The Battle Against Unsightly Tans

Those cute little skirts on the handlebars of this lady’s bike aren’t the equivalent of doilies on armchairs – they’re to keep the sun off the rider’s hands while she bombs down the sidewalks of Tokyo. Even as fall slides into winter here, and long sleeves replace short ones, women are ever-vigilant against becoming <shudder> TAN.

In May, when cosmetic companies in the rest of the world start gearing up to offer bronzing gels, spray-on Malibu Barbie and sunscreens with extra tint, in Japan the billboards for skin whiteners appear. There’s a gigantic category of products that claim to make you even whiter than you already are, and every department store features a section devoted to long white gloves, deeply visored hats and little ascots to cover up the space between your t-shirt and chin, lest a stray sunbeam provoke a hideous freckle.

Jonelle Patrick is the author of the Only In Tokyo mystery series, now out for the first time in paperback

More Nightshade book goodness here, in case you think you might want to, you know, read it or something

A young woman is found dead in an abandoned car, with a pair of strangers old enough to be her parents. Their suicide note apologizes for a disaster that hasn’t yet happened. And someone is stalking the…read more

…or watch the book trailer (0:52)