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62 Rules for Living in a Forest

Mori Girl by Valerie Fujita

Four years ago, the Mori (Forest) Girl community was launched on Mixi. It has more than 60 rules. Valerie explains.

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The Mori Girl community is no secret anymore. It was launched in August 2006 on Mixi, Japan’s largest social network, by a girl calling herself choco and now has 38,219 members.

To be allowed in and earn the label Mori Girl, one needs to follow some rules. I said some? A lot of rules actually… Let’s have a closer look at the Mori Girl rules:

Mori-Girl Rules as of August 1, 2009

  1. You like loose fitting dresses
  2. You always wear dresses and skirts
  3. You prefer slightly quirky clothes over simple ones
    (but you don’t like loud and flashy clothes)
  4. You look natural, but with your own style
  5. You are particular about fabrics
  6. You like ethnic clothes, too
  7. You wear A-line clothes
  8. You like wearing dresses that little girls would wear, too
  9. You like smock-like dresses and blouses
  10. You don’t like super sweet fashion
  11. You like deep colors like Burgundy, Fukamidori (dark green, #00552e), Koniro (navy blue, #223a70) and Chairo (dark brown, #965042)
  12. Warm colors look good on you
  13. Short nails feel more comfortable
  14. You like fluffy hats made of knitwear or fur
  15. You like ear muffs
  16. You like ponchos and boleros
  17. You want to have leather bags
  18. You use pochettes for everything
  19. You prefer gold accessories over silver
  20. You feel attracted to old things
  21. You like pocket watches
  22. You like necklaces with magnifying glasses or large designs
  23. You like designs featuring animals
  24. You like designs featuring sweets
  25. You like plaid and polka dots
  26. You like old-fashioned flower patterns
  27. You like lace
  28. You like tights and leggings
  29. Your shoes are basic and flat soled
  30. You like round toe shoes
  31. If you wear sneakers you wear them like loosely fitting cute slip-ons
  32. Instead of regular buttons you like hand-made buttons
  33. You want to wrap your stole or muffler around yourself
  34. In winter, a turtleneck design is your basis
  35. You like layering garments
  36. Puff sleeves make you feel emotional
  37. You love fairy tales
  38. Fair-skinned
  39. Your hair is loosely permed
  40. Bob cut x straight bangs
  41. Straight bangs x long loose perm
  42. Girly
  43. You like FELISSIMO
  44. Of FELISSIMO, you especially like the brands Syrup and &sloe
  45. You like the feel of Q-pot “sweets”
  46. You enjoy chilling out at cafés
  47. You like walking with a camera in your hand
  48. You unconsciously end up at variety stores
  49. You can’t help starting collections of things you like, you are a collector
  50. Finding cute books at the book store makes you happy
  51. You get excited when you visit a furniture store
  52. You like making things by hand
  53. Autumn and winter are your favorite seasons
  54. You’d like to visit Scandinavia one day
  55. You like to have round cheeks
  56. If you use perfume, you prefer faint flower scents best
  57. (You long to be) a girl that exudes a soft mood
  58. (You long to be) an uncomplicated girl
  59. You have been told you come across as laid-back
  60. You consider Hagumi Hanamoto of Honey and Clover to be a Mori Girl
  61. Shizuru Satonaka from Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru is also a Mori Girl
  62. You have been told by a friend that it looks like you are in a forest

If all this applies to you, you might be able to enter the Mori Girl Community on Mixi…

Mori Girl by Valerie Fujita

Kind of scary, all those rules, don’t you think? That’s what got me thinking.

If you look at Mori Girl Community moderator choco’s purpose for building this community, it becomes clear that being a Mori Girl is not about trends or fashion. It is about lifestyle.

I am strongly attracted to the Mori Girl concept because Mori Girl interests cleanly overlap with my own interests. For example, an interest in strange cute things and antiques. It was my dad’s passion to buy antiques, and I have clearly inherited this interest.

I also like the concept of looking like a girl in a forest. Especially because of the strange atmosphere that comes with forests.

I absolutely love spending time reading books at cafés, visiting furniture shops, and adore the smell of lavender. As a French girl raised by my grand-mother, I was surrounded by the scent of lavender. It was used to make the bad smells disappear in the kitchen, in the cologne used to warm me up during the cold winter when I was a little girl, and in scent sachets hung in wardrobes.

