The Dark Side Of Harajuku Style You Haven’t Seen Yet | Style Out There | Refinery29

The Dark Side Of Harajuku Style You Haven’t Seen Yet | Style Out There | Refinery29

This is so cute but what does it say? I want to die. I want to die? Oh. While I’d never been afraid to take a few risks in the name of fashion, there’s a new style popping up in Tokyo that’s, frankly, a little scary. In Japan, conformity and rigidity inform everything, from social customs, to the way people dress. Standing out is not exactly something everyone strives for. Here on Takeshita Street, style is defined by defying norms. But a new look is challenging one of Japan’s deepest taboos: depression and mental illness. The style is called Yami Kawaii and it means “sick cute”. Can fashion break the silence that surrounds an epidemic? My first question: What exactly is Yami Kawaii? What does it look like? To find out, I tracked down Kuua, an artist and influencer with over 56,000 followers on Instagram. “Kawaii” is the Japanese word for “cute.” “Yume Kawaii” means “cute like a dream.” “Yami Kawaii,” is what happens when “Yume” goes dark. Is that a fan? Did she just recognize you? Oh, that’s so fun! Fans are drawn to Yami Kawaii. But honestly, I just don’t get it. To better understand the appeal I’m going to visit a pioneer of the look, an artist named Bisuko. But then it says, “I love you.” Kill you? Okay. Changing your mind a lot. That’s Yami Kawaii. Can you tell me who this is? Meet Menhera-chan, the Yami Kawaii heroine of Bisuko’s comic. She gets her name form Menhera, a term that refers to people who suffer from mental illness. To understand why this is a look someone would want to project, I decided to try the clothes on for myself. I need a jacket and then I need bottoms. This one? How’s that? Kawaii? A jacket? What makes this one Yami Kawaii? I think I’m getting it now. Accessories? Okay! Kawaii! I’ll go try it on? As I put on my Yami Kawaii outfit, I really notice the dark details among all the pastels, the bandages around the girl’s wrists, the droplet hanging off the syringe. I don’t feel Kawaii. I feel uncomfortable. Is this Kawaii? For some, this look is empowering. But why? Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Even talking about mental illness and depression is considered taboo. So what is Bisuko trying to say? Is there something deeper going on? Oh my god. There’s so much pink Kawaii! It’s such an interesting mix of sweetness and pink and then this is terrifying. Oh my gosh. Yeah, that’s probably the most Yami Kawaii. I mean, when you see it, does it remind you about those who have died by noose or is it just, again, decoration. Yami Kawaii is fashion, but it’s also a coping mechanism for complex emotions. I wanted to know if other people were using fashion in the same way. Hanayo, a former teenage model, might have some insight. She was once a finalist in the nationwide Miss iD competition, an alternative beauty pageant that celebrates differences. Until she was disqualified for discussing her suicidal past. What do you feel when you come here? It’s nice to meet you. Did you say you had multiple attempts? Her openness won her fans on social media and has won her a new kind of support system. Do you feel like there are a lot of people who feel the same way that you do? She uses social media to create a community, where she feels free to talk about her art, her clothes and her raw emotions. You have a lot of pink. Do you dress to make yourself happy or do you dress to make other people happy? This, amazing. Sex Suicide Baby. Yeah. It feels bad to hide who you are, right? What’s one thing that you want people to know when they hear your story? Hanayo sees cute clothes as a form of therapy. Maybe, that feeling isn’t an accident. Joshua Paul Dale is a professor who specializes in the impact of Kawaii culture. “Cute” can mean “clever” in English, so we can look at somebody and say, “oh, that’s cute”, or “don’t be
cute.” But Kawaii in Japan doesn’t have that negative connotation to it. It’s simply a pure, happy feeling of cuteness. So instead of, “You look Kawaii,” it’s like, “I feel Kawaii because of how
you are.” Yeah. When you express Kawaii, you are expressing a desire to appeal to other people, to get closer to other people, and expressing a desire for healing. So maybe that can help people with those dark and more difficult issues that can’t be openly expressed in Japanese society. Talking openly about painful experiences feels better than keeping it in. When you talk, powerful things can happen. I see now that Yami Kawaii can help people heal, people like Bisuko’s number one fan. So I came to Tokyo expecting to learn something about this new style of subculture. What I really didn’t expect to learn is something about love. You know, in the United States, asking for love isn’t really a thing we’re very comfortable with doing but in Japan, it’s pervasive. It’s normalized. It’s Kawaii. And especially when you have a hard time practicing self-love, asking for love is a really, really brave act and that’s what Yami Kawaii is at the end of the day. And that’s pretty rad.

