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Yami Kawaii: the Controversial Side of Harajuku


Few, very few, are the people in this world who, in front of a sparkling, dazzling, inviting reality, stop and look at it carefully; very few people wonder what it hides behind it, the dark side. In Harajuku, the fashionable and colorful district of Tokyo, the darkness of existence is called "Yami Kawaii" and it is a purely fashionable subculture, which combines pastel-colored dresses with psyche disorders, or rather a visual representation of them.

Personally, I discovered this fashion, watching a random video on Youtube, this is one of those that I happened to watch:

, where we go to investigate the birth of this fashion.

Bisuko Ezaki


The birth of this phenomenon is due to Bisuko Ezaki (you can visit his store to get an idea of what kind of fashion we are talking about https://ateliermuwebshop.stores.jp/) a mangaka, stylist and entrepreneur, in short, a business- man selfmade, author in 2004 of Menhera-chan, (from the Japanese term abbreviation of the English mental health, mental health) whose protagonist, to activate her magical powers and defeat evil, must get pain by self-harm.


menhera chan


Attention, it is not a manga that encourages you to do that, it is the opposite: the manga indicates that that is a problem, which can be cured and from which one can get out of it; the aim, therefore, is to denounce the exquisitely Japanese situation to silence what is related to mental illness.Since the theme is deeply felt, especially in the youth world, success and a real business soon arrived, made of accessories such as syringes used as pendants, bandages on the wrists, and t-shirts with scary and asocial phrases written like I want to die / I kill you, flanked by soft, childish colors, and an abundance of bows and lace.

In other words, a visible, strong symbolic contrast, which starting from fashion, has shaken other areas, such as music, an example among all the Idol Zenbu kimi no sei da group, which best expresses this type of tenence. In 2018 the artist gave an interview to the Anime Expo, which I propose again here:

) in which he exposes his philosophy and his projects.

The phenomenon, despite the years, still continues: since 2015 the Menhera Exhibit has been held every year, an art exhibition to allow young artists to show and sell clothes and objects dedicated to this fashion.But why so much interest? The fascinating aspect of all this lies in its message, and to understand it, you have to go and see the meaning of Kawaii that industry experts indicate as a request for love; in this sense, the Yami Kawaii adds and extends the concept to healing, that is, it would be a style with which young people have the opportunity to express their requests, often unheard.

Hoping that, sooner or later, the world will become a better place for everyone, where everyone can receive love.

Samantha Sisto

Photo credit: tokyofashion.com & zerochan.net

Pop Culture, Yami Kawaii, Harajuku, Samantha Sisto

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