Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hello July

July rolled around, and it just reminds me of how much things have changed in a year. My life was so different a year ago, and I feel like it's about to change even more. For one, I'm leaving for Canada soon, and what seemed like a distant summer plan is now just around the corner. I feel a mix of everything about returning after so long.

This past week has been so busy, and all I want is to cozy up at home and sleep, sleep, sleep. On Monday I ditched my workout (gasp!) and went shopping for presents and snacks for Canada, which was a lot of fun. I picked up green tea Kit Kats and Pocky and all those delicious little snacks I tend to take for granted.

On Tuesday I attended a screening for the documentary film Hafu, documenting the experiences of mixed-race Japanese people, and starring my dear friend Sophia. I felt so proud to see her on the big screen, and the discussion panel that followed was really interesting, complete with half Japanese speakers and Japanese returnees. I had never realized how challenging it must be for mixed race Japanese and even (fully Japanese) returnees to fit in Japanese society. It made me think about the fact that I'm somehow a 'half' myself, French and Italian, but it's never something that I thought much about growing up in Canada.

Afterwards, a few of us stopped by a pub in Shibuya to cheer to Canada Day, which I rarely celebrate, but it seemed fitting as my trip is coming so soon, and being in Japan makes me feel strangely proud to be Canadian. Being away makes you appreciate where you're from (at least it does for me), and even though Canada has a lot of its own issues, it's a beautiful place with a high quality of life, clean air, lots of space and friendly people. While at the Canada Day party, I had the pleasure of meeting some Twitter friends in person, and that always makes me feel like I'm meeting celebrities. Shout out to Glenn and Ali, was so nice to finally meeting you both!

On Wednesday I went to Fuglen for a chat with a fellow Montrealer, and it warms my heart to speak French and to feel like home, with people I just met yet have probably crossed paths with a few years back. I tried the mini craft beer tasting menu, with beers from Germany and Denmark.

Tonight I made it to yoga class- it's a class a friend introduced me to, held in a community centre and taught by a friendly, amazing instructor who definitely knows what he's doing. The class was held in Japanese but I managed to follow. It's a refreshing change from all those expensive yoga studios around Tokyo; the class is very basic and organic, and I actually enjoyed it, surprisingly as I've never been a huge fan of yoga. Ideally I'd like to combine my fitness classes with some yoga, I think I would feel really good.

I've been feeling bad again lately about my my shape and size in Japan. In Canada I'm considered very average, perhaps even smaller than the average, but in Japan I'm obviously on the 'fat' side (curves = fat). It usually doesn't bother me, but it comes and goes and it's been a difficult part of living in Japan. I was just shopping at a department store a few days ago, and was browsing through non-Japanese brands like Theory, Marc Jacobs and See by Chloe. To my surprise, all they had on display were extra-small and small sizes, nothing bigger. Out of curiosity I asked if they had more sizes in the back, but no! That's all they carry. I felt quite shocked. For a moment I felt thankful I can fit in a small size, but then again, all I could think about is how frustrating that is, and not realistic, and I left feeling horrible about myself. Shopping in Japan can be a bit disheartening, and I don't recommend going to department stores where they have limited everything- perhaps flagships are safer, online shopping, or big chains like Zara and H&M.

And here comes the weekend…

Japanese snacks galore!

Rainy season isn't over yet

Whoopi Goldburger- always perfection

July metro manner poster:
stop checking your phone

Hafu screening, discussion panel <3 td="">

Oh, Canada

And, it's hot again


Amelia said...

I feel you on the size thing after living in Hong Kong. I've had shop assistants look me up and down and tell me I'm too big for the store! I'm only a UK 12 (USA 6-8) and 5ft 8 but everything is impossibly small and too short here. It is really disheartening and has given me a bit of a complex about what I look like for sure - doesn't help that everything is mirrored here, there's no escape! Lovely blog post, I've been looking forward to a new post for a while (and I am going to send you an email soon asking for some career advice!)

Amelia Writes

Anonymous said...

Hi Vivian!

I recently saw Haafu too, here in Sydney. And I met the lovely Sophia, whose blog I found through yours and keenly follow. It was great to meet a fellow blogger in person not just online. The film was really interesting, and I hadn't realised the number of mixed-race Japanese living in Japan was now so (relatively) high. They certainly need more immigration to counter the population decline.

I hear you on the body dysmorphia too - I'm as skinny as any Japanese girl but I'm 5'10" so I'd get called "dekkai"!! Needless to say I ended up getting a whole lot skinnier in Japan, which was not healthy. I am sorry to hear it's still such a 'thing' there, being a different shape or size. I hope you have a great time shopping while back in Canada to make for it :)


Suteisi ♥ said...

