Editor’s Letter -Françoi s Ma lget
It took me a while to determine the subject
matter of this magazine. Maybe the German Rap scene, American sports or Korean culture? But one piece of
advice kept coming back into my mind, to do something I am really passionate about. It took me some time to realise, but despite my interest in a variety of fields,
they all had one aspect in common, I loved the styles and the choice of clothing.
From my teenage years onwards, I noticed my
passion for clothes and fashion, but I could never really identify with the elaborate catwalk shows during Eu-
rope’s leading fashion weeks. I was more interested in
what real people were wearing in their daily lives. Hence, I decided to come back to my initial interest that led me into fashion and to do my magazine on streetwear.
Unfortunately, I figured out quickly that the
coverage of streetwear was very prevalent already.
There are hundreds of Instagram accounts, bloggers
and magazines covering it. I needed to do something
that is different and not solely show off different styles. I took me a while, but I figured out two very important factors:
1) The main thing that sets me apart from every other person in the world is my own point of view.
2) What people wear is different in every country, sometimes even in different cities.
So I took the decision to combine these two things. I
decided to set out on a personal quest to find out, city
by city, why streetwear and styles are so different. And
this magazine is to document and share my journey with everybody that is interested.
The title of the magazine ‘Zoku’ comes from the Japa-
nese language. Translated into the English language, it
means tribe or clan. In the Japanese language, this suffix has often been used to refer to subcultural groups, such as the ‘karasuzoku’ (the punk movement), or the
‘kaminarizoku’ (motorcycle-riding gangs). I really liked
this notion, as one could see every city as a kind of tribe that follows different aesthetic notions which translate into the people’s choice of clothing.
As the title of magazine is Japanese, it
seemed natural to start off my journey in one of the
cities that’s most famous for its colourful streetwear
scene, Tokyo, and the newly emerged fashionable city of Seoul. I acknowledge that Asia is huge and diverse
and consists of more than just Japan and South Korea, but these two nations are so far the only ones to have
made a worldwide cultural mark. Having been linked for centuries, marked by war and occupation, these two
countries now are the poster child for a new generation of the Asian cool.
I hope you will enjoy this magazine as much as I enjoy working on it.
C O N T R I B U T O R S ZOKU
The magazine is submitted as part of the final project for MA Fashion Journalism, London College of Fashion, 2017-2018.
Editor-in-Chief: François Malget Art Director: Sam Carballo Writers: François Malget Jason Lim Jenna Lee Jun Eui-Hyun Troy Ma Cover: Lee Eui-Hyun Photographers: Jenna Lee Matthew Coulson Yuri Horie
Seoul, South Korea 10-11 12-16 18-21 22-25 26-33 34-35 36-45 46-47
Seoul K-Pop - The Truth Counterfeit Korea Love Me Tender Spotted: Seoul Fashion Week K-Drama: Being a Korean Designer HypeEast Hangover Foods
Tokyo, Japan 50-51 54-57 58-59 60-63 64-75 76-79 80-82
Tokyo The Freer Spirit? FRUiTS & Fashion Young & Free: Tokyo’s Subcultures People of Tokyo Working Class Hero Shibuya Meltdown
S E O U
The West’s hunger for Korea is real and there are no signs of it slowing down in the near future. 10
Seoul, South Korea
37.5665° N, 126.9780° E
Seoul is South Korea’s capital and by far the biggest city. Having been born in this city, I have to admit that there is a special bond linking me to it. As the nation’s most important city, Seoul has been at the forefront of the country’s rapid development over the last decades. Within less than 50 years, South Korea has developed from an impoverished agricultural nation torn apart by war into one of the world’s leading industrial and technological countries, housing international conglomerates such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai. Over the last two decades, South Korea’s prominence in the world has also been supported by its cultural expansion, first across Asia and now all over the world. ‘Hallyu’, the Korean wave, is Korea’s bet to become the new cultural powerhouse on the Asian continent. At the heart of this cultural takeover are the hyped pop industry, K-pop, and TV productions, K-drama. Having become famous across Asia since the late 1990s, it was only in 2012 with Psy’s Gangnam Style that K-pop took MainStage in the West. Due to Hallyu, Korea has been able to craft an image of a stylish and modern nation. Korean food was a major food trend, Korean cosmetics are considered world-leading and more and more colourful and dreamy idols fill the screens across the West. Seoul
K-pop - The Truth
‘The regime is akin to that of a welldisciplined military camp or training institute for Olympic athletes’
by François Malget
K-pop - The Truth
- John Lie, Professor and Social Theorist.
Besides its technological products, South Korea is most famous to a Western consumer because of its incredibly successful pop music industry, also known as K-Pop. Ever since the early 2000s, K-pop has exploded on a global level. Just remember that Korea’s most popular group BTS teamed up with the United Nations and was the first boyband to ever speak in front of the assembly after raising over a million dollar for charity. It is hard to believe that it is a Korean boyband to make this debut, especially after the age of boybands has long ended in Europe. Especially after 2013, global sales kept beating the record year after year, the top 200 K-pop groups amassed tens of billions of views on Youtube, with a large majority of views coming from outside South Korea, and more and more K-Pop albums are breaking into the Top 100 album charts everywhere in the world. This trend has continued steadily and does not seem to be slowing down any time soon. The K-pop fanbases everywhere in the world are hugely protective and devoted to their dreamy and stylish idols. It is undeniable that K-pop music videos are visually appealing, with their hugely expensive productions and seemingly flawless male and female protagonists. Different to American music videos, Korean music videos are said to cost at least one million dollar on average. Looking at the more elaborate end of the scale, it is without question that the budget for these is much higher. But only a minority of fans in the West, and even Korea, know the harsh reality behind the perfect, bubbly and colourful facade. South Korea
The Truth About K-pop
What little people know is that K-Pop is based on one simple for-
mula, incredibly hard work. Different to a lot of Western artists, all Korean pop groups are artificially put together by big labels. YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment and JYP Entertainment are the nations ‘Big 3’ having put together hugely successful groups, such as TWICE, EXO and BLACKPINK.
The path to becoming a K-Pop idol usually starts as early as high
school age and is a long and highly selective process. It all starts with a
simple application, with which aspiring K-pop idols present themselves to
the different labels. The most selective ones, such as SM Entertainment, are said to accept only one for every thousand applicants, whereas others have
an acceptance rate of one in every 250 candidates. After being recruited as a trainee, a very hard training process follows. The trainees spend up to twelve
hours every day taking individual and group lessons. These cover every possible sphere that is deemed necessary for K-pop stardom. Not only singing and dancing training are required, but JYP Entertainment’s training centres offers sixty-seven classes including everything from foreign languages, etiquette to public speaking.
