A Japanese Story: The History of the Kigurumi — Kigurumi Co

A Japanese Story: The History of the Kigurumi

The land of everything Kawaii did not disappoint. One of the biggest fashion craze in the world today, Kigurumis, originated in Japan. This should not come up as a surprise since the country paved the way of introducing the world to our favorite anime characters, tokusatsu (live-action series with special effects) and kaijus (the Japanese word for strange beasts). These Japanese artists are always known for their rich imagination and world-class artistry. Japan’s culture has been warmly embraced everywhere and young audiences all over the world have been giving their unwavering support via watching anime shows, movies, manga and purchasing other merchandises.

Kigurumis are initially intended to clothe performers and they are most often found in theme parks. These people would wear full-body suits or costumes including a full head of masks. Though there may be a lot of categories that Kigurumis can fit into, generally speaking, Kigurumis are also classified as a form of cosplay. We might be mistaken that Kigurumis are just overalls – but they aren’t. The word Kigurumi literally means wearing a stuffed toy in Japanese, these costumes are plushies and very soft and sometimes fluffy.

Before you confuse this type of garment to other types of clothing apparel, here’s the list of the four essential requirements for Kigurumi performers:

  1. Mask – it is very significant that a mask is part of the ensemble. This is essential to avoid extracting the fans out of their fantasy world. The performers’ face should never be visible in public. However, the mask is pretty pricey and requires a lot of effort to shape and mold.
  2. Zentai or the body suit – A Kigurumi performer should look identical to the character that he or she is cosplaying as. The body suit should match the characters’ skin tone. The trick here is to have an even skin tone.
  3. Padding – Most Kigurumi performers are male and padding is what they need to appear more curvy and voluptuous. Paddings are intended to make the performers look more girly.
  4. Training/Performance – It is vital to internalize the character that you are acting as. Performers should captivate the audience by just their movements. They are also not allowed to speak in public or if they are still in a mask. The amplified movements should compensate for the absence of facial expressions and a voice.

How did Kigurumi cross over to the western part of the hemisphere? The craze reached the Western realm including the UK, US, Russia, and Australia in 1999. The first two shops which created the Animegao (masked characters) masks were Dolphin Factory and Build up Studio Sigma both in Japan. It is also believed that one of the western Kigurumi forerunners is Yuri Tsukino, she started in 2000. Kigurumex, the first Kigu group in Mexico and Latin America started in 1998. Hikarinaka is one of the pioneers of spreading the Kigurumi trend in Russia, she started out in 2006.

Aside from the relevant figures mentioned above, the continuous worldwide spread of the Kigurumi trend can be credited to the conventions happening in different parts of the world., Anime North is one of the biggest conventions of Kigurumi enthusiasts in Northern America.

Currently, Kigurumis are slowly being recognized as a streetwear and no longer just a costume. The Kigurumi is no longer limited to just anime characters, there is a vast array of designs to choose from, adorable cartoon characters and cute animals designs are available in almost all online shops and physical stores. Japan’s rich character tradition brought the world a lot of eccentric and interesting part and parcel of their culture. Thanks to these Japanese artists, the rest of the world can experience the fun of wearing Kigurumis today. Arigatōgozaimashita!

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