Even now, Japan retains its culture of shame to a certain extent, which leads to such phenomena as buxom women covering their assets to avoid attracting undue attention in a practice being called kakure kyonyu, or hidden hooters, according to Spa! (12/5).
Though it sounds like an easy task, the perfect cover-up of a bountiful breast is actually extremely difficult and can only be done under the most precise conditions, the men's weekly says.
"Female hormones are emitted in large numbers among women from around age 18 to 20. That's a period when the bust really grows and forms that taut look. This happens because the skin can't keep up with the growth of the breast. No matter what you do, you can't hide this process," Yoshinori Nagumo, the cosmetic surgeon head of the Nagumo Clinic, tells Spa!
If hiding the bust at this time is impossible, then perfect concealment is possible only among women over 21.
"But anybody with a breast size of B-cup or more is going to see gravity make their breasts start to sag after 25," Nagumo says, reducing the perfect concealment age group to those from 21 to 24.
And even more conditions apply: "Thin women can not have dieted to get that way. They have to have been thin all their lives. And they can't have breastfed, nor can they have broad shoulders," the surgeon says.
Wanting to keep the breasts unseen has a long tradition in Japan.
"Up until about the middle of the 1980s, nearly all women in Japan were either an A- or B-cup. Anybody who had large breasts was normally ashamed of them. And most of those who were big-breasted did what they could to make them look as small as possible. So there used to be a lot more kakure kyonyu than there is nowadays," Masashi Miyazawa, head of marketing at apparel sales company Emerge.
Since the '90s, though, Japanese women's attitudes toward their breasts have changed, with big being better and less than 20 percent now wearing A-cup bras. While those less endowed in the bust department are now buying bras that make them look bigger, there is still a strong element of kakure kyonyu going on. These women choose bras that have lots of material surrounding the cups and suppress more than emphasize. Dressing can help, too.
"Form is the most important thing when it comes to having a nice-looking bust. And the secret to deemphasizing large breasts is to expose them rather than try to cover them up," stylist Sonoko Takahashi tells Spa! "Wearing V-neck shirts gives the impression of exposure and takes attention away from the breasts. And women looking to take away attention from their large breasts should avoid whites and pastels in favor of black. Avoid wearing knits and other clothes made with thick materials and instead choose body-hugging items like rayon."