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Red heads in Japan

Brosus

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Hello! I'm interested in living in Japan for a year or so, but I'm kind of concerned about how everyone would respond to my hair color... I know that it's rare to be a red head in Japan, but I was wondering how people would react to it. I've seen a few animes (I'm not a real weeaboo or anything, I've watched them because I was interested in Asia as a society, I typically avoid weeaboos...) that red heads are displayed as trouble makers usually. Is that how normal Japanese people view gingers? Thanks! 🙂
 

nnnaaa

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The most generally known red-head fictional character may be Ann of green gables, in which she fusses a lot about her red hair. The color we Japanese image there is carrot orange (as which the novel describes). Other recent red-heads are in the Harry Potter movie, and their heads are I assume colored "redder" than the usual natural red, I guess?
I remember when I knew that the natural red hair is not "red" but rather, light brown with a reddish shade, I was a bit surprised.

So, I think when we see the naturally red-haired person, probably we recognize it as light brown, not red.
And now we are rather accustomed to seeing Japanese who have their hair dyed strong red or pink (among costume-play girls).
If you have a dyed hair in strong red, probably people would think either you like punk music, or like anime.
Don't worry, you will catch eyes of Japanese people just because you are a caucasian (or other non-asian), red haired or not :)
 

BrucePHR

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Hair color in anime is an artistic trope. Many anime characters have blue or purple hair, but they are representing ordinary Japanese characters. My guess is that wild hair colors were adopted for characters because it made the characters more distinctive from one another. That is, I don't think there's a consistent "meaning" in anime hair color. As for ginger stereotypes, I don't think the Japanese have any experience with the stereotype, so they would not classify you as "a ginger" or "a redhead" the way a Brit or an American might.

This subject gives me an opportunity to ask a question: Japanese skin color is quite variable. Some people are quite pale. Others are dark. When I see classical depictions of couples together, the women are white and the men brown, which I assume reflects the convention of women (especially upper-class women) being indoors and the men being exposed to the sun. Among caucasians in the U.S.A., it was once a sign of class to be as pale as possible, showing that you never worked in the sun. Now a dark tan is associated with leisure.

All of that is meant to frame my question: What are Japanese attitudes about skin color, both the color one is born with, and the darker color that comes with being in the sun? Is lighter skin desired? By whom? Or are different skin tones even noticed? Are there regional differences?
 

Brosus

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Yeah, that makes sense. Having a bunch of people with the same skin tone and hair color would be hard for people new to a series, so you have to make them distinct.
That's a very interesting observation. Perhaps I'm so acclimated to it, but it seems that couples are portrayed as being around the same skin tone in American media now, or if anything, now women have darker skin tones. I may just not be paying much attention, though. That probably has to do with 'exotic' women, and women who are different, being far more desirable. It applies more to women than men, of course, because men are more focused on looks... usually, anyway. Because of this, and what I've read, being Caucasian will give you a leg up with the ladies (or men) if only because they want to come over and see how different your life might be. It's the idea that different is interesting, I guess. I don't really know about Japan, though, since I haven't lived there... so take that with a grain of salt. :p
 
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Hair color in anime is an artistic trope. Many anime characters have blue or purple hair, but they are representing ordinary Japanese characters. My guess is that wild hair colors were adopted for characters because it made the characters more distinctive from one another. That is, I don't think there's a consistent "meaning" in anime hair color.

Back in the day, when animation was done with hand-painted cels, there was only a limited number of cel paint colors available (24, I think, but I could be off by half a dozen either way.) It wasn't very practical to mix your own colors for some technical reason that was probably related to how bad it would be to have mismatched colors for the same character in adjacent cells, or maybe just to do with time and trouble, but anyway, in the west, characters just had hair colors limited to white (for old people), yellow (representing for blond), red, brown, and black.

In Japan (which took its animation supplies and early styles and techniques from the west), if you were going to give people yellow and red hair, then it wasn't any more or less natural to give them blue, green, and purple hair. It only became remarkable when Japanese animation was exported back to the west.

There is a noticeable trend for red-haired characters to be very energetic and outgoing (not to mention a tendency to solving problems with violence), and for blue haired characters to be serene and introspective, though of course there are exceptions and others colors aren't well defined that I've noticed. I don't, however, think that anyone would take anime hair color stereotypes and apply them to real people, since as was mentioned, the colors do (mostly) just stand in for what would be black hair in reality.

I'm not in Japan or Japanese, but, I have noticed that everyone in doramas and movies is quite uniformly pale when compared to the broader set of skin tones in the population as seen in news and documentary footage. That suggests at least an aesthetic bias to me.
 

Brosus

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Oh, wow! Yeah, now that makes sense... that explains why animes are like that. Huh, I didn't know that, thanks! That's an interesting point. In most animes I've seen, the characters don't look especially... Asian. I wonder if that's because Caucasians are preferable...
 

Brosus

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Yeah, I read somewhere that it's just considered a different shade of brown. It makes more sense, since normally gingers aren't even close to actual red. It's much more orange than anything. Haha, I guess that's true. Thanks!
 

Mark of Zorro

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I often wondered how many people realized that red hair is not red. I think you ask people what color a red-head's hair is, they will respond much the same as when you ask a Japanese person what color the moon is and they say "yellow". It is amazing how the human mind can be so influenced by words and images so much more than actual reality.

