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Shibuya Gal Shop Staff from the brand MA*RS

Gyaru (ギャル) is a Japanese transliteration of the English slang word 'gal'. The name originated from a 1968 Levi Jeans brand commercial tagline, "Levi's for Gals"[1], and was applied to fashion- and peer-conscious girls in their late teens and early twenties. It also uses a tagline of "GETWILD&BESEXY" which was a infamous eurobeat song of the same name which was also danced with parapara (パラパラ) by the group called CREAM[2]. Its usage peaked in the early 2000s and has since gradually declined. The decline[3] has been often refereed due to the magazine organization[4], over exaggeration of the use fashion itself[5] or maybe even the government for it's decline but in reality its decline began because of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011, which created a grieving period and realization in the women whom lived in Japan; even some gyaru themselves became or tired to be less materialistic and become more minimal in their style. The term gradually drifted to apply to a slightly older group, whose seeming lack of interest in work or marriage gained the word a "childish" connotation. It is now used almost interchangeably with kogal.

gyaru subculture had durring the Heisei era a large influence in Japan's fashion and it's economy with gyaru brands branching out. Becoming more accessible in rural areas.[text–source integrity?] In Tokyo, was this fashion sub-culture more often seen. Therefore a shopping center named Shibuya 109[6][7] had become the place to shop and the place to be as a gyaru. There were also at each main train station dedicated to offering the newest and trendiest items at the time; from popular Gal brands to even high western fashion brands and even some more indie-pendant brands that were Japanese. Some brands are also reaching overseas by having their items easily accessible in webshops offering worldwide shipping services. A group of gyaru who would often meet each-other and hang out would've been called a "gal circle" (ギャルサークル).

They were two types of groups Nagasa (長さ) which were casual groups to hang out with each-other and ibesa (イベサ) which would plan, host, and have events with each-other.


A woman wearing gyaru/Ganguro fashion in 2007

gyaru is a description of either men but mostly women who follow many types of Japanese street fashion that originated in the 1970s.[8] It's popularity peaked in the 1990's and early 2000's, then changed and became more accessible and widely popular in Japan in the 2010's gyaru fashion for women, is typically characterized by having heavily bleached or dyed hair (mostly shades from dark brown to blonde), tanned skin, highly elongated decorated nails, and dramatic makeup. The makeup typically consists of dark eyeliner and fake eyelashes used in ways intended to make the eyes appear larger, contouring of the face and nose which was done for a slimming effect; also using colour contacts to fake or change the colour of their eyes and enlarging their eyes as well. Apparel for gyaru fashion differ depending on which gyaru style the individual would've chosen and also where said individual would buy their items from the Japanese brand or even if it were from western fast-fashion brands would still determine their style in gyaru fashion sub-culture. But those who lived in Japan, mostly stuck to certain brands from Japan itself depending on their style; mostly originating from Shibuya 109.

Shibuya 109 in 2007

Popular recurring gyaru models, icons and idols would include that whom would've been easily recognized during it's peak would be Tsubasa Masuwaka; 益若つばさ, Kumiko Funayama; 船山久美子 (Kumicky), Rie Matsuoka; 松岡理恵 (Okarie), Hikari Shiina; 椎名ひかり (Pikarin), Satomi Yakuwa; 湯川里民 (Satomin), Sayoko Ozaki; 尾崎紗代子, Rina Sakurai; 桜井莉菜 さくりな, Nana Suzuki 鈴木奈々and twins Chika & Chie Yoshikawa 吉川千佳&恵 (Guri & Gura). The names in brackets are their magazine or modeling nicknames.

Common gyaru styles[edit]

Three unknown Gal models being photographed.

There are various subcategories of "gals" depending on the choice of fashion, and also gender.

