japanese fashion

How I Produce and Consume Japanese Fashion

instagram feed

As we are drawing closer to the end of semester, I have decided to do a post completely dedicated to the ways in which I produce and consume Japanese fashion not only while I have been enrolled in DIGC330 Digital Asia, but also in my day to day life. I also wanted to delve even further into the ways how I consume Japanese fashion without even realising it, and over the time that I have been studying DIGC this term, I have been completely surprised at how much I actually consume Japanese culture and fashion.

To really engage the subject on a more intense level, and as I have done in my previous posts, I will be using Sheridan’s autoethnographic questions throughout this post as followed.

What were some of the key activities, conversations, or internal thoughts that I experienced while completing this research?

The most relevant way that I have produced and consumed Japanese fashion over the past 12 weeks was through my digital artefact which was an Instagram feed of images that I either just loved, or that I thought were really interesting on relevant to the blog post that I have written over the past weeks. I created the instagram account called “@hannahsdigcartifact” if anybody wanted to have a quick look, by searching a variety of different tags on Instagram such as “#tokyofashion, #japanesefashion and #fashioninjapan” to really see what the Japanese fashion was like on a very broad sense. When I first looked into these tags, as discussed on my first blogs, I was so amazed to find SO many photos and images being added on such a regular basis. I even find Instagram blogs that were completely dedicated to finding amazing Japanese fashion on the streets of Tokyo and beyond which I thought was really cool.

Another internal thought that I experienced when first looking at these Instagram Feeds was the unusual dress sense that seems to be Japanese fashion. This fashion often involved bright hair pins & clips, fur, pastel hair, bright blue or green contacts and the accessory of stuffed animals. Even though I thought the style really suited these stylish men and women, I actually really thought to myself how odd it looked, and how I could never, ever get away with wearing some of the stuff that I was presented on the streets in Australia.

What in my past can I connect to this incident that possibly impacts my feelings now?

On an autoethnographic stance, I actually remember a time in primary school on a mufti day when one of my good friends came dressed to school in jeans and a shirt, yep seems all ‘normal’ so far, however her hair was completely covered in bright clips, scrunchies, a huge red ribbon (like Sailor Moon) and was holding a pink teddy bear. At the time, the kids in the playground just had no idea what the hell she was trying to be, however we all knew how much of a fan she was of Sailor Moon, and looking back she was merely just copying what her favourite icon was, although she, as an Australian 12 year old just could not get away with it!

When thinking about this, I just think it is because of the different fashion styles and culture between Japan and Australia and the way that this new fashion style has not really taken off on a large basis in Australia yet and people are not as aware, or even game to introduce this kind of fashion culture into Australia yet, however I am sure one day we will all be dressed this way!!

What did I learn from this experience?

When thinking about the ways in which I consume Japanese fashion without even realising it, I was actually quite surprised at how often we do actually consume the Japanese culture in our day to day lives.

Although there are so many different ways that I am influenced, one of the most simplest ways that I could express this was again through digital media, and the way that often I am influenced by Japanese fashion is through Facebook, and this has ALWAYS been, and not just since I have been studying DIGC330, I have just become more aware of it now.

In regards to this I decided to do a quick 2 minute experiment on my Facebook news feed about how many times anything related to Japanese fashion or culture appeared even if it was a fashion item that I thought had been very much influenced by Japanese culture, NOT including the sponsored ads on the side of the page. After my experiment I was so surprised to find 4 different relatable images to Japanese culture, and 3 relating to fashion. Wow! Do the experiment yourself you will be surprised at how much it is out there!

After these findings and also in my research in the blog where I researched Gwen Stefani and how she has really embraced Japanese culture especially in her music, I was actually surprised at how we SO often talk about how Western culture influences other cultures, however it seems like we completely dismiss when another culture influences our own culture. It actually really, really disturbed me and ever since learning about this, I have really tried to become more aware about the ways other cultures have influenced me and actually am trying to acknowledge it even more.

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The Universal Notion of the “Selfie” – Traditional & Cultural Poses, Professional and Amateur Shots

Let’s face it, the selfie is a part of our everyday lives, whether you get out of bed in the morning to quickly take a good morning shot, or you are bombarded with them as soon as you turn on your phone in the morning, selfie’s are a part of our lives. With the explosion of new technologies and new media, the selfie has become a universal term where one is able to broadcast themselves to a wide, and selfie-crazed audience and this is being seen not only at arm’s length in our day to day lives, but is actually all over the world, including Japan.

In a previous post, I compared the two photos of Australian model, Miranda Kerr, and the Japanese model, Kozue Akimoto who although were millions of kilometres away from each other, they both took selfies on a regular basis and posted them onto their personal Instagram site. 6 weeks ago when I wrote this post, Kerr and Akimoto had not ever met, and were very two distinctive figures in Australian and Japanese culture however when I was quickly checking out Akimoto’s page yesterday, what did I come across? You would never ever would think but I found a selfie on MIRANDA KERR and KAZUE AKIMOTO! Crazy, crazy crazy especially because I JUST researched the selfie and compared them seperately! (See the photo below)

akimoto and miranda

What I learnt from this experience?

