Japan: Man dresses as schoolgirl to challenge social norms - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Japan: Man dresses as schoolgirl to challenge social norms

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A Japanese man has become a social media icon by dressing up as a school girl. (Source: CNN) A Japanese man has become a social media icon by dressing up as a school girl. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) - Japan is well known for its quirky fashion subcultures. It is one of the kookier sides of an otherwise conservative society.

But breaking some social conventions comes at a price.

"Japan society is all about conforming to the other people," said Hideaki Kobayashi.

Kobayashi was suffocating, tired of following the crowd and tired of hiding "in the closet."

"I just want to wear something cute," he said.

His closet is full of "Seifuku," sailor outfits worn by Japanese schoolgirls.

Kobayashi is attracted to women, and he is identified as a man even when he's dressed up.

"I feel much more myself wearing this," Kobayashi said.

He began going out in public three years ago, when he was almost 50.

"I was surprised how quickly I became known," he said.

Social media made him a star. People take and post pictures everywhere he goes.

But while men dressing up as women is accepted on Japanese TV and in animation, real life reactions can be different.

He says sometimes, people shout insults on the street.

"They're making fun of me, so I just wave," Kobayashi said.

Teenagers are his biggest fan base, some consider Kobayashi a subculture icon.

"He's very popular with the young generation,” said Alexander Blackhall, Waseda Juku Administrator. “Obviously very popular with our kids."

He caught the attention of administrators at Waseda Juku, a private prep school for teenagers. They learned Kobayashi is a patent-holding computer engineer, an accomplished photographer.

"This rich character behind the façade," Blackhall said.

So they hired him to lecture these teens on how to think for themselves, how to be themselves.

In a country where students spend years learning how not to stick out.

"If there's something you want to do, do that," Kobayashi said.

He calls it the key to a rich and happy life.

"I thought he might he a pervert," said Eguri Kikuchi, a student. "But he has wonderful ideas and he's really smart."

Kobayashi says his story proves, you don't have to conform to be accepted.

"That's my message. Be yourself," Kobayashi said.

Copyright 2014 TV TOKYO, TOKYO MX, NTV via CNN. All rights reserved.


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