Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cultural Fashions: Swim or Ski

Kid's story event at the pool- pirate theme
Sitting by the edge of the pool, I watch children's heads bobbing and marvel to myself at the amount of clothing being worn in the pool- hoodies, shorts, swim caps, and water shirts. I feel underdressed in a one piece black Speedo that anywhere else would have me feeling frumpy. The pool is large (30 meters by 80 meters) and warm enough that you could stand around in a bikini despite it being seven below Celsius outside. The Japanese are modest in their approach to swimwear despite the group bathing. Though not as modest as my Arab friends in Bahrain. My first morning there I awoke and walked out onto the hotel balcony startled to note a large black cloth floating in the pool below. Children were swimming about it and a tanned but hairy man calmly read the paper. The woman was swimming in her abaya, but I had thought she was drowning.

Fashions interest me particularly in relation to the culture in which they are observed. Businessmen in Japan often sport an efficient workday costume- efficient because you could wear it to work, a wedding, a concert, or a funeral- it is the ever present fitted black suit. Ski fashions, however, are bright and colorful particularly on the men. Think peacock. You can't help but notice them. One gentleman sported a planetary system in oranges, purples, and blues. I kept starring at the harsh colors wondering what motivated him to buy it. There is also a lemon yellow and cerulean blue variation running strong. I wondered if it was a ski club or a brand as the coloring of the yellows and blues is consistent, but the patterns vary. Such are my thoughts in lift lines. I saw no outrageous fashions on women, but my husband reported a woman wearing heels with snow spikes strapped on for traction. I am happily ensconced in Uggs (I have Raynaud's which means in the best of times I have cold feet and purple toes) ugly as they are, nothing else works.
Ok, this ski outfit is mild, but I was able to get it on camera
There are a few Chinese here. I can't identify where they are from (Mainland, Singapore, Taiwan, etc.), but their fashions tend toward black, and they don't ski much. I noted three women walking up a very long green run today in a fair amount of powder, in boots. My money would be on them being Chinese. The Chinese visiting here in Japan speak English so I find myself butting in with a word or two while the Japanese staff try to come up with things like "orange sherbet" or "the lockers are downstairs." It is nice to be able to help.

The exhausted Mule came back from the pool tonight wearing someone else's snow boots. She had a pair one size smaller here in the room which is where we realized the mix up. I returned the boots to the pool, but no one had reported theirs missing. I can't imagine going outside without any shoes on! Not many Japanese wear L.L. Bean. Perhaps our American fashions are catching on somewhere.