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So I forgot / didn’t realise that it’s not cool to show your shoulders in Japan. It never occurred to me that women don’t really do it. But the more I think about it, I don’t see many women wearing clothes that reveal their shoulders. Legs yes, tiny short-shorts and belts for skirts are A-Okay and you can’t turn a corner without seeing too much of a Japanese chicks thighs and in some case arse cheeks hanging out in Tokyo, even in cool weather, but show your shoulders and you’re a down right whore.

I was only reminded of the fact that shoulders are “dame” (not allowed) the other day when I wore a tank top to the gym. It was hot outside (for a pasty English chick like me, who is used to London weather) and I was going to the gym and was therefore only going to get even more hot and sweaty, so I wore a tank top to the gym, which is a 5 minute walk from my apartment. When I got back home after gyming my Japanese room mate “jumped out of her skin” in true melodramatic style and freaked out. She asked if I had really left the house “like that”, as in wearing a tank top. To which I replied flatly that I had…and told her my “rationale” that it was hot out…and that I went to the gym…pretty reasonable explanation for wearing a tank top where I come from. But she was soooo surprised and said she’d be embarrassed and too shy to go out like that.

I ignored her over reaction to my gym attire and went and showered. Later in the week I met some friends who are on the JET programme and one of them told me before she came to Japan she was advised by JET about Japanese etiquette and culture and was told that it’s a good idea to “cover your shoulders”. Shit, it’s an actual thing! My bad!

yeah those things...they're baaad!

yeah those things…they’re baaad!

Mostly (occasionally) I try stick to Japanese rules (unless they are really unreasonable, nonsensical or plain stupid). I put my phone on “manner mode” on the train, when it’s raining I use one of those annoying little plastic bags for my umbrella when I go into a store, I don’t eat and walk in the street. BUT when summer comes and I’ve become a melting, sweating mess of a woman I WILL wear whatever it takes to stay cool. So get ready to see some shoulders and possibly be offended Japan.

But I really am going to have to play the gaijin card on this one. I’ve never been in Tokyo during the Summer months, but I’m already too hot and it’s only Spring. I’m from England, what do you expect! I’m not used to this heat and humidity. Forgive me, I’m gaijin! Bloody gaijin…shoulder whores!

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5 thoughts on “No Shoulders Please

  1. Haha, I agree, I wore sleeveless tops and dresses (modest, but still showing more chest area than the Japanese are probably used to) during my year abroad in Kyoto. Gosh, the summer WAS hot! But you know what? Nobody stared or told me anything, so I didn’t care. I got a fabulous tan and was cool most of the time, without any stupid ‘cooling’ inventions like magic scarves etc. :) (but having said that, it’s worth getting a cooling menthol-y spray ice :) ) Sometimes being a gaijin pays off!

  2. Pingback: Ombros à mostra: um sinal de indecência | Peach no Japão

  3. Pingback: SCANDALOUS SHOULDERS – Wolf With A Fox Tail

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