Kawaii from Shanghai

31 Aug

Kawaii from Shanghai

“Kawaii” is popular everywhere now.
Gaijin Gyaru in Spain, Yamamba and Hime Gyaru in the U.K, Lolita in Russia, and a Hime nail girl in Thailand.

Japanese fashion magazines are the source of kawaii culture. Chinese version of Japanese “Ray” magazine is the most widely read in the world. It’s released over one million copies already. It’s based on China. 80,000 people gathered from all over China to compete for the position of a cover girl to this magazine at the contest. Tokyo Kawaii TV negotiated with the authority of the contest and was told that they welcome Japanese models to join the contest.

How is street snap in Shanghai? There are young Chinese people who love Japanese culture and dress like Japanese people in Tokyo. A department store that opened 2004 in Shanghai has over 30 Japanese brand shops. Fashionable Chinese girls like to shop there to receive Japanese-styled high quality service at shopping. Nowadays as many as 9 Japanese fashion magazines are published in China, which are translated into Chinese.
“I can learn fashion and makeup from these magazines.” “Unlike western fashion magazines, the size of the clothes on Japanese magazines is suitable for us too.” These are the comments from the Chinese readers.

Chinese version of Ray magazine is translated from original Japanese version, added some unique posts from China and is available at stores in China 3 weeks after the Japanese version of Ray is released in Japan. It was 15 years ago they entered into licensing agreements. At first, Chinese version was thin and simple. Within 15 years, it’s 3 times thicker than the first stage thanks to increasing sponsors!

While Chinese Ray issues over 1 million copies, original Japanese Ray does 200,000 copies only.

Yuan-san is a Chinese reporter who shoots snaps on the street in Harajuku. He does this for Chinese fashion magazine. Since he came over to Japan, he has been updating Japanese trends thru his website for 22 years for Chinese people in the world. There are about 380,000 Chinese people from China, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and all over the world. Since tourist visa has been open for Chinese individuals in July 2009, there are more and more Chinese tourists coming to Japan today. Japanese products such as Kadokeshi or nose mask are so hot in China.

He also thought the LED hand mirror would be well-received in China. Today he is busy writing the articles about hot Japanese trends for his customers in Taiwan and Beijing.

Bunka Gakuen is the oldest fashion school in Japan that has turned out top designers such as Yohji Yamamoto or Hiroko Koshino. Nowadays international students from China have increased. There are more than 100 Chinese students enrolled at the school today. Shu-san is good at making stage costumes from the image of the fusion of European classic music and Japanese visual-kei music bands. She lives in an apartment in Gothic tasted interior and she likes Gackt and Mana-sama. It was 4.5 years ago she visited Japan for the first time to see the live concert of Mana-sama. She was so much inspired by the stage costumes worn at the concert and she thought she wanted to make them by herself. “I want to make costumes from the image I sensed from my favorite music” says Shu-san. She makes all the clothes she wears daily. Her dream is to connect Japan and China through stage costumes and clothes.

Tokyo Kawaii TV decided to select Japanese models for the candidates of the cover girl to the Chinese Ray magazine.
In fact, there are some Japanese people who succeeded in promoting in China. In the Chinese version of LEON magazine for example, you can find Komatsu-san, a 31-year-old Japanese guy. He has succeeded in Chinese show business industry and he speaks good Chinese. 3 years ago, he was acting as a side character at some small-scaled afternoon dramas in Japan, but his carrier was not something he was able to be proud of. When he heard the opportunity for the audition that was held by a TV station in China, he thought he had to challenge it and if he failed, he would have to give up show business industry. He left Japan, joined the audition and was selected one of the top 20 good looking guys at the audition. Since then Chinese people supported him to make him popular.

In Hong Kong, Kuranari-san, a Japanese woman has become very popular through a major TV program. She used to be a dokumo to a Japanese fashion magazine and her carrier in Japan was limited to some image videos. She taught herself both English and Chinese, and especially she enjoys learning Chinese from singing karaoke.

Kirin’s opinion:
I respect Yuan-san. I just wonder how it’s like to be to keep running this blog for over 20 years…and I still act like kawaii 50s, 60s, and 70s who recommend kawaii artificial tooth and reading glasses! That’s kinda cute though…lol I can be a kawaii old lady, haha!
But it’ll be so cool if I can receive writing jobs thru this blog like him. :p

It’s always so interesting how Japanese fashion is liked by the people from many different places on the globe.
BTW, I think it’s a good idea to learn foreign language from singing! I wonder why these Japanese fashion magazines are not translated into English first of all. That could’ve been possible before Chinese version… :p

Disclaimer: Tokyo Kawaii TV is a TV program owned and broadcasted by NHK Japan, and has nothing to do with this blog.

***There are archives of episodes listed under the page titled “Tokyo Kawaii TV” that is just located under the title banner of this blog.
***If you want to know the music that was used in the episode, please refer to this page and help yourself to find it by selecting the date when the episode was on air in Japan.


