The Last Girls Of Japan’s Ganguro Subculture


(upbeat instrumental music)
– [Kassy Voiceover] So we’re
in the back of a taxi in Tokyo
on the way to Shibuya,
which is the capital
of ganguro culture.
(upbeat instrumental music)
We’re going to meet with
Erimokkori, Mac-chirin,
and Aochan who have been into ganguro
since they were in middle school,
and they’re going to
walk us around Shibuya
and show us their favorite spots.
What is the appeal of this subculture,
and what is it like to be a part of one
that is on the decline?
– [Kassy] So the exact origins
of the ganguro craze are unknown.
Some have called the fashion style racist
and and example of cultural appropriation,
especially since the word
ganguro can be translated as
burned black look or black face.
The term was originally
started as an insult
when the trend emerged in the mid-2000s.
So the typical ganguro
look features tan skin,
colorful makeup, and bleached hair
with the aim of looking less Japanese.
– So they’re just adding chocolate
and salt to fried chicken.
– Good, both of them.
The whole craze is believed
to be heavily influenced
by either Western hip hop culture
or an attempt to recreate
the fake tan look
of the American celebrities
such as Tara Reid
and Paris Hilton in the early 2000s.
These girls want to rebel against
traditional Japanese beauty
ideals of pale skin, dark hair,
and neutral makeup tones.
But now, the trend is mostly gone
with only a handful of devotees
around districts in Shibuya.
So this is the calpa strawberry.
It looks really really cute,
and the light, it flashes.
The biggest issue for
ganguros like Erimokkori,
Mac-chirin, and Aochan is finding clothing
that fits their aesthetic.
Thanks to changes in fashion
trends since the late 90s,
when the ganguro
subculture was at its peak,
the choices for these girls are
getting smaller and smaller.
So we’re going into a photo booth place.
This is just like it
was from my childhood.
– [Kassy Voiceover] Japanese attitudes
towards ganguro girls are changing,
and unfortunately for the worse.
But not all reactions are negative,
which encourages the ganguros
to keep the subculture alive
for as long as they can.
– [Eimi] Ready, three, two, one.
Cheese.
– [Kassy] For better or worse though,
they don’t intend on
packing up the fake tanner
any time soon.
(upbeat instrumental music)

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