Kokura Spring 2005 Fashion Report, Day 4 Part 1

First, a confession. Because Lia knew that I’d finished writing this fashion report and then serialized it, she demanded to immediately read it through to the end. This is an exclusive privilege limited to people who don’t yell at me too much for filing my tax returns late have physical access to my computer so the rest of you will have to wait. But that’s just backstory.

The confession part is that I’m revising this and the final Kokura Spring 2005 fashion post before they go live because Lia says they’re not witty enough. Not witty enough indeed. This is my blog, not a syndicated column. I don’t have to have standards! Oh well, I guess she and I are the only ones who’ll know what the witless version of the post originally looked like. And this is starting to sound more like a rant than a confession, so I’d better get on with the real post.

As you may have figured out by now, this is the fourth in a series of posts about Kokura fashions in spring 2005. This edition features photos from Wednesday May 4. If you haven’t read the earlier posts, you can find them here: the introduction, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Day 4: May 4, 2005—Part 1 of 2

This particular Wednesday was another national holiday—in fact, on my made-in-Japan calendar, it’s translated as “National Holiday”—smack in the middle of Golden Week. Shoppers were out in force, and as you’ll soon see, the fashion assortment was spectacular.

Here’s couple buying takoyaki. Mmmmmmm. Takoyaki. How sinful. But that’s a topic for at least two more posts. Must. Stay. Focused. On. Fashion.

couple at a takoyaki stand

Just what I’ve always wanted to have dangling on my butt. A Spongebob purse. Or is it a bag? If a fashionista squeals in Gucci and the horde is exclaiming so loudly over the latest offerings at Chanel next door that no one hears her, does she make a sound?

woman with spongebob bag

This is a random assortment of ages and styles. Looking at the row of white shirts, I’d guess that the fashion police are on strike. I can think of no other reason that people would still be allowed to not patronize the store where Mr. Shirt gets his clothes. Still, this isn’t Hawaii, regardless of sister-state relationships.

random assortment of people, Kokura arcades

Two more blurry photos in which the fashions are unremarkable aside from the fact that they’re more examples of the “all leg and barely any upper body” look. Which, when you consider that most Japanese people have long bodies and short legs, is rather odd. Maybe it’s a riff on David Byrne’s penchant in the eighties for wearing suits with huge shoulder pads in order to make his head look smaller. They could put Byrne’s concept to good use around here. Have I mentioned the large heads?

a blurry photo of people in earthtones

The tough guy look of the man in the background is fairly common. He’s more coordinated than most. Actually I think the chromatic harmony is simply due to the fact that solid black goes with everything, including itself. Which is why I wear a lot of black. As we saw earlier in the week with the guys in front of the Crown Milan bakery, adding colour to a man’s wardrobe is just asking for trouble.

blurry photo of earthtone fashions, with tough guy in the background

Now we’ll escape the arcades for some candid shots in front of Kokura Station. I think this guy’s shirt is a commentary on the fashion industry. Short, simple, and to the point. To quote They Might Be Giants, “There’ll be no retrieval.” Judging from the plainness of these guys’ clothes, it’d be easy to mistake them for American college students. Except that according to local legend, all Americans are 8 feet tall, blonde, and have a smile like Jim Carrey.

group of men, one with a shirt that says 'evil'

Some older women, on their way to confession lunch after church a rough morning fighting for bargains at the department store. The absence of any plaid-adorned shopping bags—the tell-tale sign of an Isetan spree—could be evidence of two things. That they fought and lost. Or, more likely, that they’ve stashed all of their booty in the coin lockers inside the station, thereby rendering them unavailable to tourists with actual luggage. I should note here that “bargains” and “department store” are often mutually exclusive terms. Japan’s biggest stores evolved out of the luxury silk trading houses and are among the most expensive places to shop. But that’s another post.

older women with parasols

There’s not much to say about what these ladies are wearing. The woman on the right appears to have the latest in portable personal lighting devices. Or else there’s an otherworldly stalker on her trail. In the background on the right side of the photo there’s a lady with a baby blue hat, indeterminate but probably flower-print shirt, pink calf-length pants—is there a name for those? capris perhaps?—and white loafers. She may even be wearing the standard-issue white cotton sun-resistant gloves that are so common among Japanese ladies of a certain age. I took the photo as I was walking through Kokura Station…

women inside Kokura station

…to the elevated walk way on the north side of the station, which leads to a fashion mall called Laforet Harajuku. The necklines on these shirts—just above the collarbone—plunges much lower than last year. Kelly green is the colour to be seen in this spring. Though I’m not convinced about it being used as a cover-up layer over frilly white polka-dotted blouses. And cut-offs. I think the outfit on the right is supposed to look “boyish.” Both of these girls are dressed fairly conservatively compared to what usually comes out of Laforet.

women on the elevated walkway to Laforet Harajuku, north of Kokura station

Where else to finish today’s tour than a return to the front of the station. Here, we’re looking down from the escalator, witnessing an utterly ordinary scene in front of the McDonald’s. Just left of the center of the frame is an older woman in a pink floral-print shirt, and a sun hat decorated with a contrasting selection of flowers. The girl in the yellow windbreaker is giving out handbills. Usually there are at least two people at these escalators, handing out flyers or tissue packets or both. I’ve sometimes wondered if the volume of tissues reflects the fact that this corner is a stone’s throw from a bunch of establishments which at night are lit up in pink and purple neon, have black-suited, sunglasses-wearing doormen, and signs decorated with women’s silhouettes, advertising hourly rates from ¥6000-10000 and up. But since I’ve never been inside a soapland and don’t plan to go, I guess we’ll never know for sure.

people walking past the McDonald's by Kokura station

And now, a riddle. What has black and white and makes you shake your head in wonder? Tomorrow’s pictures, of course. We’ll look at this final set of photos, also taken on Thursday May 4th:

thumbnail images of the fourth day's second set of photos