Throughout this process the number of candidates is once again
massively cut down. According to a SM executive, only around 5 percent of
trainees turn into polished, finished products and the label invests heavily into their talents. On average each finished idol presents an initial investment of around 300,000 dollars by the label.
The money is not only spend on lessons but also extensive plastic
surgery to maximise the attractiveness of the final product. These physical
enhancements include every possible procedure, from simple, such as double-eye-lid surgery, to extremely painful, such as the correction of the face shape, in which the jaw is broken and shaved into a more V-shape form.
Being a K-pop idol:
Even after having finished their training, the labels continue to
dominate every aspect of the idols’ lives. The contracts these idols sign are
often referred to as ‘slave contracts’, which bind them to the label for up to 15 years. This time only starts counting down after they had their professional
debut. It seems hard to believe but, the life of a K-pop idol is far less glamorous than we imagine.
It starts with the salary, the average K-pop idols’ income is in no way
comparable to Western stars in the music industry. The labels claim most of
the group’s income paying the members only a very small salary, rumoured to often start off at less then 20,000 dollars a year. In 2011, the boyband TVXQ sued their label on the grounds that they reap almost none of the profits of
their success. The labels justify these salaries, or rather lack of, due to their
heavy initial investment into the idol and them managing every aspect of their careers, from public appearances to songwriting.
Apart from the minimal pay, K-pop idols face extremely long hours. According
K-pop - The Truth
K-pop idols’ lives are an all-around entertainment product. Wherever they go, cameras are in front of their faces and their whole lives play out on the screens of the fans.
to some Asian sources, the work-
day can take up to 20 hours daily!
Throughout the last decade, there
have been countless idols that have fainted on stage or have been hos-
pitalised for exhaustion. Just google Krystal of the group f(x), for whom
fainting on screen seems to have almost become a kind of trademark. But
apparently this is considered normal if you want to be a successful K-pop idol. You might think that in order to manage these long days, you, at least, need to have balanced diet. But Korean idols face extremely harsh training regiments
accompanied by even harsher diets to maintain the desired thin look. Physical appearance, meaning looking thin and fit is crucial to their stardom and they
go through extreme lengths to lose just a couple of pounds. There have been
reports of watermelon, lettuce or cucumber diets, which are self-explanatory, or even more extreme cases, such as the paper cup diet, during which you only eat the amount healthy food that fits into a small paper cup.
K-pop idols’ lives are an all-around entertainment product. Wher-
ever they go, cameras are in front of their faces and their whole lives play out on the screens of the fans. Whenever they appear in public, they have to be dressed up and beautiful. Their whole personal lives are determined by the
label, with exacting schedules and strict standards of public behaviour. Not
only can they often only hang out with other famous idols, but in addition to
this they are not allowed to public relationships, as the labels fear it reduces their appeal to the public.
This lack of personal freedom has been blatantly pointed out to the public
with the suicide of SHINee member Jonghyun, who had battled with severe
depression. In his final letter, he mentioned that the therapist, given to him by the agency, kept blaming his suffering not on the demanding lifestyle, but his own flawed personality.
It is not only the labels that put massive amounts of pressure on the
idols, but also their fans. Korean fans are crazy about their idols and some-
times their fandom goes into the extreme. These overly-obsessive fans, also called Sasaeng, have been reported to take insane actions. This does not
only entail trying to break into the idols’ houses or tapping their phones, but
also sending love letters smeared with menstrual blood. And their obsessive nature can even get worse if the fans feel betrayed or neglected by their
idols. These incidents can range from bad, like sending them razor blades and death threats to outright dangerous. After being handed a drink from a fan, Korean idol Yunho of TVXQ, started vomiting blood. After an analysis, they
found out that the drink was laced with a very strong adhesive chemical in an attempt on his life.
K-Pop’s Influence on the Public:
K-Pop is at the heart of South Korea’s initiative to become a cultural pow-
erhouse on the Asian continent and is mainly responsible for making Korea
‘cool’ all around the globe. It is a carefully crafted image, which presents the Koreans as flawless and stylish. Especially in the West, K-pop has led to an
idealisation of Korean men by teenage girls. Being Korean myself, I have en-
countered countless girls that are actively looking for Korean guys, because they cling to the idea of the dreamy Korean guy as seen on screen. Unfor-
tunately, in reality, Korean men are far from this dreamy image. South Korea is still very old fashioned, male-centric and has one of the highest rates of domestic violence against women.
K-Pop presents a big part of Korea’s national pride, but overall, I
think that K-pop’s influence on society is overwhelmingly negative. Being presented with countless, physically perfect idols, the pressure on South Korean men and women to look good is as high as never before. Plastic surgery has become part of daily life and is regularly used as early as high school age.
It is not an uncommon gift by parents to offer their child plastic surgery for high school graduation. Korea is the country with the second most plastic
surgeries and around one in every five women have made use of one of the country’s countless beauty clinics.
Looking flawless has become a Korean virtue. A lot of Koreans, especially
teenagers, are constantly dieting, trying to achieve the often times unrealistic
standards set by their favourite idols, and follow a skincare regime that is second to none in the world. It is quite normal for men and women to follow daily skincare routine consisting of 8 or more different products, just to achieve the perfectly clean skin.
K-Pop might seem effortless and bubbly, but in reality it is much
darker in its nature. It symbolises the nation’s ambitions and the extreme
lengths it is prepared to go to achieve them. I have to admit here that, as I was born in Korea, I love my country, but it is far from perfect. There is a real need
for social progress, especially concerning women’s and LGBTQ rights. I would love to ask everybody that claims to love Korea, as many K-pop fans do, to
not solely focus on K-pop but to form an opinion based on information that
exceed the colourful fantasy realm of the pop music industry. K-Pop is a fan-
tasy and I understand that it can offer a legitimate escape from everyday life’s struggles and worries, as it is uplifting and happy. But K-Pop does not repre-
sent the whole nation and should not be used to cover up deeper underlying social problems. K-Pop represents the real Korea as much as American rap
the United States. We should never forget that it is simply a from of musical entertainment, highly idealised according to its beliefs.
