image sourceIf you're a kid in Harajuku, Japan, how about like this?
Imagine how fun it would have been to be a teenager growing up in a culture that encouraged such over the top self-expression and individuality.
Harajuku (hara-joo-koo) is the common name for the area around Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line in Tokyo, Japan where young people gather every Sunday, dressed in a variety of styles that include gothic lolita, visual kei, cosplay (short for costume play), rockabilly, hip-hop, and punk. Beginning in the 80's, the area was closed to traffic on Sundays, and people would gather, play music, and socialize.
Photographer Shoichi Aoki, credited with bringing street fashion to Japan, started a magazine called Street in the 1980's to show Japanese kids the ‘free street art’ of London. Aoki says, "In the mid 90’s it was truly revolutionary when people started to dye their hair and choose their own color. You eventually saw all kinds of colors: green, red, anything.”
So what are these subsets of Harajuku street fashion?
Kawaii or "cuteness" style; girls wear clothing that appears to be made for young children, or dress to look "Japanese cute".
image sourceCosplay referred to role playing in costumes. Anime characters, manga, rock-stars, computer or video game characters...you name it.
Side note: In many of the photos I browsed through, I noticed many people wear face masks. Some just regular hospital-issue, and others quite elaborate. With a little digging, I discovered these masks are commonplace in Japan.
widely accepted culture in Japan.
Okay, back to the Harajuku...
Harajuku Lovers, and a clothing line. Harajuku Lovers focuses specifically on 'Kawaiiness', or "cuteness".
It's even gone rather mainstream, with clothing retailers selling Harajuku "sets'. This one is called the "Harajuku Girl Glamorous Punk Set"This pop culture trend has actually been quite widely accepted throughout Japan on every level, even seen by some as part of their national identity.
Want to see more? For even more colorful pictures of Harajuku, check out Shoichi Aoki's books Fruits, Fresh Fruits or his magazine of the same name.
So the next time you are fretting about being seen in one navy sock and one black, or worry that your shirt might be a bit too colorful, think of the Harajuku kids and be brave!