Harajuku is a district in Tokyo, Japan, and it has become a global fashion phenomenon that has inspired many people around the world to embrace its unique style and culture. The term “Harajuku” is derived from the Japanese words for “hair” and “style”, and it is often used to refer to the street style of young people in Tokyo who wear colorful and outlandish clothing as a form of self-expression. While this style has been embraced by many cultures across the globe, some believe that this type of cultural appropriation can be damaging to the original culture it was taken from. In this article, we will explore Harajuku cultural appropriation, specifically looking at how nan style has been influenced by Japan and the impact it has had on this particular fashion trend.

What is Harajuku?

Harajuku is an area in Tokyo that is known for its vibrant street fashion scene, where young people gather to express themselves through their clothing choices. The fashion styles found in Harajuku range from Lolita to punk rock, but one of the most popular trends within this subculture is called “nan”. This style involves wearing traditional Japanese clothing such as kimonos or yukatas with modern elements such as sneakers or accessories like hats or sunglasses added for a more contemporary look. The nan style has become popular worldwide due to its unique blend of classic and modern elements which makes it stand out from other streetwear trends.

History of Harajuku Culture

The history of Harajuku culture dates back to the early 1900s when Western influences began to enter Japan after World War II ended in 1945. These influences included American music genres such as jazz and rock n’ roll which started appearing on Japanese radio stations during this period and quickly became popular among young people in Tokyo’s Shibuya district which eventually led to the rise of youth culture movements such as punk rock and visual kei (a type of glam rock). During this period, young people began experimenting with their style by mixing traditional Japanese garments with Western-style clothing items like jeans or t-shirts which eventually gave rise to what we now know as “Harajuku”.

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Harajuku Cultural Appropriation

Cultural appropriation occurs when one culture adopts aspects from another without understanding or respecting its original context or meaning. Many have argued that the nan style falls into this category because while it may appear fashionable on the surface level, it does not accurately represent traditional Japanese dress nor does it acknowledge its origin within Harajuku culture itself. Furthermore, some have argued that nan style can be seen as disrespectful towards traditional Japanese dress since it often combines these garments with modern elements such as sneakers or accessories without any regard for their original purpose or meaning within Japan’s cultural context.

How Nan Style Has Been Influenced By Japan

Nan style has been heavily influenced by traditional Japanese garments such as kimonos and yukatas which have been adapted into modern looks through adding new elements like sneakers or accessories like hats or sunglasses. Additionally, the nan style often incorporates bright colors and patterns which are commonly found in many different types of traditional Japanese art forms including ukiyo-e woodblock prints, Sumi-e ink paintings, kabuki theater costumes, etc. As a result, the nan style can be seen as an example of how cultures can borrow from each other while still maintaining their identity.

The Impact Of Cultural Appropriation On Nan Style

Cultural appropriation can have both positive and negative impacts depending on how it is used. On one hand, cultural appropriation can lead to increased exposure for certain cultures which may help them gain wider recognition around the world. However, if done incorrectly, cultural appropriation can also lead to misrepresentations about certain cultures or even worse — stereotypes being perpetuated about them. In regards to nan style, some argue that while borrowing aspects from traditional Japanese dress may help make this trend more appealing on an aesthetic level, there needs to be more respect given towards these garments so they are not viewed merely as props for creating trendy looks but rather appreciated for their true historical significance within Japan’s cultural context.

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In conclusion, while the nan style may be aesthetically pleasing due to its combination of classic and modern elements, there needs to be more awareness surrounding Harajuku cultural appropriation so that these garments are respected for their true historical value instead of being viewed merely as trendy props. By doing so, we can ensure that nan fashion remains true to its roots while still allowing us all to enjoy its creative expression without disrespecting anyone’s culture in the process.


1) https://www.japanvisitorblog.com/harajuku-street-fashion/ 2) https://enjoytokyojpguidebookenjoytokyojpguidebookenjoytokyojpguidebookenjoytokyojpguidebookenjoytokyojpguidebookenjoytokyojpguidebook/themes/style_in_harujaku/nan_style/ 3) https://www.britannica

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What was the Harajuku Lovers controversy?

The more people I contact the better. Harajuku lovers faced a backlash when the fragrance line launched in 2008 — each of the five bottles in the line was based on a drawing of Stephanie and a manga of the Harajuku girls named at the time by comedian Margaret Cho.

Is Harajuku a culture?

Harajuku culture began during the postwar Allied occupation of Japan when American soldiers and civilians lived in the area. Curious young Japanese come to experience a different culture and find Western goods suitable for Americans in local stores.

What is Gwen Stefani’s obsession with Japan?

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Singer Gwen Stefani sparked a new controversy about cultural appropriation in a recent interview with Allure magazine. Stephanie says her father’s stories of street performers impersonating Elvis and stylish women with shiny hair drew her to Japanese culture.

What is the concept of Harajuku?

Tokyos Harajuku area is known for its culture and youth streets. Harajuku can refer not only to a geographical area but also to its popular styles and cultural attitudes.

Is Harajuku still a thing?

Historically Harajuku was a post town and the Chinese characters for its name reflect this: Caoju. But today as the birthplace of kawaii (cute) culture Harajuku has an entirely different global appeal. Harajuku also has the oldest wooden station building in Tokyo.

Why do people dress in Harajuku?

Although the Harajuku fashion subculture can refer to any fashion style it focuses on two things: community and freedom of expression. Many of the looks found in the Harajuku area are easily recognizable as part of the subcultural community. More on this later.