Counterfeit Korea, Fake it ’til you make it by Jun Eui-Hyun South Korea has developed into one of the world’s fastest growing markets for fashion and apparel, having almost doubled in value within the last decade. Especially young Koreans have become extremely style-conscious and fashionable and they crave Western, particularly European brands. Especially streetwear has become extremely popular amongst young Koreans. Different to the older generations, who have suffered from war and hardship, young South Koreans have grown up in a wealthy environment, with a strong focus on the West, that worships imported products as status symbols. Youth culture is thriving in this newly affluent society, fuelling the insatiable hunger for hyped streetwear from all over the world. Despite this high de-
mand, a lot of these brands remain largely unavailable to the Korean customer. A lot of the desired items are only accessible through resellers, which ask
for exorbitant prices. It is not uncommon for a simple Supreme Hoodie, which would cost you around £200 in the UK, to resell for over £700 in South Korea.
This unavailability has created a gap in the market which does not
only fire up the resell market, but also one of the most insane counterfeit
markets. Different to a lot of copyright conscious Western consumers, who
perceive fake goods more and more as a fashion faux pax, a lot of Koreans do not have any other opportunity to satisfy their hunger for trendy streetwear brands.
South Korea is now only second to China in counterfeit manufac-
turing and consumption. You only have to take a walk near Dongdaemun,
ironically also the location of Seoul Fashion Week, to be overwhelmed with fake brand products, which range from old world renowned European heritage brands, such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, to the new cool players like Vêtements or Off-White.
Despite massive efforts of the Korean government to protect
intellectual property, which have resulted in a ten fold increase in volume of confiscated counterfeit goods, manufacturers keep finding and exploiting loopholes in the regulations to flood the market with fake products. This
has resulted, amongst others, in brands, like ‘The Super Supreme’, ripping
off the New York based brand Supreme and ‘Raf Simmons’, inspired by the Belgian designer. These knock-offs are on first sight not distinguishable
from the originals. One of my Korean friends once told me that to find out if
a piece if fake or not, you have to look at the person’s way of transportation. If the person gets on the subway it is very likely to be a fake but if they get
into an imported car it is definitely an original. According to him, it is almost
impossible to know the difference, unless you have other references on the socio-economical background of the wearer.
Counterfeit Korea, Fake it ‘til You Make it
‘My country is such a joke, sometimes I call it the Republic of Forgery’ - Kim Kyung-Sook, Author.
The selection of goods seems endless. Even the newest drops and collaborations are to be found within days on South Korea’s streets or in one of the
countless malls, like Migliore, famous for their counterfeit sellers. The manu-
facturers seem to keep an eye on the trends and almost immediately produce the new desired items.
Why is it that Koreans do not seem to care if they are wearing fakes or not?
Despite having modernised drastically and being one of the world’s leaders in technology, South Korea’s society remains very traditional. Different to a
lot of Western countries, hierarchy and fitting in are big parts of the culture.
Despite their love of fashion, Koreans are always very conscious to not stand out too much. But dressing well and looking good are still very important, so much so that they can also be seen as prerequisites of success in Korean society.
In order to dress fashionably Koreans are obsessed with trends.
Once a trend is set, mostly by one of the nation’s biggest K-Pop idols, like
G-Dragon, everybody almost religiously follows it. So once a trend hits the
Korean screens and minds, every Korean tries desperately to take part. As
the demand exceeds the offer by far and prices are driven up, they often have no other choice to buy counterfeits. It is due to the pressure to fit in and take part.
This counterfeit culture has put South Korea in a precarious situa-
tion. Not only is there international pressure on the country to get a hold of blatant copyright infringements, but it also
makes it a lot harder to Koreans to get their hands on originals. Multiple
brands have refused to open flagship stores in Korea, because of their dissatisfaction with the current situation.
I think that there is no real street style in Korea. Personally for me,
street style represents a sort of lifestyle that translates into clothes. You wear what you want due to several personal reasons. In South Korea people solely copy the styles they see on a screen.
Counterfeit Korea, Fake it ‘til You Make it
‘You can find counterfeit streetwear all over the world, but the stuff we found in Seoul was remarkable’ - Alec Leach, Highsnobiety Digital Fashion Editor.
Love Me Tender by Jun Eui-Hyun What do Karaoke, DVD Rooms and Motels have in common? Nothing at first, but all three places are young Koreans’ choices in case they want to spend a few hours with their significant other or just some person they met on a night out. All three places are viable options, depending on how much money you want to spend and how important privacy is for you.
For Westerners, this concept surely seems unfamiliar. Not only
because Karaoke and DVD Rooms do not really exist in the West and hourly
Motels have somewhat of a shady reputation, but also because bringing your partner home does not pose a problem at all. In South Korea, this is an abso-
lute taboo. Being a very conservative society, they still care about the ‘no-sex before marriage’ rule, well the older generations at least. I have countless
American or European friends, who did not understand why their neighbours suddenly started avoiding them, after they saw them bring home different
guys or girls within the span of a few days or weeks. It is important to know, that all their neighbours were mostly middle-aged.
Because of parental pressure and control, after all Koreans rarely
move out of their parents’ house before they get married, young Koreans need alternatives to satisfy their more physical needs. It is an unspoken
understanding amongst all Koreans that taking somebody home is not, and probably will for the foreseeable future not be, a viable option. As public
toilets are dirty and uncomfortable and not everybody enjoys having sex in
dark alleys or parks, Karaoke and DVD rooms or motels present alternatives available 24 hours all around the city. From personal experiences, what should you consider when making use of one of them?
‘My neighbour used to greet me every morning. After I broke up with my long-time boyfriend and brought home another guy this suddenly stopped. She never said hello again and just gave me this condescending look.’ - H. (25) 22
Love Me Tender
Karaoke Rooms or Norebang:
Different to Karaoke in the West, in Korea you book separate rooms
for your karaoke night or, in this case, other activities. Sound-proofed and
equipped with couches they are certainly more comfortable than any public
toilet could ever be. Other benefits are the possibility to order drinks to your
room and the blasting of loud music that covers the remnants of other noises. Karaoke rooms can vary in prices, depending on the kinds of comforts you expect.
The cheapest ones will cost you around 2000 Won (2$) an hour, and
the more expensive ones up to 20,000 Won (20$) or more.
Two things you need to considers. First of all, every room is equipped with CCTV. So do not forget to hang your jacket over it, otherwise the staff will
definitely watch you and secondly keep an eye on the time. Shortly before
your time runs out, a member of staff will enter your room to inform you about the remaining time. Don’t let them surprise you.
DVD Rooms or DVD bangs:
These are essentially the same as Norebangs, only that you have
the possibility to watch a film if you so choose (see top right image). The furniture is oftentimes more comfortable and can vary between a comfy couch or sometimes even a Korean-styled bed. These have become much rarer these days, but can still be found in the student or young areas of Seoul.
