The Craziest Japanese Fashion Trends

Ah, Japan: birthplace of sushi, tentacle porn, and some of the strangest fashion trends you’ve laid your eyes on. A steady history of traditionalism juxtaposed with an incredibly new technologically-influenced society has led to some amazing movements in Japanese counter-culture. What are the most bizarre and weird fashion trends that have come out of Japan and Japanese culture?

It’s not just punk rockers and anti establishment-ers who get to have all the fun. Mainstream Japanese trends have historically been just as flashy, strange, and inventive as some of the weirdest fringe fashion trends and styles in America and other countries. Generally characterized by bright colors, lots of makeup, and a sense of innocence, Japanese fashion is quite unique.

What are the weirdest Japanese fashion trends of all time? Take a look at this list be sure to upvote the fashion trends from Japan that you think are the most outrageous of them all.

Cosplay

Cosplay is a performance art in which participants dress up like their favorite character and imitate their actions, clothing, and accessories. Although cosplay has spread to mainstream American culture, it has its roots in Japan, deriving from the Japanese word, “kosupure.” Cosplay is popular at conventions, fan gatherings, and sometimes as a street style.

Mori Kei

Wearers of mori kei fashion often look as though they have just popped out of a mythical forest.

Lolita

Possibly one of the better known Japanese trends, Lolita fashion is all about frills, ruffles, hoop skirts, and basically anything else to make you look like a child or a doll. Lolita also has several sub-styles, such as gothic Lolita or punk Lolita.

Rockabilly

The Tokyo Rockabilly Club often borrows their look from classic 1950s greasers (think Cry-Babyand Grease). 

Kigurumin

Kigurumin is a popular Japanese street-style fashion that involves wearing cartoon animal costumes. The name comes from the Japanese verb “kiru” (to wear) and the noun “nuigurumi” (stuffed toy).

Otaku

“Otaku” is the Japanese word equivalent to “geek” or “nerd.” An otaku is someone that is obsessed with a particular fandom – for example, an anime otaku, or a manga otaku. 

Visual Kei

If David Bowie and Marilyn Manson had a lovechild, it would be a gender-bending, pounds of makeup wearing, androgynous punk rocker in the vein of Visual Kei. The flamboyant style has been co-opted by many genres of music, from heavy metal to synth pop.

Kogal

The kogal fashion involves wearing a Japanese-school girl style outfit with a short skirt and bulky, rolled socks.

Reki-jo

A Reki-jo is a girl who is obsessed with traditional Japanese history. These women love to visit historical sites, read historical texts, and immerse themselves in Japanese culture from long ago. It started out as an otaku – an obsession with a particular fandom, but has grown into a movement to celebrate and preserve the history of Japan.

Shironuri

Shironuri, literally translated as “painted white,” is a style that revolves around ghostly flowing fabrics and, of course, paled out makeup. Spooky!

Fairy Kei

Fairy kei fashonistas are obsessed with all of the kawaii (cute) trends from the 1980s – includingThe Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, and and My Little Pony. 

Dekotora

While not exactly a trend meant to be worn on your body, the phenomenon of Dekotora is so crazy it deserves a place on the list. These tricked out trucks are an extravagant hobby that usually features neon lights, chrome, and loud colors.

Sukeban

Sukeban translates as “boss girl,” officially making it the most badass Japanese subculture name ever. Sukeban girls are often juvenile delinquents that shoplift, use drugs, and can be violent. Their street style is mostly comprised of modifications made to their school uniform, or brightly colored hair. 

Yankii

More a lifestyle choice than a specific fashion trend, Yankii (also known as Yanki) is inspired by, and then heavily embellished on, the Yankee way of life. American tracksuits, drinking and spitting in public, and generally acting in a way that goes against traditional Japanese manners is the key to Yankii style.

Decora

Decora is loosely translated as, “wear everything in your closet at once so you look like a monster made out of laundry, from a ’90s cartoon.” Also, lots of hair clips and rainbows.

Me No Shita Chiiku/Byojaku

Me no shita chiiku (roughly translated to “under-eye blush), is a fashion trend sweeping Japan. Girls will apply bright pink or red makeup underneath their eyes to give the appearance that they are byojaku (sickly). Byojaku is characterized by red, puffy eyes and pale skin, making the wearer look as though she is fragile, and in need of someone to take care of her.

Gyaru

Orange skin, combined with paled out eyes and lips and Barbie hair may not scream counterculture, but the Gyaru trend actually originated from fashion-forward youngsters who wanted to rebel against traditional Japanese beauty ideals.

Yaeba

Yaeba (translated as “twisted tooth”) is a trend that uses surgically implanted teeth to extend the canines. This creates an effect mimicking young children whose molars haven’t grown in or whose teeth haven’t yet been corrected with braces.

Gyaruo

Gyaruo (also known as Gyar-oh) is not just a fashion style, but an entire subculture dedicated to ultra-fashionable young men. Tight pants, leather jackets, guyliner, and crazy teased out hair are trademarks of the style. Gyaruo boys are typically known to have sugar mamas that take them out to drink and dance.

Bagel Head

Although created in Canada, the trend of swelling isolated areas of the body and face with saline solution became a massive trend in the Japanese underground punk scene. Though the injection only lasts about 4-6 hours before the swelling goes down, the protrusions will create a lasting effect sure to scar onlookers for days.