Dear Alice,

I’m curious about the prevalence of white gloves in Japan. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, all sorts of people wear white gloves on the job here, including taxi drivers, police officers and elevator girls. I have no idea if this is true, but I once heard that this dates back to 1966, when the Beatles came to Japan. Apparently the police in charge of security knew they’d be facing surging crowds of mostly young women, and the male officers felt uncomfortable about having to use bare hands to keep the girls back. So someone came up with the idea of using white gloves to add a layer of propriety between hands and fans. Supposedly this decision got a lot of media coverage and the custom spread. In any case, can you find out why the heck shiroi tebukuro (white gloves) are so popular?

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