100 Replies to “The Dark Side Of Harajuku Style You Haven’t Seen Yet | Style Out There | Refinery29”

  1. So's lovely too..but in my's a little bit uncomfortable too..i'm not hating..?i still love the style..

    Hey you! Yeah you! You too!!! There's always someone who loves you!!! ❤❤❤❤❤❤????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  3. Hey why did you open this?

    Back off now



    Get ready

    You really gonna do it?




    Okay im tired

  4. No wonder that trying to kill themselves when a Max Society of people I said go ahead I agree kill yourself..

  5. I definitely don't feel sorry for these idiots it shows where the world is going today people have no morals no respect for each other this is why these idiots want to kill themselves I say good rhythms…

  6. Why did you expect a Chinese girl can guide you through Japanese subculture? You are lucky that this video is in English and does not have a proper Japanese subtitle, otherwise you will have tons of Kawaii lovers and even Yami Kawaii lovers disliked you video and commented about how this video get at most half of the idea correct.

  7. This might have made her feel uncomfortable, but I am glad Yami Kawaii exists.

    You see, Japan faces a large mental illness problem and high suicide rates. And the fact of the matter is that mental illness is still heavily discriminated against there. With Yami Kawaii in the world, people can express their negative emotions in a way that's still "acceptable".

    I know of people who Yami Kawaii has saved, which makes me glad for its existence. This bizarre trend might be unsettling for some, but to others it represents a mutual understanding and comfort.

  8. I used a few websites to finally get some menhera chan accessories. To be honest Yamikawaii isn’t for everyone, but I struggle with major depressive disorder, and it’s comforting to wear my feelings.

  9. I really feel sad about the fact that mental illness had become a taboo instead of discussing it head-on and more openly.

  10. This is so right and she should never be talked bad about or bullied or feel bad about herself I myself a teenager has been through depression since I was 9 I though my life would end last year but I failed attempt of suicide

  11. I think it's wrong that people use mental problems to make something trendy and cute. It should be discussed and taken seriously, rather than saying "it's okay if you have depression and cut yourself, look how kawaii this girl who cuts herself too is!!"
    Am I the only one who feels that way?

  12. 5:33 Coto a minute, the one in mirror move and the real one isn't

    I know it's edit but i got shock for a minute since it's about dark theme and stuff ?

    Also this is probably the most terrifying video I ever watch. But I guess Yami kawaii is a good thing after all? It help them feel good using pink and cute thing. But the part they talking about suicide is scary :'D

  13. I still don't get it… Why all that "i kill you" and "want To die" are symbolized as smth cute??? It's upsetting….. I wish them To get better…

  14. I feel like they need Jesus instead of people who has the same mental health issue to help them cope with their suicidal thoughts. God created us in His own image. They need to be told that they are loved extremely well by a Heavenly Father who wants no harm to come to them.

    As for the fashion that I wear, shirts and shorts during the warm seasons and button up shirts and pants during the cold seasons. Since I'm starting a private school call Imago Dei, I will have to wear uniforms with their emblems on it. It looks like a Japanese school uniform and I consider it very kawaii

  15. The Japanese are a weird culture and country.. Bizarre to say the least..Actually profiting off of peoples depression and suicidal thoughts is disturbing and disgusting..It is beyond cruel and evil to force those suffering with depression to suck it up…to keep it to themselves.. Its only outcome is a deadly one.. What a shame for the Japanese culture to force their people suffer… An arrogant culture who refuse to acknowledge those with mental illness… SHAME ON THEM!

  16. I totally get it. It’s like you want to be cute but also have crippling depression. Like sharing dark memes of adorable animals type thing. I did it.

  17. The look does not work on an older woman imo. You see it is mostly young women, men and teens. The
    phase of fashion tells me it is a profit off of tragedy. Well, that is the world we live in. Making death so
    nostalgic and romanticizing it. I don't get it, but I am not a duality thinker. Black and white, not lukewarm.
    Suicide isn't a fun thing to dwell on, I know. I get it sure, but don't glamorize it like a fad. It isn't a fad.
    Be honest about your thoughts yes, don't glamorize it. That is why nobody takes it seriously. It isn't a fad!

