Friday, June 10, 2005

Tokyo - Part 2, "Those Crazy Kids..."

"I'd rather be in Tokyo,
I'd rather listen to Thin Lizzy, oh,
And watch the Sunday gangs in Harajuku,
There's something wrong with me,
I'm a cuckoo..."

Now, the chances are you've probably never heard that song before, but
I was humming it all last Sunday, much to everyone's annoyance. You
see, the song is "I'm a Cuckoo" by Belle and Sebastian (from the album
"Dear Catastrophe Waitress"), which happens to be one of my favourite
songs by one of my favourite bands, and, you guessed it, last Sunday I
was in Harajuku. Watching the Sunday gangs no less.

Harajuku (or more specifically, Yoyogi Park in Harajuku) is a mecca
for the weird and wonderful. Every sub-culture and sect of Japanese
youth can be seen here every Sunday, from the Jamaica t-shirt wearing
reggae crew to non-stop bohemian drummers to back-flipping teddy boys.
If there's a better place in the world for just chilling out and
people-watching, I'd like to see it.

However, by far the strangest sub-culture are the gangs of teenagers
that hang out by the station entrance doing nothing but stand around
all day, showing off their strange and intricate costumes. Yes, ladies
and gentlemen, welcome to the world of "cosplay", short for "costume
play" (see "Games and Weirdos" in the October 2004 archives for more
on cosplay). The vast majority of the participants were girls, and the
vast majority of those girls were dressed as maids. And I don't mean
they were wearing stained blue overalls and a badge saying "Hi, my
name's MARY. How can I help you today?". I'm not entirely sure why the
"maid" look has become so popular in Japan over the past few years,
but suddenly everyone's after a style called "Gothic Lolita" - sort of
Little Bo Peep meets Ozzy Osbourne.

Anyway, it was great to see so many kids hanging out at the park and
having a good time... It certainly made me miss living in a big city -
it seems the highlight of youth culture in Asahi is hanging out by the
Circle K and reading manga. No doubt all the kids there are dreaming
of the time when they'll have enough money to abandon the rice fields
and pachinko parlours of Fukui and move to the maid-filled wonderland
of Tokyo...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:22 am  

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