Ja­panese man fas­ci­nated by Gulf cloth­ing, cul­ture

Taka­toriya chooses kabsa and ma­j­boos over sushi

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Faten Omar

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.

— Pho­tos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Kuwait Times Ed­i­tor-in-Chief Abd AlRah­man Al-Alyan takes a selfie with Akira Taka­toriya.

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