When thinking about this I really wanted to delve in further about what the selfie actually was, how the selfie actually worked and how it has become a universal phenomenon.

According to the Oxford dictionary, the selfie is typically “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

In this day and age, it is so common to publicise ourselves to digital audiences through social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube etc that it has become a norm enabling us to communicate ourselves in a completely new way. Through the development of new media and technologies, the fact that audiences are no longer just consuming what they see in the media, and are constantly evolving becoming pro-sumers and citizen journalists are a clear way how audiences are striving to be a part of social communities and are using selfies to be a part of it.

When thinking about this, I thought about the way that cultures cross over because of the way that there are so many sub-cultures that interact with each other around the world, and the biggest one of these is the digital culture.

In the article, Art at Arm’s Length: A History of the Selfie, Jerry Saltz writes that “We live in the age of the selfie” In this article, the selfie is discussed as becoming ‘become their own visual genre- a type of self portraiture formally distinct from all others in history. Selfies have their own structural autonomy’ and as Saltz describes, selfies are ‘a very big deal for art’.

What are my reactions towards my findings?

Initially when I started thinking about the selfie as being an art form, and being a universal phenomenon, I have to admit I thought it was all just a bit silly however after reading Saltz article and by seeing how the digital culture and even selfies can bring all different countries and cultures together I found it to be extremely relevant.

It is quite interesting to think about the way in which the common ‘selfie’ could be depicted as an art form, and before reading Saltz article, honestly I probably would have never looked at the way that selfies could be a part of artistic culture, and a form of self-expression. However when you think about we have always been taking some kind of selfie, or creating some kind of self representation of ourselves, just think about ancient times even, the drawing on the walls, beautiful self portraits by famous artworks, and more. I think no matter the way you look at selfies, essentially the selfie is a form of self-expression and self-portrait and the reason why it has become such a massive deal all over the world is because it is just a NEW form of representing ourselves, and I think that this is a massive reason why selfies have become such a universal phenomenon not just in the Western countries but also in Japan and countries all over the world.

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. http://www.qualitativeresearch.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

Saltz, J, “Art at Arm’s Length: A History of the Selfie,” Vulture, accessed 2/10/2014 http://www.vulture.com/2014/01/history-of-the-selfie.html?mid=twitter_nymag&+utm_content=buffer18f61&utm_+medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Japanese Fashion Culture – Body Image (The Skinny Model)

After researching the concepts behind the ‘autoethnography’ study, I feel much more confident in analysing and researching Japanese fashion and the way that it is produced and consumed on Instagram. This week, as mentioned in the Week 7 blog, I will be focusing on the Japanese social constructions of the “ideal body,” the fashion model and the way that it contrasts with my own feelings about body image.

What were my feelings at the time?

When thinking about my feeling towards what society considers the “ideal” actually just makes me so disgusted, because of the mere fact that there can be no ideal but for the purpose of this autoethnography, I will push through and think about the way that society pushes us to look and be like. In Australia, when thinking about the ideal body image, a thin, surfer looking female comes into my head and the muscular surfer dude comes into my head and I straight away feel this stereotype pushing through my brain to force me to believe this is what I should look like in order to fit in. When thinking about these images in my head, I begun to question how different or even similar this ideal body image was, or even how important this was in Japan.

What are the assumptions that I bring to the investigations?

I had never really thought about body image, or the ideal when thinking about Japanese culture, which is kind of odd. I guess I initially just loved all the unique clothing and bright colours, that I just could not pull off, and the way that it is just so entirely unique that I kind of did not even think about the Japanese ideal. When I first started researching the Japanese body ideal, it did not surprise me that whiter skin was the most ideal feature because of the different articles and blogs that I have read in the past. This was also conveyed by the models and advertisements that I found on Instagram that showed extremely pale skin.

An assumption that I bring to the investigation was that I thought being skinny would be an ideal feature from a Japanese culture perspective because of the images that I have come across on Instagram, as well as the beliefs that I have because of my own culture.

aaaaa

What did I learn from this investigation?

According to Miller (2006), author of the book ‘Beauty Up;Exploring Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics,” the ‘ideal’ for a man and woman in Japanese is as followed, and when doing my own research on this idea of body image,  it is very much conveyed as can be seen in the images throughout this post.

Women: 1. Pale skin

  1. Big breasts
  2. Weight below 45kg

Men: 1. No hair on the body (hair is worse than even no muscles or small)

  1. Weight below 55kg

“Japanese ideals for body proportions differ from Western ideals. The most prominent example of this is characteristics of which include large eyes, small noses, tall irises, thin limbs, large heads, and neotenized faces.” (Miller, 2006)

When thinking about this data and research that I have come across, it can be quite clear that the stereotypical ideals and feelings towards body image can be very much seen in the way that models are depicted across Instagram. Although there are differences between Western ideals and Japanese ideals, as stated by Miller in the quote above, there are also many similarities especially in the way that there seems to be a global ideal of the ‘thinner model which can be clearly conveyed in the two screenshots of Google images where I searched “Japanese model” and “Australian model.”

japanese model google search aus model google search

Next week I will delve even further into this idea of the skinny model by looking at the universal notion of the selfie and the way that models are depicted in both professional and amateur photography.

