Saturday, July 4, 2009
Yamanba in the UK
The rebellious Japanese youth culture movement which makes a fashion statement against eastern beauty, is having an effect British youth.
Yamanba, sometimes written as "yamamba" or Ganguro (ガングロ; "Black Face Girls"), is a fashion trend among Japanese girls. The term comes from mythology and refers to a mountain-ogress. Starting with the bleach-white hair and heavy tan of the ganguro girl, the yamanba adds white lipstick and eye makeup and sometimes blue contacts. The result is a caricature of a blond Caucasian woman. The trend peaked in popularity around the year 2000, but remains evident today. The Shibuya and Ikebukuro districts of Tokyo are the center of ganguro fashion.
The rebellion has now, perhaps somewhat ironically, been taken up by Britain's naturally fair-skinned youth who got caught up in Yamanba after an interest in Japanese culture led them to start researching on the internet, where they came across the style. British youths have learnt to apply the make-up through watching make-up tutorials on YouTube.The British followers of this Japanese subculture are also into the music, which is called Eurobeat, and features dance moves called Para-Para, a form of like line dancing.
Social networks are important for British Manba followers as they have friends in Japan and the US who are also into the style. There is a social network site in Japan called ‘Mix’ and there are a lot of Manba on there.
Ganguro appeared as a new fashion style in Japan in the early 1990s and is prevalent mostly among young women and women in their early 20s to this date. In ganguro fashion, a deep tan is combined with hair dyed in shades of orange to blonde, or a silver grey known as "high bleached". Black ink is used as eye-liner and white concealer is used as lipstick and eyeshadow. False eyelashes, plastic facial gems, and pearl powder are often added to this. Platform shoes and brightly-coloured outfits complete the ganguro look. Also typical of ganguro fashion are tie-dyed sarongs, miniskirts, stickers on the face, and lots of bracelets, rings, and necklaces.
Ganguro falls into the larger subculture of gyaru (from English "gal"), a slang term used for various groups of young women, usually referring to overly childish or rebellious girls. Researchers in the field of Japanese studies believe that ganguro is a form of revenge against traditional Japanese society due to resentment of neglect, isolation, and constraint of Japanese society. This is their attempt at individuality, self-expression, and freedom, in open defiance of school standards and regulations. Fashion magazines like Egg and Kawaii magazine have had a direct influence on the ganguro. Other popular ganguro magazines include Popteen and Ego System. The ganguro culture is often linked with para para, a Japanese dance style. However, most para para dancers are not ganguro, and most ganguro are not para para dancers, though there are many who are ganguro or gal and dance para para.
One of the most famous early ganguro girls was known as Buriteri, nicknamed after the black soy sauce used to flavour yellowtail fish in teriyaki cooking. Egg made her a star by frequently featuring her in its pages during the height of the ganguro craze. After modelling and advertising for the Shibuya tanning salon "Blacky", social pressure and negative press convinced Buriteri to retire from the ganguro lifestyle.
Yamanba (ヤマンバ) and manba (マンバ) are terms often used to describe extreme practitioners of ganguro fashion. Old school Yamanba and Manba; (particularly known as 2004 Manba); featured dark tans and white lipstick, pastel eye make-up, tiny metallic or glittery adhesives below the eyes, brightly-coloured contact lenses, plastic dayglo-coloured clothing, and incongruous accessories, such as Hawaiian Leis (often the Alba Rosa brand). Stickers on the face died out shortly after 2004, and for a while, Manba died. Yamanba is now more extreme, and hair is often multicoloured, and usually synthetic. 2008's Manba has seen a darker tan, and no facial decoration (stickers). Hair is usually neon/bright colours, with pink being a favourite. Wool("dreadlocks"), extensions and clips are worn to make hair appear longer. Clothing remains the same, although Leis are worn less frequently now. Manba and Yamanba are not to be confused. Yamanba has white make-up only above the eye, while Manba has makeup below the eye also. Stuffed animals, bracelets, bells and hibiscuses are worn. The male equivalent is called a "center guy" (センター街 Sentāgai, Center Street), a pun on the name of a pedestrian shopping street near Shibuya Station in Tokyo where yamanba and center guys are often seen.