I am also partial to patterns using animals. I still wear and adore a loose t-shirt with the design of a cat that I bought eight years ago.

Finally, I share the Mori Girls’ interests in certain magazines. My favorite magazine of all is Fudge and I am sure it will stay that way.

But all these rules seem a bit excessive. I don’t think you should be intimidated by them. They are rules made for a Japanese audience. A friend of mine from Mexico actually got scared when she learned about the now legendary 60 rules. I would like to encourage her and others interested in the Mori Girl concept to feel free to love this style. Find clothes that will fit the Mori Girl mood and make it your own

If you don’t live in Japan, you will find it hard to buy magazines like Fudge, Spoon or So-En every month anyway.

It is also extremely difficult to buy shoes made by Cocue, Long Johns by Fur Fur, long knitwear by Frapbois, or loose dresses by Par Avion or Bulle de Savon. These labels are only for sale in Japan.

But, be free to learn and love the intelligent and wonderful rules about loving antiques, being careful with your clothes, spending your time reading at a café, taking a walk with a camera.

Because in a society that goes too fast, we need to go back to a slower way of living. We need to learn how to be sweeter. We need to learn from the old ways of living, from our grand-parents.

I think that Japanese girls are looking for something that they never knew. Tokyo is a megalopolis where life moves too fast. It tells us about a possible future that turns some people crazy. Perhaps the city’s inhabitants are looking for something different by looking back in time and cherishing the old things they have.

Being a Mori Girl is about lessons we need to learn. So, feel free to look into your own country’s past, collect old things, and cherish your grand-mother’s accessories. I guess there are different ways to be a Mori Girl. You have to find your own.

Mori Girl Inspired Style on JAPANESE STREETS:

Chizuru
Sayaka
Supi
Supi
Hanako
Haruka
Marino-shi
Shizuka

Mori Girl by Valerie Fujita

Edited by Kjeld Duits from the original article on Valerie’s blog. In this version, the rules have been completely re-translated from the latest original version and many links have been added to add context.

All photos by Valerie Fujita.

Recent articles by Valerie Fujita:

Comment (日本語もOK)

I thought it was only a matter of time before you posted an article about Mori-Girl ^^ I only learned about it from JapaneseStreets anyways. I bet a lot of people can agree that it is a very refreshing “style” to see, loose, comfortable clothes that just drape over the body and earthy colors. It’s already influenced me somewhat so I hope to see more~

Arc
Oct 1, 2010 (2630 days ago)

Those rules sound a bit fake. I would’ve laughed if there was a rule saying “You are completely unique.”
But don’t get me wrong, I think the style is adorable.

eros
Oct 1, 2010 (2630 days ago)

@Arc: It was a very long time in the making! Many thanks to Valerie for posting it on JS.

Kjeld Duits
Oct 1, 2010 (2630 days ago)

I loved reading this article! I don’t know who decides the rules, but the rules are very admirable of any person. I actually fit in with lots of the rules here, which I was unaware of. Great article. (:

Mel
Oct 2, 2010 (2630 days ago)

haha those rules are awesome:D I just wish I could be that naturally adorable haha. those Mori Girls are always naturally beautiful, like the forest they so love. :( but I dare not walk outside looking so natural :P But definitely a wonderful article! Something I can work on :)

Miranda
Oct 5, 2010 (2626 days ago)

@Mel: Choco, who created the Mori Girl concept and the Mori Girl community on Mixi, wrote up these rules. I often feel that the word rule is a misnomer. To me they are more like guidelines, or a sketch of ideas to help you create an image in your mind’s eye of what a Mori Girl could be.

@Miranda: This sentence really got me curious: I dare not walk outside looking so natural. Really?

Kjeld Duits
Oct 5, 2010 (2626 days ago)

who needs rules?

indiana
Oct 9, 2010 (2622 days ago)

I think I fit in with the “mori” girl idea, but perhaps with a bit of loli-goth and “indie” girl thrown in there a bit. I think the “rules” are going a little overboard, but who’s to complain, right? especially if they “follow” the “rules.”

code_name_kohaku
Oct 13, 2010 (2618 days ago)

Hey, thanks for this great article; it actually inspired me to write an article in response: http://harajuju.tumblr.com/post/1257329997/on-forest-girls-and-lifestyles

brad-t
Oct 14, 2010 (2617 days ago)

I was amused reading this article; I like the Mori Girl style, but I think I’d be too laid-back to follow their “rules”, haha. Following rules to be unique ;) and wow, sorry for the late reply. :p

stef
Jan 11, 2012 (2163 days ago)

@Stef: Thanks for your comment. I’d like to repeat a comment I made earlier on this page:

Choco, who created the Mori Girl concept and the Mori Girl community on Mixi, wrote up these rules. I often feel that the word rule is a misnomer. To me they are more like guidelines, or a sketch of ideas to help you create an image in your mind’s eye of what a Mori Girl could be.

