Gal Culture in Japan

Today I thought I’d do a post on something more Japanese-culture related. I don’t claim to know a lot about Japanese ancient/pop culture, but gals do show up quite often in anime and manga, so it’s useful to know a bit about this way of life.

Gals (or Gyaru ギャル) are a relatively new movement that grew in popularity in Japan around the 1990s and early 2000s. It’s a form of street fashion, characterized by tanned skin, dyed hair, flashy accessories, heavy makeup, and decorated nails. Even though a lot of people follow it, Gyaru style isn’t really viewed with a lot of respect in traditional Japanese culture, making it viewed as a way of rebelling against society. Some places that are epicenter of gals include Shibuya (esp. the shopping district Shibuya 109) and Ikebukuro in Tokyo.

There are a lot of different types of gyarus, each with a different twist on the style. These include:

Gyaru-kei: This is the default gal style and can include a lot of different types.

Hime gyaru: This is the ‘princess’ type. It is often the most extravagant and expensive of all the styles. Giant  dyed curls done up into a bouffant hairstyle are popular, as are super girly clothes and makeup (like frills, lace, ribbons, and lots of pink). They also like to decorate their nails with girly designs and ornaments. It is based heavily on Rococo fashion. It’s become a little less popular in recent years.

Ane/Onee Gyaru: These are two different styles that cater to a more mature audience. It can be characterized by tattoos and piercings, and is generally a bit more rebellious and hardcore than other styles.

B-Gyaru: These are gals that like to follow American and Japanese hip-hop culture, and try to emulate that style.

Gyaruo: This is the term for a male gyaru, also characterized by deep tans, dyed hair and trendy fashion.

Kogyaru: This is a term for a gal that is still in high school and follows the style in school. It comes from Kokosei (高校生), or high school student.

Some references to gyaru in popular culture include:

The manga/anime Super Gals!  by Fujii Mihona:

The Japanese TV drama Gal Circle:

Even though the gyaru style has declined/become more subdued in recent years, it is still an interesting part of Japanese pop culture.

**Thanks for reading!

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