Saturday, August 1, 2009

Does this costume represent Japanese culture? Apparently not...

(photo borrowed from Japan Today, Picture of the Day, 7/23/09)

From Japan Today, 8/1/09:

Barrage of complaints force Miss Universe Japan to change costume design for finals

Oh so many issues and problems to deal with from this "national costume." But for us visual anthropologists interested in representation, this quote is telling:

Yoshitaka Tsujimura, board chairman of Shizuoka’s Tsujimura College of Japanese Clothing, said of the design, “Our entire faculty was shocked at how obscene it was. For those who have never seen a real kimono, it may be fine, but to us it just looks like someone’s efforts to strip the garment into something lewd and cheap. This woman is going to be representing our country, and she has no right to ruin the image of ‘proper Japanese clothing.’ I’m quite frankly relieved to know they’ve decided to change the design.”

Do clothes make the (wo)man? Do clothes make the culture?

Read the whole story:
http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/barrage-of-complaints-force-miss-universe-japan-to-change-costume-for-finals

2 comments:

My name is Joe. said...

This isn't the first time a Japanese participant in an international beauty pageant has gotten flak from her "constituency" for sporting oversexed versions of traditional Japanese clothing styles.

Kurara Chibana, runner-up Miss Universe in '06, had that samurai armor and katana getup that showed a lot of hip. (I believe you showed us a video of her in Body Comm.)
http://www.funtasticus.com/20081212/kurara-chibana-sexy-samurai/

And then in 2007, Riyo Mori was just about shunned by the press when she dressed in a modified oiran outfit: http://news.3yen.com/2007-05-29/japans-handicap-at-the-miss-universe-contest/

For a young male enthralled with the East, this combination of cute girl + quasi-traditional Japanese fashion = awesome, but I can see why the Japanese would facepalm at the sight of it.

My name is Joe. said...

Whoops, almost forgot... In some other photos I've seen of this particular costume, Miss Japan is shown holding a Noh mask! (It's a "han'nya" character.) Yet another Body Comm connection da ne.