The word rule has to most of us who speak Western languages a connotation of regulations. I don’t think that Choco ever meant them as regulations.

Kjeld Duits
Jan 11, 2012 (2163 days ago)

I love this clothing style. Found out about it some months back, and it kind of amuse me that a lot of the “rules” they have fit me. It is kind of hard finding those kind of clothes where i live, though.

And the rule of wanting to wisit scandinavia. He. I live there. In Scandinavia, Norway. Wooh. ;D

Mari
Mar 16, 2012 (2098 days ago)

@Mari: And the rule of wanting to wisit scandinavia. He. I live there. In Scandinavia, Norway. Wooh. ;D — I am sure, that lots of Mori Girls will be very envious of you! Now, you just need to get the look. ^_-

Kjeld Duits
Mar 16, 2012 (2098 days ago)

Hello, nice to meet you.
Here is Wiski Wong, a Hong Kong student who is studying in fashion design. I am doing a survey about tokyo street fashion, and I mainly focus on mori girl, which is kind of a new term, so there may not have a book reference to talk about it. I am glad that if you can answer me some of the questions about Tokyo street fashion and mori girl style, so that I can further understand about it.
1. How do you feel about mori girl?
2. Do you like mori girl? Why?
3. Is mori girl a kind of a street fashion in Tokyo?
4. Would you think mori girl is influence by the fashion style of Japan?
5. Any representative (blogger, artist)of mori girl in Tokyo?
6. How do you feel the different between Tokyo fashion and Hong Kong fashion?

Finally, I would be grateful if you can send some of the references about mori girl to me (photos, website or other else), because in Hong Kong there is lack of resources about Tokyo street fashion. I am looking forward to your reply. Thank you very much.

wiski
Oct 23, 2012 (1877 days ago)

I love the idea of simplicity and going back to nature, but it seems like a lot of rules just for that :)

Jessica
Feb 4, 2013 (1773 days ago)

@Jessica: Thank you for your comment, Jessica. As I mentioned above, I often feel that the word rule is a misnomer. To me they are more like guidelines, or a sketch of ideas to help you create an image in your mind’s eye of what a Mori Girl could be.

Kjeld Duits
Feb 4, 2013 (1773 days ago)

i think it is wrong to put being fair skinned as one of the rules because i am african american and very interested in the mori lifestyle and i am obviously not fair skinned. (¬、¬)

Ashley-Kristine
Mar 30, 2013 (1719 days ago)

@Ashley-Kristine: I agree, Ashley-Kristine. A bit unfortunate case of shortsightedness. When choco wrote up these guidelines I don’t think she ever thought much beyond her own group of friends, and she probably just meant it as advice to stay out of the sun to protect your skin. A big thing in Japan—more is spend on skin care here than anywhere else in the world. This is suggested by the original Japanese choco used: 「色白」or irojiro. This can also be translated as light-complexioned.

Kjeld Duits
Mar 30, 2013 (1719 days ago)

38. Fair skinned
62. You have been told by a friend that it looks like you are in a forest.
Please, wouldn’t someone with a darker complexion blend in with the forest more? The bark on the trees, the earth, and the colors in general would blend more.

Kumiko
Jul 31, 2013 (1596 days ago)

@Kumiko: What is meant with #62 is that the person’s sartorial style reminds the observer of clothes worn by rural people. The concept is expressed in a confusing and vague manner. I didn’t quite get it when people first told me, but to Japanese people it seemed to be quite clear at the time. Apparently, Choco, who created the Mori Girl concept and the Mori Girl community on Mixi, had a romantic idea of people living in Norwegian woods in mind when she drew up these ideas. It seemed like that idea of what forest dwelling Norwegians looked like was shared by many young Japanese people. I am guessing it was shaped by anime, manga and shoots in fashion magazines.

