Police detain woman in China for cosplaying in Japanese kimono: ‘You are Chinese!’

·3-min read

A Chinese woman claimed she was detained by police in Suzhou for wearing a Japanese kimono and taking pictures on the street.

A video on social media showed police accosting the woman, identified only by her social media handle “Shadow not Self”, and telling her she should not be wearing a Japanese kimono as she was Chinese, reported What’s on Weibo, a news portal that covers social media trends in China.

“If you would be wearing hanfu [Chinese traditional clothing], I would never have said this,” the policeman can be heard saying in the video.

“But you are wearing a kimono, as a Chinese. You are Chinese!”

The video ends as the woman is taken away.

The incident took place on 10 August at Huaihai Street in Suzhou city.

The street is home to many Japanese businesses and restaurants and is also known as “Little Tokyo”.

The woman who was cosplaying as a popular character from the manga series Summer Time Rendering was wearing a kimono and a wig.

The woman claimed in a now-deleted post on Chinese social media platform Weibo that she was subsequently arrested for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, a common refrain used by Chinese authorities against any dissenters, reported Vice News.

She said she had been interrogated for five hours until past midnight.

She added that police officers also looked through her phone, including deleted photos and confiscated the kimono worn by her.

Police officials also lectured her and ordered her to write a 500-word letter of self-criticism, she said in an earlier post on social media platform Qzone.

“I feel like I have no dignity,” she wrote. “I like multiculturalism. I like anime. Is it wrong of me to like anything?”

“I used to love the country and I believe in the police… But I am very disappointed. It turns out I have never had the freedom to wear and say what I want,” she added.

The incident has sparked a debate on social media on whether the kimono should be worn by Chinese people.

Former Global Times editor Hu Xijin said the woman’s actions were not illegal.

“Kimono should not be banned in our society, and in fact there is no such ban. But when someone wants to wear a kimono, I advise them to pay attention to the surrounding environment… to avoid becoming the centre of unnecessary controversy as much as possible.”

State broadcaster CCTV also started promoting a social media hashtag encouraging people to wear hanfu, reported What’s On Weibo.

The incident is believed to have stemmed from hardline Chinese nationalism under Xi Jinping’s administration.

Japan’s recent overtures with the US and its leaning towards the west, particulary during US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, has also added to anti-Japan sentiments in China.