The final and probably most exciting options, especially for
Westerners is the love motel (see top left image). Different to the other two alternatives, you are provided with a real room, in which you can go about your business. Love Motels are almost a Korean institution, offering everything
from the normal to the crazy Hello Kitty themed bedrooms. Certain ones, also offer Pot Noodle themed hot tubs and bath tubs on request. Prices can vary
largely depending on how easy or kinky you want your room to be. Love Mo-
tels do not hide their purpose. Yes it is possible to stay there for an extended period, but the little welcome baskets filled with lube and condoms give you strong hints that the managers are very aware of the reasons for your stay.
Love Motels are not shady in Korea and most are held to very high standards of hygiene. Especially Westerners are often oversold on the the ‘Deluxe
rooms’. Honestly they are not very different from the others, the main difference is the price.
Lastly, I just want to highlight the irony that the Korean word for room is bang and say that whichever option you choose always stay and play safe ;)
Love Me Tender
‘Fashion Week is the only time of the year during which I am allowed to wear what I want. I could never wear this in my everyday life. So I need to take advantage and dress special.’ - Seo-yun
Spotted: Seoul Fashion Week Photography by Jenna Lee 26
‘I come to hang out here every day during Seoul Fashion Week. Sometimes it’s a struggle to find a different outfit for each day, but it’s so fun at the same time.’
Spotted: Seoul Fashion Week
‘I don’t like the typical couple outfits. We have very different tastes, looking alike isn’t worth both of us wearing clothes we don’t like. People will know we’re a couple regardless.’ - Hyun-ae 28
Spotted: Seoul Fashion Week
‘I love wearing colours! I have to wear a school uniform most days, so I try to wear as much colourful clothes whenever I can!’ - Mi-Ok
‘Traditional does not always mean boring. Most Asians are totally focussed on European dress, so that suddenly you seem out of place if you wear traditional Asian clothing.’
‘It’s all about standing out. You want to be noticed when you come here and there is no limit on how crazy you can go.’
Spotted: Seoul Fashion Week
‘I wouldn’t feel comfortable in the clothes that a lot of girls wear here. Even though Seoul Fashion Week is all about dressing up, I try to stay true to my own aesthetic.’ - Mun-hee 32
Spotted: Seoul Fashion Week
‘We’re actually very similar in character, but we dress completely different. I respect how he dresses, but it’s not for me at all.’ - Chin-hwa
K-Drama: Being a by Jenna Lee
Do you know any Korean fashion brands?
I mean real Korean brands, not the ones like FILA or
MCM that have started in Europe and have then been taken over by a Korean conglomerate. For the last
Seoul Fashion Week in March, 127 brands participated
in total, with 91 of them presenting their collections on or off schedule. Unfortunately, it is very likely that you can not even name one of them.
This is not really a problem, after all Seoul Fash-
ion Week still lacks the global exposure to even compete with the big European ones, such as London or Paris. As
South Korea and its designers are still newcomers on the global scene, it seems natural that, in large parts, they do not yet reach the shores of Europe. The sad thing is, that a lot of these brands are not even known to the Korean public.
Being a fashion enthusiast myself and of
Korean descent, it was always a matter close to my heart to incorporate as many Korean brands into my ward-
I sometimes read online, how hot Korean
designer were at the moment, but most of the people of Korea do not seem to agree. They’re stuck in their ways,
still buying Western, mainly European luxury brands, not being aware of the national products, or simply ignoring them. When it comes to shopping, I think that a majority of Korean can be classified in three categories.
‘I think there are 3 categories of people when it comes to fashion in Korea. The first group, maybe 10 percent, is all about luxury brands, such as Balenciaga, Gucci
and all of that, the second group, also around 10 per-
cent, is all about street fashion and they wear brands like Supreme or Bape, and then 80% of the people in
Korea love Uniqlo, because it’s cheap. Everybody loves fashion but they don’t want to spend money on clothes so most of them buy in stores like H&M and Zara. That’s probably why they all look so similar.’
robe as possible. So, ever since I was 20 years old, I dug
- Edwin Jung
discovered gems, such as Nohant and 87mm, still my two
get these clothes shipped to New York, so oftentimes I
Korean designers are in a precarious situation. Their
deeper and deeper into the Korean fashion scene and
favourite clothing brands. Back then, it was really hard to had to send my cousins or aunts to go buy them in store for me. I should have noticed back then, by the weird
looks my family members gave me and asked repeatedly if they were really Korean brands, that they are virtually
non existent in the eyes of the Korean public. My family is not very fashionable, so I kept blaming it on them, rather than the outreach of the brand.
I was so excited to move to Korea last year, only
to be majorly disappointed. None of my colleagues had ever heard of my favourite brands, I never saw anyone
wear their pieces on the streets and some even did not have actual stores, but merely showrooms. The main
streets of the shopping districts, like Hongdae, Myeo-
ngdong and Apgujeong Rodeo were filled with European chainstores or designers, which by the way are really
overprices over here, and the brands I so like are pushed into little backstreets or remote areas of the city.
As you might have noticed, not a single catego-
ry seems to overly care for Korean brands...
prices are higher than general chainstores, so they do
not appeal to the penny savers and on the other hand the brands do not have the necessary status to appeal to the more affluent part of society.
It is quite funny to see, how brands seem to ap-
pear out of nowhere to the general Korean public, if they
manage to show somewhere in Europe. Just think about the brand Pushbutton, which showed in London this fall. Largely ignored beforehand, it suddenly became one of
the most talked about brands, even though just for a brief moment.
Unfortunately, the way to fame does seem
to necessarily lead through Europe or at least Tokyo or
Shanghai. Maybe it is easier to find the required sponsorship, or maybe because it might just be easier to show more of your personal creativity. I often hear people
say, that the streetwear showcased outside the halls of
K-Drama: Being a Korean Designer
Korean Designer Dongdaemun Design Plaza (the location of Seoul Fashion Week) is far more interesting than the ‘fashion’ shown inside. Korean designer keep getting
heavily inspired by European designers, and some of their pieces have a strik-
ing resemblance to the hot items or best-sellers of their European colleagues. It was really surprised to see a lot of different Korean designers being worn at
Seoul Fashion Week. This was the first time, I actually saw most of the Korean brands I really appreciate and even some I did not know before. But I am
convinced that people attending and hanging around Seoul Fashion Week are in a bubble of fashion-conscious people. After all, this occasion is all about
standing out and most of the outfits seem rather inconvenient for everyday life.
