A couple weeks ago, I decided to go into Tokyo to see Maiko model, since it might be the last chance for me to catch her in a show. She will start working at JAL in April and is unsure if she'll continue taking modeling jobs. I took the train into Tokyo in the morning and met up with her parents, also there to watch, at the hotel where the show was being held.
I was really looking forward to seeing her in the show, except for a little thing that made me uneasy. It was a bridal show.
As if that weren't enough, it was a bridal show I was to attend along with Maiko's parents.
So I'm sitting there in the ballroom of a hotel next to Maiko's mother and father, waiting for the show to start. The head of her modeling agency comes out to introduce the show, but this becomes a 30 minute presentation by him, because he's a former model and an insanely self-absorbed primadonna. I know he's a former model because he took pains to mention that 20 times during his presentation, prefacing almost any comment he made with "When I was a model..." His presentation, by the way, was on how to be a beautiful bride, which I suppose he is eminently qualified to lecture on, being an unmarried man. The best part was when he demonstrated the "sexy" way for a women to walk, swinging his hips side-to-side. This may or may not be sexy if a woman were to do it, but it is certainly embarrassing, even to witness, for a man.
Finally, his fawning for attention at an end, he brought out the models. They came down the middle of the room, did a turn, walked back halfway and crossed in either direction. The accompanying music was a pounding and confusing mix of disparate styles only connected by their origin outside of Japan and general awfulness. (This following the general trend of Japanese to throw all western music together under one umbrella - literally, if you go to a record store you might just find a giant "Western Music" section - ignoring not just genre differences but huge gaps in time. Only in Japan can you listen to the radio and hear a playlist combine Led Zeppelin, The Arcade Fire, Michael Jackson, and Kanye West into one show. Nobody else seems to notice, which is what makes me suspect they are ignoring it the same way they are pachinko parlors and the guys yelling on the trains)
Anyways, to this painful amalgamation of noise came the models themselves, wearing a series of dresses I would categorize as alternately baffling and excessive. I could hardly conceive someone walking around in these, let alone down the aisle. The first batch were all in different colors: yellow, orange, red, blue and green. Some looked like the product of a bride with unfortunate taste for her bridesmaids. Another, pictured in red, resembles nothing as much as a flamenco dancer.
Later, for the non-Spanish virgin Japanese brides, I suppose, more normal white dresses were featured. During this portion of the show I became intensely aware of not looking at the models in the wrong way. First, I felt rather guilty ogling women openly when my girlfriend and her mother were nearby, even if it was a modeling show and I was supposed to look them up and down. Second, it made me vaguely uncomfortable to be staring at women wearing wedding dresses. I mean, it seemed like there is something essentially wrong with looking at a bride so closely; you don't sit in the church at the bride walking down the aisle and check her out.
Maiko came out in three different dresses, finishing in an ensemble with some sort of veil. Her mother is elbowing me and saying, "Wow, doesn't Maiko make a beautiful bride!" I choke on my water a little, and offer up, "Well, yes...but I think maybe she looks a little too young to be wearing that dress, don't you?"