Culture

Turning Japanese: Gwen Loves Her Harajuku

by Lady Glock

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Not to quote the 1980's Vapors' song, but it really does seem like every thing is turning Japanese. At least when Gwen Stefani is concerned.

Now this is a topic that numerous other blogs have written about, going back to 2004. But clearly, this isn't something that's going to die out very soon.

Especially not now…seeing how Gwen's new single off her Love Angel Music Baby album is called “Harajuku Girls”. Conveniently, Love, Angel, Music and Baby are the names of the four “harajuku girls” who go with her everywhere (except, I've been told, when she performs on BET). It's also the name of her clothing line. Not only does she have a 4.1 megapixel HP Photosmart R607 Harajuku Lovers Camera, but Gwen just added a line of clothing to her ever growing Stefani industry. The label is indeed entitled: Harajuku Lovers

The Wikipedia definition of Harajuku Girls is this:

Harajuku girls are women who wear a style of clothing that originated in the street culture of Osaka, Shibuya and Tokyo. The “Harajaku style” combines everything imaginable, from gothic lolita to anime cosplay.

The photographic book Fruits by Shochi Aoki and which came out in 2001 was one of the first glimpses westerners had of the Harajuku phenomenon. The book became so popular that Aoki made anoter one entitled Fresh Fruits. On one of the last seasons of America's Next Top Model, one of the tasks for the girls (who were all in Japan) was to dress up as Harajuku girls. Don't ask me why I know this.

But it wasn't really until Gwen Stefani started dragging around four of her own Harajuku Girls that they really became noticeable. (Though there might be some who would argue that St. Mark's in the East Village has some Harajukus…but I digress).

Now as some of the blogs I mentioned above are saying, there are many people who are offended by Ms. Stefani's choice in her “accessories”. Her foursome of Japanese girls do indeed go with her every where and what's worse is that they seem to have lost any identity of their own. They are her lifesize dolls. I think I saw a tiny write up on who they were in Jane Magazine a few months back. T On her website, her Harajuku Girls don't have their biographies listed. Instead, there are cutsey definitions of each of their “names”. Now, apparently because of the “Harajuku Lovers” line, the Harajuku girls are getting a say of their own. The website for the clothing line has interviews with the four girls. And the idea that they aren't allowed to speak English, seems false, because Angel, the one girl who was born in Los Angeles, does her entire interview in English. And even makes clear that she does not speak Japanese. However, the things they are saying are clearly…and I mean CLEARLY…not their own words. In fact, the stories they tell of how they became Gwen's Harajuku girls are just plain ridiculous. At least to me. It could also be partly due to how stereotyped the translations of the Japanese to English sound.

Now granted, I do not know how much of this whole thing is really her and how much of it is the record label/publicist/whatever. I will say this though. Those girls can dance. They are all trained Hip Hop dancers. Which of course brings up the subject of the popularity of Hip Hop in Japan. Which is a favorite topic of many people. I’ll leave that topic open for other people to comment on though.

I have been called a hater for my feelings on this particular topic. Which is one of the reaons why I chose not to write about it for this long. But it really does amaze me. I wonder how long it will be before they make Harajuku dolls. Or how long it'll be before people actually start dragging their own Harajuku Girls to the clubs. And let me just say…after writing this…I never want to write Harajuku Girls again.


  • http://thecouchsessions.com Stone

    >I have been called a hater for my feelings on this particular topic.

    Why? I don't understand the point of the Harajuku thing either. Its one thing to admire a culture for its creativity, but its another thing to exploit said culture for money and greed.

  • http://www.thecouchsessions.com Miss Hipstah

    I think it was because the person/people considered me a hater because they felt Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Girls were exposing Americans to a culture outside their own.

    Now I am down for exposing people to a culture outside their own. But not when it's exploiting or producing a stereotype. I feel like the people who called me a hater didn't realize this concept.

    On another note, not only is the Harajuku Lovers line ridiculously stereotyping, it's also fuckin EXPENSIVE!! A t-shirt for $48??? I think I'll stick to bustedtees.com