Japan Today

Where have all the 'gyaru' gone?

By Preston Phro, RocketNews24

For much of the 1990s and 2000s, it seemed that you couldn’t walk down a street in any major shopping district in Japan without spotting a group of "gyaru" chatting enthusiastically about…something. But in recent years, the number of tanned young women with the very colorful (some might say “loud”) "gyrau" fashion style seems to have dropped almost to zero.

While "gyaru" subculture has been around for a few decades now, it’s popularity has waned significantly in the last 10 years or so. Perhaps the best indication that "gyaru" are on a decline is the state of their flagship magazines egg and Koakuma Ageha, both of which shut down last year. Though Koakuma Ageha, which some have called the bible for hostesses bar employees, many of whom are "gyaru" themselves, is resuming publication in April, egg is apparently completely dead. While we’re not sure how many are actually mourning egg‘s death, we do have to applaud it’s lengthy 19-year life, running from 1995 to 2014.

In addition to the fashion, part of what made these magazines so popular was the models, like Natsumi Yoshida, pictured above left. She was practically the very personification of "gyaru" while working as a model, but not so much anymore, as you can see in the tweeted photo above right. Though Yoshida is still working in fashion, she’s finished with the "gyaru" side of things.

Of course, like all subcultures, "gyaru" had a number of different subgenres, like the "ganguro." These fringe elements of the "gyaru" movement are almost impossible to find now, and the closure of egg is considered to be a result of their dwindling numbers. On the other hand, with Koakuma Ageha resuming publication, it’s probably safe to say that "gyaru" haven’t completely disappeared – they’ve just changed.

These days, women who might be called "gyaru" have adopted a more mainstream Japanese style, avoiding the dark tans and using a more natural makeup style. And the "kyaba-jo" (women who work in hostesses bars) have apparently “quieted down” their style in general as well. It makes one wonder just how relevant Koakuma Ageha is now and whether there is even a market to sustain the magazine anymore. Even in 2013, when this Koakuma Ageha issue was published, the move towards a more “normal” fashion style was already basically complete.

While it does appear that "gyaru" as we knew them have largely gone the way of the dodo, we can’t help wondering if they’ll make a resurgence or not. It seems unlikely, but a part of us can’t help rooting for them, since we always thought they helped make Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya a slightly more colorful neighborhood.

Sources: Biz Journal, Naver Matome

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"gyrau" fashion style seems to have dropped almost to zero.

Tell me about it. My friend lost a fortune investing in loose socks.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Lol send them to the states. They seem to be follow 5-7 years behind japanese fashion here

-5 ( +10 / -15 )

A nearly 20 year run of a fashion trend here is pretty lengthy. When I moved here you still saw a few gyaru and ganguro around, but it's been a while now since I've seen any at all. There were two best friend kogyaru with the tans, school girl uniforms, loose socks and teddy bear backpacks on the fringes of the ex-pat scene when I first moved here. They took occasional English lessons and were really friendly and just having fun with their look. But the nights of practicing hip hop dance moves in store windows after hours while wearing Pikachu pajamas seem to be ancient history these days. On the other hand, I have on occasion run into decora revivalists in the past few years.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

On what planet is giving yourself skin cancer part your "style"? Good riddance I say.

-8 ( +7 / -15 )


indeed, i saw some ganguro put eyeliner with a black-marker, sometimes a couple of layers thick! That definitely cant be healthy.

Anyway like all fads, it eventually will fade and a new fad will come. I believe the new fad is to dress EXACTLY like your friend.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

They've gone to the hospital to get treated for skin cancer....or worse.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Ikebukuro was crawlin' with these dark monsters bck n' the day. Living off the fat of the land. Bad gyaru.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

It was a silly fad, but its fashion, and something even more ridiculous will be along to replace it soon

6 ( +7 / -1 )

** They all what to look pale ruddy skin dead white turning their hair blonde wearing blue or green contacts and trying their best to become European American So-called White people

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I liked the look of the gyaru just fine. But I never met any I considered datable and that was all about personality. Sorry to see the look go. Not sorry to see the rest of the subculture go.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Happier times.......

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Retain back to sanity.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Another annoying 'fashion' trend thankfully dead or on life-support, along with loose socks, platform shoes, yamamba, etc.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Nope. i had a fling with a lovely Ganguro girl some 11 years ago now. yup a bit obsessed with getting the look right and occasionally a little ditzy but also a lot of fun and very yummy romantically. i am probably too old now, but if given the chance would happily try with the right gyaru.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

@Wakarimasen. LoL, so did you meet her n Ikebukuro?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

avigator: "Retain back to sanity."

