Thursday, November 20, 2008

Travel Tip for Guys Considering Trip to Japan

Fashion guide, from this amateur trendspotter.

It was late afternoon, and a gaggle of teenage girls in their school uniforms, heading home or to other less determinate destinations, had entered the train car when one of them caught my eye. (Presumably, there was a troop of schoolboys as well, but for some reason it escaped my attention.) For an instant, I wondered why, but then I realized: the hem of that one girl’s skirt was longer than those of the others, though it still had a long way to go before it would reach her knees. In fact, all the other girls were wearing their skirts more or less to the same length; that was why the one girl had stood out.

Trend-watchers, the schoolgirl’s skirt has reached the upper limits of decency in the context of stairs and escalators, and there is now no other way to go but down. And go down it will—the hem that is. For if there’s any mortal who pays greater attention to how a schoolgirl looks than a guy, it’s another schoolgirl. And if there’s anything anyone hates more than being “different”, it’s being like everyone else.

So there you have it: short, short schoolgirl uniforms will go the way of the loose socks, the now-mercifully extinct, baggy polar-bear stockings—a reminder to guys trying to make up their minds about a trip to Japan this winter.

Incidentally, I believe that the miniskirt look for schoolgirl uniforms apparently began with Michiru Yamana, one of the main characters in BØY, a very popular manga that ran in Shonen Jump between 1992-99. I remember reading it and thinking, they can’t get away with that. And in the early 90s, they couldn’t. But in fiction, she could.


Janne Morén said...

There's a high school right next to the subway entrance I use every morning. A fair number of schoolgirls seem to actually "roll up" or bunch up their skirts in the hem during their commute, making them really, really short. Then, just as they leave the subway, they stop for a moment and pull down their skirts to what I assume is the mandated level of modesty required by the school.

But one thing I've seen lately are a few schoolgirls with long skirts - really long, as in down to the ankle. I may be getting old but it frankly looks like a way more sensible fashion with winter coming and all. No idea if it's a real trend or if it's just a few students brighter and less conformist than the others.

Jun Okumura said...

When I was going to an Osaka high school in the late sixties, really long skirts were considered very furyo. There was a girls’ high school nearby with an awful reputation. Its students could be distinguished by their skirts, whose hems reached near their ankles. Boys enrolled in the neighborhood middle school lived in mortal fear of these girls, since they would be accosted from time to time and forced to give up their lunch money and other worldly goods in their possession. It got so bad that the school reputedly had to tell its students not to wear their watches to school. I have no idea what kind of fashion statement the girls you saw were making though.

Incidentally, the iconic figure of the furyo joshikosei is the 80s manga character Susan Antonko, girl friend and later wife of the main character in Gokutora Ikka (The “Tigers” Outlaw Family), who winds up sacrificing her life to save her beloved. Yes, the manga mirrors the glorification of the outlaw in numerous yakuza movies. And if you really need to know how Antonko looked, click here at your peril. You have been warned.