Harajuku “White” Girls

This week in DIGC, when deciding on selecting a different element of Japanese fashion and the way that it is displayed on the app, Instagram I came across a phenomenon which I never even knew was so popular (especially on Instagram). During this course, I have focused a lot on the way that Western societies and culture have influenced Japanese fashion however I did not realise how strong the impact that Japanese fashion was on Western societies and its fashion. When I was looking around on Instagram for some ideas for my autoethnography, I find many young girls dressed in bright colours, pastel pinks and resembling that of Japanese girls however would be of Western descent and coming from countries of Western culture such as America, Australia and Sweden. This got me really thinking about the different ways that the Japanese fashion culture influences Western culture in both minimal and massive ways. To maximise my analysis and evaluation on the topic this week, I have taken questions from this week’s Prezi slide to assist my evaluation.

As I have briefly mentioned above in my first paragraph, I did not intentionally go out and decide on the topic of Japanese influence, and actually stumbled across it in the way that I was researching Japanese culture and fashion for my autoethnography.


What were my first reactions and feelings at the time, how did they change?

When first encountering this aspect, I simply typed into the search bar “Japanese fashion” and was so surprised to see that the third image across the page was a young Swedish girl, Rin, in two straight pony tails, and about 11 hairclips and scrunchies in her hair. The image had also been done by some sort of anime application as there was hearts, flowers and diamontes spread across the image.

Once clicking on this image, I found that the caption was actually that of lyrics by famous Korean band, 2NE1 famous in Japan who I discussed last week. My initial feeling toward this was that I actually felt quite surprised. I always kind of knew that Western culture had an influence on Japanese fashion however I did not really look at it from the other way around. After I had a little look on “Rin’s” instagram, I went back to the general search on Japanese fashion and was actually surprised on how massive this influence actually was. In analysing this, I am also reminded of famous American singer, Gwen Stefani and the way that Japanese fashion, especially the Harajuku style has had such an influence on her style not only in the way she dresses herself however also on the products and collections that she has including the “Harajuku collection.


What did I learn from this experience?

After this analysis, and what I could actually call an epiphany, I actually questioned the reasons why I have never really noticed this before. Is this part of my culture, the way that I seem to have completely dismissed the influence of other cultures in my own life and culture however am very aware of Western culture influencing other culture? I am really looking forward to unpacking this more as it is amazing how I have never really thought about it before even though it seems like a massive part of my life and our society.


Hmmm What do you think? I really want to unpack this further and will continue this research in my next blog!


  1. Hey Hannah,
    Wow what a great post! I too had never thought about Japanese fashion styles influencing the way that we dress in Western nations until now. This is such an interesting concept that you could definitely explore further… Why do we always feel as though us in Western countries have the defining and most prominent role in terms of culture, fashion, film, music etc.?
    I also think you could look at things in terms of fashion within the Japanese culture with reference to anime. Some of the characters in certain anime features are highly sexualised, although the clothing style is reminiscent of that of little girls. Why do we find this attractive? Is there something wrong with this?
    Just a few things to think about!


  2. Hey Hannah, your post was really interesting. In terms of your questions; is this part of my culture, the way that I seem to have completely dismissed the influence of other cultures in my own life and culture however am very aware of Western culture influencing other culture? I think that a lot of the time we tend to look at media and culture from an imperialistic perspective. In other words we think that the ‘west’ influences the ‘east’. Yet it is much more complex as you pointed out in your post. I definitely think that we don’t see how the ‘east’ influences the ‘west’ at least on a day to day basis. The Gwen Stefani is a good example of this, we don’t see where her influences have come from because all we care about Gwen Stefani. So her ‘americaness’ overshadows the fact that she was inspired by Japanese fashion. I hope this give you some ideas for the rest of your project.

    – Caitlin


  3. Hannah, I never would have thought Harajuku girls to be ‘white’. It is an interesting concept as you initally determine them to be Japanese. I think that its actually a nice change of pace to see the combination of eastern and western cultues. I think that media has highlighted Harajuku girls to be typically Japanese but why can’t their ‘style’ be worn and addressed by caucasian females? Japanese fashion is such an interesting thing to look into, its very different. Japanese fashion is very different and usually the clothes they are wearing make completely no sense to me. Personally definitely not the type of clothing I would be seen wearing but it is an intersting way of dressing and I think that it shouldn’t be resticted to only Japanese cultures, why can’t be adapt it as well?


  4. This is a more unique approach to studying the context of Japanese fashion and culture which I think is a step in the right direction, because too often, especially in the media, there is a tendency to position Western societies such as America and the UK above Asian countries in the sense that they are seen to be influencing and manipulating their cultures into homogeneous cultural mixes of Asia and ‘the West’ e.g. Westernisation, which is clearly not the case, as there seems to be more of a ‘give and take’ relationship, often underlined by the diffusion of religious practices such as Buddhism into cultures like ours (Australia). Be careful of the cultural assumptions you are relying on here though… the ‘Harajuku girl’ is actually a completely made up term predominantly stereotyped by Gwen Stefani. Harajuku is a region in Japan, and the style which you are probably referencing here is actually ‘Decora style’ (some examples can be found here https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/decora-fashion), or if you’re looking at a more mainstream terminology, ‘Kawaii’.


  5. It’s so interesting to see the influence eastern cultures have on societies in the west. It always seems to be the case that other societies are always ‘Americanised’ or influenced by the west, which in many ways is the case, however there is no reason countries in the east can’t have an influence on other societies, especially with the internet and use of social media – which allows lots of information and different ‘fashions’ to be spread around the world.


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