I think that Japanese basically don't realize that orange hair is natural and would begin with the assumption that you dyed it. Which means they will associate you with punk youth, mitigating that with the fact you are a foreigner, putting you in a sort of limbo as to their impression of you.

From there your personality could make your image a bit more or less favorable but I think especially going to the direction of "more" favorable will be harder than for those with dark hair. I also think this applies to blondes but is worst for gingers.
 

Brosus

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Yeah, I actually wonder why people call it red myself. I guess it's just more distinctive than light brown or orange. Or maybe it is just tradition. The mind is shaped by one's peers, after all. I hope that they don't associate me with that group, I'd rather be more of a blank slate... fortunately, my hair's a pretty light 'red', so I can probably just pass off for being a brunette if it comes to that. I usually keep it cut short anyway, so most people aren't even sure I'm a ginger.
 

nnnaaa

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Hi, lots of discussion going on here! So, the anime hair color evolution, I believe Japanese cartoons are mainly drawn in black and white (with occasional special color pages once in a while), so to distinguish the characters the writers made some head black, some white, like that (and white head will usually become yellowish in the color version) The readers in Japan assumed these as a different shade of black hair if the story is domestic (since Japanese are all black hair), so the white head character is a brownish black, compared to jet-black. Color at that time sort of represented in some cases their characters, like, black-introversive, white-social, for example. Not in all cases,but these kind of pattern is still often seen. Presently in colored Anime, probably it is more free from these stereotype categorization.

As for the skin color (in real people), I guess we Japanese regard ourselves as white. I used to not be able to understand why western people say about us as yellow, until I actually saw the Anglo-Saxons. For our eyes, Anglo-Saxons are more pink (or red) than white, and their skin seems to be so fragile like when you see the stomach of a dog or a nude mouse, if you know what I mean. Ours is less pinkish, so you can say it is yellowish.

Japaneses (and Koreans, I think) is now all for white skin (i mean girls, but maybe for Koreans, boys as well), In the women fashion magazines, they are filled with articles of whitening cosmetics. In Japan we have this proverb that being white can hide seven flaws.

Western people may not notice the difference, but when Japanese see the people in the southern Asian countries or India, we think their skin are dark and different from ours. Among Japanese, the difference in shades among ourselves is just regarded as one of the personal characteristics, so no discrimination or bias there.
 

Glenski

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You are way too worried (and misinformed, IMO) about hair color and skin color. Foreigners who do not look Asian enough to pass for Japanese are usually stared at by locals who have never/rarely seen foreigners before (and that happens a lot here, mostly in rural areas but not limited to them). To what degree they are stared at depends on a lot. People are just naturally curious. To my knowledge (after having lived here a decade and a half), there is no moral characteristic attributed to foreigners with red hair or (presumably Caucasians) with dark skin.

My (Japanese) wife agrees with nnnaaa's remarks from the second, third, and fourth paragraphs, for what it's worth. So, don't be concerned about your hair or skin color.
 

nnnaaa

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Yes.
I guess western culture has more categorization on the red-haired. I had to learn some of those "rules" when viewing the US TV shows, like red haired girls are pale (this may be true) and supposed to be HOT and passionate, and prefer wearing green clothes, etc..
 
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Red-haired girls -are- pale (pale skin and a tendency to freckle instead of tan when you're exposed to the sun are genetically linked to red hair), and they do wear green a lot - it's considered to contrast well against their hair, and it's an obvious choice for a costume designer on a TV set.
Plus a lot of red-heads are of irish descent, and though I don't think wearing green is particularly popular -in- Ireland, it is somewhat popular among Americans with irish heritage.

The temperament thing is imposed, though, there's nothing that makes redheads alike in personality (other than whatever common experiences they might have from their hair color and skin complexion). In scripted shows, a fiery personality is matched to fiery hair for the aesthetics of it, that's all.
 

Jhopesstrawberry

𝒜𝒾𝓃𝓉 𝑒𝓋𝒶 𝒷𝑒𝑒𝓃 𝒶𝓃𝑜𝓉𝒽𝒶 𝒷𝓇𝑒𝑒𝒹😜
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Yes.
I guess western culture has more categorization on the red-haired. I had to learn some of those "rules" when viewing the US TV shows, like red haired girls are pale (this may be true) and supposed to be HOT and passionate, and prefer wearing green clothes, etc..
👀😂😂😂
 

Jhopesstrawberry

𝒜𝒾𝓃𝓉 𝑒𝓋𝒶 𝒷𝑒𝑒𝓃 𝒶𝓃𝑜𝓉𝒽𝒶 𝒷𝓇𝑒𝑒𝒹😜
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8F497582-CC31-4768-BA74-2126FB14DF88.jpeg
A87B7478-4B9E-4090-8788-F449618B0A1E.jpeg
Red-haired girls -are- pale (pale skin and a tendency to freckle instead of tan when you're exposed to the sun are genetically linked to red hair), and they do wear green a lot - it's considered to contrast well against their hair, and it's an obvious choice for a costume designer on a TV set.
Plus a lot of red-heads are of irish descent, and though I don't think wearing green is particularly popular -in- Ireland, it is somewhat popular among Americans with irish heritage.

The temperament thing is imposed, though, there's nothing that makes redheads alike in personality (other than whatever common experiences they might have from their hair color and skin complexion). In scripted shows, a fiery personality is matched to fiery hair for the aesthetics of it, that's all.
SHIIII.... All the black ran away from me I guess😂😂😂
 
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