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Mori Girl - click opera
February 2010
 
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Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 11:11 am
Mori Girl

Mori in Japanese means "forest" and a Mori Girl (森ガール) is a girl who looks like she lives amongst cedar and pine trees. She's part Little Red Ridinghood (although she prefers dark blue, dark green or bordeaux brown to bright red), part Marie Antoinette pastoral fantasy, part Alice in Wonderland.



Although Mori Girl sounds like the sort of meme that fashion magazines mint -- and indeed Spoon magazine published a one-shot in March, a Mori Girl A-Z -- the term actually originated two years ago in a Mixi community. "You look like a girl in the forest!" someone remarked to Choco, the group's founder, one day. She began the group, and by June 2009 it had 8000 members.



Spoon chose the indefatigably wholesome Aoi Yu to incarnate the ideal Mori Girl in its mook (she looks like a Jane Austen heroine in the photos), but Miyazaki Aoi as Satonaka Shizuru is also cited as an example of the type. As 2009 wore on, dedicated blogs like Mori Girl Diner sprang up, articles on Nikkei Trendy Net appeared, and the inevitable Nichaneru threads debated the look. Nikkei told its readers that Mori Girls didn't come from the forest, but from the Tokyo districts of Koenji, Shimokitazawa and Daikanyama, though the country-styled lasses were marching in a frilly military mass to capture the city's fashion prize, Harajuku.

Amongst the magazines welcoming the movement were Spoon, Fudge and Spur. Favoured designers were Cocue, Tsumori Chisato, Cuccia, and Scandinavian brands (or faux-Scandinavian brands) like Minä Perhonen and Marimekko (every Mori Girl aspires in some deep way, it seems, to be Swedish). The Mori Girl's fictional archetype was declared to be Hagu, the primal, pretty art student from Honey and Clover.



Want to know whether you have Mori Girl potential? You might want to measure yourself against the Mixi Group checklist, which comprises sixty items. According to this list, the Mori Girl likes loose dresses and skirts, seldom wears trousers, prefers twisted things to simple ones, seems like natural-kei (a related style) but is actually more contrived, cares about the quality of materials, likes ethnic styles, wears A-line skirts and dresses, likes the style of little children, has a taste for dresses or blouses which look like smocks, doesn't like clothes which are sweet from head to toe, favours dark blue, dark green and bordeaux brown, looks good in warm colours, prefers short nails (an important differentiator from the loud, vulgar gyaru style endorsed by mags like Can Cam), likes fur, knitwear, fluffy hats and ear-muffs, ponchos and boleros, wants to carry a leather bag, tends to use a pochette (a sort of pocket on a strap), prefers small gold things to silver things, likes old things, like the expensive antique watches old people have, likes a large-motif necklace, sports animal motifs and candy motifs, checks and dots, floral retro, lace, leggings or tights, basic round-toed flat shoes.



The Mori Girl might wear trainers, but if she does they'll be slip-ons, looking loose and cute. She prefers walnut buttons to normal ones, wears a chunky stole or scarf around her neck, in winter wears a basic turtleneck, likes to layer clothes, is attracted to puff-sleeves, likes fairy tales, is pale-skinned, with loose hair, probably bobbed with a straight fringe, or, alternatively, has a straight fringe with long loose permed hair. The Mori Girl (often described as small-breasted) isn't a Lolita, but is girly. She likes the mail order company Felissimo, especially their label Syrup. She sucks on Q-Pot confectionery and likes relaxing in cafes or taking a walk, camera in hand. Her favourite shops are old-fashioned general stores. She's a bit of a collector, and likes to find cute books in bookshops. Furniture shops and handmade things excite her. Her favourite seasons are autumn and winter. She vaguely aims to visit Scandinavia one day. When applying make-up, she puts red circles on her cheeks, imparting a glow of country health. There's something soft -- almost transparent -- about the Mori Girl. As she goes by, you sense the subtle scent of flowers.

"But what's the appeal of Mori Girls to men?" Hisae asked me. "Oh, it's quite simple," I said. "They look so wholesome that we can't help wanting to make them dirty."

