Strange New Japanese Photo Trend?

One of Japan’s most popular subcultures is the gyaru/gal subculture. Gyaru is largely characterized by having heavily bleached or dyed hair fashioned in big and eccentric hairstyles, highly decorated nails, dramatic makeup and equally dramatic clothes.

Even more interesting, this Japanese street fashion has various subcategories which have distinct styles. Some wear more glitter, some dress up in school uniforms, some even sport dark spray-on tans. Needless to say, these boys and girls are not afraid to catch attention.

And that’s exactly what they’ve been doing. The current trending topic on Japanese twitter as well as 2ch, the country’s largest and most popular online forum, is a new Japanese photo trend that seems to be gaining popularity in the gyaru subculture.

If you were upset that the duckface ruined pictures, you haven’t seen anything yet. This possible new photo trend seems to defeat the purpose of the picture all together.

According to Kotaku, the latest photo trend to hit Toyko is to hide your face by looking down while a picture is being taken. Everything else about the photo seems natural. Many of the girls are even still throwing up a peace sign.

You can bet people have been confused about this pose which Japanese media is calling the “Face Down Pose.” People have tried to find the meaning and purpose behind the photo trend. Some claim the teens are trying to make their head/hair appear larger. Others have said that the culture is shy and ashamed of how they look, but we doubt that one.

Realistically, trends may not have a reason behind them at all. Someone could have looked down once and others followed along for humorous purposes.

Whatever the reason, let’s just hope the trend doesn’t make its way here. The last thing we need is a bunch of faceless pictures. pt 2 pt 3 pt 4 pt 5 pt 6

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Problematic Image of The Day: Japanese Show Claims There Are Right & Wrong Ways To Be A Fat Woman

In the United States, the pressure for a woman to be thin is undeniable. Nearly $35 billion a year is spent on weight loss products such as pills, machines and supplements. Everyday advertisements remind us that society has an ideal body weight and we are pressured to try every method to obtain this ideal body image.

This is precisely why it’s striking to discover that Japan places even more pressure on Japanese women. Japan goes to extreme lengths to make sure their citizens are maintaining a slim physique.

Last year, a B&B in Osaka called Lady Share House had the rent of their rooms dependent on the tenant’s weight. The rent would increase with every pound gained and decrease with every pound lost. We can already see the problems which may arise from this tactic. What if someone is in the position of financial hardship and is willing to go to extreme and unhealthy measures  to decrease their rent price?

A week later, a Japanese weight loss app was released which had  “attractive” anime men encourage the user to lose weight. By encourage, I mean these anime characters would say verbally abusive things to the user like, “Fat girl, do some more exercise, okay fattie?”

Every now and then, some Japanese citizens show resistance towards this insane amount of pressure, but these methods can quickly backfire. For instance, La Farfa, a magazine which features only plus-size women, has started to advocate for the term “marshmallow girl.” The aim of the new nickname is to associate chubbiness with cuteness instead of the negative connotations of a nickname like “fatty.” Unfortunately, many readers seemed to dislike the idea of chubby women being associated to food of any kind. One Audrey reader simply stated that they would rather be called fat.

Clearly, good intentions may still be very negative and problematic. This seems to be the case with a Japanese television show pointing out the “right and wrong ways to be a fat girl.”

According to RocketNews24, a Japanese twitter user posted a chart which they saw on a morning television show. The chart distinguished the traits between “OK Chubby” girls and “NG (No Good) Chubby” Girls.


According to the RocketNews24 translation of the chart, the following are considered traits of “OK Chubby” girls:
-Charming and bright smile.
-A big eater.
-Makes an effort an effort to look cute and doesn’t worry about showing skin.
-Clothes are brightly colored.
-Hairstyle and make up is carefully done.

The following are considered traits of “NG (No Good) Chubby” Girls:
-Expressionless and always alone.
-A small eater.
-Clothes are not revealing and attempt to hide figure.
-Only chooses dark clothing.
-Dress like they don’t care or just gave up.


Where to begin? Let’s start with the very big fact that there is no right or wrong way to be chubby. The chart not only makes broad assumptions about women, it’s just plain insulting. How is a woman a “No Good Chubby” simply because she wears dark clothing?

We’re not sure if the chart was trying to be helpful, but it definitely missed its mark. There is no information about the television show which featured the chart, but we certainly hope this was poor taste in humor instead of actual opinion.

 

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Do You Prefer An Older Or Younger Lover? Japan Responds

They say that age is just a number, but apparently people still have their preferences. For many of us, there has been a long-standing belief that older men prefer younger women and younger women prefer older men.