  • gyaru-kei (ギャル系/gyaru-style): The default gyaru style. It is an umbrella term for the many subcategories or themes of gal styles.
  • Ganguro: A gyaru with an artificial deep tan and bleached hair; and make up which tended to use white around the eyes and on the lips and darker shades on the eyes. Also decorations such as glitter or flower such hibiscus flower stickers added on the under part of the eyes. This style was popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
  • Yamanba: Like manba, but the nose contour stripe whch was white coloured goes past the eyebrows; also Yamanaba also means old mountain hag in Japanese, the style was regard by the Japanese civillans as unproper or even dirty.
  • Banba (バンバ): Banba is a lighter form of manba. Banbas wear less white makeup than manbas; they also use more glitter, and may or may not have neon colored hair. Banbas wear more extreme-looking types of false eyelashes, and colored contact lenses. Banbas wear darker colors than manbas, and sometimes dress in club wear.
  • Hime-gyaru: Also known as Hime-kei. It is one of the more over the top and also one of the most expensive style of dress of all of the categories. The hime style is largely based on the Rococo era. gyaru of this style wear dresses or skirts in pink or other pastels with lots of lace and bows. Rose patterns, pearls and crown motifs are also very common. Headpieces range from large bow clips with pearls to rose accents, while the hair is either bleached, poofed up or crimped in a bouffant at the top and curled or a wig/extensions are worn. The make-up style has even more exaggerated eyes than the typical gyaru. Hime gyaru does not only include clothes, but many girls see it as a way of life and make or buy custom-made decor for their homes. The style blossomed in the early 2000s but has since declined or turned more casual (this version is referred to as hime kajii), even if the old one is still present. Not to be confused with Lolita fashion.
  • Agejo: A style that was highly active, Agejo was mostly inspired and it's aesthetic was always referenced in the magazine Koakuma Ageha. It is a very foxy, ladylike, and mature style. It is generally worn by, but is not always exclusively to a hostess. With the intention to be in sort: being flawlessly glamorous, and desirable. The agejo style has an emphasis on the eyes, often enlarging and enhancing them with circle lenses, and several sets of false eyelashes; but in a more alluring way. The hair is always styled in an up-do; almost as hime-gyaru with curls or hair that was poofed up or crimped, and sometimes includes extensions and sometimes even wigs. It is very common for those participating in the agejo style were to wear a multiple wigs at the same time. Agejo style is similar to hime-gyaru with the exception of being more skimpy and the intention to be classy.
Yamanba style [gyaru] participant
  • Amekaji (アメカジ) or “American casual” : It is a usually very bright, fun, flamboyant and is generally multi-coloured style; inspired by a fictionalised images of America. Clothes are generally looser then most of the other styles. They usually have many layers overlap eachother. Involves mostly sweaters, bomber-jackets from the early 2000's and coats. In the summer they would wear t-shirts and cargo pants. Also they would mostly wear their boyfriends clothes. Shoes are mostly tennis shoes, uggs, engineer boots. Girly shorts are welcome (for the girls).
  • Western gyaru, often referred as 'foreign gyaru' often called online as gaijin-gyaru "外人ギャル". Women and even men whom have found gyaru fashion outside Japan and participate n said fashion sub-culture (Western gyaru includes countries also outside of the west such as the middle-east.). The term Amerigyaru was short lived, since it was used for people who identified with gyaru lifestyle and/or fashion in America. When Western/Gaijin-gyaru created their own communities, and forums with lists of tutorials to help beginner gyaru with make up and hair basics and to also meet up with each other during travel if they did choose so.
  • gyaruo (ギャル男): A male gyaru. Typically, gyaruo have similar elements to their appearance with gyaru in terms of having high volume styled hair, trendy fashion styles, and sometimes tanned skin.
  • Kogyaru: Generally a high school student (高校生 kōkōsei).
  • JK gyaru: term for kogyaru in school uniforms.
  • Ane gyaru: gyaru style that has the yanki and biker gang culture with gyaru make up and style. The girls drive or ride bikes, and tend to have tattoos and piercings. They not only look rebellious, but the magazine caters to girls who live on the edge. Ane gyaru is more of a tougher version of Onee gyaru, and are for a bit more mature and more virile yet effeminate gals. Magazine of choice for fans and followers is Soul Sister, a relatively new magazine.
  • Gyaru mama (ギャルママ):[9] gyaru girls who continued the style after having children. BBC News states: "Gal-mama are young mothers who refuse to shed their gal-ness."[10]
  • Bibinba (ビビンバ): This look usually includes a lot of gold, and jewelry. Similar to b-gal. It was said to be a joke in Egg magazine about this style, and was not a serious style.
  • Gyaru-Den (ギャル電機) A style of gyaru consisting on reviving gyaru through technology. It takes aspects of the gyaru fashion sub-culture and makes then makes use of technology as a way to revamp the style; The creators of this style have created all of their items themselves; which can be as LED-lights or syntheziers which are used on accessories such as: necklaces, loose socks (ルーズソックス) or different apparel pieces. Kyoko (京子) from Japan and Mao (เหมา) from Thailand who immigrated and to Japan, has a degree in Engineering; are the creators of this style![11][12]

