Always on Sunday in Harajuku

by John Lander, Asian Images, Apr 5, 2009 | Destinations: Japan
Costume Play Diver

Costume Play Diver

Costume Play Diver
Costume Play Goths
Costume Play Anime Characters
Costume Play Goth Lolita

Strolling down Harajuku's main drag, Omotesando, a gaggle of goths put on finishing touches to their gear for the day, checking their fright makeup.  A few meters away another group, dressed as Victorian-era French maids, put up their lacy parasols against the sun.  Others, defying description of any kind, have designed their own costumes for the day composed entirely of plastic jewelry and vintage rags.  Tokyo is a city that's usually dressed to the nines - a place that prides itself on being well turned out.  But a carnival-like scene has been going on for years now in Harajuku and Yoyogi Park with Elvis dancers, coifs flying and grease dripping, and their molls got up in fluffy dresses from the 50s.  


The Elvis dancers are mostly gone now, no thanks to the noise emitted from their boom boxes and cosplay, short for costume play, now dominates the scene.  The costumes spontaneously emerge from, it would seem, nowhere. One week the panda look is all the rage, then somehow it is back to the French maid or Lolita look.  Lolita morphs into Goth, forming Goth-Lolita or “gothloly”.  For some reason, gothlolies have become almost a mainstay, with slightly-less-ghoulish goths softening their coffin-shaped accessories with Hello Kitty dolls and a few lacy frills.