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April-June 1999

Nylon Tattoos

What's this? Are children in Japan tattooing their fingers and arms? Actually, they're wearing spiral-shaped, nylon accessories known as body wire. Besides being worn as rings and bracelets, they're being used as chokers, armlets, and anklets. They're all really easy to put on, since the pieces are highly elastic, and they cling to the skin in a way that makes the patterns stand out. Because they resemble tattoos, they're sometimes also called "wire tattoos." They were released in Japan in March 1999, and their popularity has taken off like no other accessory in recent times, especially with teenage girls.

Body wire was launched in autumn 1998, based on the idea of an Italian flight attendant who saw the tattoos of people on a tropical island and thought these designs would make great accessories. Over 10 million pieces have already been sold in Europe and the United States, so many of you might already have seen them.

After it was introduced in Japan, body wire was embraced by pop artists like Namie Amuro and Speed, and even comic book characters began sporting them, further spurring their popularity.

At first black and brown were the most common colors, but lately blue, pink, and yellow have come into vogue. There are also varieties that weave several colors together and even transparent wires. The latter type is popular among school students who don't want the pieces to stand out too much.

It will soon be summer in Japan. Since body wire is made of strong nylon it can be worn while swimming or in the shower, making it an ideal summer accessory. Even boys are beginning to use it. This summer, therefore, there could be a lot of people sporting "tattoos" at the beach or the pool.

Photos: Body wire looks cool just about anywhere on your body!