THE LADY AND ANIME

Exploring the World of Anime

B-Lifestyle in Japan

I learn something new everyday. With my interest in anime, an interest in Japan has also fostered. Japan has a reputation of being “weird” and even now I still find it hard to believe that it is just full of quirky people. I’m pretty sure its full of more “normals” than anything. I came across a video with a concept that I had not heard of before and that is the B-Lifestyle or Black Lifestyle. According to this YouTube video, this lifestyle consists of individuals going to the tanning salon, wearing their hair in certain styles, dressing in hip-hop styles to get as close to being Black as possible. I find it interesting that their idea of being Black is based on those in the hip-hop community.

The B-Lifestyle is not a tribute to Black people. It is more of an appreciation of the hip-hop fashion and lifestyle. Hina, the girl interviewed in this video commented that the Black women in hip-hop clothing look good wearing them while Japanese women would look “vulgar”. In the video, they connected Hina’s hair becoming “frizzy” as the start of her interest in Black Hip-Hop culture. For Hina, hip-hop equals Black.

Now, I initially cringed at this but is it any different than an American who wears traditional Japanese style clothing everyday? Granted, I’ve never seen one but who’s to say they don’t exist. Hina’s mother also made a good point; Hina is still young and may grow out of this lifestyle.  Now I’ve looked for more information about this lifestyle but it has been thus far elusive. According to the video, Hina is only one of many of Japanese who follow this lifestyle. They have Black nights which I am assuming they party where nothing but hip-hop is being played and they dress like they dropped out of a 50 cent music video. It’s interesting that I hear so much about Japan being a restrictive place but there are so many people who have lifestyles that would be laughed out or frowned upon in the States. What makes Japan so different?

Watch the clip, tell me what you think.

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12 Comments

  1. I think it’s interesting considering you hear Japan tends to be restrictive in a lot of things. Then you get stuff like the B-lifestyle, and you wonder if the Japanese are as restrictive as they seem. When you watch the clip, it really does seem strange to see these Japanese girls and guys into the B-lifestyle. It kind of seems like a form of black face when you think about it, but it definitely isn’t meant as a disrespect to blacks as Hina seems to admire them. Still, I wonder how black people would react to this. Would they be offended? Flattered? Weirded out by this? But when I think about Japan and after having gone there myself once a few years ago, they definitely love trends and fashion. I think they keep up with it more than we do in the U.S. Even going as far as inventing their own trends, though we may never understand it ourselves.

    • I don’t see it as a form of blackface as like you said Hina sees it as a form of respect and honor. It is not a joke to her, it is her lifestyle. She is not painting her face black, she is actively seeking a tan to get darker (they said its healthy, I disagree). She is risking ridicule based off her lifestyle choice.

      It is strange to say the least but it also seems to be a form of rebellion against the traditional Japanese culture. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem as that much of a rebellion because there are so many other quirky lifestyles in Japan. She is working so she is contributing to the society. But I wonder at these “Black nights” they have, do they interact with Blacks who are living in Japan?

      • Yeah, I’m surprised they think going to tanning salons is “healthy” when it really isn’t. There have been a lot of news coverage about how these tanning salons are a great contributor to skin cancer just as much as staying out in the sun too long without protecting your skin.

        You raise an interesting question about the “Black nights,” which I wish we had an answer for. I’d really like to know what it’s like to take part in these events.

  2. The thing that makes it cringe worthy (for me) is the fact that hip-hop is being equated with being Black. Wearing a kimono is fine as long as the non-Japanese people wearing them don’t think being “traditional Japanese” is all there is to being Japanese (which would be equally cringe worthy or how some people go, “Only in Japan” every time some weird news is reported about Japan or a Japanese product as if every single Japanese person affirmed these products). That’s the thing that makes this phenomena cringe worthy. I had the very same reaction when I first read that. Watching the video though, I can see that it isn’t meant as a bad thing, but I still think it’s wrong for them to be equating a music genre with a whole race, especially when a lot of harmful stereotypes about Black women, dating back to the 1800s are being operated on in these hip hop music videos and clothing styles and certainly not all black people are into hip hop or like to dress in the “hip hop” style.

    • I completely agree. What made me cringed was using Blacks in hip-hop as the ideal of what being Black means. It is a stereotype. Granted, Blacks are not the only people in hip-hop, however, it was initially a predominately Black scene with other groups becoming a part of it. There are definitely a lot of harmful stereotypes portrayed in these music videos and I despise them but does Hina know that? I doubt she is aware of it. But it’s not just the clothing style, Hina frizzes her hair to have a more Black (natural) look. If she wanted to just do the hip-hop style completely, there is no need for her to change her hair because most of the women in these videos have straight her from perms/relaxers and/or weaves.

      It is definitely not a good idea to equate a music genre with a race which is why I wondered if they encounter Blacks and talk to them about this. I wonder what Blacks in Japan think of this lifestyle. I really couldn’t find much information about it so maybe it is a new fad.

      • I don’t think she is aware of it either. In fact, I get the idea that most Japanese people aren’t really familiar with any Black persons or their culture/history. I mean, the amount of small (sometimes big) instances of Black or even other persons of colour stereotypes that I come across in manga and anime is why I think this (even some White stereotyping is going on sometimes. I find white characters tend to be obnoxiously loud in most portrayals, which can be linked to the stereotypical American who is bossy and loud and not afraid of speaking their mind). I don’t think it’s being done intentionally most of the time, so I have to assume this happens because Japanese people aren’t familiar with any actual people and think national geographic programs or old historical accounts are all there is to said people.

        But yeah, this is the first I’ve heard of this as well, so I do think it’s probably a recent fad or has a very small following.

  3. Actually, I found this video rather amusing. I had no freaking clue that there was this whole “black lifestyle” movement in Japan. I have to say, I don’t particularly see a problem with the asian community wanting to embrace another culture; after all, we as anime fans are embracing their culture. So long as neither side are being insulting or degrading to the other, I don’t see a real problem. To me, this is simply a case of enjoying another culture’s excentricities.

    I have to admit though…Hina looks kinda cute…she would look cuter without the piercing. Just saying!

    • Hina was very cute and I agree about the piercing. But if she likes it, can’t judge her! I don’t think they are trying to be insulting or degrading. They’re not painting their faces black or picking fun at the way Black people speak. It looks like in this lifestyle, they really find it cool. I think the issue that I have as did another poster is associating Black people only with hip-hop.

      • Yeah, I see where you’re coming from with that; black people are known for more than just hip-hop, and some artists really don’t portray themselves or the women in their videos in a very flattering light. But I think that, hopefully, they’ll know the difference and adjust accordingly. I think the reason they’re putting emphasis on the hip-hop world is because a lot of artists nowadays are traveling overseas and doing concerts in Japan.

      • A lot of hip hop artists do go to Japan for concerts. Even those that aren’t major artists here. The women in hip-hop videos are not a good example of Black women and I actually find them to be vulgar. Many times they are just shown as sex symbols, nothing more.

  4. SuperCold

    Interesting how people from different countries tries to take each others style. They all think that the other ones “style” is more unique or cooler.
    We should all learn that no matter where you are from you are unique and awesome in your own way.

    And also, I really loved her mother. Other strict mothers should learn from her.
    “As long as she doesn’t have cancer I find it okay” made me all warm inside.

    • Yes, her mother sees it as her being young and exploring her options. She probably did some things in her younger days.

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