In the U.S. and elsewhere it is now common to see young women in tiny bras and G-strings with pubic flaps about half the size of a playing card. In Japan some young women are taking another approach to revealing fashions.
As we have noted before much of the Westernization of the Japanese lifestyle since the introduction of democracy in the mid-1940s—particularly on a personal level— has been initiated and spread by teenage girls and young women.
One of the largest and most important of these changes occurred in the night-time entertainment industries that had previously served only males.
Beginning in the late fall of 1945 the number of bars, bathhouses, coffee shops, cabarets and night clubs that employed young women virtually exploded, By the early 1950s well over two million young women were working in these so-called mizu shobai [me-zoo show-by] or “water businesses.”
By the 1970s huge numbers of single women and wives had begun to patronize coffee shops and restaurants in twosomes, threesomes and larger groups—a phenomenon that was totally new to Japan.
Another of the more conspicuous changes in Japan was the huge number of girls and young women appearing as actors and entertainers in the radio, movie and television industries. Most of the best-known stars of the day were females.
Female domination was especially prominent and conspicuous in the fashion world. This included fashion designers who appeared in large numbers almost overnight, and equally large numbers of teenage girls—particularly in Tokyo—who began creating their own fashions and wearing them in the city’s popular promenade and entertainment districts on weekends and holidays.
While virtually all of these changes and customs originated in Tokyo they spread like wildfire to all of the major metropolitan areas of the country [Japan has more large cities than any country in the world except for the United States], prompted by televisions and fashion magazine coverage and the Japanese cultural penchant for picking up on and adopting new customs and practices.
Over the years many of the new fashions were so far out they had a short lifetime, but the innovators are still at it—and now they have been joined by large manufacturing and retailing companies that have major clout.
A new fashion that appeared in the spring of 2013 was made to order for national publicity—a fashion based on the use of translucent [see-through!] materials for blouses, skirts and shoes.
And as said, this time it was not individuals or small innovative entrepreneurs working in one of the thousands of 1-5 person fashion shops in Tokyo and elsewhere. It was larger well-known high-end brands that began experimenting with the new see-through materials that had begun to show up some three years earlier.
Teenage girls and young women who go for the new see-through fashions are not showing bare skin beneath the blouses, skirts and shoes. They continue to wear bras and panties and socks that are selected and/or specifically designed to be attractive.
Some of the see-through skirts are see-through only on the bottom half, revealing only the legs. Some of the girls opting for this style wear colorful tights under their skirts, thereby ostensibly retaining their modesty standards.
As also noted in previous columns young Japanese girls were traditionally programmed to behave in a subtle but sensually tantalizing manner, and that heritage is still very much alive. It will be interesting to see how far this new trend goes.
Curious females and ogling males may mostly concentrate on the see-through blouses and skirts, but there is more. A handbag manufacturer has introduced a line of see-through bags. It is not that the buyers of these handbags want people to see what they are carrying around. It is the novelty and the avant-garde aspect of the material of the bags. The Japanese are not the only ones getting into the see-through act. In 2012 an American company introduced a see-thru vinyl backpack. Will blouses be next?
Boyé Lafayette De Mente has been involved with Asia since the late 1940s as a member of a U.S. intelligence agency, journalist and editor. He is a graduate of Jōchi University in Tokyo, Japan and Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, USA. In addition to books on the business practices, social behavior and languages of China, Japan, Korea and Mexico he has written extensively about the plague of male dominance and the moral collapse of the U.S. and the Western world in general. Recent books include: CHINA Understanding & Dealing with the Chinese Way of Doing Business; JAPAN Understanding & Dealing with the NEW Japanese Way of Doing Business; AMERICA’S FAMOUS HOPI INDIANS; ARIZONA’S LORDS OF THE LAND [the Navajos] and SPEAK JAPANESE TODAY – A Little Language Goes a Long Way! To see a full list of his 60-plus books go to: www.authorsonlinebookshop.com. All of his titles are available from Amazon.com.