I was in japan for 15 days and going to a bunch of places but while I was in Tokyo I knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see. Street fashion was on the list. I first became interested in Japanese street fashion subcultures whilst flicking through the Fruits book by Sochi Aoki at the QAG GOMA shop. Gwen Stefani’s Harujuku girls have got nothing on this. There are a few key fashion subcultures I was on the look out for, “Decora: this look consists of many layered accessories like hair barrettes, necklaces, bracelets and even small toys, which are usually bright and playful, Ganguro: is an almost cartoonish version of Californian valley girls, often rocking bleached hair, noticeably tan skin, and heavy make-up, and Lolita: a mixture of elaborate costumes that are inspired by Victorian and Rococo era fashion, which are blended with today’s fashion trends to create a very unique look”. (Japanese Street Fashion 101 ).
I was staying in Shibuya, right on the famed Shibuya crossing made famous to me in the 2003 film, Lost in Translation. On day 1 I walked to Yoyogi Park and all through it. The rockabilly fashion clique also known as the Takenokozoku dancers, gathers every Sunday at the Harajuku entrance of Yoyogi Park to dance to 1950s rock ‘n roll music wearing lots of black, denim, aviator sunglasses, cowboy boots and hair styled like Elvis (Madden 2013). I sadly went on a Monday and it was less rockabilly chic and more high school sports teams.
Just across from the park is Harujuku Bridge, a weekend hangout spot for fashion cliques to meet, mingle and perform. I went there on Monday and Tuesday, I didn’t like my luck at finding fashion cliques hanging out after the weekend but it was worth a try. I found a bunny mascot on Monday, It could possibly be part of some furry trend or just a mascot, I’m going to go with just a mascot. And on Tuesday I found a guy with dreads playing the didgeridoo. He seemed pretty hipster to me. According to PBS’s Are You a Hipster? Video, “a hipster looks and behaves in a way they shouldn’t. Hipsters adopt the style and affects of many cultures, cultures which aren’t ‘theirs’, cultures they don’t actually belong to” . Seeing as the didgeridoo is “a wind instrument developed by indigenous Australians for ceremonial performance” I would say this guy belongs to the hipster subculture (Didgeridoo Facts and Interesting Information).
On the Tuesday we went to Ueno Park, where people were going bonkers for cherry blossoms. I saw some cos-players dressed up. It was a little bit exciting, something different. I haven’t got a clue what character he is. From there I went to Takeshita Street, although it sounds very unfortunate in English, it’s an extremely popular shopping street filled with fashion, fast food, lots of crepe stalls, accessory shops, and photo booths. A hot spot for fashion spotting. A friend and I walked down a staircase to below the street, assuming to escape the crowd but there were just as many people in this photo booth arcade as there was pounding the pavement. High school girls were queuing for booths, they were selective with their choices, some booths had enormous lines and others had none. Girls in the line were doing their hair and make up, some were organizing outfits, and heels were being passed around. Kelly and I ducked into an empty booth and started up the screen, we were instructed how to pose and our rolls of photos were done. The editing options were endless, you could change anything, draw on makeup, pinch noses, enlarge eyes, slap a sticker on, airbrush your pores, and lengthen your limbs, it was crazy, we had a laugh but it was concerning the amount of work girls were doing to themselves before they even stepped in. This ritual of dolling up for photos, to then edit them so that you look even more like a doll is very fitting with Japanese Kawaii culture.
The Kimono style street fashion was seen the most throughout the trip. Mainly at temples or gardens during photo-shoots but catching a rare glimpse of it whilst walking the backstreets was wonderful. Although I didn’t get to catch sight of the most well known Japanese fashion subcultures such as Lolita, Bozusoku, Decora or Ganguro, I guess this just means I’ll have to go back!
“Japanese Street Fashion 101,” Alpha City Guides, Accessed 31st August 2016, https://alphacityguides.com/tokyo/articles/japanese-street-fashion-101
Madden, Michelle. Rockabilly Dancers At Yoyogi Park – Subcultural entertainment on a Sunday, Japan Travel, May 10, 2013, Accessed 1st September 2016, http://en.japantravel.com/tokyo/rockabilly-dancers-at-yoyogi-park/4437
Are You a Hipster? .2013. PBS Video. 4:37. Posted by “Idea Channel,” 18th January 2013, http://www.pbs.org/video/2327079164/
“Didgeridoo Facts and Interesting Information,” Didgeridoo Breath, last modified 13th November 2013, https://www.didgeridoobreath.com/kb_results.asp?ID=26