  18. To someone who's Japanese and and have been raised in Japan,
    This is kind of confusing.
    It's not like most Japanese people know about this style and not everyone "wants to die."
    Not most people have mental illnesses.
    Please don’t make it seem like we have dark sides everywhere in Japan.
    Our country is beautiful.

  19. I love that he is trying to get rid of the negative connotation on mental health issues however it is also a problem when it becomes romanticized or is even turned into a kink. People tend to find it as a funny or romantic type of issue. People even end up faking it for attention or to seem "cool." I do support it becoming a large fashion style because it is a form of expression and a normalization and not romantization. Btw personally I dress like this.

  20. Hey guys. This is for my Instagram page. I draw yami kawaii art so if creepy cute is your style, check out my page: krishnapatelart

  21. This is really satanic and demonic.
    Feel sad for the youth out there I am praying for them. Only Jesus Christ can set them free.

  22. It's hard to understand when you dont feel like that yourself. The first step to healing is acknowledgement. This expression of pain means you dont have to hide I have to take antidepressants AND antipsychotics to function but I can own that and be in power over my pain and trauma and let the world see that my pain isn't shameful it's part of me and my life. Like I'm not broken but kawaii in my own way. I think its not promoting suicide you can't be yamikawaii if you're dead. yamikawaii raises awareness of pain that society pretends isn't there a feeling of validation in showing the world what you're going through and not keeping it inside letting it fester. A hope of making these people whose ignorance has a body count understand and SEE us and for ourselves not to feel ashamed of our illness and injury but alive and showing what it's like for us to be alive even if we are in pain

  23. As much as I love this style, I personally don't like this mentality of cutesifying suicide and mental illness it's something I don't think its something you should really look up to or healthy, on the other hand the coping mechanism part, that this is absolutly okay and absolutely healthy because it's they're way of therapy but in general once again for those who think suicide, self harm, and mental illness is "cute" is honestly so disgusting and can go and commit step on Lego.

  24. when I see that like “yamikawaii” person in Japan, I always think they are acting and performing that “cute” way
    I don’t even know I can call it individuality

    I’m Japanese though

  25. "I wanted to die since I can remember"
    That hit me really hard I know how it feels to try and be happy
    oh the pain in that woman's voice is almost unbearable.

  26. The girls genuinely sound like the anime characters. ? I used to think they used to talk just to portray the characters. Anyway m from India and even here mental illness isn't seen seriously and I can relate to this culture Japan has. Maybe Indians don't see as a taboo but they don't take it seriously. And it needs to be taken seriously everywhere cuz its not physical cuz it breaks you down more than a physical disease.

  27. Am I the only one who is bothered with this style? For me it's either you are cute and fluffy (kawaii) or emo and dark and I do both styles separately.

  28. I’m a transgender guy and I love to dress menhera :3 bisuko would be lovely to hang out with and go to dog cafes and make new clothes for bjds and listen to music while watching spooky movies

  29. I really feel disaapointed with japanese people… Theyre smart people but when it comes to their emotions, theyre always constrained with people's belief. T

  30. Does anyone know where the mehara shop is? Because a friend of mine wanted to have some when I'm going to Japan would be nice if anyone could answer it :3 ♥️

  31. It is empowering to them because it's a way of expressing feelings that are socially taboo to discuss. It's a cathartic release for them, the only voice they have in a society that wants one to conform to it's standards.

    I feel that not being able to be open about those things can cause a person to get worse. I wonder what happened in her life to make her feel that way…I hope she's doing better. To me, anyone who can still find a reason to keep going is a strong person.

  32. 10:20

    That's rough. In my country, we see signs of anxiety/depression/mental illnesses as stupidity.
    So if you cut, most people get angry at you and say, "stop being so stupid" and stuff.

  33. It’s sad that some people want to end their lives. I want to give these people a hug and tell them that there is hope!!! ?

  34. FUCK OFF AMERICA STOP RUINING JAPAN YOUVE RUINED IT ENOUGH YOU CUNTS, you look at a tiny tiny TINY portion of people who live in Japan and making it seem as if this is a national problem fuck off America stop trying to act like you understand what's going on THIS IS NOT YOUR COUNTRY AND ITS NOT UP TO YOU TO CHANGE THE JAPANESE PEOPLE. Japan has the highest suicide rate in the world because they are the most hard working people in the world they go through a lot more stress and work hours than any of you filthy FUCKING AMERICANS stop trying to act like you understand.

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