I am just a general consumer. I do not work in fashion, nor do I have
any influence on it. But I would wish that South Korea would value creative expression and individuality more. I do deeply respect their hard-working
mentality and the integrity in the society, but I am convinced that express-
ing your individuality would enrich their sense of Koreaness. Korea’s people
have been, even though they would be too humble to admit it, very proud of
the progress they achieved over the last decades. I admit, that the West and especially the United States have acted as a sort of big brother, but now it is
the nation’s responsibility to go its own way. South Korea’s technological and heavy industries have become world-leading, largely to immense support
amongst the Korean population. So why not support the garment industry
the same way? Korea’s designers have all the potential and talent to make it big, all they need is a chance. The mentality is slowly changing, but I think it
will take a few years until Korean designers and brand get the exposure, I think they deserve.
HYPE EAST Photographer: Matthew Coulson Stylist: François Malget Art Director: Jason Lim Make-Up: Liza Molnar Models: François Malget, Phoenix Chen Retoucher: Laura Coupland
Hoodie: Nohant Jacket: Ambush Trousers: Underair Shoes: Nike AirForce 270
Male Glasses: Hare Hoodie: Huf x Thrasher Jacket: Marcelo Burlon x Alpha Industries Trousers: Killstar Shoes: Nike Air Money
Female Hat: Head Hoodie: Jouetie x Thrasher Jacket: Nike Pants: Uniqlo Shoes: ULT.
Top: Jouetie Jacket: Prince Co. Skirt: Maison Mihara Yasuhiro Shoes: Vans Sk8-Hi
Hat: High Panda Shirt: Kappa Coat: Champion Skirt: Jouetie Socks: Jouetie Shoes: Vibrate Seoul
Jacket: Jouetie Shirt: Uniqlo Trousers: Clane x Dickies Shoes: Dune
Hat: Stylist’s Wardrobe Hoodie: Nohant Kimono: Vintage Trousers: Nohant Shoes: Suite 23
Dress: Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons Coat: MMIC Earring: Ambush
Earrings: I Am Joy Top: Ground Y Trousers: Idee
Dress: Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons Earring: Ambush
Hangover Foods by Jun Eui-Hyun
When you go to Korea, it is almost unavoid-
able to go out for drinks at least once. Drinking culture
is huge in Korea, and South Koreans love their drinks
the image of heavy drinking nation, but since 2014
1 hangover dish after a rough night of Soju-drinking. It is
after a long day of work. South Korea might not have South Korea is continuously found in the world’s top 20 consumers of hard liquor. In 2014, the nation even
ranked first, ahead of Russia by almost twice the amount per capita. Koreans’ drink of choice is Soju, a clear 20-
24% liquor that is best described as ‘baby vodka’. Incredibly cheap and available everywhere, after all it can be
found for around 1600 Won in every convenience store, Soju is as much part of Korea as kimchi or hanboks. In
2017, the national consumption was approximately 3.64 billion bottles, meaning that every person over 20 years drank at least 87 bottles, which equals 779 glasses, of Soju over the past year. It is usually drunk as a shot or
mixed with beer, called Somaek, a contraction of Soju and the Korean word for beer, maekju.
Everybody knows what occurs the morning af-
ter heavy night of drinking, you wake up with a pounding headache and that uneasy feeling in your stomach. Ko-
reans are more than familiar with the hangover, but also
have their own ways to avoid or at least limit the effects.
Almost every South Korean is familiar with
these tiny bottles that you can purchase in every convenience store or supermarket. There are countless
different sorts, for every stage of the night. It does not
matter if your hangover prevention starts before drinking, throughout or after, these tiny bottles are the start for
every Korean’s hangover prevention or cure. These tiny
bottles are filled with traditional Korean ingredients, such as raisin extract, milk thistle, red ginseng, Korean pear
juice, and lotus that help digesting alcohol quicker, whilst reducing the amount of toxins produced in the liver.
My favourite is Haet-Gae Condition. Despite not being sure of its actual effectiveness, I would not let a single night of drinking in Korea end without drinking at least one before passing out.
Haejangguk, which literally translates into
‘hangover soup’, is unquestionably South Korea’s number a hot and spicy soup, filled with different ingredients that are soothing for body and soul.
My favourite is the ‘bukgeoguk’, dried pollack soup, consisting of a spicy broth filled with dried pollack,
anchovies, soft tofu and an egg. I do not know if it is the increased sweating that helps to get rid of the toxins in my body, or the simple rehydration that make this such and effective hangover cure.
As for many Europeans, the taste of fish might be very
uncommon as a hangover breakfast, I can also recom-
mend the ‘kongnamolguk’, the bean sprout soup. It is a vegetarian and slightly saltier version, which is said to help dissolve the leftover alcohol in your body.
I could say here, that the best hangover prevention is not to drink too much, but I know that in Korea it will happen anyway. Enjoy Soju and do not dread the morning after. Geonbae! (Cheers!)
T O K
Y O 35.6895° N, 139.6917° E Tokyo is Japan’s capital and the biggest city in the world. With its 35 million people, there is no other term more suitable than urban jungle. Buildings are high, subways and street crowded and you are never really alone in this city. It is truly a city that never sleeps. Japanese people love fashion and Japan has for a long time been the biggest market for European luxury brands. Tokyo is at the heart of this phenomenon and is rivalling the European fashion centres, such as Milan, Paris and London. Countless stores catering from cheap to luxury can be found everywhere in the city, you just have to know where. The most exciting part about Tokyo’s fashion is its streetwear scene, showcasing every conceivable style. The city is inspiring and often at the forefront of trends that might be found on Europe’s catwalks at a later point. Tokyo is a city of contrasts. Modern skyscrapers and traditional temples coexist side-byside, just as the city is a mix of old fashioned and super-modern. It probably surprises most first-time visitors, how focussed Japanese people are to conserve their traditions and how much certain things seem to have stopped in time. Looking back at a rich heritage and their climax as model city of cool in the late 90s and early 2000s, Tokyo remains at the centre of Asia’s bid for popularity. We can all imagine the lolitas, and automatically assume to see countless people dressed this way in Tokyo’s street. This is not true. Japan’s streetwear scene is colourful and complex and yet, you will see much less people dressed eccentrically than you would expect. Tokyo
Misconception K-pop 53
The Freer Spirit?
The Freer Spirit? by François Malget
From a Western point of view, the Japanese
population seems to consist of two very distinct
groups of people. On the one hand, most people think
about the conformist salary worker, men and women in grey suits that robotically squeeze into the overloaded subways after finishing their ten-hour shift, and on the other hand, they imagine the childish and individualist decora girl, that is standing out amongst all the grey suits, in a colourful dress with countless, elaborate accessories.
Within the last twenty years, Tokyo has
become the epicentre of streetwear. This megacity has
developed into an unapologetic, inventive melting pot of fashion, youth culture and shopping, in which seemingly everybody has the ability to showcase any style openly
and unashamedly. It does not matter what subculture or style you are looking for, you will most definitely find it within the boundaries of Tokyo.