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. http://www.qualitativeresearch.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

Miller, L 2006 “Beauty Up;Exploring Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics,” University of California Press, California

Autoethnography: How it all relates

For this week’s post, I will be looking at the concept of autoethnography as a methodology and considering how my individual research approach is being guided and framed by this methodology to better understand my own research and my own learning.

The term autoethnography as described by Ellis, Adams and Bochner means “an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience.” Ellis and Adams also describe the autoethnographic process as being a way to communicate and tell a story (Ellis, Adams 2006)

“Autoethnography allows the researcher to move beyond traditional methods of writing, by using narrative, poetry, stream-of-consciousness, displays of artifacts, photographs, drawings, and live performances. (Hesse-Biber and Leavy, 2008)
Relating to the above quote, I will also be moving beyond the traditional methods of writing and will be making use of a digital artefact with the use of Instagram and the arrangement of images to show the process of my research.

When thinking about the blogs that I will be writing over the next 4 weeks, I will be using this term to do my research and really understand Japanese fashion on Instagram and the ways in which this culture has not only impacted Eastern societies, but also Western cultures and societies. My individual research will be specifically guided by the autoethnography processes as I will be thinking about not only what I am seeing and learning, but will also be talking and analysing my own experiences and feelings about the culture.

By using this methodology I hope that I will be able to better understand the culture, and may even possibly learn more about my own cultural identity and the ways in which this has been formed. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be asking many questions that will be taken from the DIGC lectures and the readings especially that of Ellis, Adams and Bocher (2011) and Sheridan (2012). These will help me to consistently be following the process of autoethnography and to produce more solid research.

The main points that I will be discussing over the next 3 blogs include:

  • Japanese culture – Body Image (The Skinny Model)
  • The Universal Notion of the “Selfie” – Traditional & Cultural Poses, Professional and Amateur Shots
  • Production and Consumption of Japanese Fashion Culture on Instagram

If anybody has any suggestions or anything that they think I should include in any of these posts, please let me know!!

Resources

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. http://www.qualitativeresearch.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

Sheridan, R, “Autoethnography: Researcher as Participant: An Introduction to Autoethnography” Teaching for Success Journal, accessed 09/09/2014
http://ricksheridan.netmar.com/auto/

 

Japanese Fashion on Instagram

Japanese_Street_Fashion_2_by_hakanphotography

I’m just going to put it out there now and say that I am an avid Instagram user. Usually I cannot go a day without accessing my Instagram account and actually have serious withdrawals when I can not access Instagram throughout the day especially when I am at university as for some reason, my phone at university seems to block the app. (Not happy Jan) While scrolling down my newsfeed on Instagram I am always bombarded with the strange, eccentric and quite amazing street fashion of Japan and always find myself in complete awe of the interesting styles and prints that the light haired Japanese men and women are wearing.

When accessing Japanese fashion on Instagram, I actually found it very easy to find a “tag” that was completely “taken over” by colourful Japanese fashion. Once I had Instagram opened on my phone, I firstly had a quick look at the “Explore” section in the app and as this section often is based on my previous searches, which included fashion and shopping, I was actually quite surprised to find an image of two young Asian men dressed in a smart looking grey suit, a black cap, horn rimmed glasses, a large brown handbag and drinking coffee and all I thought was “Yes, well that was easy.” After finding this I searched a little further into Japanese fashion on Instagram by searching the tags, I decided to be quite obvious and typed in the following searches, #japanesefashion, #japanfashion, #japanesestreetfashion resulting in over 145,647 posts. Quite amazing really for my first initial thought.

Stepping back and analyzing this account, I believe that the key principles from this encounter that might be useful for others to know is the use of hashtags and being on top of the hashtags in order to find relevant Japanese fashion. I think that hashtags are a very important aspect of researching this topic as it conveys to me the accessibility of Japanese fashion online and the ease of access that I could easily found.

In thinking about the “holes” in my general understanding of Japanese fashion, I believe that my understanding of this fashion would be very generalized as my whole understanding is based on the ideas and beliefs of what I have only seen online as well as my own beliefs and thoughts. These would include the idea that Japanese fashion is often very colourful, and very different to the clothing and fashion that we see in Australia and to be completely honest I don’t think I would be that out there to be able to strut my stuff in some typical Japanese fashion. I am looking forward to learning more about the ins and outs of Japanese fashion and actually will mainly be focusing on women’s fashion if this is possible and accessible.

I think that it is important for people not to just generalize Japanese fashion and to always be on top of research rather than just making assumptions.