Kjeld Duits
Jul 31, 2013 (1596 days ago)

I think the rules are funny since choco published a book full of things a girl living in the forest wouldn’t wear or have acess to in my opinion. I think she’s just trying to expand the fashion to be the wear what choco deems cool girls. I don’t wear her mori I wear my own based on what a girl in the forest would really wear. It’s forest girl not choco fan girl

Bec
Oct 2, 2013 (1533 days ago)

This is very detailed guidelines! :D I guess it’s better late than never. I’m amazed with the Mori Girl’s lifestyle. Glad you wrote this article. Can I use the data for my website?I’m a beginner web writer. I will give credit for your hardwork of course.

Wawon
Jan 16, 2015 (1062 days ago)

Hello! Thank You so much for this article, it’s been very helpful for me as a beginning mori-girl :)
I was wondering, if You’d like to let me translate those rules into polish and write a post on my blog about those rules? I’ve already written a light, funny article about mori style, but would like to explore and go deeper into this topic :) Of course I’ll add a link to Your page and write the source :)
If you could mail me or reply to this comment I’d be grateful.
Cheers! :)
Orimono

Orimono
Jan 23, 2015 (1055 days ago)

@Orimono: Thanks for asking, Orimono. Please feel free. Be aware that this article dates from 2010.

Kjeld Duits
Jan 23, 2015 (1055 days ago)

Thank You! I was aware, therefore I doubted that You’d answer me, but still had some hope :)) I guess “the rules” haven’t changed through these 5 years, when it comes to mori style? :)

Orimono
Jan 24, 2015 (1054 days ago)

@Orimono: The guidelines have not changed, but I don’t know how many people in Japan still follow them…

Kjeld Duits
Jan 24, 2015 (1054 days ago)

I’m surprised to see this style is still followed in Indonesia, although it’s not as popular as kawaii or gal style :D
There are lot of girls i know wear Mori Style in a Japan Culture Fans community.
Maybe because this style has strong feminine style?
Even at Bandung City,there is a shop specialized in selling Mori Style clothes.

Wawon
Jan 26, 2015 (1052 days ago)

@Wawon: Very interesting!

Kjeld Duits
Jan 26, 2015 (1052 days ago)

INTERESTING :D I haven’t heard about Mori girls until yesterday :X After reading your article, I discovered I am a mori girl (however, I have ever thought about lolita or just something victorian inspired :D) Now I know who I am :D Thank you very much for these rules! :)

Marie Lucas :3
Jun 25, 2015 (902 days ago)

@Marie Lucas: Glad you recognized yourself in this philosophy. The trend has long gone in Japan, but it is one worthy of keeping alive and I hope you will do so!

Kjeld Duits
Jun 25, 2015 (902 days ago)

I love the mori girl style and I starting to search more about it. Thanks for this post!
The only thing I disagree is the “rule” 38. I don’t think anyone needs to be “fair-skinned” to fit the style.

Drosset
Mar 10, 2016 (643 days ago)

“38. Fair-skinned”? How unbelievably, ridiculously and unnecessarily racist to anyone who was born with darker skin and enjoys this subculture.

Kayla
Jun 19, 2016 (542 days ago)

@Drosset, Kayla: Rather unfortunate case of shortsightedness. When choco wrote up these guidelines I don’t think she ever thought much beyond her own group of friends, and she probably just meant it as advice to stay out of the sun to protect your skin. This is a big thing in Japan—more is spend on skin care here than anywhere else in the world.

This interpretation is also suggested by the original Japanese choco used:「色白」or irojiro. This is probably better translated as light-complexioned.

If you are black and from a society with lots of discrimination, reading number 38 will be more than jarring. But in this case it really is not worth the energy. Let’s focus on where our attention is really needed, like the Black Lives Matter movement.

Kjeld Duits
Jun 21, 2016 (540 days ago)

2016 and I only just heard of Mori today. On Pinterest, looking at fashion I saw Dark Mori and wondered about the difference between Dark Mori and Goth. Thank you for this info. I have to have Google translate for me a bit here and there

Lydianon
Sep 24, 2016 (445 days ago)

@Lydianon: I must admit I am to familiar with Dark Mori, so can’t answer your question.

Kjeld Duits
Sep 24, 2016 (445 days ago)

i think the “fair skinned” is a little racist. i feel like one can have dark skin and still look absolutely adorable dressed in the mori girl style

petra enloe
Dec 18, 2016 (360 days ago)

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