‘For Tokyo, the sprawling yet dense megacity at the
heart of Japan, fashion is one of the most alluring and expressive faces, changing as one moves through the urban jungle from chic to outrageous, well-heeled to bohemian.’ - Philomena Keet
Similar to other cities, each style has a neighbourhood
or two in which it feels most at home. Shimokitazawa has a bohemian vibe, filled with countless vintage stores,
whereas Ginza is all about luxury, with all the big brand’s flagships in this area.
Ground zero in Tokyo’s incredible fashion
universe, the districts that put Tokyo on the map were
Harajuku and Omotesando. To this day, these two neighbouring districts probably form Tokyo’s most diverse
fashion landscape. After World War II, during the period of Occupied Japan, these districts were home to many
Americans. The cultural influx from the West was there-
fore much stronger in these neighbourhoods, which laid the foundation for its fashion prowess today.
In a relatively small area, Harajuku and Omotesando
have countless shops, ranging from high-end European brands to small and hidden boutiques that sell hand-
crafted unique pieces. Often times, you have to leave the main streets and walk down small and unassuming side
streets to find tiny shops with interesting items. Despite their tiny outlets, the outreach of these brands can be
massive. One of these brands it’s Broke City Gold. This
brand produces unique denim jackets, using old denim and adorning them with cloth patterns sourced from
old kimonos. Every piece is unique and the experience of shopping there is as exciting as the product you are
going to get. As soon as you enter the store, it is not un-
common to meet the founder, who to this day handpicks every single employee.
You also find a lot of Japan-exclusive drops
from major brands, even from brands like Nike or Dickies.
A lot of stores tucked away from the touristy chaos of the mainstreets, offer items that can otherwise not be found anywhere in the world, such as a Dickies Japan suit line
or a Marina Yee line consisting of reworked vintage shirts. A stylists told me before, that Japan has become a playground for many brands. Here they can launch and test
certain items and then later adapt them for the Western market. Not all of these launches will actually arrive in Europe’s shops, making them even more desirable.
The styles you can see here are as diverse as the shops itself. Iconic subcultural styles, like the lolita, decora
girl and goth are just as at home here as the city’s most ‘oshare’ (stylish) teenagers and young adults.
It is not a coincidence, that legendary streetwear magazine FRUiTS had its roots in Harajuku, documenting
the evolution and multitude of styles coexisting in this relatively small area.
Harajuku and Omotesando are by far not the
only fashion-conscious districts. Shibuya, with its famous crossing and Gyaru, Akihabara, home to cosplay and
geeks, Shinjuku, home to prestigious Bunka College of
Fashion, or Daikanyama, with its hipster and fashionable families, all have their particularities and own distinct
styles and the shops that cater to this type of customer. When you visit Tokyo, you should definitely do prior research about what area to go, to make sure that you
find the right area and the right stores with garments and accessories that match your style.
‘In a country whose isolationist history endowed its inhabitants with the ability to take anything material and to transform it into something of their own.’ - New York Times 56
The Freer Spirit?
Similar to every other city in the world, the turnover of style and
trends becomes faster and faster in Tokyo, but at the same time no style ever really disappears from its streets. I think that every style and subculture has
devoted followers that stay loyal to their chosen style. It does not matter if it is 90s Hip-Hop or Ivy, styles that have disappeared in Europe, they still have their loyal following in Japan.
‘In a country whose isolationist history endowed its inhabitants with the
ability to take anything material and to transform it into something of their own.’ - New York Times
Japanese people have always detached the initial meaning of a
style. Whereas being a punk in the 60s was a anarchist, anti-government
statement, Japanese might adhere to the style simply as a fashion, with its
own lifestyle. And they do not solely just copy the styles from the West, but they take them to a whole other level. Within every subcultural group, there
are smaller factions that splinter off and create their own visual identity. The aesthetic foundations remain similar, but the executions differs greatly.
Japan is the biggest luxury market in the world and represents
most brands biggest market outside of the European Union. Japanese love
European brands and are willing to pay extreme prices for these items. Unfortunately, this is also noticeable on Tokyo’s streets. We all imagine the streets to be full of colourful and free-minded dressers, when in reality, those are far between.
Despite this Japan and its street fashion will always have a special
place in my heart, because it does not matter how you dress, eventually you will find a group of people that will appreciate and maybe share the same style, as every style has a home in Tokyo.
FRUiTS and Fashion
FRUiTS and Fashion by Troy Ma
Growing up in Luxembourg, the world of
fashion seemed like a world away. As a young teenag-
er, before Instagram and other social media platforms existed, my view into fashion was limited to the big
publications, such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. I still
remember buying French Vogue, as for a long time this was the only option for me. British and US Vogue were not available in Luxembourg and I did not understand English anyway. Sometimes, if I was very lucky, I was able to get my hands on a copy of i-D, but that was about it.
Apart from the rare issue of i-D, with its more
urban flair,I could never really identify with any the pho-
tographs in French Vogue. Yes, that might have been be-
cause they are women’s titles, but I never felt enamoured
with the luxury fashion sphere covered in this publication. I still do not take much interest in couture and its elabo-
rate displays on the catwalk. I can appreciate the beauty of the garments, but at the same time I move in com-
pletely different circles and dress very very differently.
I still remember the day I realised that fashion is
much larger than what I saw in the magazines available to me, that maybe there would even be a place for somebody like me to fit in.
It was early morning at a flee market, to which I initially
did not want to go. At a random stall amongst a pile of US TV guides and old comic books, I discovered FRUiTS and
from this moment onwards everything started to change.
Back then, I never thought about Japan, and
the notion of Tokyo’s distinct streetwear scene was
unknown to me. As I was browsing through the magazine, page after page I saw people that dressed how they
wanted, seemingly without any consideration for con-
formity or the trends established by Europe’s heritage fashion houses. They did not seem to care about any-
thing besides expressing themselves. The photographs and this message really resonated with me. I remember paying twenty-five euros for three issues, quite a steep price for me at the time.
FRUiTS was a Japanese magazine, that
published 233 issues between 1997 and 2017. It was widely regarded as the magazine, that introduced the
West to the Japanese streetwear scene and which made Tokyo’s district of Harajuku the absolute mecca of cool.
It printed photographs of genuinely interesting dressers,
unimpressed and uninfluenced by seasonal catwalks and collections, whilst documenting the real trends emerging
in Tokyo’s streets. In February 2017, they announced that the publication would ceased to exist in its print form, as
according to editor and chief photographer Shoichi Aoki, ‘there are no more cool kids left to photograph.’
