tl;dw: Yes

Overall a pretty informative video and a great perspective from AN ACTUAL JAPANESE PERSON LIVING IN JAPAN.

Best moment

Why is this a suggested post? Because from this clip you chose, right here, it goes to show that the people they know do not understand American politics at all, and it also goes to show that Jun as a Japanese National and Rachel, a European American woman, have never experienced nor ever will experience a Japanese American experience (more so pre-war Japanese Americans but a few post-war Japanese Americans as well). So they basically said ‘fuck it’ to Japanese voices in America which is a real shitty thing to do.

If your argument against white people wearing kimonos is that it’s offensive to Japanese culture, and an actual Japanese person tells you “yeah, in Japan, no one cares and to the contrary, people would love it to see the kimono spread around the world,” maybe you should listen to the Japanese person. That’s all I’m saying.

Beyond that I don’t actually understand what your point is. Why should the voices of Japanese Americans trump the voices of Japanese nationals when it comes to a cultural item with its root in the Japanese homeland? That would be a valid point if the kimono was something invented by Japanese Americans [after coming to America], but that isn’t the case.

The only point I can think that you’re trying to make is that because [white] Americans view Japanese people as “stereotypically” wearing a kimono, wearing a kimono is racist. However, if that’s the case… 1) That view of Americans would be kind of racist and 2) Japanese people really DO wear kimonos. Not every day certainly, but it’s not a racist caricature like blackface or yellowface is. It is a piece of clothing that actual Japanese people wore and still wear to this day for a variety of reasons, including “because they feel like it.” To quote one of the channel’s responses to a top comment

Japanese people view them the same as and compare them to suits. They were originally just daily wear for everyone (similar to suits as well). And actually before they were phased out as normal daily wear, it was considered acceptable in Japan to wear either a kimono OR a suit because they were both equal in function and importance. Some of the last samurai even wore suits in place of kimono. Both suits and kimono have picked up a more dressed up meaning in recent times, but they’re not so important that people will get upset with you adjusting them or wearing them for fun or for Halloween. The only thing I can think of is it may seem out of place if you wear it at the wrong time (same with a suit), and some people would probably get upset if you tear one up just because of how expensive they are (same with a suit). Look up an event called Kimono Jack. It’s held in cities all over Japan and even has foreign branches, where the entire point is just to dress up in kimono and hang out for a day. Anyone at all is welcome.

Let me know if I missed something

I have a question, are you telling me that I’m not an actual Japanese person (which is strange) because I was born in the United States?

My argument is not against non-Japanese wearing a kimono. The reason I’m irked is because it completely fails to see why it is perhaps an issue in the United States with some Japanese diaspora. It’s a bit strange, since Rachel is American and should have at least a basic understanding of the difference in racial and ethnic politics that don’t exist in the same way in Japan and should be aware that Japanese Internment in the U.S. happened? If the issue is taking place in Japan then I really don’t have an opinion. It’s not a country I was born and raised in.

They don’t trump the voice of Japanese nationals just as in general, Japanese nationals don’t trump Japanese American or other Japanese diaspora voices but if the issue is an American one if it’s taking place in the U.S. then I will say that Japanese Americans (mixed, not mixed, dual nationality, etc) do have a better understanding of the issue taking place in the country they were probably born and raised in and a culture they have or do interact with (and/or trying to re-connect with). For diaspora and nationals, we are all Japanese, as such, the kimono is a cultural item for all of us and something that some of us do get to interact with on a daily basis (or more than usual basis). 

There are many reasons someone who is Japanese diaspora, in this case, Japanese American may feel about the issue and that is their own feeling and in general, unless they are putting someone down in the worst way possible, their feelings are valid. The experiences with the dominant society and/or society around us isn’t the same experiences that Japanese nationals experience. For the most part, there are those don’t get the comfort of being comfortable with their culture identity. I’m tired of people trying to use Japanese national voice that agrees with your opinion as an end all for a conversation, it’s weird.

In Japan and out of Japan are two different circumstances. Different experiences, politics surrounding it, and history. Though most correct usages aren’t a form of racism, stereotypes are. But in regards to why it’s an issue for some, talk to them to gain a better understand of their experiences.

Yes, I know about Kimono Jack. I have people who know people in that group or people who are in that group. I don’t have anything against them.

No, I’m saying that you are not a Japanese NATIONAL (i.e., a person who lives in and is a citizen of Japan). You are of Japanese heritage, but you are an American national (which makes you a Japanese American as you said).

I think the reason people use the opinion of a Japanese national to end the conversation is because about 90% of the time, the argument is “You are not Japanese, therefore you are never allowed to wear a kimono because it’s offensive to their culture” and that argument (especially when coming from someone with no Japanese heritage) is very effectively shut down by saying “Well Japanese people don’t have a problem with it, so why should you [with an additional implication of “especially since you’re not Japanese” as applicable].”

