lifestyle

Fashionable 'yama' girls take to the hills

46 Comments
By Kevin Mcgue

2009 was the undisputed year of the "mori" (forest) girl in Japan, with legions of young women cultivating a look that seemed to be torn from the pages of a Scandinavian fairy tale. Come 2010, they were leaving the forest and heading for higher land. The "yama" (mountain) girl was born.

Broadly defined, a "yama" girl is a young urban woman who enjoys doing outdoor activities in her free time, but wants to look good while doing so. Their numbers are growing, and apparel makers have been quick to respond to the trend. American outdoor brand The North Face, for example, increased the floor space devoted to women’s apparel at its flagship Harajuku branch, and has extended the options for women in its waterproof Gore-Tex line while offering new Japan-exclusive products.

As with any subculture in Japan, a crop of magazines has also sprung up to cater to the crowd, with titles such as Randonnée and OF Girl giving readers tips on how to coordinate outfits that are as functional as they are attractive.

But there’s more to being a mountain girl than just looking cute in outdoor gear. Visits to Mt Fuji during the 2010 climbing season were the highest since the government began keeping statistics in 2005, and Alpine Tour Service reported that the number of women booking hiking excursions increased sixfold last year.

Sharing information about equipment and hiking trails—as well as photos and experiences from previous adventures—is an integral part of the "yama" girl lifestyle. The movement made an overnight celebrity of blogger Yuri Yosumi, who writes about her treks and gives advice to women on choosing the best gear and apparel.

“My life really changed by becoming acquainted with the outdoors,” says Yosumi, who single-handedly made leggings and skirts acceptable attire for mountain climbing. “While maintaining my respect for nature, I want to help women who are not familiar with the outdoors to experience the wonders of nature. I use the concept of ‘enjoying the outdoors in a skirt’ as a tool toward that goal.”

Yosumi’s popularity seems to know no bounds. Her odyssey through the mountains of New Zealand with her husband last year was followed by a series of lectures at outdoor clothing shops around Japan, where she shared slides and memories of her experience. She was also tapped by UK outdoor wear maker Berghaus to help develop hiking skirts especially for the Japanese market, and is currently serving as spokesperson for French brand Aigle. Yosumi acted as creative director for Aigle’s new “Love Trek” line, choosing colors and designs as well as battle testing the apparel at the Karasawa Mountain Festival last August.

Fashion trends in Japan come and go, with few lasting more than a year or two, but "yama" girls might be different. Since they seem to adhere to a pervasive lifestyle rather than simply a look, we can probably expect them to be around for many more climbing seasons to come.

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


46 Comments
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Most of my fellow hikers are either elderly or retired Japanese, with a sprinking of salarymen types and foreigners, when I go hiking in Okutama. The younger generation of Japanese is basically underrepresented.

So this seems like an odd "trend." I hope it remains a superficial one, because the last things Okutama's quiet mountain trails needs is congestion by a bunch of fashion-conscious lemmings.

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I agree Jefflea.. I cant help but roll my eyes when I read articles like this.

I saw a Mori-gyaru in HEELS last week FFS!!!

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I wonder if there'll be more emergency rescues for fashionably dressed young women who have no experience in the outdoors. Those designer clothes might look good but are they up to the task?

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himehentai, dont get me started on that. I have NO idea what girls are thinking when they go hiking wearing HIGHHEELS. My wife did that once and on the way back I had to carry her because her feet hurt. Not that I didnt mind but still. highheels? wtf

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fashion-conscious lemmings

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, cracked me up :)

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paulinusa I think you have found your niche market.

Fashionable clothes for mori/yama girls with built in homing devices, GPS, lights, whistle and built in mirror and make up pouch.

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Papigiulio - that's the price you pay for not planning ahead. A small backpack with your wife's sneakers inside could have saved you the back stain.

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more ugly clothes for the masses.

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I like the look of Mori Girls, natural fabrics and often vintage or period looking cuts mixed with contemporary style. I prefer their style over the legions of fluffy poodle girls and hip hop girls with insect sun glasses.

I sincerely hope that they do create something lasting for a change. Would be nice to see people with hobbies other than shopping take center stage for a while. From what I have read, they seem to love simple things, age seems to be of no issue and they seem to be environmentally aware and friendly. Not too bad for the usual consumerist approach that often defines Japan.

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Yes, well, I encourage any trends that might get young folks truly interested in Japan's natural beauty, but I fear this phenomenon is more about selling fashion accessories, and about comparing one's own accessories to others.

