Yaeba-Japanese Teeth

Japanese teeth have never followed western norms. We’ve already talked about the traditional Japanese Black teeth that, in the 19th century, the Imperial Empire forbid in an effort to be more Western Friendly.

The Blackness also prevented tooth decay.
They thought this would scare away foreigners

Even today Japanese tend to prefer their women to have snaggle teeth, or vampire like canines. Called Yaeba, women even have dental surgery to perfect their imperfect child like smile.

“It’s not like America, where perfect, straight, picket-fence teeth are considered beautiful, … In Japan, in fact, crooked teeth are actually endearing, and it shows that a girl is not perfect. And, in a way, men find that more approachable than someone who is too overly perfect.” — New York Times

So while America’s top model is yanking out a half dozen teeth to get that perfect set of pearly whites, the Japanese are doing the opposite.


I actually find Japanese teeth enduring, er, endearing? Yes, that one. I’m not into vampires but a stray tooth here or there is cute … or I’ve just been here too long. I have noticed that mouths can get pretty crazy though, I’ve seen people with rows of teeth like a Great White Shark, with two, three sets going further and further back into their talking hole.

Sometimes for a little extra pocket money I do these mentoring/English crash courses for kids leaving to do home stays in America or Australia. It pays well and basically I hang out with a bunch of kids and shoot the shit for a couple of hours. One of the “courses” we had to do was on something cliche like “global leadership” and as I am obviously not leadership material I sought out a trusted friend who spends months overseas working with Japanese youth in foreign study programs.

I asked her what should the Japanese youth do to prepare for the outside world. Without thinking she said, “fix their teeth.”  According to her, most western people are so hung up about teeth that it’s a real problem for Japanese people overseas. While here in the land of the rising sun their teeth are regarded as cute imperfection, outside people are horrified at what is going on in Japanese mouths. People can’t focus on anything but the teeth … the rows and rows of pointy teeth.

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