20121024Ito, Shinsui

Old Japanese Paintings

Credits : Google images

The story that I talked about was from an article about the birth of the Crown Prince. (Okuno, 2001)

The doctor who delivered the Prince in 1960 revealed that the first thing that the Emperor asked him about the newborn was “iro wa dou desuka?” (How is his color?), shiroihoudesuka, soretomo kuroihoudesuka? (Is he fair skinned or dark skinned?) The doctor was shocked to hear that but he replied that the newborn was rather fair and had inherited the skin of Empress. Then, the Emperor had a relieved look on his face when he heard the doctor’s answer.

Whiteness in Japan had became a representative of identity and that the women’s white faces appeared to be a sort of body decorations that is used as a communicating medium in a community. It had been so deeply embedded in its culture that many the preference of white skin is more of a historical influences rather than westernising their ideals about their race. According to Ashikari’s (2005) survey, many informants said that the preference for white skin had no relations to racial aspects (jinshu) but it is rather just a matter of beauty.

Source : Ashikari, M., 2005, “Cultivating Japanese Whiteness – The “Whitening” Cosmetic Boom and the Japanese Identity.” SAGE publications.