The Real Harajuku:
Japanese Youth’s Unique Self-Expression
Years ago, a group of Japanese young people started hanging out at the Harajuku district. These trendsetting youth go there with their unexplainable fashion sense (Bartlett). The Harajuku fashion is just really so different because anything can be possible (Craft 26) and it is all about “creativity, theatricality, style, confidence, looking cute, and mixing and matching” (Knight). This was all made possible due to the fact that the youth still stayed at their parents’ home and their fathers provided them with the money they use up, meaning they can shop for whatever they wanted. Although it may seem that girls are the only ones fond of these kinds of things, young men in Japan also like shopping and dressing up at Harajuku (Mead).
The trendsetting youth had changed a normal neighborhood into a fashion capital (Johnson 14) and it has been said to be in the same class as the 1920s of Paris. Loic Bizel said, “The French are very poor in terms of fashion, in terms of creativity, compared to Japan” (Craft 26). “Visitors come to Harajuku to see and be seen” (Joerger). A lot of people can get ideas and be influenced by the trends the youth set there (McCaughan 28). It has been well known that even though the district changed its name into Jingu-Mae, it is still known as Harajuku (Kubo 38). Harajuku has truly been recognized worldwide and outsiders tend to draw their own conclusions about it. Some people think badly of Harajuku, while others simply do not fully grasp the real concept of it. People who do not really understand the concept tend to make up their own explanations or tend to do things that they think are good but are actually not. Taking a deeper look into their culture can lead us to better decipher that it is all about the youth expressing themselves and somewhat escaping from reality.
The youth go to Harajuku during the weekends wearing their own unique ensembles. They might seem like they just randomly put things on but they actually follow certain rules and guidelines. They have a sense of order (Kubo 39). “Japan is a place where everyone is individual – but in groups” (Knight). Their outfits greatly vary from all the kinds of getups that they have created. Included in these are “cyber-punk, Lolita fashion [inspired by the Victorian era], kawaii [cute], punk, ganguro [symbolizes a California girl with bleached hair, dark skin, fake eyelashes, and nails], cosplay [most common name for “costume players” or those who dress up like Japanes animated characters], hiphop, skater and visual-kei [style of bands]” (Rockers). Their clothing can vary from shades of black to shades of bright colors and from plain fabrics to all kinds of different prints. They also change their hairstyles and hair color and they also put on makeup. They truly aimed to look different from the rest in their attempt to fit in with the others (Mah).
Because of how some of the youth dress up, outsiders think of the Harajuku youth as rebellious delinquents (Kubo 41). Since some of their outfits tend to be out of this world, some people are inclined to compare them to the London punks who loafed around at Trafalgar Square. The thing is that these London punks are these young people who act the way they dress. They can be aloof, disrespectful, irresponsible and such, which does not really give justice to the Harajuku youth (Knight). Also, the way the singer, Gwen Stefani, introduced the Harajuku Girls in Hollywood led others to think of the original ones as “rebellious, underground, subversive, and rule-breaking” kinds of youth (Kubo 41). It has also been said that the youth are “devoid of perseverance, dependent upon others, and self-centered” (Cho). “Everyone imposes their own interpretation on the Harajuku girls – sees them through their tinted lenses” (Kubo 41).
In contrary to what outsiders may think, the Harajuku youth are kind, respectful and accommodating towards other...
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