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Deco-Den [デコ電] refers to a hobby and fashion craze that originated from Japan. "Deco-Den" is short for "Decoration Denwa", "Denwa" meaning phone so translating to "Phone decoration". As decoden has expanded and gained popularity it has spread to much more than decorating cell phones. Decoden can be applied to almost anything, with cellphones, IPods, laptops, games consoles, mirrors, combs and other items being decorated the most.
As with most Japanese crazes and street fashions it is not certain when Decoden came about but it can be estimated that it was created around the 80-90s, roundabout when Decora, Gyaru, Lolita and other Japanese fashion styles originated. It has gained immense popularity outside of Japan within the last 10 years, being popular in the United States, UK, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, France, Korea, China and other countries.
The term "decoden" was perhaps coined with the similar term "Hime-Den" [姫電], "hime" meaning "Princess". This refers to young, popular, fashionable teenage Japanese girls addicted to their cell phones and having more money and time than common sense. The average monthly phone bill for "Hime-Den" girls could be anything up to 60,000 yen per month or $530 US dollars. This is, of course, paid by the girls' wealthy parents. Hime-Den girls, as they are abnormally attached to their cell phones and socialising with friends, couldn't be seen without a fashionable cell phone encrusted with Swarovski crystals, plastic rhinestones, cabochons, jewels, pearls, clay charms, glitter, paint, seals and much more.
Decoden is usually taken part by people, mostly girls, interested in Japanese street fashion such as Decora, Gyaru and Lolita, sometimes extending to cultures such as Korean Ulzzang fashion culture. The main idea of decoden is to decorate everything and anything that is seen in public, in order to have a highly decorated, fashionable status and look about you. This can involve decorating cell phones, music players, laptops, earphones, mirrors, combs, calculators, handheld games consoles such as Nintendo DS's and more, this list not being exhaustive. Western fans of decoden tend to create their decorated pieces themselves, using cheaper alternatives to exclusive Japanese materials such as Fuwa Fuwa Mousse Clay that is used to create whipped cream.
A wide range of materials are used in the creation of decoden, including polymer and air-dry clay, rhinestones, glitter, pearls, beads, paint (puff, glitter, etc) and fabric bows, stuffed animals and toys. DIY hardware tools are also used in decoden, such as silicone sealant for creating whipped cream and resin and acrylic for creating cabochons and charms.
Decoden can also be split into two subgenres of decorating - the "bling" side of decoden and the "sweet" side. Bling decoden is primarily made up of items covered mostly in rhinestones, glitter, jewels, Swarovski crystals and pearls, thus creating a highly decorated, sparkly "bling" look that is sometimes associated with celebrities, hip hop and rap culture. Sweet decoden involves more dessert and food based decorating and brings in more "hands on" element to it, with fans creating dessert-themed cabochons, charms and motifs themselves using silicone sealant, polymer and air dry clay, puff paint, etc. Sweet decoden utilises patisserie and dessert based food such as cake, biscuits, doughnuts, ice cream and sundaes, cookies, brownies, macaroons and also fruit such as strawberries, oranges, bananas and watermelon. Liquid clay, acrylic glaze and paint are used to create different "flavoured" sauces to cover and pour on these various charms, dessert or fruit based alike.
Japanese materials are usually purchased from decoden-exclusive sites such as Dekoden.co.jp and King Deco. Websites like these also sell ready-made decoden sheets, stickers and decals made to fit parts or the entire bodies of phones, music player and more. These are used by decoden fans to apply on their phones, creating the illusion of a time-consuming decoden effect gained by one single pre-made sheet. There are also places that do "made to order" decoden, using professional techniques, charms and materials that are considerably more expensive. Amongst Japanese Deco-Den girls, this may be seen as more elite and wealthy to have a custom made Deco-Den phone or music player.