A Whistle-Stop Tour of Japanese Pop Culture

A Whistle-Stop Tour of Japanese Pop Culture


Join us as we take a whistle-stop tour through some of Japan’s most well-known pop culture!

1. Fashion

Lolita in HarajukuLolitaOften inspired by gothic themes, lolita fashion encompasses a wide range of styles. With sweet lolitas, punk lolitas, gothic lolitas and more there’s styles for everyone. Lolita clothes are often fitted and feature decoration like ruffles, bows or other design statements.

GyaruGyaru get their photo taken Even for a fashion trend gyaru have a reputation for being fashion conscious and trendy. Gyaru have been around since the 1970s and gyarus trends have changed over the years, most gyaru styles focus on dyed hair, decorated nails and eye make-up that accentuates the wearer’s eyes.

Mirai Suenaga as a mori girlMori Girl – Mori means forest in Japanese and mori girls tend to look like they might just turn into a tree themselves! Mori has an emphasis on neutral tones and clothing inspired by the natural world.

2. Music

Visual Kei -Inspired by Western rock and metal music, visual kei began to emerge in Japan in the 80s. Known for the often jaw dropping outfits and make-up of band members, visual kei bands are some of Japan’s most internationally famous and popular. Check out this X Japan live from 1990 for a flavour of what visual kei can be.

J-Pop – Japan’s pop music scene is incredibly diverse encompassing everything from Kyari Pamyu Pamyu to virtual singer Vocaloid Hatsune Miku, the mellow Mr. Children, pop star Ayumi Hamasaki and everything in between! J-pop in particular has enjoyed popularity internationally and Japanese artists will often incorporate stops in America and Europe into their tours.

Hip HopYou might think that hip hop and rap was purely a Western style of music, but Japanese hip hop artists have been around since the 1980s. Japanese hip hop might be best known to European audiences through things like the famous manga, anime and live action racing series Initial D. Hip hop is often popular with fans in Japan for its straight talking about social issues, like the recent hit DIStopping by Charisma.com.

3. Otaku Bunka

Manga!MangaManga has a long history in Japan dating back to the 10th century. However these comics are best known internationally today as part of Japan’s nerd culture or otaku bunka. Part of mangas popularity is the wide range of subjects covered, you can use manga to study accounting, learn history or follow the adventures of fantastic robots in outer space.

Anime postersAnime – Anime is often seen as the animated counterpart to manga as many anime take their stories from existing manga. Popular in Japan since the 1920s, anime was influenced heavily by Disney movies in its early days, but has now found international acclaim in its own right. Just like manga, there are many different genres of anime. Possibly the most famous and long lived series is Mobile Suit Gundam which celebrated its 35th anniversary recently!

Games – Japan has been a pioneer in the games industry since the very beginning! Nintendo, Sega, Sony – these are all household names across the world. For many people the following dulcet electronic beeps form a part of their childhood memories…

Why do you love Japanese pop culture?

We know many people love Japanese pop culture because it gives them a perspective not available in mainstream Western media. But what do you like about it? Are you an otaku or maybe just a casual fan? Let us know in the comments below!

Want to get your Japan pop culture fix? Don’t forget that you can order magazines, pop culture goodies and more online at Japan Centre.

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Thanks to Matt Watts at Flickr for the lolita image
Thanks to Nesnad at Wikipedia for the gyaru image
Thanks to Danny Choo at Flickr for the Mirai image
Thanks to Stefan at Flickr for the manga image
Thanks Ryo FUKAsawa to at Flickr for the Animate image