49CommentReplyShare

vikinggreeneyes
vikinggreeneyes
vikinggreeneyeswithgold
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 10:29 am (UTC)

This is beautiful stuff.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 10:47 am (UTC)

did you get a mori pole doing this one?


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mcgazz
mcgazz
McGazz
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 11:47 am (UTC)

That's a nice double pun, and doesn't deserve to go uncommented on.


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wavy
wavy
Siobhan
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 10:49 am (UTC)

Yes, the "natural" look is very popular here now. And even in my small countryside town here in Hiroshima-ken the "Mori girl" look is a big trend which is makes it quite ironic considering they could actually go into the wild, if they so desired but I've not seen anyone take it that far. Those shoes in particular are the most ubiquitous symbol of this trend. And yes, I have contemplated buying a pair.

Oh and the CanCam style is "gyaru" not "garu."

Great post!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 11:01 am (UTC)

Ah, good to have a report from the ground, and the inaka!

Thanks for the correction.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 10:57 am (UTC)
Hello from WC1

Having serious CLOTHES WANT for first outfit (girl standing on teal floor).

Probably could work the look properly today: heatwave has passed! Oh and BTW when next in London, supper's on the chef. x


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parallel_botany
parallel_botany
Doña Nadie
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 11:20 am (UTC)

I think I stack up pretty well against the checklist. This look appeals to my sensibilities. And I love those shoes.

I'm not crazy about the last photo, which is a little too Stevie Nicks for my taste.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 08:03 pm (UTC)

I adore those shoes as well. Would you happen to know where they're from?


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lame_no_antenna
amber and softly
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)

while they aren't birkenstocks, birkenstocks makes one very similar.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC)

I'm never quite sure whether people care / know about the semantics of the English slogans they wear. I'm pretty sure the girls who wear I AM NOPAN t-shirts are actually wearing panties, for instance, though it's fun to imagine they aren't.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC)


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Jun. 5th, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC)

Why would a liking for Marimekko products imply that they wanted to be Swedish?

Marimekko is a Finnish brand.

But I suppose it's all the same to those Korean girls.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
Watch out for the Puritans

Mori Girl...


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 02:06 pm (UTC)
so, your basic indie girl then?


Fever Ray videos, freak-folk, glitch, vintage stores, Bats for Lashes, mild hippie-revival and corresponding currents in the modern art world have ensured that this look can be seen all over the world. It's even on the cat walks.
Reykjavik, Berlin, Williamsburg, Brighton Beach...this look is everywhere.

I fear the days of Japan's cultural trends reaching full term in-vitrio are long gone.


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vogdoid
vogdoid
vogdoid
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 02:44 pm (UTC)

there seem to be two poles to this...the first (closer to Spoon's take on it) has been around for a long time, I think. At least, I have some friends going back to the early 00s who would fit the description. If I'm reading your post correctly, the cosmopolitanized take on it seems less appealing...more frilly, less "eco". I can't picture the girl at lower left actually going out into the forest.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)

It seems to be interpreted differently by different stylists / commentators. I find the Nikkei Trendy report gets it "wrong", really veering into what I'd have called Decora ten years ago, or soft Gothloli more recently. Spoon has a more Napoleonic vision, and the Mixi group is more casual and eclectic.


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morbid_o
morbid_o
[No Audible Dialogue]
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)

I think that I disagree on that last point. Maybe I'm just too Western, but "wholesome" isn't the way I view them at all, more like down-to-earth, practical, and approachable. Like a combo of a forest spirit and a hippie.


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endoftheseason
endoftheseason
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)

"Like a combo of a forest spirit and a hippie."

If ever there were a Kryptonite-like recipe for an erection-thwarting shudder of repulsion, that'd be it.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)

Aoi Yu has the same face as Haley Joel Osmet.

Also something which has bothered me:
Considering that you cannot read Japanese, and hold this as a point of pride, when you review these magazines, or talk about their contents, does that mean you had someone read it to you?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC)

Hisae translates for me.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 11:43 pm (UTC)

why don't you learn japanese?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)

Good idea!


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 07:56 am (UTC)

you mean you are learning but haven't got that far yet?


