Life, Death, and the Ganguro

two ganguro girls
Image by Chalky Lives. Source: Flickr

With fashion trends changing at the speed of a concord in westernized culture, it is always interesting to explore the vast array of clothing choices made by our eastern neighbors. The fashion customs of Japan has always had me in awe, from the Gothic movement of Lolita’s, to the famous Gyaru gals, who, strangely wished to resemble a slutty high school student. However, the most notable and by far the weirdest movement was the Ganguro society of the 1990s.

Ganguro-literally translating to black face in English, consists of women applying copious amounts of foundation to acquire a dark complexion and bleached or orange hair to really make a statement. Usually dressing in bright clothing, these women appeared intimidating towards the general population of the Shibuya and Ikebukuro districts of Tokyo.

After seeing a picture, of what looks like a woman who was recently released from a local mental health institute the word I previously used, ‘intimidating’, seems pretty funny considering she looks innocent as fuck. Anyway, the reason for this fashion choice must first be explored in order to understand the use of the word ‘intimidating’.

Firstly, the Ganguro acquired their inspiration from Japanese folklore of ghosts and demons, which are depicted in literature with a similar appearance. Hence the word intimidating, it can be compared to westernized fashion in a sense, if you saw someone walking down the street wearing hooves, horns with a strikingly accurate resemblance to Satan, you’d either laugh, or be intimidated, I for one would be intimidated.

Secondly, it has been noted in Japanese newspapers and media that these girls began to act like demons and would use witchcraft to summon spirits from the afterlife. They also stated that these women enjoyed violent sexual gratification rituals like bondage sessions. However, it is not impossible to see that the uncanny resemblance to creepy Japanese folklore, that the media has portrayed these girls as more frightening than they actually were to the general public to eradicate such strange fashion choices.

Lastly, and most humorously, the Ganguro were said to throw water over those who did not follow their fashion choice every full moon. This strange practice would take place at night (clearly) and the streets of Shibuya especially would almost be deserted every full moon because of fear of the Ganguro girls. I’m probably nasty for finding this pretty funny, however many Ganguro girls have expressed their discontent for such lies and state their fashion choice is merely a fashion choice and no creepy/weird rituals are involved.

Anyway, I think that’s enough of the Ganguro, if you are frightened and reading this in 2018, calm it, because the Ganguro culture has diminished significantly over the last few years. Plus, I for one do not believe strange rituals happen, but that’s just my opinion.