These pictures of Japanese youth and youth culture offer glimpses of the future of Japan and the colorful spirit of the new generations.

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Japan Youth and Youth Culture


Japan Youth and Youth Culture

Japan is experiencing it's first generation gap in recorded history.  Youth are refusing to simply follow in the footsteps of their parents, and they are challenging values that go to the heart of Japanese culture.  But there are considerable forces that may yet keep them in line.  It's a colorful generation that clearly enjoys breaking the rules, or at least the appearance of rebellion.  It also has it's dark sides.  You can read my longer article about Shibuya, Youth and the New Japan here.

Note: The pictures below are from different years and seasons.  I'd like to update the page in 2003, but trends change too fast to keep it always up to date.

Radicals at the Crossing

In this (now dated) picture, student anti-war protesters in Shibuya are denouncing "Boosh" and the war on terrorism. A music video plays in the background and thousands of people walk by as if nothing unusual is happening.  What would be unusual in Shibuya anyway?  This generation is so in love with image, and they are searching hard for identity.  You have to wonder how much real driving force there is behind the rhetoric.  Protesting "Boosh" atop a "Peace-Love" bus in Shibuya may just be a cool thing to do. 

The Producers

A couple of amateur videographers among the throngs of videographers who come to Shibuya, searching for the secrets of their own generation.

Papa Riso

Young entrepreneurs run beauty salons on almost every corner throughout this newly developed area east of Tokyo.  Most of them have big glass windows, so that passersby can see the cool clientele and the even cooler people cutting their hair.  Being a hair stylist is IN in Japan.  Most of them are fashion icons themselves.  It must be a rough business, though, with all the competition.  These two, I imagine, are inspecting the day's receipts.


Mall Sirens

Three school girls hang out in the train station after school.  These girls, at their age, are probably at the height of their personal power in Japanese culture, as trend setters and head turners, and they are determined to use it while they have it.



A few years ago the "gonguro" style was "in" and now it's "out" (though not extinct).  "Gonguro" means "dark" (that is, really, really tanned, either by the sun or liberal amounts of fake tanning lotion).  The style included clothing and hair as in the picture, and 12 inch platform boots so high that some girls literally injured themselves falling off of them.  Thankfully, this style has faded.  But there are new girls in Shibuya today who are equally desperate for attention.  The dark side of such fashion is that many girls finance their expensive tastes through casual prostitution.


Shibuya Girls, 2002

Each year Shibuya has a new look and style.  This photo is from the summer of 2002.  These girls were hanging out by Hachiko Crossing attracting guys with big cameras.


The Pink One

Here's an unusual young man that I spotted crossing the street in Shibuya.  He stands out in a crowd of others who seem equally intent on blending in.


Shibuya Scape

A ghostly "idol" image surveys the masses as they flow across Hachiko Crossing outside the Shibuya Station.


2008 Andy Gray