Obviously as someone who DOES have Japanese heritage (even if you’re not a Japanese national), the same argument isn’t as effective 

I get that as someone with Japanese ancestry and who participates in Japanese culture away from Japan that it gives you a different experience with people in general because they don’t have that same culture. And I agree with you that the act of wearing a kimono itself is not racist. So I’m not sure where we disagree… 

I guess even though I mostly agree with what you’re saying I still don’t understand WHY Japanese Americans would have a problem with other Americans wearing a kimono when Japanese Nationals (in general) do not.  

To address your last point – Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals often have different opinions because we did not grow up with the same experiences. As a Japanese American myself, I don’t care as much when non-Japanese people (correctly/not mockingly) wear kimono/traditional garments in Japan. However, when it’s done outside of Japan and particularly in America (where I am), it has a different and often negative effect on Japanese Americans and virtually no affect on Japanese nationals and that’s probably why they (Japanese nationals) don’t care.
You might want to check out this tag if you’re really interested to know/learn more. And this post even specifically addresses the video you posted and your questions – http://thisisnotjapan.tumblr.com/post/128360935167/12-check-out-the-channel-rachel-and-jun-and 
And in general, I’m not sure why non-Japanese feel the need to argue with Japanese (nationals or diaspora) about a Japanese issue.

Interesting. So it seems that based on that post that the main issue with Americans wearing a kimono in America is that they are simply “consuming culture as an export” and not actually appreciating the culture or the origins of the kimono. Does that mean that if a non-Japanese American were to understand the origins of the kimono and wear it in the appropriate way, time, and place that it would be ok?

Also, I’ve seen a couple of times that non Japanese Americans wearing a kimono is America perpetuates racism against the Japanese. Can you elaborate on that? I’m not sure I understand how it causes racism because from my observations of other white people it seems that they all almost universally find the kimono beautiful and appealing.

I don’t consider myself any kind of expert on this (and actually I’m fortunate that due to where I currently live, I don’t personally experience a lot of racism as an Asian American because Asians are a majority here) but on a base level and for me personally, there are situations where wearing a kimono (correctly and respectfully) no matter what your background would probably be okay. I’m not sure that it’s prudent to list A, B, C because it really varies imo, but typically it’s okay if you are invited to wear one from someone of that culture (i.e. your Japanese friend, significant other, in-law etc).
I wouldn’t say that a non-Japanese person just simply wearing the garment perpetuates racism in and of itself, but it CAN be the case based on how it’s presented and how the person is acting or behaving in the garment. Also I’d hesitate to say that the majority of white people in kimono are truly treating it with respect or even remotely understand what it is (look in #kimono and you’ll kind lots of “vaguely” Asian garments or even straight up hanfu, cheongsam or hanboks or a Urban Outfitters cardigan. Also here.). Appreciation is fine but consider that you don’t need to actually wear something to appreciate it, especially if it’s potentially harmful to people of the culture you are supposedly “appreciating”. Is the garment beautiful because of its textiles, design, craftsmanship, history etc or is it just beautiful because “exotic Japan” and all things Japanese are “trendy” and “cool” atm?
Remember that Japanese people (outside of Japan) were (and some continue to be) berated or singled out in a negative way for wearing their traditional garments or even forbidden from wearing it. That’s why it really is a kick in the face for some diaspora to see non-Japanese, but particularly white people, parading around in “kimono” and being generously complimented or lauded for being “oh so worldly” or some other crap. Again, this is something Japanese nationals will never deal with in Japan and an experience more unique to Japanese diaspora who may have dealt with it all their lives and their parents or grandparents lives as well.

Things that are generally frowned upon – yellowface, pretending to be a “geisha“ (it’s not just painting your face white. It takes years and years of practice and also they are not prostitutes as many people erroneously assume for some reason), putting chopsticks in your hair, calling yourself Japanese just because you are wearing a traditional garment, doing a racist accent, buying some bathrobe and calling it a kimono, etc etc. And just people being weeaboos/fetishizing Japanese culture to the point that it stops being appreciation and starts becoming harmful, in particular, but not limited, to Japanese diaspora because they are often in close proximity to these people and are directly affected by stereotypes whereas Japanese nationals are safely and blissfully ignorant in Japan.

I respect that some Japanese nationals are OK with anyone wearing the kimono but their opinion and voice is not worth more than mine/Japanese diaspora in particular on issues that affect Japanese diaspora (such as non-Japanese outside of Japan wearing “kimono”). I wish people wouldn’t be so dismissive of what we have to say just because they want to go with the opinion that best fits what they want to do regardless of the consequences.  

If someone with better info or a personal experience wants to step in, I’d encourage it.


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