2002 to Present

Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched their concept of “Cool Japan” in 2002, aiming to brand and export Japanese soft cultural superpower. The Cool Japan project focused specifically on youth culture where girl culture was an integral part. Typical girls in Cool Japan flyers and campaigns are easy to recognize: school girls, girls with kimono, etc. These images overlap a lot with popular girl characters in otaku culture. They conformed to conventional femininity norms with acceptive girl sexiness. 

“Harajuku style” is one of the most well-known styles that became an epitome of “Cool Japan”. Girls in Harajuku style mix traditional Japanese clothing with Western attire to create a unique, dazzling, colorful outfit. With traditional Japanese clothes, girls seem to conform to and maintain a traditional image of girlhood. But by mixing totally different styles of clothing, Harajuku style girls signal that their contempt for mainstream fashion – they dress whatever they wish and declare their self-expression and enjoy girl culture without being judged.

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