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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.

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Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

5 thoughts on “The Battle Against Unsightly Tans Leave a comment

  1. I find them ALL interesting, but it would get boring if I said that over and over and over again.

    Keep ’em coming, and know that I’m loving them all, whether I say so or not!

  2. What’s interesting to me as well is the subculture that rebels against this standard – the uber tanned. I went to a big reggae concert in Yokohama this summer and I was overwhelmed. These were not the delicate, well put together flowers I was used to seeing.

    • Really true. The fringe is so interesting here, because it gives a glimpse into what Japanese people find too constraining about their own society. It’s often really different from what looks too rigid from the outside, don’t you think?

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