During the show, the pop star took to the Japanese-themed stage to perform her song “Unconditionally,” surrounded by kimono-clad backup dancers who waved paper fans.
Wearing traditional geisha garb – including porcelain face makeup – the 29-year-old singer imitated prayer gestures and spun around a purple parasol.
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Almost immediately, viewers took to Twitter to voice their outrage over what some deemed to be a “cultural misappropriation,” calling the performance “offensive” and “obviously racist.”
Katy’s fans, meanwhile, quickly came to the singer's defence, explaining that she was just trying to pay homage to her large Japanese fan base.
Katy had visited the Asian country earlier this year and posted an Instagram photo of herself posing demurely with real Geishas. She captioned the snap: “One of these things is not like the others.”
In the past, Katy had described "Unconditionally" as her favourite song from her Prism album. "It's a beautiful narrative that I learned about upon my travels, actually -- while I was in Japan," she told the Associated Press.