Lately I have been spending a lot less time listening to the news, because I have been directing my focus to other areas in my life (studying God’s Word, Government and Chinese). I have finally realized that the news can really consume one’s life, but that being said, I still try to catch the BBC World Report broadcast every night before I go to bed. Last night I was watching the BBC and to my surprise I saw Takemura Kiriko as one of their headlines.
The J-Pop Princess has been in the fashion realm of Tokyo since high school. Kiriko “is a Japanese model, blogger, and recording artist associated with the Harajuku district of Tokyo”1. Reporter Mariko Oi reported, “In just a few years, she transformed from normal schoolgirl Kiriko Takemura to being the face and voice of Japan’s kawaii – or cute – culture. Now the 20-year-old is taking off in mainstream music culture too…”. 2 Unfortunately I cannot embed the BBC broadcast, but I would highly encourage those interested to watch it via the link provided at the end of the article.
The music video provided above has been circulating around YouTube and the net for some time now. I watched this bizarre video several months ago and subscribed to Warner Music Japans YouTube channel. Reporter Mariko Oi stated, “Today the 20 year old is often compared with Lady Gaga, her inspiration Katy Perry has praised her songs”.3 She is definitely a cute girl who has an super kawaii personality, there is no wonder why she is popular with the otaku fan cloud.
Modern Japan is not new to the idea of these pop culture fashion statements. After the Japanese economy began to rise to its prominence in the 1980s, the focus of ordinary Japanese had begun to shift from their traditional counterparts. As history teaches us, once economies grow in wealth, consumer’s priorities begin to shift from producing products to consuming products. Japanese during the 80s began to focus more on the latest fashion; transforming Tokyo into a fashion capital of the world. Professor Patricia Ebrey of the University of Washington- Seattle links the economic boom to this culture shift and states, “since many of them [younger Japanese] lived with their parents, their income bought luxury items rather than necessities. They splurged on designer clothes, meals and entertainment”4. These new trends were built up by both disposable income and the ’78 bamboo shoot tribe movement in Harajuku, where “middle and high school students dressed in outlandish and expensive costumes started appearing every Sunday near trendy Harajuku…”5.
1. “Kyary Pamyu Pamyu,” Wikipedia, Modified 4 June 2013 and accessed on June 4, 2013, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyary_Pamyu_Pamyu.
2. Takemura Kiriko. Japanese singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu talks instant stardom. By Oi, Mariko. BBC World Report, June 3, 2013.
4. Patricia Ebrey, Anne Walthall and James Palais. Modern East Asia: From 1600 (Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009), 519-521.