Friday, September 20, 2013

Guest Post: Chic in Japan

It is my pleasure to introduce a guest post by Karabella, a lovely reader and email friend who was lucky enough to travel to Japan with her husband recently. Karabella was struck by the chic-ness of Japanese women, so of course I begged her to put some notes down so we can all be inspired.

With great excitement may I present to you Karabella’s guest post. Merci Karabella!


It was my third visit to the Land of the Rising Sun. During this most recent visit I had time to observe and savour every moment. Please note this post is plainly my observations and views, which may be a little clouded by my crush on the Japanese culture.

I noticed that the Japanese were very much like the French; looking good (evidenced by the galore of mind boggling beauty products); good quality of everything (including snacks...yes, they do snack); impeccable manners and excellent service.

Japanese ladies are the epitome of girlish and womanly femininity. They embrace their womanhood.

Most of the petite and very slim Japanese ladies boast flawless fair skin. But yes, there are those with tan skin too. With the endless beauty products in their drug stores and pharmacies, one did not need to ponder long how they achieved such flawless baby skin.

I wouldn't say they had effortless makeup, as you could tell they had on blush, lipstick and definitely eye makeup. I loved their eyeliner. Most emphasised with their eye makeup, some with false lashes.

But one can't help respecting and celebrating their beauty; as they make a concerted effort to look pretty, rather than good, if that makes sense.

I love that they celebrate their femininity. I love that they don't make any apologies for being a woman. And there seemed no judgement on being vain, in looking pretty and dressing up ALL the time.

Most had dyed feminine long hair. It's sometimes styled with womenly and romantic curls, and a plait here and there was a common sight too. They did not have highlights - it was usually a block colour. Mahogany brown, dark blonde etc.

Even those with short hair looked feminine. Of course, it was very interesting to see those with other hair colours like blue, green, pink... It showed off their individualistic personalities.

Yes. I did see many older ladies sporting long hair too. And always with makeup.

Incidentally, I saw an impressive woman of a certain age, who had super-short spiky hair dyed bright green wearing a very sharp, white skirt suit, finished off with a bright red lipstick, shopping with a very erect posture. I was blown away.

I know on paper it doesn't sound right; but this strong Japanese lady knew who she was and dressed accordingly. She managed to still rock femininity, and be chic and polished, all at the same time. One can't help but be in awe. She could pull it off. That was essentially her. A powerful lesson for me - to dress me as me.

Many wore lace; frills; skirts and because it was late summer, many still wore very pretty wedges... and I saw many wore rocket high heels; wedges to Osaka Universal Studios... full make up... I did wonder how they managed to go for all the rides, but they did with all their glory. Amazing!

I also noticed many do not wear sunglasses.

The Japanese women that I saw always dressed well. At the airport; shopping; subways... everywhere. Dressing well and looking like the beautiful women that they are is their birth right.

There were many pretty and very young mothers. Many did not look like they are out of their 30s... and they always have very adorable Japanese babies... they are so cute! They may just look young... I am not sure... Who knows? They certainly still looked after themselves after having kids. No letting go...

The very slim Japanese do snack... especially when I was in Osaka. Takoyaki... a ball-like Japanese snack with diced octopus in it, is very popular over there. They do eat standing up... and they love their coffee. In many restaurants, there are baskets on the floor, for you to put your bags in. It is legendary that there are many creative innovations in term of food and objects created cleverly by the Japanese.

In Japan, the clean restrooms even have buttons for you to push to dispel any unladylike restroom noises... I love that the seat is heated and they even have washing ‘facilities’. In some departmental stores' restrooms, there are baby seats for you to put your baby in the cubicle while you do your thing.

Once, my husband bought a whole wardrobe of shirts in a shop. After paying up, he wanted to carry the many, heavy shopping bags, but the petite salesgirls smiled and denied him vehemently to flex his muscles; as they insisted to bring the shopping bags and walked us up to the entrance of the shop, before passing us the loot and continued to keep bowing and smiling and thanking us, till we were out of sight. Impeccable service indeed! You just feel so justified spending all that money.

Once I was shopping alone and got lost. I approached randomly a staff in store; and you won't believe it, she not only came out of the store to direct me but actually walked half the way to my destination! And she kept bowing. Even when I tried to tell her I knew my way, she insisted on walking with me till the half-way mark. I was so impressed and humbled by her kindness and extreme politeness in this case.

It was also very safe for me to walk alone. Of course, I learnt a few essential Japanese terms. Essentially, ‘Ikura’... It means how much!

All in all, the lovely Japanese ladies really inspired me to passionately embrace my femininity.


  1. Thank you for showing an appreciation of japanese aesthetics. Even though there are many playful and sometimes crazy "progressive/avantgarde" styles in Japan with the youth :), I have always admired the traditional aesthetic of minimalism, simplicity, and nothing ever vulgar. Quality over quantity is also very prominent not only in wardrobe. Japanese mothers will wake up hours early to prepare beautiful lunches for their children for school. They are also the epitome of good manners and etiquette and most happen to love all things french as well ;)

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience in Japan! I read it with great pleasure.

  3. Bonjour Fiona and Karabella,

    You are preaching to the choir. We had a Japanese exchange student and she was very fun to have.

    The girls from Japan did not put any clothes in the dryer. They hang dry all their laundry because the dryer is hard on clothing.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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