Japan on the Catwalk: Japanese Fashion from the 50s to the 80s

    Until the mid-twentieth century, Japan only had a “passive” role in the mainstream fashion industry. By the time the country opened itself to the world, its heritage and aesthetics became the perfect source of inspiration for the French couturiers. Thus, even though Japan has always been present in the fashion industry, it used to be filtered through the eyes of Western dessigners. When the second World War ended, things started to change. Fashion was no longer dominated by French firms, as an increasing number of fashion houses and designers worldwide entered the market. These circumstances allowed fashion to flourish into an international industry that promptly engulfed Japan. In those same…


    Hope, Future, and Nostalgia,  the story of the Tōkyō Tower

    The Tōkyō Tower 東京タワー is the second tallest structure in Japan. The building is a communications and observation tower currently used as a relay by nine TV stations and five radio stations. The year 2012 put an end to its supremacy as the tallest tower in the whole country, when the 634 mt-tall Tōkyō Sky Tree Tower 東京スカイツリー, was finally finished. Although the Tōkyō Tower only possesses the silver medal in the contest of towers nowadays, the cultural impact it has had in the modern story of the city certainly makes this iconic ironed structure worthy of the gold one. Tokyo Tower in 1961 The idea of the Tōkyō Tower…


    The Forbidden Religion, the story of  Kakure Kirishitan and Christianity in Japan.

    The first encounter between Japan and Christianity happened in 1549, when a group of Portuguese Jesuits led by Francisco Xavier (1506-1542) arrived in Kagoshima, after some time spent among India, China, and South-East Asia. At that time, Portuguese Catholic orders had been travelling throughout Asia for the purpose of spreading the Catholic Church and converting as many people as possible, since in Europe the number of Catholics had drastically decreased due to the Protestant movement. To preach Catholicism in Japan, Xavier was assisted by Yajirōヤジロウ, a man from Kagoshima met during his accommodation in Malacca. Other than being the first Japanese to be baptised, Yajirō was partially familiar with Portuguese,…

  • fashion in Meiji period Japan

    Uniforms and Corsets at the Chrisanthemum court, Victorian Fashion in Meiji Japan.

    Among all the changes that Meiji Japan had to face, that related to the wearing system had  been one of the most significant. The first appearance of European fashion happened in the foreign districts of the largest harbour cities like Tōkyō and Yokohama. The charm of such exotic garments led some ukiyoe artists to leave behind their traditional artistic topics to start portraying life scenes from those districts. Known as Yokohamae 横浜絵, this kind of woodblock print achieved discrete popularity among the locals, for it often was the only way people living in the countryside had to interface with the foreign reality. The artists of the Utagawa school, in particular,…

  • Painting the West, the Yokohamae style.

    Painting the West, the Yokohamae style

    Yokohamae 横浜絵 is a sub-genre of the Japanese ukiyoe 浮世絵 production which became an artistic trend in the mid-nineteenth century, right after the arrival of the foreigners from Europe and America. This style is named after the place where the first overseas communities established their businesses once landed on the oriental coasts of Japan. Although these prints may not be as notorious as the most canonic ukiyoe, they have recently become a matter of interest among scholars and enthusiasts both for the uniqueness of their subjects and the accurate representations of the foreigner reality in late Edo Japan. After the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry with his “black ships” in…


    Simple is chic, fashion in Edo Period

    Shortly after the reunification of the Country in the seventeenth century, the bakufu, embarked on a strict campaign to redefine the social roles and to keep control of the entire society. The new hierarchical system took the name of  Shinōkōshō 士農工商and it was divided into four main social categories: the bushi 武士, the farmers, the craftsmen, and the merchants; the latter were often regarded as ill-reputated. Above the Shinōkōshō system stood the Shōgun, the clergy, the Emperor and his family, and the kuge 公家. People whose work dealt with blood and death, criminals, beggars, and art performers belonged to special classes known as eta 穢多and hinin 非人and they were considered outcasts. To further enhance this…