Zany Zentai hits Orchard

Zany Zentai hits Orchard
Zentai participants gathered outside Paragon for a mass photo taking session before making a U-turn back to the Japan Creative Center, on Saturday, 23 May 2015.

Dressed in brightly coloured body suits, a group of 48 people strutted down Orchard Road.

They were taking part in the Zentai Walk on Saturday afternoon, an event which involved walking from the Japan Creative Centre at 4, Nassim Road to The Paragon and back.

The 1.2km walk, which included stops for photos with members of the public, took them about 2½ hours.

Zentai is short for zenshin taitsu (full body tights), referring to the garments worn by enthusiasts.

Zentai was pioneered in Japan in the 1980s by Japanese photographer Marcy Anarchy.

It was not discussed openly initially because of its association with spandex fetishism, and was limited to the homes of enthusiasts.

The culture has emerged more prominently in recent years, with enthusiasts finding the skin-tight suit a good way to be loud and expressive, yet anonymous.

Saturday's walk was part of the Zentai Art Exhibition, which is open to the public at the Japan Creative Centre until June 5.

The exhibition is held in conjunction with the Zentai Art Festival, organised by artist and translator Yuzuru Maeda and her accompanying group of artists.

The 36-year-old Japanese, who is a permanent resident here, also took part in Saturday's walk.

"At the beginning (of the walk), we started out by exploring and getting used to the suit," said Miss Maeda, who has been fascinated by Zentai for the past five years.

"But towards the end of the walk, we all became like friends."

She described the experience as one that allows more direct conversation.

"In normal life, we have to introduce ourselves, who we are, where we're from," she said.

"But during these walks, we don't have to. We don't identify who's who, and in that way, conversation becomes more direct, it becomes more pure."

This is the third time she has organised a Zentai event, after a walk around The Substation last November and one at Waterloo Street last month.

"I want to share the art of Zentai with people," said Miss Maeda.

"I want people to question who we are, and discover how we can relate to each other.

"By (concealing) our faces, our hair, our looks, we can easily find more similarities instead of looking at our differences."


The walk, which was from 2.30pm to 5pm, attracted many shoppers along Orchard Road who stopped to take photos with the participants.

Mrs Park Mi Jong, 44, an artist, was withdrawing money on Orchard Road when the group caught her attention, prompting her to take a photo with some of the participants.

"It's very interesting, because it was in the middle of the city and I had no idea what was happening," she said.

Miss Matilda Tang, 22, also stopped to take a photo with the group.

"They were very friendly, and I asked myself, why not? So I took a picture with them," said the student.

Asked if she herself would put on a Zentai suit, she said: "It's a bit out of my comfort zone, but I would definitely like to find out more and decide after that."

There will also be a Zentai Performance Day this Saturday from 12pm to 5pm at the Japan Creative Centre

This article was first published on May 26, 2015.
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