Recently, this trend seems to have shifted.The rise of terms such as “cougar” and “MILF” have increased in popularity. This has become so evolved in mainstream media that even “Hot Mom” photo competitions exist. The idea of “the attractive older woman” has been embraced.

In the past, if you were a woman who dated a younger man, you were laughed at, called a “cradle-robber” and even called desperate. Women were led to believe in finding an older man to ensure that they were nurtured and cared for. Times have changes and more and more women are leaning away from this path.

Sandra L. Caron, a professor of family relations and human sexuality at the University of Maine, told The New York Times, “For a long time we’ve been fed this idea that women should look for a man to take care of her, a man that is more educated, has a better job and makes more money. That might be fine and dandy if you’re in high school and have this fairy tale Prince Charming. But when you look at adult women, most are self-sufficient and they don’t have to look for that.”

When NBC News looked into this trend, they noted that women may be more interested in younger men because,

-Older women are looking better every day, thanks to creative medical advances and a gym on every corner.

-Women are more likely to come back on the dating market because of divorce and a longer expected life span.

-Not as many women are looking for the picket fence and two cars. Now companionship, travel, and fun are coming to the forefront.

-Women may also want a man with a less-developed career who could follow her or take care of children, if that is a factor.

-For their part, younger men often find older women more interesting, experimental, fun to talk to, financially settled, and more adept sexually.

 

While the U.S. has begun embracing the idea of older women with younger men, Japan has kept true to their traditional views on relationships.

Earlier this month, a Japanese dating app called Match Alarm asked nearly 3,000 singles if they preferred dating someone the same age, younger, or older. The response was unanimous for women- 81.3% responded that they would prefer an older lover. This percentage is not as large for men, but a majority (46.9%) still prefer dating younger women.

Despite this preference towards traditional ways, Japan was still surprised that one in three men want an older lover. In fact, once the numbers were separated by age group, more than 50% of men between the ages of 20 and 24 preferred older women.

Japanese women generally seemed to agree on older men. Even the oldest age group, 35-39 most preferred dating older men. Check out the results below.

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So tell us- do you prefer an older or a younger lover?

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Life-Size Lady Gaga Doll VS. Gaga-Inspired Hello Kitty Doll

This past weekend, the oh-so-popular Lady Gaga was in Tokyo promoting her latest album Art Pop. Although Japanese netizens can say they’re accustomed to the eccentric, Lady Gaga still turned heads with her giant hair ears and and confusing outfit (typical of the pop diva).

During one of the press conferences, Lady Gaga held on to a Hello Kitty doll that was clearly inspired by her own look. The doll was created specifically for her by Sanrio designer Yuko Yamaguchi. As you can see in the image below, The Lady Gaga-inspired Hello Kitty doll wears a blond wig, a white pantsuit outfit with a shell bra and huge platform shoes.

After engaging in a kiss with the doll, Lady Gaga revealed that she would be auctioning the signed doll and the proceeds would go to Tomodachi, a non-profit organization. The proceeds for this particular auction would go to the Tomodachi Stella Adler Performing Arts Fellowship.

So what’s so special about this Hello Kitty doll? When we say its limited edition, we really mean limited edition. Only two of these Lady Gaga-inspired Hello Kitty dolls exist and the owner of the other one happens to be Lady Gaga herself.

The auction will continue until December 23rd and 10pm. The bid is already around $24,000. Check it out here.

In return, Lada Gaga was presented with four life-size dolls resembling herself. The dolls had such realistic detail and skin that it was hard to tell the singer apart from her dolls. The silicone “Gagadolls” were created by Orient Industry in Tokyo which specializes in synthetic “love dolls.”

All of the Gagadolls dolls were dressed up to replicate a specific outfit and look of Lady Gaga. The pop-star tweeted a photo of herself next to the dolls saying, “Who needs barbies when you can own your own life size pop star that sings to you #gagadollz.” Hey, Santa? Is it too late to add this to my Christmas list?”

Check out the video of the making of the Gagadolls below.

 

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(Source 1, 2, 3)

Japan Introduces Term “Marshmallow Girls” To Combat Fat-Shaming

It’s no secret that the pressure to be thin is one faced by many woman. A simple flip through your average Vogue is enough to get the point across: society tells us skinny is pretty and fat is not.

Even worse, any woman in Japan will tell you that their pressure is far greater. Apparently a chubby figure (much smaller than what we consider obese here in the U.S.) is not acceptable.

