Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Reason To Re-Learn Japanese: The Subcultures

Last weekend, I was engaged in an online conversation with one of my favorite BVB-loving friends, Zar. Apparently, she got hooked to the music that I abandoned listening to since the last weeks of my elementary school. It is a genre called J-Rock, short for Japanese rock music, which is mainly inspired by the Western punk scene, although retaining the Japanese vibrato. When I was younger, I only cared about the music; I learned the lyrics of some songs by YUI, Bonnie Pink, and of course theme songs of my then favorite Japanese-style cartoons. I did not dwell much on the image of the singers, even if I enjoyed singing Japanese songs.

It all came to me just now. I've been reading La Carmina's blog, and a lot of articles about several Japanese subcultures. I just recalled how crazy Japan is.

I have never been to Japan, and I wish I could get lost in Tokyo before I die, because, stating the obvious, Japan is rich in traditional as well as new-age cultures.

With that being said, and with I being a pretty little emo teenager, I now present to you my three favorite crazy Japanese subcultures.

Visual Kei as a Rock music sub-genre

The Japanese are well known for their own style of cartoons called animé. You'll know one is an animé show (or inspired by one) if the characters have large shiny eyes and crazy, big, spiky bright hair, preferably wearing a sailor outfit or a kimono.


Also note that the city parts of Japan are very westernized: they wear leather and fur jackets, get fake tan, listen to Pop and Rock music, and so on. Their adaptation of punk rock music is quite good, too, with all the nice guitar riffs and not-so-emotional-but-almost-there lyrics and all. 


Now, two of these worlds collide. What do you get? Visual Kei. 

Yes, the colorful scene normal in Japan's subway stations coming from their vivid imitat— I mean, imagination plus energetic punk rock music is very popular not only in Japan, but worldwide.


Note that many (and I mean many, they are countless!) androgynous guys dress up in feminine outfits, simply following Japan's good ol' traditional theatre acts, where all of the cast members are men, even if some of the roles in the script call for maidens.


Yamanba as a sub-subculture of Gyaru

I want to explain to you Yamanba in as few words as possible, but my sister breaks the record: Nicki Minaj.

I don't totally agree, though, because this subculture came first before this fashionista rapper.

Anyway, Yamanba does look a bit like Minaj, with additional hair ornaments, face stickers, piercings, and a little more makeup, and a fake tan. No offence, Nicki!


Meanwhile, Gyaru (coming from the word "girl", just imagine you were raised in Japan to have that kind of accent) is a general subculture of adolescents who want to flaunt their individuality (or maybe their sameness) through bright colors, super girly dresses and clothes, and a lot of accessories.


Gothic Lolita as a Lifestyle

Not to confuse with Visual Kei, Gyaru and any other subculture, the generic Gothic Lolita girl dresses very conservatively and minimizes the saturation of her choice of colors. Their dresses come normally in white, black and grey. They're style of clothes are very much inspired by Victorian-era fashion.


Gothic Lolita is basically the opposite of Gyaru (although they are both very fashionable subcultures) for being a bit too conservative and toned down. Isn't that cute?

Anyway, that's basically why I want to relearn the Japanese language, and probably why many people say Japan is crazy. See you in Japan! Someday.

What do you want me to write about next? Did you enjoy the blog so far? Send me all your comments/suggestions/whatever to ! Ciao!

No comments:

Post a Comment