20 Tokyo Subculture Fashions Explained

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Tokyo is the best city in the world for street fashion photography. This guide will help you to identify common Japanese street fashions.

1. Harajuku Girl

Photographers have a tendency to label Tokyo street fashions with tags like “harajuku girl” and “shibuya girl”. There’s no such thing as a Harajuku girl(unless your a Gwen Stefani fan).

2. Cosplayers

Cosplayers wear costumes inspired by popular culture (e.g. manga or video games). These are usually worn at events. It’s uncommon to see cosplay in the streets (except occasionally in Harajuku and Yoyogi park).


3. Street Fashion

Street fashion is a catch-all phrase for the individualistic fashions seen on the streets of Tokyo, Paris, New York, Hong Kong and other cosmopolitan cities.

In Tokyo, the best street fashion spots are Harajuku, Omotesando, Shibuya,Ginza, Shinjuku and Shimokitazawa.


4. Hipster

Hipsters go for an original, non-commercial, stylish look.


5. Hostess / Hosuto

The Hosuto and Hostess style is about gaudy, flashy fashions, big hair, brands with status and big shinny labels.


6. Mori Kei

Fashions that look as if they just popped out of a mythical forest.


7. Gothic Lolita

Gothic Lolita have a dark, elegant look. There are related subcultures that draw on aristocratic European fashions of various ages (e.g. Victorian or Edwardian).


8. Sweet Lolita (also known as 甘ロリ ~ ama rori)

Sweet Lolita dress in light feminine colors and big frilly dresses. Country Lolita are similar but their dresses have a rural feel.


9. Punk Lolita

A dark punk look.


10. Wa Lolita

Lolita that dress in classic Japanese fashions.


11. Yamanba

Yamamba are ghosts in more ways than one.

Yamamba is a style is characterized by dark tans, bright clothing and extreme make up around the eyes. Yamamba are rare. Even at their peak in the mid 2000s they were hard to find.


12. Yanki and Bosozoku

Yanki are a large subculture of youths who project a yakuza-like image. Bosozoku are the motorcycle variety.


13. Rockabilly

The Tokyo Rockabilly Club is an association of people who like to dress like 50s greasers. They can be found in Yoyogi park on Sundays.


14. Dekora

Dekora is characterized by bright colors and kawaii accessories galore.


15. Promo Models

Promotional models are used to sell anything and everything in Tokyo. These aren’t authentic street styles but are interesting nonetheless.


16. Gyaru

Gyaru is Japanese English for “gal”. It’s a girly-glam style.

Gyaru are trend seekers who change their style every few months. The one constant feature is a Japanese beach style — dark tanned skin and surfer girl hair. Gyaru’s favorite place in the entire world is Shibuya. The department store Shibuya 109 is gyaru paradise.


17. Kogals

Kogals are gyaru who are still in high school and therefore stuck with their uniform most of the time.


18. Gyaruo

Gyaruo are the male equivalent of gyaru. Their are several subtypes of gyaruo including military, rocker, biker and surfer style.


19. Fairy Kei

Obsessed with cute stuff from the 1980s such as My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears.


20. Visual Kei

Visual Kei is inspired by Japanese rock, punk and pop bands that have a glam style.



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