What will happen to the old shrines, beautiful natural areas, etc. in the future? Will they be turned into sports clubs and outlet malls, I wonder? Among the young there seems to be little interest in getting in touch with Japan's rich cultural history and natural treasures.

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When I read the title I was like, "wait a minute, Yamamba is back in fashion?" Glad it is not..

Every year around GW my mates and I get together for a 6hr hike over a mountain that finishes up at the Kirin Beer factory where we take a tour and get some free beer. ^o^

The women in the group are usually divided into two types - the type that come along with their designer handbags, and of course high heel shoes, and the type who come wearing so much professional gear, it is as though they are planning on climbing Mt. Fuji.

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"...built in homing devices, GPS, lights, whistle and built in mirror and make up pouch."

Unfortunately they have one device that will be the #1 cause of trouble: their keitai. "Please send a helicopter, it's starting to rain and I have a blister".

Papigiulio: You didn't mind carrying your wife because her feet hurt? Must not have been a difficult hike.

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what kind of hiking is this? The reason to hike is to get away from things, not bring them with you

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Just take your wife/girlfriend on an overnight hike, I guarantee it will be the last time you will be encumbered. Then you can say Free at Last, Free at Last. Peace and quiet will then return to the forest.

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And none of them have a really good compass :) - something like this:

Vixen C20-50E

Nor do they know how to use one and a map...

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Best of credit to her & others.

As an ex-mountaineer in Canada I studied all the routes some of the women with a guide would explain back in around 1912 to 1919. They stuck with the Alpine Club of Canada & were the women that did so much of the work at the major base camp each year.

Curosity had me ask a few of them, like how can you climb with those skirts down to your ankles. An answer was we were wearing climbing nickers like you, but upon a photo, to be taken, then on went the dress along with a large clothing pin like the Scottish people used in the past.

You learn things all the time!!!!!!!!!

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What junk this article is.

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Why is she skiing? I do not see any snow.

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goddog its called langlaufing its for people who cant ski :P and I see some snow in the background.

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Not even enough snow for "langlaufen"{Cross-country ski-ing), many hikers use 2 ski-poles.

Photo must have been taken at the start she is still smiling, etc.

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Why oh why do japanese always have to over do the uniform/fashions when they decide to try or do something hahaha its nuts.

Reminds of the chanko nabe place I use to go to many years ago, talk started about baseball & next thing you know a bunch of us meet to practice, about half thought it wud just be fun softball but the other half wanted to try to break into pro ball, was nuts! Week later I show at the chanko place & I am asked for Y50,000 for a uniform.......wtf, I thought I wud buy a glove, but this was nuts, next time I pretended I forgot the $$$, anyway that night huge arguments ensued about the direction of the team(we hadnt even played a practice game yet), I went home & never returned to restaurant again!

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I seriously doubt the magazines "cater to the crowd". More like the crowds cater to the magazines. As if these "looks" and fashions arent created on a boardroom floor and then marketed and sold through media and advertising then consumed by the robot masses. Spend , Spend , Spend! and you will fit in, in ,in!. Everyone will like you and you will be happy and normal. Just give us your money.

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p.s. as far as these fashions go, I prefer the "hama" girl every time.

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Wonderful trend to see the young enjoying God's creation. I enjoy seeing them in their joy as well. Hard work climbing but it really brings out a spirit of joy.

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Yes, many people at least in Japan use two sticks for mountain-trekking, for better balance. It really startet from X-country, because this way of walking uses many more different muscle groups and thus is a good fitness tool - in even terrain that is. Problem in the mountains is this false feeling of safety leads them to make bigger steps and thus putting more weight/stress on the knee joints plus its more difficult to regain balance should the stick slip. On the other hand two sticks might keep the girls from always fiddling with their keitai ;-) But all in all I would support an interest in nature of course; one more point Japanese weaklings cannot keep up with us Gaijin men to impress the girls!

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Unfortunately they have one device that will be the #1 cause of trouble: their keitai. "Please send a helicopter, it's starting to rain and I have a blister".

Until they realise there is generally no reception in most of the mountains around Tokyo.

I think this is a good trend. Japanese should realise how beautiful the countryside (which is only an hour from Tokyo) actually is. Part of the beauty is the lack of crowds - I hope yama girl fashions don't become too popular.

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Why is she skiing? I do not see any snow.

Obviously she's not skiing. Shes using hiking sticks. If you're doing any kind of serious hiking, then you pretty much have to have them. I don't know if she fits that description, of being a serious hiker, but when I hiked the Appalachian trail I brought mine, and never regretted it for a moment.

