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Wuhan’s wardrobe controversy

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Wuhan University has been making waves over the past week, but less because of its academic standards and more because of its cherry blossoms. The fuss started when two visitors were not permitted to see the sakura trees – allegedly because they were wearing Japanese-style kimonos. The university later issued a statement playing down the incident and blaming the visitors for not having made reservations and being rude to its security guard.

State broadcaster CCTV defended the university saying it was “a campus not a park”. However, many netizens were unconvinced, believing that it was the visitors’ decision to dress in kimonos that had led to their much publicised denial of entry, despite the men’s claims that they were actually wearing an ancient Chinese outfit, which is believed to have inspired the design of the kimono.

The sensitivity derives from the history of the trees: they were planted by the Japanese military during its occupation of Wuhan during the Second World War. That led one netizen to comment that turning up in a kimono was little better than wearing a Japanese army uniform. Butf others, on the other hand, ridiculed the idea that a dress code might be in place and saw it more as a case of patriotism taken too far.


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