No society exists without spawning trends. Some of them are logically cultivated from socially accepted lifestyles, others spring up out of the blue and take over. Some of the latter can be quite weird, like the one popular in the 1990s, when school boys put their pants the other way round because the currently trendy rap duet Kriss Kross did! Every corner of the world is regularly shaken by some bizarre trend or other, and while the US has its share of these, we cannot compare to some things that originate from the East. In countries like China, Japan and South Korea people display habits and behaviors that can seem very strange on other continents, and sometimes shocking and cruel.
The mind boggles thinking how some of these trends could have ever come to being. There is an idea that in an overpopulated country people are apt to try just anything to stand out in a crowd, and the notion of strangeness does not deter them from expressing themselves. Anyway, strange things and trends are not exactly something unheard of. What we have long accepted may look quaint to somebody from the other side of the globe. While it stands to good reason, we can’t but marvel at some trends; they may strike us as definitely peculiar or even worse, but it would nevertheless be titillating to learn what people are into in Asia and Japan.
And… Who knows? What if tomorrow some of these bizarre trends will catch on and folks will get to like them? Starting from this article, maybe.
T-shirts bearing crazy inscriptions
When, traveling abroad, you see a person in a T-shirt with an English phrase that reads in the very least jocularly, you begin to wonder whether this person really knows what is written all over their chests. They could have bought it for color and fondness for letterings, not caring what the shirt says exactly. Or is it an attempt to play around with the Western culture and be purposefully daft? Anyway, with so many Asians who know English pretty well, even if the wearer wasn’t aware of the translation initially, someone must have interpreted it for them sooner or later.
There’s no denying some of them are worth a chuckle. Yet, when you see your friend with the “Crap Your Hands” saying and you can’t but laugh, probably the next time around you won’t be rolling with laughter, and yet later it can even seem a bit stupid. However, for the time being Asia enjoys it, and the fashion is not likely to wear off in the nearest future. What inscription would you like to show off?
Vending machines selling used panties
Well, it’s not exactly as if Japan teemed with this kind of vending machines – that is to say, mostly it isn’t so. The idea isn’t exactly foreign for the Japanese culture, yet worn panties are not sold everywhere via machines. Japan’s vending machines chiefly sell the same things we buy from them – drinks and snacks, other small stuff.
Altogether there are close to four million vending machines in the country, which makes one machine per about 30 people. They embrace all imaginable kinds of mechanic vendors – offering tickets, toys, hygienic products, small items of entertaining value and the like. These are not very numerous, they constitute something like 4% of the whole. Popular are vending machines known in Japan as “gachapon” – a handle-operated kind of machine you can still find selling candies in restaurants. What you get from them is a plastic capsule with a randomly chosen product. That’s the idea behind the gachapon thing.
Among the products gachapons dispense there are panties, but of course, they are new. It’s a fresh idea, and the inscriptions on the machines definitely state the goods are not used, but not all foreign tourists can read it! So, some visitors who were misled into believing there are machines delivering used stuff amuse themselves looking for such in the part of Japan they are visiting. They won’t find them.
Showing outlandish games
TV game shows are so numerous and sometimes so bizarre that fitting even the quaintest of them into this article makes an impossible task. You can always choose the ones that you consider to be the champions of weirdness. Here some of risqué ones will be mentioned, like Hand Job Karaoke, the game where men are to sing karaoke from start to end without halting, and women try to prevent them from winning by distracting them willfully with their hands just where men are most vulnerable. It’s much more difficult to describe Orgasm Wars, a multi-challenge game where, for instance, a straight star of adult cinema is to resist a gay man’s attempts to make him aroused. How about it for a challenge? The homosexual turned out to be good at his art, and that was the point of the episode in question.
The shows are carefully written with cardboard box shells to provide necessary screening so the viewer gets no nudity; the main drivers are shock value and the ability to make it exciting where it is not quite supposed to be so. Well, they get their ratings, and it’s up to personal opinion just how tasteful the games are.
The Western culture doesn’t quite favor braces; they are looked upon as something to be avoided, on a par with wearing glasses. The situation seems to be vastly different in countries like China, Indonesia, Thailand, and some others, where the dental corrective apparatus is indicative of wealth (apart from its main purpose). Is it possible that wearing braces can be compared to wearing Rolex watches or toting Coach bags?
