By Asian American in Tokyo | May 30, 2007
Ever notice how the vast majority of Japanese women walk with their toes pointed inward? The cause for this isn’t conclusive, but debate about it rages across the Internet. If you don’t believe me, use your favorite search engine and enter the terms “Japanese” “pigeon” and “toed” – see what results you get. Some say it’s due to the various Japanese ways of sitting, such as “seiza” but I personally agree with those who hypothesize that it is considered feminine to walk pigeon-toed. Note that Japanese men usually aren’t pigeon-toed. I believe it’s tied to gender-specific Japanese culture, such as women speaking in higher-pitched voices when on the phone, male/female-specific Japanese speech, crooked teeth being cute, etc. It’s interesting that while Japanese people may consider it feminine, or demure, and generally attractive, foreigners new to Japan usually exclaim “what’s wrong with these women – they can’t walk in heels!” (Note that 99% of young women walk in high heels in metro areas such as Tokyo, so it’s tough to find a test subject to see if they still walk pigeon-toed without heels.)
Here’s a photo of a toddler-age Japanese girl (cropped to protect her identity). Does her pigeon-toed stance make her more girly and cute? Interesting how cultural environmental factors strongly affect even someone this young.
Update (June 19, 2008):
I found some better examples of this, see photos below.
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