As a result, some in Japan have tried to counter this perception of chubby girls. A magazine called La Farfa was created and features only plus-sized women. It is an effort to show Japan and the world that plus-sized girls are beautiful as well.

Recently, the magazine called one of its models, Goto Seina, a “marshmallow girl.” The magazine has since been advocating for the term and claims that it hopes the nickname will change the general perspective on chubby girls.

The aim of the new nickname is to associate chubbiness with cuteness instead of the negative connotations of a nickname like “fatty.”

While the new term inches its way towards viral popularity, netizens seem torn on the issue. Some claim that the term is much more user-friendly and “you’re a marshmallow girl” creates a much cuter image than harsh terms like “you’re a fatty” or “you’re a pig.”

Others claim that its association to food is problematic. One commented on JapanCrush.com, “How about just calling them “pizza girls”?”

Some netizens want nothing to do with the confusing issue and refuse to recognize the issue at all. They simply say women should just lose weight and that’s that.

Let us know what you think. Will “marshmallow girls” be a productive method of combating fat-shaming?

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Full Length Trailer for Live-Action “Kiki’s Delivery Service” Disappoints Viewers

When it was announced that Japan was creating a live-action version of Hayao Miyazaki’s beloved classic, Kiki’s Delivery Service, it seemed as if the world could hardly wait.

This news was especially exciting for dedicated Miyazaki fans who were saddened by Miyazaki’s news of retirement. Although the  film director, animator, manga artist, producer, and screenwriter would no longer create brilliant works, fans took comfort that his legacy could live on through this live-action film.

Unfortunately, this excitement quickly dropped with the release of the film’s teaser trailer a few months ago. Although the teaser gathered well over 1 million views, this number does not accurately explain fan reactions to it. The teaser had over 400 likes, but it also gained over 2,300 dislikes. Clearly, the public had no problem expressing their opinion.

Some complained about the special effects while others claimed there was no way it could accurately portray the magic of Miyazaki’s work. Some even broke out into arguments about the 1985 novel by  Eiko Kadono which inspired Miyazaki’s work in the first place.

Whatever your opinion of the trailer was, there was simply no denying that fans seemed unsatisfied.

Recently, the first full length trailer of the live-action film made its way to the internet. This time, the trailer is a minute a five seconds. Although this may seem short for a full length trailer, this is still longer than the 40 second teaser released earlier.

This trailer reveals more of the island which Kiki appears to live on, the bakery she works in, a boy we suspect is Tombo, and more shots of Kiki flying on her broom.

The full length trailer is only a couple of days old, but it has already gained nearly 600,000 views on YouTube. Unfortunately, the dislikes almost double the likes. Once again, some ghibli fans do not appear to be pleased while others argue that it’s a “must see.”

Watch it below for yourself and tell us what you think.

 

Image of The Day: Totoro Cream Puffs in Miyazaki Themed Cafe

So first there was Miyazaki-themed cosplay. Then there was fashion inspired by Miyazaki. Then there were Totoro parodies.

Clearly, the Ghibli fandom is no where near finished even though Miyazaki has announced his retirement. The 72-year-old confirmed that his film The Wind Rises is his last. The film, which focuses on a fictional biography of Japan’s Zero airplane creator Jiro Horikoshi, has already become a box-office hit in Japan since its release in July.

So what’s next from Miyazaki fans? How else will they show their love for the timeless films?

Through food of course.

A city in Japan named Setagaya City holds a themed cafe called White Beard Workshop. Among the various Miyazaki sweets, a certain pastry has been catching social media attention.

The cafe sells adorable Totoro cream puffs. Each puff includes a leaf or hat to represent the flavor of the cream inside. Of course, a treat itself isn’t even the fun part. Upon purchasing one of these cuties, the puff is cut open to reveal the custard creme and give Totoro a big smile.

If you’re ever in Japan, be sure to pick up some of these. Be warned, they may be too cute to eat!

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Heartwarming Story of the Day: Six-Year Old Donates Piggybank Savings for Haiyan Relief

With his mother in tow, six-year old Shoichi Kondoh headed over to the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo with a determined mind and an open heart.  In an act of great generosity, he was there to personally donate his savings to response efforts in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

As stated by the Philippine Embassy, after seeing the extent of the damage on television, the Japanese pre-schooler “did not think twice about giving away his childhood savings (of JPY 5,000 or ~$50).”  With his donation, Soichi became the youngest cash donor at the embassy.  Consul Bryan Dexter Lao was there to receive the enveloped-donation.

