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What is the "default" colour for clothes in Japan?

London, England
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What is the "default" colour for clothes in Japan?

When in doubt about what to wear, Londoners chose something black. In other countries, black just looks odd and funereal.

What is the situation in Japan?

Brown? Blue? Black?

I appreciate that it sounds trivial, but with only a small suitcase for clothes, I don't ant to find myself looking like crown among, for instance, autumn leaves.

I am a middle aged woman, so I understand that the solution of blue jeans may not be appropriate and I have read that older Japanese women don't wear really bright colours so how shall I show a willingness to blend in?

And is September in Tokyo (and around) and Kyoto(and around) likely to be mostly hot or mostly cold? I know I need to prepare for both, but it is the balance I'm uncertain about.

Help please?

Guildford, United...
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1. Re: What is the "default" colour for clothes in Japan?

You chances of hitting a cold spell are virtually nil. Temperatures in mid September are usually around 25C and could be as high as 30 in the afternoon with much higher humidity than you are used to. Heavy rain is always possible and I do mean heavy, not the half hearted stuff we get in London.

I am male so not the best person to advise on clothes but, yes, the Japanese, male or female, do not wear bright clothes. The number one aim of almost all Japanese past the youthful stage is not to stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, you are a gaijin, a foreigner, and are not expected to conform to local norms. Unless you weigh around seven stones or less you will, in any case, look quite different to the locals.

London, England
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2. Re: What is the "default" colour for clothes in Japan?

Thanks for the advice. It was very helpful except I really need an edit button!

I meant "I don't want to find myself looking like a crow"

and even worse, I meant to say I am going for almost the entire month of October, in part because I know September is much hotter than I like.

No, I am not 7 stone, I'm pretty average for England, and yes, I know I can't blend in, (I have nightmares about feeling like a hippo in the communal baths!) but at least I can get the colours right......

I also hope not to find myself with one hot weather outfit as the weeks of sunshine blaze on, or shivering because I only brought one fleece for Nikko and find it is cold from Tokyo to Osaka.

Help!

Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: What is the "default" colour for clothes in Japan?

I don't know what 7 stone is and I'm still not sure what situation you are in - totally tourist? some business? But anyway I am a fifty-ish woman who just spent six years in Japan so here is my opinion.

Middle-aged women default to muted colors, as has been said - not so much the bright stuff. Earth tones. Grey. Taupe. Black, though not a whole outfit; completely black outfits are for funerals. In Tokyo and at nice restaurants they default to skirts unless they - the women - are really..what's the word? more sophisticated? edgy? I don't know. Anyway of course slacks are worn but skirts more. In the city.

When Japanese women of a certain age are out being tourists, though, they were casual clothing; vacation is for relaxing - I didn't see blue jeans but I did see black/grey/brown/white jeans-style pants or cropped pants (as long as the women were very slender). A friend of mine who was more 'solid' than the average (though still slender by my standards) never went anywhere in other than a calf-length skirt. Anyway. For touristing, casual clothes, sensible walking shoes. Younger women would go anywhere in stilettos, honestly; but other women wore walking shoes/loafers. layers. A t-shirt with a sleeved button-front (unbuttoned) shirt over. My Japanese friends (my age) never wore sleeveless shirts; only sleeves, at least a cap sleeve. They like hats for touristing around, too, especially when it's sunny. Not big hats, just the floppy kind that you can fold up and put in a purse. They don't want exposure to the sun, so hence the shirt over the T-shirt and the hat.

I used to go around in cotton cropped pants with a T-shirt and that was fine. I had nice useful sandals, like the more stylish Tevas.

Keep in mind that many times you will enter a restaurant or ryokan and have to take off your shoes, so no complicated buckles & laces. Takes too long.

September would still be warm there - even in the mountains. October should be lovely, warm but still feeling fallish & starting to cool off. I'd bring a light jacket just in case.

More info than you ever wanted, no doubt. And I'm sure there are some other views out there as well.

Japan
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4. Re: What is the "default" colour for clothes in Japan?

