Sure, you might know Japanese popular culture in-and-out.
Who knows, you might be an “otaku”. You might have lived here longer than your high school years and you might have started your family in Japan for longer than you can remember.
But let’s face it.
No matter how long you live in Japan, it is guaranteed that there are still many other things that surprise you every day. It’s Japan, we are talking about after all!
It’s always in their nature to come up with crazy new ideas, something extravagant and unique. It’s because of that that the odds of getting bored in Japan are close to zero. There will always be new attractions in theme parks, aquatic museums, new original cafes where you can pet the most exotic animals you have to wonder how they come to Japan, a new line of clothes dedicated specifically to whatever kind of weather they haven’t released a line for already.
And then, there are trends. It goes without saying that being a country of new ideas and extraordinary minds, Japan has been and is leading the most unique trends you can never imagine.
Hold on tight to that chair, because Japan’s top 10 unique trends are going to blow you away.
Japan Unique Trend #1: Sakura everything
It goes without saying that Sakura, or cherry blossom, represents Japan. It even becomes a Japanese cliche in Western culture. Even Powerpoint has a template named “Japan” which is basically a white and pink color combination with some sakura on the side. In other words, Sakura now defines the country.
And there comes a stream of crazy ideas by Japanese. Why not add sakura, into…everything?
And we say sakura-flavored Starbucks menu, sakura-flavored Kitkat, sakura-flavored Coke, sakura-flavored sponge cakes. You name it!
We are talking about chocolate flavors, chips, and even burgers. Yes, you heard me right.
桜チョコ (sakura chocolate) is probably the most well-known sakura products in springtime in Japan – the time of year when all menus are refreshed and are overflown with sakura flavors with creative combinations which not only draw consumers’ interest but also elevate the original flavor, making them a massive hit.
For example, Meiji (one of the most famous chocolate brand) delivers a special collection for its spring chocolate menu, with the most actively sought Porute – strawberry sakura flavored chocolate. Pocky has its own sakura white chocolate sticks, which bring more fun to the Pocky games while KitKat produces a whole line of sakura waffles. And Sakura products, sakura-flavored… everything invades all convenience store in late March and early April.
Now THAT’s a trend!
And if you haven’t tried the Calbee sakura chips yet, might as well go to the nearest supermarket and grab them before they run out! It has become one of the most sought-out sakura products among Japanese teenagers because of its slightly sweet and salty flavor!
How can we forget the famous sakura buns at McDonald’s? The pinkiness and the mochi-mochi texture of the sakura hamburger bun, along with the well-seasoned meat slice, a bit of mustardy heat and the salad freshness will definitely create a party in your mouth!
Watch out for the sakura trend coming your way very soon!
Japan Unique Trend #2: The studying video trend
It’s an online trend in Japan featuring students filming themselves studying! Yes, it goes to show that anything can happen online, and there are surprising aspects to it too, including footage of students sitting in front of the camera and studying hard. Now that is not what you see every day on the active, somewhat chaotic society of the Internet. You may have seen wild American teenagers dumping soda on their faces while doing the Harlem Shake challenge, almost die after eating the world’s hottest chili or consume Tide Pods online. Here is something you can sit back and relax to – videos of Japanese teenagers sitting down and studying hard for their exams.
The trend seemed to have started in late 2016 when a popular Japanese YouTuber Hajime Syacho uploaded a video of himself studying for an entire hour. While Hajime’s video was not the first, it has certainly inspired a trend among Japanese teenagers. Hundreds of other such videos have been uploaded since then, most of them are an hour long and nearly silent.
If you search YouTube for 一緒に勉強しよう (isshoni benkyou shiyou) (Let’s study together), you will see page after page of similar videos. And in the last few months, “Study with me” videos from people in the US have been overflowing. If you have trouble taking school or homework seriously and just want a studying buddy but don’t have one, the trend is born for you.
The studying videos trend has certainly generated enough attention that it was featured on a Japanese morning show featuring Hajime’s videos.
Now, if you are no longer in school, but you think this might help you get your work done, there is an alternative for adults, too! There are multi-hour videos of people doing desk work as well.
Despite the weirdness, commenters seem to be generally in support of this trend. Here are some translated comments from the Japanese themselves:
“I can see how this could help since it would make it seems like you have a study-buddy. The feeling of solidarity can be amazing, even if you are not shooting questions back and forth at each other and are just studying in silence”
“So great how young people adapt to new technology and find ways to use it in unexpected ways, that I would never have considered doing. If this helps students study, then super cool”.
Japan Unique Trend #3: Decora
You may get an easy idea of this trend, based on its name – Decora, which originates from the English word “decoration”. While the trend hit Japan by storm in the late 90s and continued to gain popularity in the 2000s, it has made a comeback with a renewed vigor.
The make-up trend is mostly natural, meaning no heavy make-up and gives more focus into bringing out the child-like vibe, which is shown through the interesting selection of accessories. They are bright in color, and there’s a lot of them. And when we say “a lot”, we actually mean it. The style supporters use everything, literally everything: face stickers, glitter, colorful band-aids, bobby pins, clips and bows, bracelets and necklaces, multi-colored socks, stockings, along with leg and arm warmers – basically anything they can find and put on to show their inner childlike soul to the world.