Related media[edit]

Clothing Brands[edit]

Shibuya 109 Coco*Lulu shop staff who is wearing Amekaji style



Shibuya 109 staff from an Onee-gyaru brand


Music and Acting[edit]

Koda Kumi singing at a Convention in 2005

Music is not necessarily a main hobby within gyaru culture, although Jpop and Eurobeat remixes and were regularly danced to with the dance parapara/パラパラ of course there were/are popular many Japanese singers were/are casually listened to, mostly during a date or when driving a car.[17] Singers such as Koda Kumi, Namie Amuro and Ayumi Hamasaki are popular both in Japan and overseas, and regarded as inspiration for many gyarus. Other Jpop artist that were considered a must to lisen to were LOVE to LOVE, GAL DOLL, Rady[18] and Juliet[19]. They also listened to Eastern & Western to rock, rap and all sorts of geners, as long as it fitted the gyaru aesthetic.

Prominent models or members of the gyaru community may also try building a musical career or acting career. Tsubasa Masuwaka (as Milky Bunny)[20][21], Aina Tanaka & Yumachi Takahashi forming the girl group 'SHIBUYA GIRLS'[22], Rina Sakurai having the main protagonist role in her own movie and the Black Diamond members are some of the very few prominent gyaru to have to build a career.[23]

Influence in Manga[edit]

A manga that had a impact and was influenced to said fashion was the promptly 'Gals!' graphic novel or what would be called in Japan a manga (マンガ), creatd by the female Mangaka; Mihona Fujii (藤井みほな); which started publication around 1999 and has become yet again now quite renowned in the sub-culture of gyaru!

See also[edit]

gyaru on Shibuya crossing towards 109


  1. ^ "Levistrauss", Retrieved July 16 2015
  2. ^ "The actual song referenced".
  3. ^ "Past and present photos of Japanese fashion models make us wonder, where have all the gyaru gone?". SoraNews24 -Japan News-. 2015-03-30. Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  4. ^ Hime Hime Star (2015-02-12), Beginner Guide to Gyaru: History of Gal, retrieved 2019-07-16
  5. ^ Mitsu (2015-01-03). "The Fall of Gyaru an easy target and masking the problems with Japan teen fashion". Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  6. ^ Shibuya 109
  7. ^ "» The History of the Gyaru – Part One:: Néojaponisme » Blog Archive". Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  8. ^ "The History of the Gyaru - Part One" NéoJaponisme, Retrieved February 28 2012
  9. ^ "葉酸サプリおすすめランキング". 葉酸サプリメント. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  10. ^ Oi, Mariko (29 August 2012). "Japan harnesses fashion power of gals". BBC News.
  11. ^ Keeping Gyaru alive with technology Gyaru-tech Galden
  12. ^ Fashion & Technology in Japan by Kawaii.i from NHK
  13. ^, Retrieved May 7, 2013
  14. ^, Retrieved March 11, 2013
  15. ^ Koakuma Ageha#Sister magazines
  16. ^ "AneAgeha twitter".
  17. ^ "ギャル、彼と音楽を聴く時は". Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  18. ^ zipang-create Music company that produced said music.
  19. ^ Whom were produced at the time by Universal Music Japan
  20. ^ "(Text in Japanese)益若つばさますわかつばさ/Tsubasa Masuwaka's Artist Milky Bunny Discography",Oricon
  21. ^ (text in Japanese)Oricon Style, Retrieved 2015-09-13. July 13, 2011
  22. ^ "Yumashi & Aina Gathering the Girls of Shibuya and Become the Producers of this Large Group"MUSICJapanplus
  23. ^ "(Text in Japanese)強め"黒肌"ギャルの全国ユニット/BlackDiamond gyarusa website", 強め"黒肌"ギャルの全国ユニット/BlackDiamond group

External links[edit]