by Ewa Nowogorski
Cultural appropriation is the adoption of a different culture’s fashion, food, hairstyle, habits, customs, etc. The most visible form of cultural appropriation is what is visible on the human body. A white American wearing a Japanese yukata is a very obvious example of cultural appropriation. A white person sporting dreads may also be seen as cultural appropriation by some.
In Japan, cultural appropriation is very common. Japanese people wearing western clothes is technically cultural appropriation too, but since everyone wears them it has become a part of their own culture. They also dye their hair and perm it sometimes as well to make it look less “Asian”. And I don’t think an American will ever complain about Japanese or any non-white looking person wearing western clothes or dyeing their hair.
But what do Japanese people think of Americans wearing traditional Japanese clothes like yukata and hakama?
Well, it seems that Japanese people are very happy to see that foreigners display enough interest to wear traditional clothes. They are proud that non-Japanese display a love for Japan, and respect people who seriously learn how to wear difficult clothes like formal silk kimono. Most Japanese themselves don’t even know how to wear it!