The trend purportedly sprang up in China where they began to wear fake braces like common-type braces, and soon spread over the nearby countries. Some wearers prefer braces adorned by plastic patterns and flowers so they can flash plastic colored smiles around. Maybe that is nice and pleasing to chance people around, but does it look just as nice for long-time friends? Will it really make one look rich, or just a bit cuter than usual?
South Korean Eye Smile
This facial trick can be surely counted among the creepy things people like, and one wonders how on earth somebody came to conceive the idea. It originates from South Korea, where it is known as Aegyo Sal, translated Eye Smile, and it’s on the rise currently. Women arrange to have crescent bags under their eyes (somewhat in the shape of a smile) which they tape on or have implanted there. The bags are supposed to give faces a kind of a dreamy look.
There are women who build upon the idea adding makeup and finding other ways to make it more pronounced and colorful. Eventually it makes them look even more like dolls. It goes to show that the desire to emulate anime characters may take some girls too far, but arguably most of us would like to look like our favorite movie characters if we were sure we could carry it off.
Wearing face-kini masks
Chinese people went and began to wear thin fabric masks over their heads concealing their faces – behavior that could have created havoc in many a Western city! Imagine people going around in kinds of ski masks of various colors. Why do they choose to do so? Maybe the sun is to blame, and people want to remain pale and protect their skin.
The trend expanded to include children as well as all possible locations – towns, villages, and, probably not surprisingly, seaside, where masked people come out the sea in groups (which may look quite scary!). True, those whose complexion is on the pale side have a good reason to feel concerned: the Skin Cancer Foundation states that pale skin tans badly, but gets burned more easily than the average skin, and, consequently, can develop various dermatological problems up to running cancer risk. How much it is fear to become ill and how much reasonable protection is up to questioning, but those who often wear surgical masks have gained an army of allies.
Here’s another alteration of traditionally human forms from Japan (this country has done much towards completing this eyebrow-raising list, as you noticed). This time they experimented with the forehead which, upon reception of saline injections, assumes a donut-shaped protuberance. Or bagel-shaped, if you like them better.
This trend has clearly grown out of the wish to differ from others, even by dint of a strange facial projection. It must have been achieved by quite a lot of Japanese citizens who are not averse to this kind of show-off. The procedure has nothing difficult about it; it takes two hours to inject the sufficient amount of solution, after which you exert a slight pressure in the center to make the right shape, and the prominence is good for the next 20 hours with a 4-hour margin. Care to try for a selfie on Facebook?
Rockabilly Japanese fashion
This sort of thing has been around since the 1950s, when America was overflown with angry young people, and all of them tried to show their attitude in the way they dressed. Black leather jackets it was for boys, coupled with tight jeans and topped with heavily-pomaded hair. The grease hairstyle was seconded by girls who went for tight leotards and striped tops. Now the trend is known as Rockabilly, though they started off as Greasers. It subsided in the US to be revived in Japan some half a century later as Japanese Rockabilly.
The Japanese emulated their American spiritual ancestors down to the ground. They gather in groups with their motorcycles, and are supposedly just as eager to do the evil eye trick, ride around in circles and attempt to intimidate in other classic ways. The only difference is that in Japan women members play more important roles in the pack – up to being leaders.
Fairy Kei fashion
While some Japanese fashionistas are bent on returning to the 1950s, other trend followers concentrate on what 1980s have to offer. They seem to have ransacked all the attics in the US for old-fashioned clothing, including toys and other paraphernalia of those days. Then these things resurface in pastel colors, thus allowing to refer to the image of a fairy.
But this trend goes too far in Japan, with its followers insisting on not only wearing the Fairy Kei clothes, but on sticking to the corresponding style of life as well! Otherwise you can be put down as a nerd or a miserable poser. So much can be said for the Japanese, they are capable of taking the thing as far as it is ever possible.