Japan Unique Trend #4: Purikura
Purikura (short for “print club”) is seen anywhere in Japan, it is just as famous as vending machines in Japan, however, not all foreigners know about its existence.
What exactly is this Purikura that takes the Japanese by storm and create a major trend among Japanese that continues until now?
While face filter apps such as Snow and B612 have been taking the world by storm in recent years, Purikura photo booth has been taking the Japanese by storm since, forever.
Photo booths have been around for close to a century now, but not in the way Purikura exists. Talking about photo booths, we have a tendency to think of the kind that you may find at the mall or playgrounds that give you a simple black-and-white photo strip.
But that is not how Purikura works – it is guaranteed to bring you fun, interaction and above all, cuteness!
Japan loves cute things, and Purikura certainly caters to that love. Purikura photo booths can be found all over Japan and they seem to be another representative trait of Japanese when they are immensely popular with both Japanese teenage girls and even with foreign tourist!
Most of Purikura editing tools are aimed towards making the people and the photos look more cute, sometimes, too cute. You can add hearts, stickers, stars, cute sayings, and anything else you can imagine would add to the cute factor of the whole picture.
Here a short step-by-step guide to Purikura:
1. Hop in a booth with your friends
2. Pose to the camera
3. Edit your pictures
And voila, just a few seconds later, you will have your own Purikura photos
But here is pre-warning in the editing step!
Even before you get your hands on the editing tools, most Purikura machines can add default editing, which means you can see yourself in brightened, smoothed skin, larger (sometimes larger and creepier) eyes, way-too-sharpened chin, and even longer legs.
It’s all supposed to make you and your friends look super kawaii, but these “enhancements” can sometimes make people look more alien than human. So watch out and don’t get too surprised!
You can still click in the back or reset button to clear the default settings and edit the pictures the way you want them to be!
Once you are done, you can print it out and send it to your own cellphone, or any other number you want. Once you have your Purikura masterpiece in your hand, don’t forget to share it on any social media you have and attach #プリクラ to be a part of this unique Japanese trend.
And even if you have not tried Purikura yet, make sure you try it next time you are in Japan.
Unique Trend #5: Ganguro
“WHAT! IS THIS A REALY TREND? DOES IT EVEN EXIST IN JAPAN?” are probably what you are going to ask after knowing what this unusual trend is really about.
If light, white skin is widely regarded as one of the must-have criteria to be considered beautiful in Japan, you would not believe us when we say this – “tanned”, brown skin and light hair had its vigorous reign over Japan.
All too long, the traditional idea of beauty in Japan is light and white skin and dark hair. It is almost an unwritten rule. However, in the 1990s, there was a reaction against this notion of beauty and it sparked the trend which is commonly known as “Ganguro” (literally translated into “intensely black”. Brown skin, light hair – typically orange, blonde, or gray – and white make-up touch: lips, the front part of the nose, and the area around the eyes, are all a part of this uncommonly known trend.
Complete this with fake eyelashes, facial crystals, and bright outfits and you are good to become a part of this trend as well as impressing people with the ganguro look. Don’t be afraid to go out because numerous bright accessories are warmly welcomed!!!
Although there was an active Ganguro group called Black Diamond that opened an online website to connect with Ganguro supporters as well as to create regular meetups and events, the trend began to lose its popularity in recent years. However, the trend remained a boom a few years ago and it certainly proved the unique side of Japan and how it brought creativity into daily fashion.
Unique Trend #6: Shironuri
You have known Ganguro as intensely black. Now get ready to be whitewashed! Because “Shironuri” trend is coming your way!
Many are familiar with the Ganguro or Lolita fashion styles that populate the streets of Harajuku, Japan but you won’t see any Shironuri enthusiasts amongst them. “Why?” you ask? Considering themselves to the counter-culture to the counter-culture of Japanese fashion, many Shironuri artists remain within groups of Shironuri and rarely venture out to display their art on the streets of Tokyo.
But if you do spot one, you are lucky! Because they are Art in living form!
Rather than drawing inspiration from European culture, Shironuri fashion uses traditional Japanese elements such as heavy white face paint, kimono, hakama and typical outfits worn by ancient Japanese stage actors and geishas. While this trend does not follow any strict guideline of what to wear, the only thing you need to pay attention to is covering any visible skin in white. There are popular aspects of Shironuri that is taken up by most of its enthusiasts such as thick and heavy black eyeliner and the use of fake lashes to create panda-like eyes. Other than that, you are free to experiment with what you want to do with your makeup and outfit. Just think of the possibility and the amount of creativity you can put into styling yourself!
Maybe that’s why it became one of the most well-known and most unique trends in the Japanese fashion industry.
There is no denying the fact that Japan has a number of positive aspects attached to its culture. The land of the Rising Sun at nature is beautiful and eye-catching with its ancient culture, breathtaking attractions, nice people and a lot more. However, it may appear to be weird at times, thanks to the unique and somewhat bizarre trends which are too strange we may find it hard to comprehend.
What about you, are there any unique Japanese trends you know or have come across before? Let us know!