These three issues of FRUiTS magazine, had
more influence on my life than I realised at the time. They showed me that fashion does not have to be exclusive
or elitist, but that it can be whatever you want and make it to be. The way you dress should not simply follow the
trends, but should be an extension of your own personality and showcase your unique sense of aesthetic. Nothing is too crazy or experimental as long as you wear it with
confidence. I still sometimes flick through the pages of
these first three issues, that are unfortunately all torn up by now.
FRUiTS has shaped the image of Japan and
its street fashion all across the globe. The coverage of
Tokyo’s streetwear scene has moved on onto social media, but the images covered by FRUiTS still dominate the imagination of Japan in the West. I sincerely hope that one day I will manage to acquire all 233 issues, as it is
thanks to those initial three that I found my way to where I am today.
Young and Free: Tokyo’s Subcultures by François Malget
Different to Europe, streetwear in Japan is strongly influenced by different youth- and subcultures. Countless young Japanese take part in a certain subculture, whose style is mostly operating completely independent from the global fashion industry. Members of these youth cultures do not pay attention to any fashion outside their circle and push each other into more extremes. This way, youth cultures are constantly changing and splinter into different subsections. I want to present you with the four styles that I deem most important. Ivy
The Miyuki tribe was the first subcultural group that chose a special
style to differentiate themselves from the general population. This subculture
appeared in the 60’s in Japan’s capital and gets its name from Miyuki Street in the upscale neighbourhood of Ginza, where they started meeting. The members of the Miyuki-zoku were devotees of classic Americana, more precisely
the elite clothing of the prestigious Ivy League schools on the United States’ East Coast. Their look was a novelty to Japan with its button down oxford
cloth shirts, madras plaid, high-water trouser, penny loafers and three button suit jackets.
Kensuke Ishizu is largely responsible for bringing this style to Japan
and his fingerprints can be found on every major ivy-related project, as for example the legendary book ‘Take Ivy’ by Teruyohsi Harashia and the magazine ‘Men’s Club’. By founding the brand VAN, he provided young Japanese men with the desired Ivy look.
Ivy style and the Miyuki-zoku do not solely start subcultural fashion
in Japan, but in fact men’s style itself. It was the first style that was marketed
so young people would start buying into it and therefore laid the groundwork for all the subcultural styles following it.
Young and Free, Tokyo’s Subcultures
Lolita girls are probably the most familiar sub-
culture to the Western eye and have become a symbol for Tokyo’s subcultural scene. Lolita dress, with all its
ruffles, frills, lace and intricate fabric patterns, takes its inspiration in Victorian and Edwardian dress, as well as
the Rococo period. Despite not really knowing the origins of this style, the earliest versions start appearing in the
late 60s. Nowadays, lolita has split into a wide variety of different subsections, such as the Gothic Lolita or the
Punk Lolita, which combine the classic cute Lolita aes-
thetic with influences of Goth or respectively punk. The result is a much darker and more sinister look, which is
still dominated by cute accessories. Even these subsec-
tions once again break off into smaller groups, making
Lolita an umbrella term for countless styles, with different nuances.
The Classic Lolita and every subsection have
their own brands, like Angelic Pretty or Alice and the Pirates, catering to their customers’ distinct needs.
Lolita is based on showcasing an image of womanhood that does not hinge on sexual maturity or traditional
sexuality. The over-sexualisation of women in Japanese culture is countered with the cute doll-like appearance. Lolita now has followers all around the globe, as it was
exported alongside Japanese anime and the adjacent Cosplay trend.
Decora derives from the the English word ‘decoration’ and gives
a name to a subcultural style that originated in Tokyo’s district of Harajuku,
Takeshita-dori to be more precise, in the late 1990s. The first decora girl was photographed for the streetwear publication FRUiTS and the style has been pushed to the extreme ever since. The whole style is a pursuit of a child-like innocence and playfulness. Decora girls are the personification of Japan’s obsession with kawaii, the cute. The fashion behind it is all about having
fun and is really in your face with its bright colours and endless amounts of
accessories. Different to the Lolita, which also strives for the image of cute, decora does not take its inspiration in Victorian England, but mostly from
cartoons and animes. It is not the babydoll dresses or the colourful stock-
ings that make decora, but the layers of countless accessories worn by its
members. It is not uncommon for decora girls to wear over 30 colourful hair
clips, countless playful rings, or even fluffy stuffed animals. There is only one
guideline for accessories: There’s no such thing as too much! In Takeshi-dori, the epicentre of this style, these childish accessories are widely and cheaply
available, allowing everybody the ability to have an endless repertoire of plastic necklaces, rings and other extras. Having brightly dyed hair, often worn in pig tails, is as much part of the style as the layers of accessories.
Young and Free, Tokyo’s Subcultures Gyaru
Gyaru derives from the English slang-word
‘gal’ and is used to describe a subculture consisting of
fun-loving, sassy and style-conscious girls. Different to a lot of others, this subculture originated and is still home in the district of Shibuya.
The ‘Shibuya girls’ burst onto the scene in the
1990s and were, at the start, most recognisable by their
tanned skin and bleached hair, dyed in every shade from dark brown to blonde. Despite having abandoned these
attributes, some stylistic elements have remained, such as the slim physique, which is essential, as well as the leg-elongating heels or platform shoes.
Nowadays, it is harder and harder to distinguish
At the heart of this subculture stands the absolute dedication to one’s own beauty, accompanied by rampant materialism and a fetish for branded luxury product.
The gyarusa, the ‘gal circle’, used to be essential to this subculture, although they have now almost completely
disappeared. They enforced strict membership, with their own initiation and graduation rituals.
Today, gyaru style has evolved from its early
stages and takes inspirations from left and right, combining a large variety of different styles. The look has
changed, but the gyaru girls have continued their pursuit of beauty.
the Gyaru girls from other fashion-loving women, but the impeccable hair and make-up still make them stand out.
Photography by Yuri Horie
PEOPLE OF TOKYO
People of Tokyo
Akino Okuzaki @wackeyno
People of Tokyo
Kaito Sasamoto @_kozakana_
Kouki Asao @_koki_asao
Yasumasa Ito @yasumasa_itoh_
Working Class Hero by Jason Lim You would be hard-pressed to find a harder working item in your closet than a good old pair of jeans. Comfortable, versatile and completely utilitarian, the humble jean has become a wardrobe staple for the young and old, rich and poor, fashion–clueless and –conscious alike.
