|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Women take an eye for an eye, especially on moving trains 2006,09,23
Aera 9/25 By Masuo Kamiyama
It was the morning of Monday, August 7, and Kiyohito Kokita, a reporter for Aera (9/25), observed a woman, aged around 30, boarding the Metro subway at the first stop on the line.
Once seated, she promptly went to work on her eyelashes using a hinged metal device that resembled a pair of pliers, or perhaps a dentist's tool used for tooth extractions.
Such a device, which applies pressure to make the lashes curl upward in a graceful curve, is referred to in Japan as a "byuraa."
That task completed, she glanced in a hand mirror and artfully began applying mascara.
Satisfied with her work, she then picked up a paperback book and began reading until disembarking not long thereafter.
From beginning to end, the show had lasted 10 minutes.
It was carried out with such measured efficiency,Aera's reporter wondered that perhaps it was a part of her daily routine.
A week later, Kokita sat aboard a Tokyo-bound aircraft, headed back to Tokyo from his mid-August vacation.
As the plane began its descent, a young woman seated next to him, who appeared to be around age 20, took out her mirror and mascara and began applying eye cosmetics.
The ritual continued until the wheels bumped down on the tarmac.
During this very public beauty treatment, Kokita grumbles, it was as if she gave no consideration to anyone else's existence.
True, her appearance did improve, but watching the step-by-step transformation was not especially pleasant, her implication being, "Well, you're not supposed to look at me while the process is going on, only after it's finished." But if you do watch her, she could care less.
But what, suggests Aera's reporter, if he were to tell such young women what was really on his mind? Like...
"Say, how about refraining from this audacious, self-indulgent behavior, eh?"
To which any woman would be likely to reply indignantly, "It's YOU who's offending me! You've obviously got a problem, Jack!"
Eyes glistening with hatred, she might provoke him by saying, "If you're going to say something, tell me what's on your mind! I dare you!" and then retreat by whining, "If I don't have nice eyelashes, I won't get anywhere in this world."
This bizarre behavior, writes Kokita, represents nothing less than eyelash paranoia.
But how did this situation come about? For a female to be stuck with short, straight eyelashes, writes Aera,was as traumatic as baldness is for men.
Gals want long, curly lashes that enhance the glimmer of their eyes,and which they can bat furiously to mesmerize men.
Hiroto Murasawa, a professor at Osaka Shoin Women's University, had previously spent 28 years editing a beauty research magazine for Pola, a major cosmetics manufacturer.
According to Murasawa, after Japan emerged from several centuries of enforced isolation in the mid-1800s,women gradually felt a stronger attraction to the more pronounced features of Western faces -- a sentiment that gained further appeal following World War 2.
"The 1950s, which saw actress Audrey Hepburn enjoy a huge popularity, were a time when women sought to appear 'more glitzy, and more unnatural,'" Murasawa relates.
By the late 1960s through the 1970s, a stream of female singers and actresses appeared whose pretty peepers basically stole the show -- even if they were flat-chested, knock-kneed and couldn't sing in key: Ruriko Asaoka.
Linda Yamamoto. Chiyo Okumura. Ayumi Ishida. Mari Amachi -- just to name a few.
Nowadays the trend is to emulate female cyborgs, layering on the mascara to cultivate sweeping eyelashes whose exaggerated curves resemble the spread wing feathers of the cranes used in Japanese product logo marks.
And development of better quality cosmetics has made it possible for almost anyone to paint themselves artistically in minutes.
If there's one thing for sure, Aera comments, it's that females' ability to perform a beauty treatment aboard moving transport has improved markedly over the years.
"About 30 years ago, I read a weekly magazine's account of a woman who was trying to put on her lipstick while riding a bus," Murasawa recollects.
"Her hand slipped and she wound up decorating her nostril. She was blushing with embarrassment as she disembarked. But she showed composure, and I supposed she got over it all right.
"But I suppose the girls today have become much more adept at pulling off a similar feat," he remarks, tongue in cheek. (By Masuo Kamiyama, People's Pick contributor)