Looking at her pack, it looks like she's just on a day hike. Last probably 2 or 3 hours at most.

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Why is she skiing? I do not see any snow.

.....................

those of walking sticks.Usually you need only one, but for the kawaii factor you need two.

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oberst:

" those of walking sticks.Usually you need only one, but for the kawaii factor you need two. "

In Europe, they call that "Nordic walking". Looks pretty bizarre, imho, but yes two long sticks are part of the equipment.

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As if these "looks" and fashions arent created on a boardroom floor and then marketed and sold through media and advertising then consumed by the robot masses.

People only buy what they like, bub. For every successful look there's 100 more failed designs. And not every design is created by an 80-year old mater craftsman in a small village in inaka. Fashion - this fashion and others, and almost every thing else people consume - is created by companies, marketed and sold through media and advertising...

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I really like that fashion, they make some cute designs and it is defintely different. I like to hike in comfortable tights but they kind of look ridiculous on their own, so adding this little skirt on top makes a big difference. Agree with WilliB about that Nordic walking craze in Europe. So ridiculous to see them in big groups walking around the Greek isles with their sticks in summer.

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@Smorkian- huh? you just said exactly what I said...?? are you agreeing or disagreeing- bub? People buy what is available to them in the magazines and shops and what their "idols" are wearing who have been clothed by their designers and their sponsors...It has very little to do with individual taste. or individuality at all.

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It has very little to do with individual taste. or individuality at all.

Disagreeing. Very much. Given that there are thousands and thousands of looks, people will still need to make a choice. And they do. Bub. Walk around Tokyo or any city around the world and you'll see thousands of fashion choices, not people dressed as robots. These yama girls just make another fashion choice.

Your post was talking about fashion being designed in a boardroom as if that's some huge negative. What I was saying is that everything pretty much is mass produced by companies, so that's not exactly surprising, is it?

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I agree with Kaptain kichigai.

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I do not think the terrain is that difficult if they can trek wearing skirts. At least the forest/mountain I go, I have to carry a machete, bear maze, rifle would be nice and a rope.

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Just think of all the yama fun you can have in the great outdoors, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

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Fashion in Japan = Fail

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I disagree Squally! Fashion in Japan = Fashion elsewhere 2/3 years later

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Rofea.........Japanese maid fashion been around a bit now, hopefully we'll see them in Paris soon.

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Most Japanese people under 40 who are somewhat fashionable seem to have some idea of fashion, unlike Americans who just wear the (same crap different person) imo. Go yama girls, get into nature and fashion.

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It is nice to see that the human is evolving...when newspapers here or anywhere are writing about the importance of fashion, and then dummies are commenting that what a person who is hiking is wearing is visually important...the race is definitely endangered. Who cares what you look like when you go hiking? Morons, that is who!

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Fashion? Not!!! Just another example of perfectly cute J-girls and turning themselves into clowns.

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So what if they want to look fashionable when hiking - at least they are getting exercise rather than complaining on JT. I hope the same trend catches on in "western" countries - maybe the obesity rates will fall. I say good on them for getting outdoors and exercising.

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I used to see quite a few groups of young women when hiking, a lot of them appeared to be university student age. And they were hiking without any men, most of the guys I see tend to hike by themselves or smaller groups. As for fashion, girls generally tend to dress themselves up a bit and outdoor wear in general caters for feminine tastes. I take my hat off to them. I remember meeting somethat would make most "men" look like the wimps they are. They certainly are not anything new to Japan but I'm guessing it's just becoming more "fashionable". I certainly won't complain about seeing pretty girls while on a trail.

As for hiking stocks - I'll try not to laugh to those who mention skiing, etc. Probably think outdoors is going outside to get in their car. Depending on the terrain, one stock can be better than two. In any case, they will save your knees big time, particularly walking downhill.

@Seawolf, I know quite a few Japanese mountaineers that would most gaijin to shame. They just don't waffle on about themselves like most foreigners do.

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yama girls! sweet. i bet someone will start wearing mini's while hiking when it warms up. someone will. that is beautiful. super cute fashion too. japan leads fashion again with creativity, cuteness, unique ideas and most importantly, sweet girls

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For every woman I see in Japan who dresses fashionably, I see about 10 who look like they just ran though the closet blindfolded and put on whatever they grabbed.

Then there are the ones who dress their kids up like little clones, complete with a 10,000 yen pair of toddler nike shoes.

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