Japanese man fascinated by Gulf clothing, culture
Takatoriya chooses kabsa and majboos over sushi
KUWAIT: “Thobe”, “dishdasha” or “kandoura” are the names of the traditional male robe worn by locals in the Arabian Gulf. But it is unusual to see a Japanese man wearing it and walking in the streets and on public transportation. Meet Akira Takatoriya, who has been obsessed with the culture of Gulf states since he visited Saudi Arabia five years ago. He was so fascinated by the customs, traditions and the food of the region, he decided to adopt some of what he experienced in his daily life back home in Tokyo.
Kuwait Times spoke to Takatoriya, 32, who was invited to Kuwait by Adel Wawan. He welcomed us in his new Kuwaiti dishdasha that he bought from Souq Mubarakiya in Kuwait City. “Takatoriya means Sun Moon in Japanese, so in Arabic my name on social media is Shams Qamar. I majored in history and studied Turkish and Arabic. I work in a trading and advertising company,” he said. Takatoriya has a strong grasp of the Arabic language, as evidenced by his bilingual tweets and social media posts. “People tell me to speak slang and not fusha, but I’m still learning,” he noted.
Kuwait Times asked him why he loves wearing the dishdasha. “I tried traditional Saudi attire and I found it comfortable, so I wear it four to five days a week in Japan. But wearing the dishdasha on escalators looks dangerous,” he laughed. “My family is complaining because the dishdasha is very difficult to wash, because I drop a lot of food on it,” he added. Takatoriya has 60 dishdashas and 30 shemaghs (ghutras) in his wardrobe. He also expressed his admiration for majboos - the national Kuwaiti dish. “I’m planning to go on a strict diet in Japan to eat more the next time I come here and try the many types of homemade majboos.”
Apart from the GCC, Takatoriya has been to many other countries in the Middle East such as Palestine and Jordan. “I have tried the Jordanian dish mansaf, which is sour, and I’m a professional in turning the magloba upside down,” he beamed. During the Gaza war, Takatoriya was part of a diplomatic project that supported Gaza with food and medicine. And that is when he fell in love with the Palestinian desert kunafa and Nablus sweets. Takatoriya is very active on Instagram and Twitter and has on multiple occasions stated that he doesn’t like sushi and prefers kabsa, majboos and shawarma.
Akira Takatoriya, wearing a dress that combines elements from Kuwaiti and Japanese traditional garments, speaks to Kuwait Times.
KUWAIT: Kuwait Times Editor-in-Chief Abd AlRahman Al-Alyan takes a selfie with Akira Takatoriya.