are also similar services being offered at Shiseido branches and counters at department stores nationwide.
It starts with a photograph being taken of your cheek using a large red round machine called a “Magic Ring”. This is then analyzed as a map of five elements, the results of which are printed out into a carte for women to take home and study.
The campaign is fronted by Shiseido regular actress Haruka Ayase and is a campaign for its SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. Here is Haruka demonstrating how to use the “Magic Ring” measuring device.
Here is the bus around Tokyo.
It’s actually an old American school bus that has been re-decorated red for the campaign.
This is what the inside of the bus looks like.
Japanese department store beauty counters and cosmetic brand flagship stores have long offered free beauty counseling services with use of sophisticated skin analysis devices. The idea is that the brands are not just flogging make-up to you; they are looking after your beauty and offering customized cosmetic experiences. This SK-II campaign is using the special “Magic Ring” device developed for Shiseido, which they claim is the most sophisticated in the world.
This article by Yulia Mizushima first appeared on Tokyo Cheapo.
Some outfits never go out of fashion. Kimonos are a prime example – they’ve been making people look elegant for centuries. These stylish rags certainly aren’t cheap though – unless you know where to look…
Kimono girls image via Shutterstock
If you stand in the middle of a scramble at Shibuya crossing, how many internationally-renowned, high-fashion outfits can you spot? I bet it wouldn’t take even a minute to spot at least a dozen without turning your head. Tokyo might be glorified as a fashion capital of the world, but no matter how “it” the handbag or how tailored the suit, chances are there’ll be someone else with the same outfit somewhere nearby. Next time, before you waste money on another unfulfilling retail therapy session, think about checking out your local second-hand kimono shop instead.
In today’s fashion world where unique stands above all, what’s more exclusive than the kimono? Leaders of the time-honored industry have traditionally catered to the status-conscious elite, but modern-day kimono designers and manufacturers are having a hard time selling what typically costs thousands of dollars to anyone who isn’t a refined and wealthy middle-aged Japanese woman. As a result, while most of today’s kimono industry is struggling to stay above water, budget second-hand shops are gaining popularity.
Local furugiya. Image by Chris Gladis, used under a Creative Commons Licence
You can pick up an authentic kimono for $100 or under, if you rustle around the right places. Your local furugiya (the name for a second-hand clothing store) is your first stop when looking for kimonos at an affordable price.
If you don’t know where to look, don’t stress — a lot of second-hand kimono shopping can be done online. Rakuten’s kimono page is a cheap, mix-and-match stop for easy access to inventory from hundreds of shops from all over Japan. it also gives you a quick and informative overlook of the different types of kimono and accessories out there. Random fact — Rakuten apparently is responsible for a full 10% of the kimono industry’s sales these days. Kimonos on Rakuten range from below a hundred dollars up to a couple of thousand — keep an eye out for special deals.
Another competitive option is Ichiroya, an online flea market that sells genuine, family-owned kimonos from Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe, with the goods ranging from vintage to practically new. Their kimonos cost anything from 28 to 1 800 dollars, but most seem to range in the low hundreds. They have a handy Youtube page with short guide videos on kimono purchasing and wearing too.
If you can speak decent Japanese and are more inclined towards brick and mortar shops, any of the numerous Tansuya stores are ideal places to score a routinely-offered discount, as well as face-to-face kimono dressing assistance. A popular chain that sells new and recycled kimonos, Tansuya is a go-to choice for both kimono experts and newbies. Their prices are known to be a bit higher; second-hand kimonos usually cost a couple of hundred dollars, but if you’re just after the experience, you can rent one for around ¥8,000 a day. Depending on the branch, you can complement your shopping by exploring Japanese tea culture at the historic tea house district in Kagurazaka, ride a rickshaw in Asakusa, or do a bunch of equally cool stuff near the 38 other stores scattered around Tokyo.
Inside a kimono shop. Image by Okinawa Soba, used under a Creative Commons licence
Lastly, my favorite second-hand kimono shop is only a five-minute walk away from JR Harajuku Station. The family that has been running Sakaeya for over 50 years is now on Facebook and Tumblr (in English), making their social media a great place to start your kimono quest. The ultimate in cheapo kimono, Sakaeya not only sells second-hand kimono for as low as ¥1,000 (yes, you read that right), they also rent starting at ¥5,000, which includes dressing assistance and a tea ceremony. For a little extra, you can join their dance and photo shoot events as well. Plus, their CEO is an adorable cat named Totoro and their bucho, or department chief, is a raccoon who lives at the nearby Meiji Shrine. Why aren’t you trying on a kimono already?
Ed’s note: Once you’ve got your cheapo kimono, all you need is a sword and bit of bamboo to complete your experience. Death stare optional. Woman in bamboo forest pic via Shutterstock.
Read on Tokyo Cheapo.
As we know, officially Japan does not have an army, it has the very large and well-funded Self-Defense Forces (Jieitai). While its defensive role is currently up for debate, the SDF is ostensibly there to “protect” and look after Japan and its population. And this of course includes Japanese women.
The SDF’s Mamor magazine, which tends to feature women on the cover (typically Gravure idols in SDF uniforms, known in Mamor terms as the “Monthly Venus”), is popular with readers for the information it offers on the exploits of Japan’s soldiers. The title of the publication is a play on mamoru, meaning “to protect” in Japanese, though spot the “amor” in there too.
Yes, in between plenty of articles on gear and military matériel, Mamor has also run konkatsu “marriage hunting” articles about single SDF soldiers.
Women in Japan are increasingly interested in finding a future partner from the ranks of the SDF, apparently because the men are good at cooking, washing, cleaning and repairing things. The SDF’s public image also got a huge boost in the wake of the 2011 Tohoku disaster, where thousands of soldiers were dispatched to take part in rescue and recovery operations.
“After the quake, they looked very reliable,” said one woman who attended a matchmaking event in 2013 that was heavily oversubscribed with female applicants. “Even though the SDF soldiers all had their own families, they worked hard for the victims.”
One foreign woman married to a Japanese SDF soldier says “she thinks her husband’s job is something to be proud of because it reveals the strengths of his character, like loyalty, commitment and discipline.”
The question now is if the government has its way and turns the SDF into a proper army, will Japanese women be put off — or turned on?