It all began in 1872 when Jacob W. Davis, a
tailor in San Francisco, was commissioned to make a
pair of trousers that could stand up to extremely hard
graft. With a sturdy fabric he bought from Levi Strauss (a German native also living in The Golden City), Davis
made a pair of trousers with copper rivets to strengthen stress points at the pockets and fly. The “improvement
of fastening pocket-openings” was patented in 1873 and by 1890, all the hallmarks of a pair of true blue Levi’s had been established: the stitching on the back pockets, the orange thread, the rivets, the coin pocket as well as the iconic two-horse leather patch.
They were a symbol of the new frontier—a
hard-wearing staple of the miners, cowboys and workers
all seeking their fortunes in the wild, wild west. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that denim began to take its place in the world of fashion. Post World War II America was
beginning to emerge as a leading industrial power, and its youth (the baby boomers) were enjoying the spoils.
Denim quickly became an emblem of rebellion—outcast characters on the silver screen—such as James Dean
in Rebel Without a Cause and Marlon Brando in The Wild One—as well as the king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley, were all clad in their sexy, angsty glory in denim.
American industry and pop culture were also
beginning to hit the shores in the Far East. The presence of American troops in Japan heavily influenced the style
of the younger generations but due to import regulations, new jeans were not easily available. Japanese teenagers flocked to the Ueno district in Tokyo to purchase jeans from second-hand stores, which procured them from
prostitutes who were paid in garments in place of cash by their American customers.
It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that the Japa-
nese textile industry began to make their own denim in
order to keep up with demand. Okayama, a prefecture in western Japan had been the hub of the country’s textile industry; known as “the sunny country’ for its warm
conditions and low rainfall, its steady climate made for
perfect growing conditions for indigo plants. Factories
began importing Union Special shuttle looms—the ideal
machine for producing heavyweight selvedge denim—a self-finished fabric with edges that will not unravel. The
indigo that was grown in the region was used to dye the fabric, producing a blue so deep and intense that the
region came to be known as the denim capital of Japan.
Working Class Hero
To Dye For
Natural indigo dye has a long history in Japan. It first gained
popularity in the 1600s and was reserved only for nobility and samurai. The
samurai would wear indigo-dyed cloth underneath their armour for its odor,
dirt and bacteria resistant qualities and it was thought that their indigo underpinnings would help their wounds to heal. It eventually began to spread to the common people and was used by fire fighters, as indigo is flame retardant to about 800° Celcius.
What makes natural indigo so special? Without going into too much
technical detail, the molecules in indigo ink are actually too large to penetrate the fibres; instead adhering to the surface while its core remains white. It is
often called living ink as with constant wear and abrasion, the deep shade it creates (commonly known as Japan blue) begins to fade, creating a patina
completely unique to its wearer. Although synthetic indigo is not only cheaper and less time-consuming to produce (as well as having better colour-fast-
ness), the hues and shades of natural indigo simply cannot be reproduced by its synthetic counterparts.
It is a hotly contested debate within the denim community on
whether or not jeans should be washed. Many diehard purists believe that by postponing your jean’s first date at the laundromat, the fades created
Dispelling the Myth on Washing Your Jeans
through wear will be more deeply set and will produce a higher contrast.
Some swear by putting their jeans into a freezer for a day or two
in order to kill the build up of bacteria. “One might think that if the tempera-
ture drops well below that of the human body, bacteria will not survive,” says Stephen Craig Cary, and expert on frozen microbes from the University of
Delaware. “But actually, many are pre-adapted to survive low temperatures.”
We suggest keeping your eyes and nose peeled. If your jeans are
beginning to look and smell like a few too many rough nights out, turn them
inside out and throw them into the laundry machine with a gentle cleanser at a moderate temperature. A build-up of bacteria actually makes the fibres of
your jeans deteriorate quicker, causing the denim to be more prone to tears. Once washed, smooth out any creases with your hands and leave them to
hang dry in a warm place, preferably out of the sun to prevent them from get-
ting bleached. Remember that jeans were made to be incredibly hard-wearing and a run in the washing machine should be the least of its worries.
Working Class Hero
Shibuya Meltdown by François Malget
During the day, Japan is one of the most
orderly countries in the world. Everybody meticu-
lously follows the rules and queuing up seems like the favourite national sport. It does not matter if you are waiting to get into the subway or if a limited edition
item is launched in your favourite store, the Japanese wait patiently in line until it is their turn.
When the sun goes down, the image of Tokyo
can change drastically depending on the area you are
visiting. Take a late night walk around Shibuya, especially on Friday nights, and you will encounter countless stumbling salarymen and drunk students.
Especially salarymen indulge regularly in after
work drinks, to the point that they might pass out no
matter where they are, a ramen bar, the subways station
or even the streets. Drinking is an important part of Japanese culture and the excessive drinking culture amongst salarymen stands in sharp contrast to the culture of
discipline and overworking for which Japan has become famous for.
Drinking is a major part of bonding and doing
business, so much so that the level of trustworthiness might be determined by the amount you can drink.
It is not uncommon that companies have organised
drinking ’meetings’, which consist of the companies’
bosses and staff going out to get drunk together. Attendance is mandatory and you are almost forced to keep up with your colleagues.
‘When they ‘drink until they fall down’ with you, they
show you that they are willing to let their guard down completely.’ - Ms Meyer
whiskey or sake. Obviously it is not only salarymen
pounding back the drinks, but also students and young adults. Especially on Friday nights, just as many uni-
versity students have one or two drinks too many. Just
visit one of All-you-can-drink bars. (Yes, these are really places where you pay a fixed price to drink as much as you can!!)
Drinking is culturally reinforced from university
age onwards and continues throughout one’s lifetime.
Drinking too much is not seen as a major problem, and
compared to other developed countries, Japan does relatively little to fight increasing alcoholism. This might be because, different to other countries, Japanese people
mostly rely on public transport, so DUI accidents are very rare and Japanese cities are so safe that you can safely
pass out anywhere in the city, without being kidnapped or robbed. Drinking only poses a problem if people become
violent after having a few drinks too many, but this almost never happens.
Despite drinking several nights to the point of
passing out, it might surprise you to hear that Japanese salarymen still manage to turn up to work on time the
next morning. In Japan, day and night really do stand in sharp contrast to each other.
Anyway, when in Japan, drinking is definitely an
experience and it is quite alright to cut loose.
There is no shame in not remembering everything from the night before, you will probably not be the only one.
P.S The legal drinking age in Japan is 20, although it is not really enforced.
Traditional Japanese bars, izakayas, are
rammed with salarymen after work, who drink beers,
‘When they ‘drink until they fall down’ with you, they show you that they are willing to let their guard down completely.’ - Ms Meyer 82
Misconception Working ClassK-pop Hero