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lame_no_antenna
amber and softly
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)

often a good idea is just that.


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pay_option07
pay_option07
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
Napoleonic,and more casual and eclectic.

What sorts of venues and music could you be with when Napoleonic or casual eclectic in Japan? Regardless of the eat me word wear.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)

"But what's the appeal of Mori Girls to men?" Hisae asked me. "Oh, it's quite simple," I said. "They look so wholesome that we can't help wanting to make them dirty."

The horrible thing is you mean it.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC)

"The horrible thing"?

No such thing. The stained-knee virgin is a potent fantasy for most men. They don't even have to be virgins, the fun is seeing the inner whore in all of us wrapped in the veil of innocence, then to see it shredded and dirtied.
Beyond that, it's an incredibly potent symbol and has remained a constant throughout history. From the Virgin Mary to Joan of Arc, we just love seeing the wholesome and virtuous ravished by the all-father. Probably some examples outside of Judeo-Christeanity but I can't be bothered to go reaching outside my immediate frame of reference in the name of cultural relativism.

Bottom line: Sex is complicated fun and you desperately need to get laid if you're talking like this.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)

I can't help wanting to make them dirty

I can't help wanting to make them dirty

I can't help wanting to make them dirty


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 10:33 pm (UTC)

Terrific example and a great example of what they were talking about above.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 11:49 pm (UTC)

Bottom line: you keep playing the dirty goat if you like; I know the sweetest loving is far different.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)

Glad to hear you're getting some, despite your rather priggish persona, anyway!


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 01:22 am (UTC)

Hey, a rose needs its thorns. Without the goat-fucking, the tender loving just isn't the same.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 01:24 am (UTC)

The lyme disease bit was funny. So here is a deserved "tee-hee".


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fagme
fagme
fagme
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)

i can see how it would appeal to japanese men. japan loves to juxtapose innocent females with perverted males, like it makes them more virile and masculine or something. but their ideas of 'innocence' are incredibly banal.


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stanleylieber
stanleylieber
Stanley Lieber
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 04:54 am (UTC)

i think you're just supposed to look at it.


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subalpine
subalpine
subalpine
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 07:56 am (UTC)

What kind of music do mori girls listen to (or, better yet, play) and where can I have a listen?


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 09:44 am (UTC)

try these, "hana no youni", maybe
http://www.myspace.com/hananoyouni

and some of their friends too

wide-tastes, gentle, maybe a bit of pain !


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olamina
olamina
blackgirlgenius
Thu, Jun. 18th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)

I wonder how the rise of the "grass eating boys" (http://www.slate.com/id/2220535) relates to this.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Jan. 15th, 2010 10:35 pm (UTC)
If you like Japanese fashion and neo pop art

Enjoy my blog in direct from Tokyo
http://aliceetpeterpunk.blogspot.com/
Have a nice week-end!


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milkyun
milkyun
gabriel
Wed, Jan. 27th, 2010 11:14 am (UTC)

hello,
i was wondering if i could use parts of this great article for my zine. I have a fashion part and i'm featuring the "mori girl" style.
Will entirely link back and credit to you.

sincerely.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jan. 27th, 2010 11:58 am (UTC)

Sure!


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milkyun
milkyun
gabriel
Wed, Jan. 27th, 2010 01:11 pm (UTC)

sweet! thanks again!


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(Anonymous)
Wed, May. 12th, 2010 04:32 am (UTC)

"But what's the appeal of Mori Girls to men?" Hisae asked me. "Oh, it's quite simple," I said. "They look so wholesome that we can't help wanting to make them dirty."

Wat.
I think girls don't care if it appeals to men.
Believe it or not, most of us don't get dressed in the morning thinking about how many men will want to fuck us.


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psychodn
psychodn
Wed, May. 19th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)

I know at least two girls who think exactly that when they're getting dressed... They've flat out told me that's their aim.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Sep. 14th, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)

both scandinavian brands mentioned are Finnish,not Swedish...if you writing about fashion, may be you need to know such a details?


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Sep. 15th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)

Minä Perhonen is a Japanese brand. If you want to be a critic, get your facts straight.


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