So, I went for a walk today, because I had a sudden urge to play video games, and I happened to have left the cd on my desk at work. My school is about a 15 minute walk from my house, so I really don't mind the stroll. I took a peek outside, and opted for the classic Canadian combination of a large hooded sweatshirt, shorts and Birkenstocks. Seemed about right to me, given the temperature, barometric pressure and my general need to wear relaxing clothing.
Well, let me tell you… people here were muffled up in fur coats, hats and all that. I even saw one lady sitting in a chair with a BLANKET on. This, of course, meant that I garnered rather more stare-age than usual (as usual, when I'm not wearing replica samurai armour, that is). Especially when I got hot and doffed my sweatshirt.
Its seriously not that cold here.
Ok, ok, its seriously not that cold for anyone that's never seen -40 with wind chill.
I love being Canadian.
All national pride aside, coldness brings me to my next observation: fashion.
It seems to hold in Japan that most young people have the usual non-descript clothing for generall chilling out, but that when people want to dress up nicely each gender has two basic options.
For the boys, we have two fine selections. #1: something about halfway between urban rocker and cartoon character… lets call it the anime cock rock look. This includes such selections as tight jeans, spikey hair, slip on shoes and old metal shirts with random english words. Or, #2 for more work-related affairs, the young Japanese male seems to have the same selection as his older counterpart: Drunken Businessman. It’s a good look. My personal selection for best execution goes to that guy whos always doing solo karaoke near a vending machine on my way home… no music of course. He provides all the audio needed, and the well timed sway/stagger that some might mistake for drunkenness, well, that is a carefully studied charade, my friends. This man is an artist. Nay, a genius of body-based emotive expression.
As for the young ladies, we have two carefully considered and highly distinct wardrobe options. The Slutty Schoolgirl and the Slutty Inuit. Although experts have noted that there are some marked similarities between these two fashion expressions, notably the use of large boots (known in most of the world by their scientific name biggus bootus hookerus) as well as short skirts. It should be said that the word “skirt” is a slight misnomer… many researchers have suggested “waist napkin” would be a more appropriate moniker and one reengage fashion consultant that I spoke to in the Kawaski Area suggested that they could also be classified as “extended belts”. (the author would like to express his sincere thanks to one Geoff-Sensei, who generously donated his insights after making a long study of this phenomenon). Other schools of thought have also advanced "leather band-aid" as a counter-theory.
The parallels between these two fashion paradigms end there. The Slutty Schoolgirl look includes the use of collared shirts, and comes in many different forms. These include actual schoolgirls (j. jailus baitus), young university students (j. youngus skankus), and the subway residing (j. commuterus longalegas). I was fortunate enough to observe a very rare specimen about one week ago, a pale specimen since idendified as gaijinus ina japonesus skirtus!
As for the Slutty Inuit look (until recently the “Slutty Eskimo Look”, but since renamed out of consideration for the women of Canada’s north who identified themselves as “morally questionable” on their tax returns). It features the same skirt and boots combination as the Slutty Schoolgirl look, but includes the use of furs and large winter coats to demonstrate a contrast. Some scholars hold that the contrast contains a hidden code or perhaps even some language. While the author does not have the information to draw any conclusions, some cunning linguists have suggested that the symbolic language can be interpreted as “Its fucking cold out here. But I’m still wearing this tiny skirt. The least you can do is try to stare a little bit.”
Today’s score: Brent 2, Culture Shock 0.5
But it’s a good 0.5.