File:Ganguro crop.jpg
"Yamanba" redirects here. For the Japanese yōkai creature, see Yama-uba.

Ganguro (Kanji:顔黒 Hiragana: がんぐろ Katakana: ガングロ lit. "Black Face") is an alternative fashion trend of blonde or orange hair and tanned skin among young Japanese women that peaked in popularity around the year 2000. The Shibuya and Ikebukuro districts of Tokyo were the centers of ganguro fashion.[citation needed]


Ganguro appeared as a new fashion style in Japan in the early 1990s and to date is prevalent mostly among young women. In ganguro fashion, a deep tan is combined with hair dyed in shades of orange to blonde, or a silver grey known as "high bleached". Black ink is used as eye-liner and white concealer is used as lipstick and eyeshadow. False eyelashes, plastic facial gems, and pearl powder are often added to this. Platform shoes and brightly-coloured outfits complete the ganguro look. Also typical of ganguro fashion are tie-dyed sarongs, miniskirts, stickers on the face, and many bracelets, rings, and necklaces.

Ganguro falls into the larger subculture of gyaru (from English "gal"), a slang term used for various groups of young women, usually referring to overly childish or rebellious girls. Researchers in the field of Japanese studies believe that ganguro is a form of revenge against traditional Japanese society due to resentment of neglect, isolation, and constraint of Japanese society. This is their attempt at individuality, self-expression, and freedom, in open defiance of school standards and regulations.[1] Fashion magazines like Egg and Ageha have had a direct influence on the ganguro. Other popular ganguro magazines include Popteen and Ego System. The ganguro culture is often linked with para para, a Japanese dance style. However, most para para dancers are not ganguro, and most ganguro are not para para dancers, though there are many who are ganguro or gal and dance para para.

One of the most famous early ganguro girls was known as Buriteri, nicknamed after the black soy sauce used to flavor yellowtail fish in teriyaki cooking. Egg made her a star by frequently featuring her in its pages during the height of the ganguro craze. After modelling and advertising for the Shibuya tanning salon "Blacky", social pressure and negative press convinced Buriteri to retire from the ganguro lifestyle.[2]

File:Yamanba cropped.jpg

Yamanba and manba

Yamanba (ヤマンバ?) and manba (マンバ?) are terms often used to describe extreme practitioners of ganguro fashion. Old school Yamanba and Manba (particularly known as 2004 Manba) featured dark tans and white lipstick, pastel eye make-up, tiny metallic or glittery adhesives below the eyes, brightly-coloured circle lenses, plastic dayglo-coloured clothing, and incongruous accessories, such as Hawaiian leis (often the Alba Rosa brand[citation needed]). Stickers on the face died out shortly after 2004 and, for a while, Manba died. Yamanba is now more extreme, and hair is often multicoloured and usually synthetic. 2008's Manba has seen a darker tan, and no facial decoration (stickers). Hair is usually neon/bright colours, with pink being a favourite. Wool ("dreadlocks"), extensions and clips are worn to make hair appear longer. Clothing remains the same, although leis are worn less frequently now.

Manba and Yamanba are not to be confused. Yamanba has white make-up only above the eye, while Manba has makeup below the eye also. Stuffed animals, bracelets, bells and hibiscuses are worn. The male equivalent is called a "center guy" (センター街 Sentāgai?, Center Street), a pun on the name of a pedestrian shopping street near Shibuya Station in Tokyo where Yamanba and center guys are often seen.


Ganguro practitioners say that the term derives from the phrase gangankuro (ガンガン黒?, exceptionally dark). The term yamanba derives from Yama-uba, the name of a mountain hag in Japanese folklore whom the fashion is thought to resemble. Ganguro is now used to describe girls, or gals, with a tan, lightened hair and some brand clothing. This can often be confused with Oneegyaru (Big Sister Gal) and Serebu (Celeb), although Oneegyaru is usually associated with a lot of expensive gal brands and Serebu focuses on expensive western fashions.

Worldwide reception

The style is usually copied for anime conventions. Gal is not to be associated with cosplay. Girls who follow the Gyaru fashion in the western world have also taken it upon themselves to create "Gal Circles" (ギャルサー Gyarusa?): a circle of friends who all enjoy the Gal fashion. They hang out together, much like a sisterhood. They are popular in Japan, to the point that a TV programme called Gyarusa, featuring Morning Musume's Yaguchi Mari, was made. There are currently circles in the UK, America, and other European countries who are brought together online.

Most recently, two British manba from UK Gal Circle Hibiscgyaru were interviewed for BBC World Services in a bid to make Japanese fashion more accessible and understood to the Western world.[3] Other notable Western gyaru appearances can be found on Tokyo Kawaii TV, NHK's popular television programme about current youth trends in Japan. A former UK Gal Circle was featured in the "Himegyaru" (姫ギャル Princess gal?) episode, which aired in March 2008, and more recently, Spanish Gal Circle Hysterical were featured, with the episode airing in late August 2009.

File:Glam crop.jpg

See also


  1. Liu, Xuexin (2005). "The hip hop impact on Japanese pop culture". Southeast Review of Asian Studies. XXVII.  Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies (SEC/AAS)
  2. Macias, Patrick; Evers, Izumi (2007). Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno - Tokyo Teen Fashion Subculture Handbook. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. p. 66. ISBN 13 978-0-8118-5690-4 Check |isbn= value: length (help). 
  3. Japan's fashion rebellion goes West

External links


nl:Ganguro pl:Ganguro ru:Гангуро sv:Ganguro

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