I feel you on the sizing. I easily fit in medium sizes in Canada but Japan, forget it, I would probably be a XL or something... I didn't bother shopping much for clothes when I was there because I didn't want to feel so shitty about myself. Good on H&M and Forever21 to having bigger sizes though (or so I heard)...

spajonas said...

Thanks for linking to Fashimi!! I saw Hafu a few months ago and really loved it. I supported their kickstarter so I received a DVD and watched it at home. I would have loved to have seen the panel. The main character in my novels is hafu so the subject means a lot to me.

I'm 5'8" and wear a US size large. I could NEVER shop in Japan. When I was there, best I could do was buy accessories. But everyone is made different. You're not Japanese so try not to compare yourself. You have great style and can get your clothes overseas. I bet some Japanese look at you and wish they were more like you! :)

aoi sora said...

Its funny but im the exact opposite of you! When i went to japan for a holiday, i couldnt wear most of their clothes cause it was too big )): i dont get their one size system ;/ the clothes in shibuya109 were really nice but i just couldnt wear them cause they were too big and the cutting wasnt very good!!! sigh.. i ended up having to shop at western retailers such as H&m cause they carry a range of sizes, especially XS which i need.

Tanya Geddes said...

I know what you mean about the sizes Vivian. They were really small. Plus I'm 5'10 so sometimes had to look in the boys department> <. I think it puts pressure on Western women to lose weight. Or maybe it's a subconscious thing- when women are thinner around you, you end up trying to adapt to the social norm. Being back in the UK is refreshing to see a range of sizes and heights. I now feel normal again :-)

Have an amazing time in Canada and I look forward to reading your account.


philly said...

Thank you, so much Vivian for mentioning your friend Sophie and the Haafu film. I'd lost track of it after reading about how it was being made. Now I'll get to see it because the link you provided indicates that it's being shown in Vancouver, Canada on August 3rd!

Ah yes. Japanese sizing. At a slim 157 cm, fortunately I can buy clothing and footwear in Japan. However, the clerks bring me the large sizes and constantly cluck about it being difficult. Wha-a-a? However, it wasn't until I wandered through the Pearl Size department in Isetan for the first time, that I finally got what they meant.

Vivian said...

Thank you everyone for sharing your kind comments and experiences!! Always much appreciated, it's nice to have those kinds of reminders :)

Unknown said...

When someone writes about how hard it is when all the clothes in Japan seem to be made for smaller people and only available in smaller sizes, it makes you look like a douche to comment back, “Oh, really? Weird. I have found the opposite to be true. Clothes in Japan are usually too big to fit me. I just swim in them!” But someone did leave that comment on this post. Congratulations, Aoi Sora.
That said, I’m not sure if the commenter was trying to be a rude humble-bragger or if she was serious. Because I’ve found that high-end stores, especially for foreign luxe brands like the ones you mentioned tend to carry only very small sizes but that the average Japanese (Lowry’s Farm, Frapbois, Zucca, Mercibeaucoup, Ne-Net, etc) store carries something called “free size” which basically fits like a short, wide tent.
I have no idea what number size I am because of stupid flattery sizing, but I’ve always been on the slim side (size 0-3, size 36, size XS or S) and now that I’m pregnant I was actually looking forward to being able to wear the “free size” stuff I used to swim in. The patterns are cute. But I went shopping last week and still felt like I was wearing a massive, unflattering tent. If “free size” is too big for even a pregnant women, who are these dumpy, dowdy dresses being made for? I guess they’re being made for a certain type of very short, tiny girl who looks kind of adorable in them. But they don’t flatter most people. Even most Japanese women don’t look good in them.
So I totally agree with you that the designer brands should offer more variation in sizes, but I also think that the average Japanese stores need to actually make clothes with sizes, not just one massive tent for everybody. Sometimes I walk around the shops right after payday thinking, “I want to give you my money! Why won’t you let me do that?” Free Size is the worst.

Vivian said...

Thank you, Unknown! As usual you have insightful comments and having been in Japan much longer than I have, I fully trust your observations. Indeed, I thought Aoi Sora's comment was ridiculous and just brushed it away- good for her if clothes don't fit her, and pretty rude to leave as a comment following my rant about sizes. It wasn't exactly helpful.

I totally agree about the tent-like free-size clothes! They definitely 'flatter' tiny, pint-sized girls (although not sure it actually flatters them, but hey, that's Japanese fashion, where things aren't necessarily flattering). It's funny that it doesn't even fit a pregnant woman indeed.

I also think about bigger-sized Japanese girls, because not all of them are super tiny. Maybe they want to blow their paychecks at Marc Jacobs and Theory but probably can't, and I especially feel bad for them because they're being discriminated against in their own turf. Hopefully Japan changes for that, and stops with the 'free sizes' as the population is diversifying quickly.

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