For the woman in the photo, for sure, but I highly doubt it's 'back to sanity' on the whole. Something will replace it here, undoubtedly. And it will stick out and be as loud or louder than gyaru fashion.

I saw a gyaru just yesterday, by coincidence, for the first time in ages. She was borderline cos-play, though, with the clothing. EVERYONE was staring at her, though, as she walked down the street and she didn't look all too comfortable with or happy about it. I can understand the lack of appeal for would-be gyaru.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Wc. No met her in a bar in Shibuya (surprise). Only ended because she went to live back in Nagano...... (at least that's what she told me - for all i know she is still in Tokyo somewhere).....

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The fashion of those girls have changed, the mentality ... Not so much.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

"back to sanity" as if being different is insane? What you consider "normal" fashion might be someone else's "boring" fashion. There's no more harm in these girls covering their faces with make-up they enjoy than other girls covering their faces with society-approved make-up just to fit in.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Flashback to happier times.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Now is the blonde hair blue eyes era. Sometimes I yearn to see a natural Japanese. When I see a natural Japanese these days, I almost stare, because seeing one is so rare.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Fashion trends come and go. This one just stayed a bit longer than we've grown used to lately, is all. You may as well ask where all the It Girls have gone, where all the bobby-soxers have gone, where all the kaftan-bedecked hippies have gone, where all the white afros have gone. Even where all the powdered wigs, crinolines, lace ruff collars, pince nez, codpieces etc., etc., have gone. They had their day, and now they serve the purpose of 'dating' films and dramas, for good or bad.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I miss gyaru.....:(

In a country where pale skin is seen as the ideal of beauty I always like to see women bucking the trend in any form and gyaru were very much bucking the trend. Obviously I prefer women to go for a more natural look, but what is a more natural look?

I would argue that Japanese women with their "pale skin" probably go to just as much trouble to maintain it as gyaru did to create their look.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

whoah hey now, gyaru is not a fashion style - it's a lifestyle. It's a persona. The fashion donned by gyaru may change, but gyaru will always be gyaru. And I love them. Best waifu.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Shaniques - where do you live. tokyo is 98% "natural Japanese" in my experience. The gyaru era was fun just to see how they did themselves up. and some very cute too.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Fashion is like spokes on a wheel, eventually time will turn that wheel around and the gyaru look will return.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Fashions come and go, as do youth subcultures. I think the gyaru just grew up, something else has replaced them already. I look at photos of my fashion sense when I was a teenager and it looks bizarre by today's standards.

As for Japanese women striving for the pale skinned look, I can assure you for most it takes just as much make up and products as the sun tanned look. I'm quite pale and have had women ask me what I use to make my skin so white - I tell them it's not make up and some don't believe me.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Wow, when did JapanToday turn into my dad? "Those kids today with their crazy fashions!" [cue fist shaking at sky]

I'm no expert on fashion, but I'd say that the extreme ends of gyaru/ganguro fashion deserve some credit. People on this site are always calling on Japanese people to be more independent, to question authority, to do what feels good rather than what society expects of you... isn't that pretty much entirely what tanning yourself brown except for your eyes and then covering yourself with rhinestones is?

I mean it's a shallow, conformist, superficial sort of rebellion, but it's still rebellion. And unlike a lot of our countries' rebellious fashion movements, it seems to have been entirely home-grown.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Almost 20 years is a long time for any fashion trend.

20 or 30 years from now there will probably be a short term nostalgic revival.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I've heard that a new type of gyaru is emerging, who use "Shironuri" as their makeup!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"It was a silly fad, but its fashion, and something even more ridiculous will be along to replace it soon"

That is, undoubtedly, the absolute truth.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Where have all the gyaru gone? Long time passing. Where have all the gyaru gone? Long time ago. Where have all the gyaru gone, gone to motherhood, every one. When will they ever learn, Oh when will they ever learn.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Good one gokai_wo_maneku.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think Ms Yoshida has fairly succinctly framed why the Gyaru look has died a natural death.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What is this strange language you speak, and where is wonder woman and cat girl?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Goodbye Gyaru, hello Baby Metal! Just shoot me now,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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