It’s finally OK to wear sandals again!
Kansai area fashion may be a little crazy, senseless and often tasteless, but the folks of the region obey one dress code to the letter: they don’t wear clothing that is out of season — no matter what the weather is like! And thus, on my late-Spring trip to Tokyo, I was shocked to see many of its populace already garbed in flip-flops, shorts and <gasp> short-sleeved t-shirts! In Kansai, despite the high temperatures, people still waited until the official start of summer to don such skin revealing apparel.
Now that we’re swamped in mid-summer heat and suffocating Kansai humidity, let’s check out and see what some folks are wearing:
Gone are the jackets, vests, and 3 layers of shirts guys seem to love stacking in the typical ‘over dressed’ Kansai style. Here, a couple of Hep5 loiterers sport t-shirts to beat the heat, but notice how they’re still wearing boots and rather heavy looking denim. It was about 32-34c when I passed by them.
Speaking of denim, I noticed the distinct wear pattern on this guy’s back pocket — a sure sign of a selvedge slave carefully placing his cellphone in the exact same position every time he slips it in. It seems a little nuts to be wearing thick selvedge during a mid-day commute, and sure enough, I noticed that he had sweat thru his shirt and was clearly suffering for his choice of style. Respect!
Men in Kansai typically don’t wear shorts unless they are participating in some kind of athletic endeavor. More commonly, guys will wear long shorts that reach below the knee, capris, or pants (including jeans) that are rolled to the mid-ankle or lower-calf.
Hopefully, not too many of them will put on a pair of these army green monstrosities that I spotted somewhere in downtown Osaka. I don’t know what the hell is hanging off of his ass, but it looks like it has the cargo capacity to store a couple of 6-packs and not make him look any less ridiculous!
Japanese people rarely wear sunglasses. This is because, as one native told me, Asian eyes are more resistant to harsh sunlight. Obviously this hasn’t stopped some Japanese people from owning a pair. But as you can see in the photo above, this guy probably has his arm around his girlfriend to stop him from wandering blindly into pylons and other street hazards.
Sunglasses make you look like a foreigner — this, I also heard from a Japanese person. Perhaps Japanese people just don’t like sunglasses. I’ve often wondered if it’s because it hides the eyes, and thus an important cue for nonverbal communication. But this theory would seemingly conflict with my experience that many Japanese try to avoid direct eye contact when conversing. Perhaps it’s just OK when foreigners wear sunglasses.
Unless you’re a girl, you probably won’t be able to use a parasol to escape the brutal sunlight of summer. Yes, it makes amazing sense to use one, and yes I believe that parasols should be viewed as a practical unisex accessory, but as of now, the only way you’ll likely experience such relief from the Sun (and not draw a lot of strange looks) is by sharing one between your girlfriend or wife.
In a land where men’s and women’s fashion seem to be on a path of convergence, I can only hope that the sun umbrella will hitch a ride on this trend real soon. Because there’s nothing fashionable about sweating thru your clothes every time you get 20 feet from your house! Thank god there’s Under Armor…