404 Guide to Japanese Fashion Subcultures, Part 2

Yesterday I talked more about past or older, more established Japanese fashion subcultures. Today I will be talking about more recent ones, from the past few years. These are the styles that you will see a lot of girls wearing in Japan if you go today.

Mori Girls (“Forest” girls)

Mori girl style reputedly began in 2006 on the Japanese social networking site Mixi, after a girl’s outfit was described as “looking like a girl who lives in the woods”. It peaked in popularity in 2009. Mori style consists of earthy colours, loose fitting dresses, vintage pieces, ponchos and boleros, lace and lots of layers. It reminds me a little it of Blossom meets manic pixie dreamgirl. The most iconic Mori girls are actresses Aoi Yuu and Miyazaki Aoi.

Yama Girls (“Mountain” girls)

Yama girls became popular in 2010. These are girls who like to be outside and participate in outdoor sports and activities, but they want to look good while doing so. It’s not just a fashion trend but a lifestyle as well — these girls literally flock to the mountains (of which there are many beautiful ones in Japan) to hike and camp. Women in 2010 were apparently booking hiking trips left and right, according to stats from Mt. Fuji and the Alpine Tour Service, which had huge increases in female hikers. Sharing information and tips about these excursions on the internet is also a part of being a Yama Girl. The look is typified by extremely bright and cute outdoor gear — polar fleece, puffy jackets and vests, and hikinh boots. Places like The North Face even design Yama Girl friendly exclusive collections in Japan, and they are way nicer than most of the outdoor gear that you can buy in North America.

Agejo (“Swallowtail Butterfly”)

Agejo style is most popular among Japanese women who work as hostesses (aka young, attractive women who work at bars to give male customers female attention and get them to spend as much time and money at the bar as possible). However, not every woman who likes this style is a hostess. The look is typified by brightly coloured and patterned maxi dresses, big eyelashes, large eyes, glossy lipstick and lightened hair. A pink and black colour combination is popular, as well as clothing that looks like lingerie. Former hostress and TV star Momoka Eri is probably the most famous Agejo girl.  Overall it is a fairly natural look compared to many past styles.

In fact, the emphasis of many of the new Japanese fashions has been on looking more natural, compared to gyaru and other styles from the past, where wearing makeup to alter yourself entirely was a major part of the style. They are pretty much a reaction that kind of artificiality. However, while it looks more natural, you definitely have to pry the makeup from a Japanese girl’s cold dead hands!


Writer, editor, and founding member of Paper Droids. RPG-lover, baby game maker, owned by corgi. Spends way too much time on Twitter @mk_patter. To reach by email: sciandtech@paperdroids.com