Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ganguro; no, not the marsupial

Sexy Japanese kogal in hotpantsI took this picture in 1999 on one of those Sundays when Shinjuku is closed off for traffic and all kinds of people come out to perform or sell their wares until the police show up and make them disappear in a wink. The girls in the photo are 'Ganguro' (ガングロ) which either stems from ganguro (顔黒, blackface) or from the phrase gangankuro (ガンガン黒, exceptionally dark), depending on who you ask. A deep tan, bleached or dyed hair, false eyelashes, dark makeup, platform shoes and brightly-colored outfits complete the ganguro look. However, the Louis Vuitton bags suggest a kogal influence.

The kid in the photo on the left saw me snapping the shot of the ganguro and he objected to me: "They are not Japanese!" He seemed genuinely worried that I thought all Japanese girls look like that. We chatted for a bit after which he kindly allowed me to take his photo. Even though you see ganguro quite often in Shibuya and Shinjuku, the truth is that you seldom see them outside the Tokyo area. Too bad really, Japan could use some more rebellious teenagers in this time of prime minister Abe when Japanese uniformity is stressed again once more. ^_^;;