What does it mean to be “Ugly” In Japan

What does it mean to be “busu” 「ブス」or “minikui” in Japan?

In a world that worships at the altar of kawaii 「可愛い」, at saucer sized eyes and at double skinned eyelids. What is it like to feel like you don’t live up? And how can you live a life so that it doesn’t overwhelm you.

Twitter writer and Youtuber “Todoron” painfully, graphically and courageously lays bear her experiences of this situation for all to see on Twitter, and later Youtube. Her first tweet was a single Hiragana character. Her third tweet got 150,000 likes and 30,000 retweets. 

She seems to having something that resonates with contemporary online Japanese society. She mixes simple-truth observations of the state of the world, and her own inner state. Topics she tackles include her history of cosmetic surgery, concepts of beauty and mental health.

Today I want to have a look at the language she uses around the issues.


A translation of Todoron's first tweets

Through repeated rounds of cosmetic surgery, you can turn yourself into something that you believe to be beautiful. But turning yourself into something the world believes is beautiful remains impossible to do forever. Beauty is talent. It all depends on whether you are able to bring this beauty out, or you choose to deny it. Even people who show the world that they have achieved beauty through effort are only keeping an appointment with their own natural born talent.

Feelings that only ugly people can understand

・ The fear of the group photo

・ The fear of catching your own image reflecting back at you from panes of glass throughout the city

・ The fear that Snow will not be enough to make you beautiful

・ The feeling of guilt at being attracted to a hot guy

・ The philosophical regret of “Why did I have to be born as myself when I could have just as easily been born as someone like Nozomi Sasaki”


I love girly things like frills and lace. It makes me sad that I am so scared of people denying the femininity of the “me covered in those things” that I act like I don’t even like them in the first place.

People always seem to think that people who go public with their cosmetic surgery say to themselves “Cosmetic surgery is making an effort! Please acknowledge how much work I’ve put in! Tell me I’m beautiful” out of some kind of need for acknowledgment of self or urgent need for recognition. But really, I think that the vast majority of people are actually saying to themselves “If I try and hide the fact I’ve had some work done, people will still talk, so I may as well just be open about it. People can choose not to accept what I’ve done if they like, no one is forcing them to stick around if they don’t want to”.

A translation of Todoron's first Youtube clip


Is it good enough to live life with these kind of ugly feelings?


Pleased to meet you, I’m dodoron this is my first video.


Today, with the scenery between Tokyo and Niigata as my background, I’m going to talk about myself and my experiences as someone who has had cosmetic surgery.


Person who has had cosmetic surgery  


Launching out from Tokyo. This is going to be fun.


I fear I will be talking all about myself, but going out like this is only something I have been able to do since having surgery.


Ugly people aren’t allowed in public.


If you have experience of having your face criticized on a daily basis over a long period of time, that’s how you come to think.






Leaving Niigata. Don’t you love the sound of the train and the shinkansen?


If only there was no glass here to reflect my face everything would be perfect.


I missed breakfast, so I’ve bought a bento.


To digress a moment, beautiful people are great at making like they are pulling out their wallet aren’t they?


I suppose it’s because they are so used to having others pay the bill.


Never mind that, I’ve just realised the wrinkles in my shirt are next level.


I guess this is one of the hallmarks of being ugly. I apologize.


If a beautiful person wears wrinkled clothes they are just a beautiful person in wrinkled clothes. But if an ugly person wears wrinkled clothing, people say “that’s the reason you’re so unattractive”. It makes no sense.


Bon appetite. Looks good.


And, we’re off again. Look at the snow. It’s beautiful!


Before having cosmetic surgery, I was unable to speak freely about beautiful things.


I felt that people would just think that I was an ugly person shooting her mouth off.


Ugly people are often a little twisted I think that it must be the result of experiencing such complex emotions.


Well, time to head for home.


I wasn’t able to shoot in Niigata, as I’d hoped, so I’ll just show you my souvenirs.


Nodo Guro cyatuke






This is for me. This would be the bomb to have as a late night snack.



Am I the only one that gets annoyed at beautiful people trying to make a big thing out of how they love eating the sort of snacks a middle aged man might like. People say “it’s such a lovely contrast”, but let’s face it, who doesn’t like that stuff?


I got these for my family


Bamboo shoot balls



I may be ugly, but I like cute stuff.



And, jazmine tea



Looks a bit dinted but


Time for a pastry. Man, that’s good.


Deliciousness is the greatest sense that people of beauty or ugliness have received equally.


That was good.


I couldn’t see the scenery on the way back because of the rain.


I’ll finish up my video here. How did you like my first post?


If you have any thoughts please let me know in the comments.


Thank you very much.




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Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).