[From Novemberber Issue 2014]
The city of Otaru in Hokkaido is known for its beautiful streets. A new type of tourism event called the “Otaru Kawaii Tea Party” was created there. Aimed at fans of Lolita fashion, it’s been held since last year.
Lolita fashion is about clothing with frills and lace attached that resembles the outfits once worn by modern Western women. Young women started up the Lolita fashion trend, which is characterized by its antique design. As part of Japanese pop culture, it’s been gaining fans around the world.
In 2012, a contest was held in Sapporo City for business ideas that might revitalize the city. The winner was a plan to make use of the Lolita fashion trend. Lolita fashion goes well with the historical cityscape of Otaru. Putting this idea into practice, a decision was made for the city of Otaru and the local tourism association to host events.
This year, 73 people took part. They strolled along a canal and through old streets, all the while enjoying photo opportunities. A fashion show – eating cakes and so forth – took place at a nearby stone warehouse which had been repurposed as a live music hall. Many participants expressed a wish that the event would continue in the future. The participants weren’t only young Japanese women; men and foreigners also took part.
“Many people told me they were happy there was a new place to enjoy Lolita fashion,” says MITSUHASHI Asako, head of the Lolita fashion brand “Kita Loli,” which helped to organize the event. Otaru City’s aim is to spread awareness of Otaru’s scenery alongside Lolita fashion. With this in mind, they’re hoping to spark the interest of many other kinds of people.
“Just as people try on maiko (trainee geisha) costumes when they go to Kyoto, I’d like people to try on Lolita outfits when they come to Otaru. I’d like to firmly establish it as part of our interactive tourism,” says NAKANO Hiroaki of the Sightseeing Promotion Room of Otaru City. In the city hopes have been raised that Otaru’s sweets and fashion will also be promoted.
These days, there are more and more inquiries not only from domestic media, but also from Chinese media and French media. In Hong Kong, too, more people are paying attention to Lolita fashion. Hokkaido is already a popular tourist spot with South East Asians. In the future, Lolita fashion may end up becoming one of Hokkaido’s tourist attractions.
Text: TSUCHIYA Emi