Sunday, January 21, 2007

Flower Children

Take a walk around Harajuku, and the mood feels like Haight Ashbury.
The youngsters are mellow.
They wear hippie-like clothes, a bit shabby, shirttails untucked, skirts flowered, big hats, sunglasses, dangling jewelry.
They're saying: We aren't into being square.
No one is in a rush.
Soft giggles. Smell of sweet food. Music.
Always music. From stores, iPods, street performers.
Japan's young people are more interested in expressing themselves and being friends with everyone than in gaining materialistic wealth and social status.
It's not even about dropping out.
Japan has been peaceful and conformist and harmonious for so long there's never been any dogged drive for competition.
At a time when the government is intent on powering up the nation's military, and the main platform for the next election is revising the pacifist Constitution, the kawaii culture of Harajuku is comforting.
These kids will never go to war.
They are good kids.
Maybe some adults are worried about the future of Japan because of freeters, apathy and diseducation, but these are good kids.


Hiroko Tabuchi said...

Yes, Shinzo Abe wants a "Beautiful Japan" but young Japanese are too cool for that. Their future isn't about restoring old social norms or changing the Constitution or competing with China -- it's more personal and powerful.

Yuri Kageyama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yuri Kageyama said...

And so Shinzo Abe will get his "Beautiful Japan" after all. Japan today is so peaceful, affluent, safe and creative. Japan made a terrible mistake in World War II but it's done a good job since then. It is still so silent on the international stage, in contrast to its economic might. Japan is the world's second largest economy, but who would know that from looking at its politicians?