I’m 5’4″ and 119 lbs before pooping and I feel like Godzilla next to the tiny girls of Harajuku, dressed in a fashion that is both bizarre and adorable.
Adorable if your butt is the size of a thumbprint and you can fit your size 9 feet into doll shoes.
Lolita Girls, Roller-Zoku, Gosurori, Otaku, Cosplay. The fashion tribes or “kei” of Japanese youth culture can claim 10’s of thousands of members or a few hundred, both capable of disappearing with the same velocity as they emerge.
These tribes wear their fashion statements with the same gravity as Yakuza or North American gang-bangers might wear tattoos or “colors.” Except, dressing up and living in Manga drag (when your parents aren’t looking) is a lot nerdier and possibly more wholesome but for the perverts and possible pedophiles you see slithering down Takeshita-dori. They are the ones, mostly middle-aged male foreigners, without cameras.
Japan’s contribution to fashion has been as inconsequential to Japan’s industry as it has been influential to that of the west. There are still only three designers whose names might be considered recognizable and any rising stars on the global catwalk have served as acolytes of those three giants.
That Japan’s fashion industry can’t seem to co-opt the raw material emerging from the streets of Tokyo speaks as much to a lack of internal machinery as it does to the incredible mutability of its youth cultures. That the west is so capable of co-optation speaks to the corporate colonization of culture.
Certainly, the Japanese obsession with fashion began as a deep appreciation for all things western. But, on the streets of Harajuku, it has evolved and morphed into a fountainhead of inspiration for the global culture of fashion and design.
Wandering off Takeshita Street and on to the backstreets will take you to many funky little boutiques, pop-up shops, some pretty cool graffiti, and this charming little Indian eatery, Café 1930, where I enjoyed a really great and very affordable lunch.
Who would have guessed I would find the best Indian food ever on the backstreets of Tokyo?