Field Trip: Learning about Japanese Subcultures and Street Fashion

Last week, my Japanese class had a field trip to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden to view a lecture by Professor Yuniya Kawamura titled “The Convergence of Divergent Japanese Subcultures.” If the above image and the title of the lecture don’t excite you, then you are strange.

Over all it was a great evening. The Museum is beautiful and had a great exhibit on display of pictures taken on the streets of Japan highlighting all the different fashion choices people make. It also had some gorgeous pieces of Lolita clothing on display. I also bought a white cup with blue cats and fishes on it… In case you were curious.

Anyway, the lecture was awesome. Kawamura was a delight. She spent a lot of her school years in European countries (her father was a Japanese Ambassador) so her English was very good and she had a nice sense of humor.

The highlight of the evening, though, was learning about these different subcultures, where they are located and how they are converging and also, Kawamura’s ideas about why they started evolving in the mid 90s.

There are the Gyaru:

Picture from Google

Yamamba – Mountain Witch:

The one on the right!


Still not my picture!


Not my picture and only a small example of the different types of Lolita!

Age-jo – Hostesses:

Still not mine!!!

There were a ton of others. She even focused on Maid Cafes and spoke about the Butler Cafe. I can’t remember everything but it was so fascinating!

The last Subculture/street fashion she showed us was my favorite by far and the one–if I was forced to pick one of these subcultures to become part of–that I would be apart of!

Mori Girl:


Mori Girl basically comes own to ‘looking like a girl who lives in the forest.’ It emerged in 2007 so it is a fairly new thing. It is a lot of layering and earth tones and loose silhouettes. I love all the lace and the scarves and how feminine it feels without being Lolita-over-the-top. I REALLY love the way these girls look. I spent most of the past weekend looking up different Mori Girl looks and wondering how I could rework some pieces of my wardrobe into Florida-Heat-Friendly versions of Mori Girl. Because… really… that is way to many layers for Florida. I’d die. Also, I’m not half as slim as those girls and all those layers would bulk me up. Ech. Even Mori Girl interior decorating is adorable and totally something I’d do! I love the ‘woodland cottage’ feel!

AAANYWAY–This post is not about how much I love Mori Girl…I swear–The lecture was a lot of fun. Professor Kawamura looked at how the worsening economy of the 90s and the end of lifetime employment lead to people loosing jobs, teens dropping out of school, and a disconnect between the young people of the time and what the ‘ideal’ Japanese life was. Thus subcultures came about as a way for them to belong to something. Which is a really terrible summary of what she said. I mean… Really. Don’t quote me. PLEASE. Instead, be like me and check out her book:

The above picture is linked to an amazon page where you can check it out if you are so inclined.

But yeah–fun evening! Wish you could have been there!


2 thoughts on “Field Trip: Learning about Japanese Subcultures and Street Fashion

  1. Besides the Lolitas, I’d never heard of any of these subcultures before. Very interesting! I thought those ultra-tanned girls were called Ganguro girls at one point. The Mori Girls are my favorite too, they have such a romantic look.

    • Gyaru, if my facts are correct, predated Ganguro girls which eventually evolved out of Gyaru Girls (Yamamba also evolved out of Gyaru).

      But yeah, it really opened up my eyes too! I’d heard of Ganguro and Lolita but that was kind of it. Her lecture covered a lot of other ones (like Gyaru-o: the Male version of Gyaru) and they were all so interesting. It was neat to see how they evolved from each other and everything.

      I swear, one day I’ll make myself a Mori Girl outfit! They really are so romantic!

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