Is Shibuya Tokyo’s own 'Jersey Shore?'
Anyone with a pulse on pop culture has heard of the “Jersey Shore” gang -- those brash, over-tanned and humorously styled Italian-American 20-somethings made stars on MTV’s reality show of the same name.
In Japan it is in broadcast as “Macaroni Rascals: The Jersey Shore Life.” But we don’t need Jersey’s introduction to crass culture because Tokyo has long had its own cesspool of bad taste, and it’s called Shibuya.
The J-Shore amateurs have nothing on these “gyaru” girls and “gyaru-o” boys.
In Jersey Shore, big hair abounds and the voluminous hairdos on Nicole, aka Snooki, became a sensation, taking on a life of their own.
In Tokyo, carefully tousled poufs are called mori-gami and gyaru girls and boys tease their hair to high heaven, or snatch up weaves at teen-targeted wig shops.
It is another notch on the bedpost of bad taste every time a Jersey Shore star appears in public with a little bit of cheap bedazzled bling, like Pauly is wont to do.
Well, we have no sympathy as we innocent Tokyoites have been grappling with the glare of bedazzled everything for years now.
Jeans, mobile phones, fingernails, Zippo lighters, eyelashes and cosmetic cases, anything with a surface that can take a few hundred glued-on crystals has been or will be kirakira (sparkle)-ized.
Gyaru is to Guido
The style of dress on Jersey Shore leaves little to the imagination.
And so it shall be in Shibuya, where skin real estate is in abundance with micro skirts being the new mini-skirt and booty briefs the new leggings.
What’s more, epileptic seizure-sensitive souls should steer clear of the 109 mall, where stores are zealous about accosting your eyesight with searing colors and garish patterns from all angles.
And the boys? They keep it real and real classy: fried rainbow hair, oh yeah.
Can you say that again?
To listen to the Jersey Shore stars speak is like hearing a language spoken by an indigenous tribe whose colloquialisms are as nuanced as a pool ball (if you have the stomach, google “grenade” or “land mine”).
Shibuya’s teens too speak their own tongue, often with a sickening drawl like they have a bag of marbles in their mouth.
The girls spout such endearing terms as "agepoyo" (getting hyper and happy), and boys "kingyo busu" (someone so ugly they can’t be saved, like a goldfish).
Next up: Shibuya Shore?
While America might find “Jersey Shore” a case of national embarrassment, Japan is hell bent on making the gyaru culture a hit in foreign countries.
After all, the subtitle of the Tokyo Girls Collection, the massively popular gyaru fashion and lifestyle event, is “From Tokyo to the World!”
Well world, here it is. Now will you take it, please?
Images from Shibuya by Emi Kusano