Japan No More - Japanese Culture and the Influence of Western festivals.

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Japan No More

        Just about one and a half centuries ago, Japan had been isolating itself from much of the world for over two hundred years during the Tokugawa Shogunate. Nevertheless, with the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry who compelled the opening of Japan, Japan has changed. It’s once profound culture has changed. This homogenous island country has quickly gone through industrialization, modernization, and westernization. The people of Japan have all forgotten the beautiful Japanese traditions and have rather become addicted to the western world, imitating it to a point which has become ridiculous.

        Kimono—a Japanese word any foreigner would know. But who wears them these days? Perhaps it is only the geishas and maikos in Kyoto and kabuki actors who still wear kimonos on a daily basis. After the World War II ended, the United States sent western clothes as one of the many supplies since the clothes industries and markets of Japan blanked out with the war. This is the start of when wearing western clothes had become natural in Japan but all before that, women wore kimonos or yukatas, lighter versions of kimonos, and men wore hakamas, male kimonos, or jinbeis which were male versions of the yukata. Now when walking outside the streets of Japan, it is almost impossible to find someone wearing any kind of Japanese traditional clothing. But instead, people are wearing jeans, t-shirts, and sweatshirts—just like all the other westerners and now everyone else in the world.

        While western clothes has become normality in Japan some group of people have taken the mimicking a little too far and it is simply weird. Just look at the streets of Harajuku and Shibuya in Tokyo. The fashion in those two districts is simply astonishing and people are just “creative” and “unique”. During my visit in Tokyo, I encountered many people who I could not keep my eyes off. There were the Lolita people who dressed them self in clothes influenced from the Victorian era yet also adding the gothic taste into it, while others dressed like 18th century aristocratic women like Marie Antoinette—all frilly and lacy with the parasol. Remember the yamanba peaking its popularity in the year 2000? On the Tokyo subways, everyone was staring at the two yamamba girls sitting as though they were surprised by the fact that these species still even existed. The yamanba people have taken the Japanese fashion way beyond the Japanese beauty of simplicity and wa to a whole new level of standing out in public. In yamanba fashion, a deep tan is combined with hair dyed in shades of orange to blonde or a silver gray known as "high bleached". Black ink is used as eye-liner and white concealer is used as lipstick and eyeshadow. False eyelashes, plastic facial gems, and pearl powder are often added to this. The yamanba make up is an exaggeration of how these girls wanted to emphasize the depth and highlights of facial features, using white concealers and tanned skin with dark foundation and to extend the length of typical short Japanese eyelashes, in order to look more like western faces.

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        Japanese cuisine is healthy. True. But only traditional Japanese Buddhist cuisine is healthy. In the olden days, people of Japan relied on agriculture, especially rice, or even further dated, acorns and chestnuts, and were not hunter-gatherers catching hares and deer. Also, with Buddhism being introduced into Japan, there was a long age where meat was banned from eating. Therefore, their basic diet was rice, tofu, vegetables, and seafood. Very healthy. However, when eating meat was finally legalized and the fast food chains opening in Japan, the food we eat has changed greatly. Current days, metabolic syndrome has become a majour ...

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