10 Responses to “Kawaii from Shanghai”

  1. Cath September 1, 2010 at 6:23 am #

    Oh, I most definitely wish they translate Japanese mags into English! But I think the market is not big enough; the Western world has its own style and I think culture plays a big part.
    No offence to our European/American counterparts, but I really don't think they should adopt the kawaii Japanese look. It's just weird on them. This is my opinion. Maybe, again, culture plays a big influence?
    The Chinese and Taiwanese are doing a good job adopting the look. Singaporeans are trying hard to catch up I think.
    At the end of the day, it's still an adopted look… What I do hope is the Japanese social etiquette taught in the magazines will influence some of these countries.

    • kirin September 1, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

      I see. Unlike Chinese or Taiwanese, western people who like to follow Japanese look will be very limited. That's possible.

    • TygTag September 2, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

      I feel as though you just contradicted yourself. You say you wish that Japanese mags were translated into English and yet you fell European/Americans shouldn't adopt the Kawaii Japanese look. Then why wish that the mags were translated in the first place? And add to that why shouldn't European/American adopt the look if they like it and feel confident doing so?

      Do you know how huge the Hip-Hop/Rap scene is becoming in Japan and in Asia in general? How popular it is with so many people. Hip-Hop and Rap are something that started predominantly in Black culture. I feel you've got a major double standard. You wish for Japanese mags to be translated into English but Europena/American speaking countries shouldn't adopt the looks found in them. Then according to that, Japanese/Asian shouldn't rap, dance to hip-hop, dress in baggy jeans etc.

      • kirin September 2, 2010 at 11:37 pm #

        No I didn't mean in that way. I feel happy that more and more western people like something kawaii today. (Otherwise, why do you think I bother to write this blog in English?)

        But still, compared with Asian people, their background culture I hear is something that adults should not follow something kawaii because that's considered childish. When the Japanese magazines look at this point, they may think it's still risky to make English version because the readers will be still limited and they cannot expect profit against their investment.

        This is just my guess. But if more western people like Japanese taste of kawaii, someday they will reach at the point that they can publish English version and their investment or work will be paid off. That's what I meant. I didn't say western people shouldn't adopt Japanese kawaii ways.

      • TygTag September 3, 2010 at 6:39 am #

        Oh Kirin I didn't mean you. I'm sorry if you took it that way. I was responding more to Cath's original comment. I do agree with you that Westerners who would follow Japanese looks would/could be limited, especially since there is so little material actually in English for them to follow.

      • kirin September 4, 2010 at 3:20 am #

        Oh, OK, sorry! It's interesting to hear "especially since there is so little material actually in English for them to follow." It's possible many western people just don't know such interesting fashion or way of life exist? If we share more Japanese kawaii materials with western people, they may be keener to kawaii culture. :p If that is possible, I feel so happy because what I offer in this blog could give them new perspectives that make them happy!

      • Cath September 4, 2010 at 6:32 pm #

        Hello I'm back! Sorry for the hiccups in communication! =P
        I'm Asian and my first language is English. That's why I wish Japanese mags can be translated into English.
        Of course Caucasians/ non-Asians can adopt any looks they fancy. I'm just saying they look odd to me. Just like how I've always hated Chinese rap and hip-hop.

      • kirin September 5, 2010 at 2:13 am #

        I think it's so cool of you that you can read information both in Chinese and English, right? Last night I was watching some basic Chinese lessons on Youtube and found that Chinese was not so hard as imagined!
        I remember many Japanese students complained 4 different intonations of Chinese, and that's why I thought it was way too difficult for me to master. But the accent code for each "ma" for example even represents the tone! "-" flat, "/" going up, "v" down and up, and "" going down.

        Unlike English or Spanish how easy it is that we don't have to change I am/ You are/ She is (Estoy/ Estas/ Esta or Soy/Eres/Es in Spanish).
        Moreover, the Chinese letters so easily came to my brain because I can guess from kanji. 我 as I for example is the same as in Japanese, for example 我々=We (although we use 私 to mention "I").

        How exciting and fun to learn Chinese! I don't know how Chinese rap sounds, but it'll be so much fun if I can learn Chinese from songs, too. 😀

  2. Suzy September 1, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

    Yay, Kawaii TV review… Awkward !! The girls are trying so hard to be different. Japanese mags are so bright and colourful, just like their culture. It would be fantastic if Japanese magazines were to be published in English.
    Will it ever happen, Kawaii Kirin ?

    • kirin September 2, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

      I think that's possible in the future, and I hope so.
      I have nothing to do with Japanese fashion magazines myself. It means nothing even if I try to attract non-Japanese people by Japanese way of kawaii. But as a Japanese I wish my country or culture is loved by foreigners, and our economy is supported by foreign customers, too. There'll be only technology and tourism that are left for us. Unlike 1980's our economy is so bad and we've been under depression for over decades. We are also losing population. We need to pay more attention to foreigners. In that sense, I have a sense of mission that I have to spread kawaii culture from center of Japan to attract more foreigners and people who don't even know the word "kawaii" or how fun it is to chase it.

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