I am a woman about your age. When I'm in Japan I usually wear black/dark brown/navy blue, just like you mentioned. I sometimes will wear a red top if I'm doing something informal, but I usually stick to greens (and not florescent!), light blues, white, neutral colors. You will be fine in jeans for going to Nikko and visiting smaller towns. But for me (and everyone is different) I feel really out of place in the city with the informal jeans look. (if you look around at other women your age you'll notice the difference!) I will wear jeans and a nice top and jacket, though, and feel fine. Maybe add a scarf.

Layering is the key for fall weather. Dress for mild fall weather in October, but be ready to put on a sweater or blazer. Then have a light weight outer jacket for the rain. I take one that rolls up and stuffs easily in to my day pack if I'm going off well away from my hotel, like up to Nikko as you mention. For a place like Nikko, I would wear a long sleeve t-shirt and jeans, and take a sweatshirt or sweater for cooler temperatures and then put the rain jacket on for another warm layer and in case it rains. And but a really small foldable umbrella in Japan that you can stuff into your bag, too.

I also like light weight over-blouses or "big shirts" as they are sometimes called. In a nice fabric they can look dressy, still work with jeans, and adds another layer over a t-shirt without a heavy jacket/blazer.

Shoes--your feet must be comfortable. I buy a shoe called Breeze by Merrell in black. They are super comfortable and because they are plain and black, they are less noticeable. Then I also take a pair of very comfortable athletic/walking shoes. Two pair are enough, but you need the two pair to give your feet a break from the same blisters in the same shoes every day!

Hope that helps a little!

Japan
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5. Re: What is the "default" colour for clothes in Japan?

I am sorry, Spendthrift! Our post times overlapped. I was writing while your post popped up, I didn't mean to duplicate what you said.....funny how we said just about the same thing!!

Seattle, Washington
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6. Re: What is the "default" colour for clothes in Japan?

No worries, I don't mind, I figure if a lot of people say the same thing then the original poster will feel that the advice is valid!

London, England
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7. Re: What is the "default" colour for clothes in Japan?

Thank you so much, Spendthrift and Japantravelteacher (I already thanked LondonBob)

Spendthrift, a stone is 14 pounds, so 7 stone is 98 pounds. I did weigh that once, but it would have been before I hit 5'8" at the age of 12.

I am going as a tourist, but I am making some contact with other lawyers and may go to an office or court. I had reckoned I would bring one of my black jackets and wear it over a calf length black dress or skirt and some sandals with heels, or does the funeral thing apply to work environments too?

And thanks for the tip about arms.

I wear reef sandals for non-work about 6 months a year. There are handy in places where it rains a lot. Like London.

I have a light waterproof short coat, but I thought I might bring a fleece vest and a light sweater since I’m staying until the 29th and going to Nikko on the day before the last. I though a thin layer of silk long underwear would be helpful too?

I probably won’t take blue jeans, but I will take layers and possibly some jean type trousers in brown or black, a pair of brown, wide legged, comfortable linen trousers and a skirt or two. Or maybe that's too much.

Japantravelteacher, I looked up Merrill shoes in the UK, but they don’t seem to have Breeze here. However, I take you point. I need to find some closed, non-lace shoes as well as my trusty reefs.

Thank you all so much for taking the trouble to help.

Seattle, Washington
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8. Re: What is the "default" colour for clothes in Japan?

black skirt & jacket sound good to me but a different color blouse - or a different color jacket with the black dress. But they won't think you're going to a funeral unless your hose are also black and you also have a small strand of pearls.

While I dispensed with pantyhose entirely the Japanese woman of a certain age will still cling to them unless it's the heat of summer. I wouldn't worry about it but if you're really keen to look the same...

I think the long underwear would be too much. The last time I was in Nikko was mid-November and I had on pants & a cotton turtleneck with a light jacket and I was fine.

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9. Re: What is the "default" colour for clothes in Japan?

Well, the tights might have been black, but I gave my pearls to my daughter for her 25th....

My suits are all black, (rules of professonal conduct) but I'll find a way.

The long underwear is very thin silk. I thought it might be a lightweighter solution to a cold mountain night than wool trousers, but you account of what you wore in mid-November is very helpful.

I know I won't really blend in, but I at least like to show respect by trying.

Thank you for helping me do so.

Seattle, Washington
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10. Re: What is the "default" colour for clothes in Japan?

Don't stress the black. Everybody knows you're not Japanese. If you're truly worried bring a light scarf or two and voila, no 100% black.