Cos-play-zoku in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

A year and a half ago I revisited Japan with my wife. I hadn’t been in Japan since 1976, so I thought it would be interesting to see how the Cos-play-zoku scene on Jingu Bashi (The bridge that leads into Meiji Jingu, a most beautiful park) in Harajuku had changed over the years.


In the mid seventies the punk scene had just started and rockabilly had been rediscovered. Which meant that those were the prevailing fashions on display on Jingu Bashi . Lots of Japanese interpretations of Elvis and Sid Vicious were strutting their stuff. I thought I’d illustrate this with some photos but when I looked into my box of mixed up slides I decided that’s a huge task for another day.

Meiji Bashi is still the place to go if you want to see people, wanting to be seen and have their pictures taken with tourists.


The more recent (mid 2005) cos-play-zoku fashion seems to be divided into three main groups. The first being a type of sleaze-punk-gothic.


The Japanese love “cute”, so one can expect a little “cuteness” to be thrown into the mix.


The second type of style one will see is a sort of pierced fetishised French shepherdess-baby doll. More Japanese cuteness gone awry.



When in Japan it’s not uncommon to come across sexualised images of pre-pubescent girls. My wife and I were shocked to see a book in an art book store in Harajuku, that consisted of nothing but drawings of pre-pubescent girls in various fetish costumes with black eyes or fat bleeding lips in provocative poses, lifting up their skirts to expose infantile crotch. Very bizarre. I can tell you one thing though, if you published something like that here in Australia you’d attract the attention of the police, quick smart. So it looks like there is a desire in some sections of the Japanese populace to conform to such tastes.


There has been a disturbing trend here in the west to sexualise children in advertising and I think the warning signs about where this leads to, are walking on the bridge into Meiji Jingu.

The third type of fashion that may be seen on Jingu Bashi is a sort of “Hello kitty” look. To me this is a more “pure” type of teen Japanese visual expression. Cute as a Kewpie doll and as colourful as a pachinko parlour whilst still being quite childish. This cartoonish style seems to be based on the manga aesthetic that was invented and developed in Japan.


6 thoughts on “Cos-play-zoku in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan”

  1. The child like style your talking about in these photos are called Lolita. The style is designed to look like a more modern day rococo look. Yes, there is also a fetish based on “baby” like fashion but this style or more the photos you have here are of girls that dress in the lolita look because they love the french rococo era. There are lolita’s worldwide, not only in Japan.

    Perhaps the website listed above will help you better understand the style.

    The more colorful bunch can be found in a book called Fruits. This style shown above noted as the more “Hello Kitty” style is actually called Decora. The point is to look flashy and cute!

  2. i love lolita and decora. supa kawaii desu! i dress decora all the time especialy at malls. i own about 6 hello kitty items and various bracelets to complete the decora look.

  3. I just returned from a 10 day trip to Osaka and Hiroshima. Lots of variations of the baby doll fashions there also. It was a slightly more extreme development of the go-go garu fashion I saw about 3 years ago on my last trip. Platform or stiletto heel shoes, microskirts with fishnet stockings and tight bodices with cleavage exposed. Instead of uber skin tans, overuse of eye makeup, something to make the lips look pouty and of course the henna hued hair. A little odd but at least they are not the fat slovenly looking women we have come to expect and accept here in the US. Why are Americans so fat?

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