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Soichi signs the condolence book at the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo and poses with Consul Bryan Dexter Lao. (Photos courtesy of the Philippine Embassy in Japan)

With damages costing an estimated $15 billion, a rising death toll and hundreds of thousands of people displaced, it is no question that relief and aid are needed.  Soichi’s act of “sincere generosity” is a reminder that every little bit counts.

If you are interested in donating to the continuing relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines, be sure to check out these Ruby Veridiano and Audrey-approved picks.

(Sources: 1, 2)

Five of Asia’s Most Breathtaking Locations

Yesterday, BuzzFeed released a list called “27 Surreal Places To Visit Before You Die.” The list has already gained over 180,000 likes on facebook and for good reason. All of the locations are undeniably breathtaking.

We were pleased to discover that five of these locations were in Asia and we decided to take a closer look at all of them.

1. Zhangye Danxia landform in Gansu, China

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The Danxia landforms are sandstone formations most known for, you guessed it, their vibrant color patterns.The are located in a remote region in northern central China. The mountains and hills retain such color because Danxia landforms are composed of red sandstone. Mineral deposits were compressed into rock for 24 million years thus gaining a colors ranging from deep red to yellow and green.

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2. The Hang Son Doong cave in Quang Binh Province, Vietnam

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The Sơn Đoòng cave is currently the largest known cave in the world and is located near the border of Laos and Vietnam. It is five times larger than the Phong Nha Cave which previously held the record for being the biggest cave in Vietnam. Although it was created 2-5 million years ago, the cave did not become public knowledge until 2009. Inside, there is a fast flowing underground river as well as cave pearls the size of baseballs.

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 3. Hitachi Seaside Park in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan

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This popular tourist destination has been given the nickname “flower paradise” because the 32,000 square metres of flowers look amazing all year long. With each passing season, a different variety of flower will blossom throughout the Hitachi Seaside park such as the Nemophilas. The popular, blue flower blossoms annually during springtime.

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4. Bamboo groves of Arashiyama in Kyoto, Japan

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These Japanese bamboo groves, located in Northwest Kyoto, are a tourist favorite. The gorgeous line of bamboo not only looks beautiful, apparently it sounds beautiful too. Amusing Planet notes “The sound of the wind in this bamboo forest has been voted as one of ‘one hundred must-be-preserved sounds of Japan’ by the Japanese government.” The bamboo in this grove is still used to manufacture various products such as cups, boxes, baskets and mats in the area.

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5. Kelimutu crater lakes in Flores Island, Indonesia

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Kelimutu is a small volcano central Flores Island of Indonesia. It has gained popularity because the volcano has three craters- each contain a lake with a different color. The lakes periodically change colors from red and brown to turquoise and green, independent of each other. The lakes are named Tiwi Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People), Tiwu Nua Muri Kooh Tai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Lake of Evil Sprits, or Enchanted Lake). The scientific explanation behind the colorful lakes  chemical reactions from the minerals in the lake triggers by the volcano’s gas activity.

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(Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Facebook Depresses Japan, Loses Popularity

Here at Audrey, we’ve known the dangers of facebook and social media for quite some time now. In our Fall 2013 issue, we pointed out that a 2013 study conducted by two German universities showed one in three people felt worse and more dissatisfied with their lives after visiting Facebook.

Users felt envy, loneliness and isolation, with the most common cause of Facebook frustration stemming from others’ vacation photos. The second most common cause of envy was social interaction — feeling a “lack of attention” from having fewer birthday greetings, comments and “likes” compared to friends.

 

And it wasn’t just college students. The study found people in their mid-30s were most likely to envy family happiness, while women were more likely to envy physical attractiveness. After all, what is Facebook but an online brag book for all to see? A 20-something colleague recently summed it up when asked why she posted so much food porn on Facebook: “To make people jealous.”

 

The term “facebook depression” began in 2011 after the study Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking was published by sociologists Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge. The study showed that those who spent less time on facebook seemed to live happier lives.

Of course, the repercussions of facebook depression is not simply confined to the US. In particular, Japan seems to have finally become overwhelmed by facebook depression.

In 2008, facebook launched in Japan and seemed to head towards instant success. At the end of 2012, the Japanese facebook site had over 17 million users. However, five months later, the amount of users became 13 million.

So what could be the cause of this very sudden and large drop? According to RocketNews24, Japanese Psychologist Kouji Yamada claims Japanese facebook users are “developing an inferiority complex about their lonely, boring and unsatisfying lives.”

Apparently, we’re not just too sensitive over here. The facebook depression syndrome may actually be a global issue.

(Photo Source)