Key chains with small live animals
Here is the last word in key chains coming down upon us from China, Japan and neighboring countries: wear small live animals attached to the key chain! The idea has already caused much controversy all over the world, people referring to it as cruel and totally messed-up. The animals won’t be bothering you, they are placed in thick plastic bags so they can serve as accessories with perfect ease.
Inside the plastic bags attachable to key chains are usually small fish, lizards, or turtles. The designers and retailers of such an accessory aver that the animals are comfortable there and free from harm – in spite of their living space being so restricted that it’s impossible for them to turn around. Besides, how does one set about feeding the live key chain dwellers when the dinner time comes? You’ll have to get a lot of these plastic bags if you are keen on keeping the poor beast alive.
Voices are already raised worldwide declaring that this is downright cruel treatment and there is no real need to subject the creatures to such nefarious misuse. Yet right now living key chains are vastly popular and many Chinese and Taiwanese people don’t seem to mind.
You are free to make up your mind whether it is true to the origin or far from it, but this is the way the Japanese perceive the Yankee lifestyle – or imagine it to suit their fancy. Misconceptions can’t be gotten round so easily. Most of Western people believe the Japanese to be bashful, extremely polite and sticking to what they deem proper. It seems now that Japan sees Americans as loutish drunkards whose behavior leaves much to be remedied.
Once again, to be a Yankii means not only to look right, but also to live right. A true-blue Yankii is expected to go about in tracksuits, swill alcoholic beverages, spit when they want to (which is absolutely unacceptable in Japan) and thrust their opinions in others’ faces unasked. Rather gross and inappropriate, if one could venture an opinion.
Dresses from plastic bags
You may not know how to take this straightaway, but here is another latest trend from Taiwan, a fashion style that has caught on. Taiwanese younger generations have developed a new kind of selfie outfits consisting of plastic bags. (No-one will be surprised that it’s mostly girls who endorse this new style.) Maybe it would be different if they used strong black garbage bags which just could pass as some weird clothing. No, they take common store bags and fashion tops, shorts and bathing suits from them.
So far such outfits are not worn in public and remain only as home experiments for selfies, but who knows? The Taiwanese are still using plastic bags, by the way, isn’t it time to regard the environmental issues and move on?
There’s a job for certain kind of men in Asian countries which could be freely described as “gentlemen callers.” They are dressed up in good suits, mostly wear their hair in the style that was in about 30 years ago and use cologne lavishly. These guys, patronizing an inexpensive kind of glamour, act as partners for mature women wishing to sport a younger man by their side.
It certainly feels nice for a woman of advanced age to display a dapper younger man who goes around with her, keeps up a flow of conversation, shares drinks and dances. (Also, he collects high wages for his attendance and attention!) Apparently there are no romantic relationships involved, but one can’t be sure that such a possibility is completely out of the picture. Anyway, it’s gratifying and some ladies can believe a young man dangling from her arm puts them way above her peers and makes them look grand. Yes, why not, blessed are those who believe.
Cafés catering hedgehogs
We have long known that the Japanese are partial to animal-themed cafés – people go to these places to enjoy their meals in the company of their favorite pets. They are not only customary-looking cats, you can chew your steak ogled by owls or with snakes brushing against your trouser leg. The hedgehog affair is still pretty fresh and is located only in one town so far, and “hedgehog” is not a nickname for a special kind of crêpe they serve. It’s the very animal you are thinking of, and it’s served in colors and sizes. Yes, it is more like a pet shop, although it is called a café. If you want to own a cute hedgehog you go there and get one to your liking for up to 40,000 yen.
Perfectly matched couples
You show your fidelity to the one you love by wearing their ring. It doesn’t seem impressive enough any more for young people in South Korea. They now prefer to show their involvement with their partners by copying their outfits, haircuts, wearing the same brand shoes and accessories. Is this trend prompted by strong love or a wish to be singled out as a couple?
The tendency to match grew to include couple-themed public places – cafés, theatres, wherever you go, it can be made to match the matching couple. It may be great fun to spend a day out where everything is a continuation of your shirt for one day. Now, does that mean that these couples will never go separate ways because of their outward commitment? Probably the very first thing they do after breaking up is going to a store to buy a whole new wardrobe, and run to the hairdresser after they have changed their clothes to mismatch their ex.