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The Tokyo Look Book: Stylish To Spectacular, Goth To Gyaru, Sidewalk To Catwalk    by Philomena Kent & Yuri Manabe order for
Tokyo Look Book
by Philomena Kent
Order:  USA  Can
Kodansha International, 2007 (2007)

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

When you think of Japan, do you see the elegance of the geisha attired in her traditional kimono in your mind's eye? Think again! In The Tokyo Look Book, Philomena Kent (an anthropologist who studied Tokyo street fashion) shows us - with the help of hundreds of Yuri Manabe's color photos - a very different Japan, that of its 'Stylish To Spectacular, Goth To Gyaru, Sidewalk To Catwalk' trendy youth. And there are a few kimonos in there too.

In her Introduction, Kent welcomes readers to 'the weird and wonderful world of Tokyo fashion ... unlike that of any other city in the world.' She tells us that Western clothes 'called yofuko in Japanese, first took hold in Japan during the Meiji restoration period in the latter half of the nineteenth century' and evolved to the point that now 'the individual is more often than not proudly sticking out his or her sartorial neck.' The book has five main sections: Shibuya Girls and Guys (the youth culture of Shibuya's teens); Spectacular and Subcultural (clothes related to interests like manga or punk rock); Youth Street Fashion (particularly creative looks); The Stylish Female (at work and at leisure); and Young Men at Work (from business suits to baggy construction pants and traditional hakama). There are interviews with people considered representative of the fashions highlighted in each chapter.

I must admit that The Tokyo Look Book was not at all what I expected, but it was certainly an eye opener. In it, Philomena Kent tells us that she hoped to create 'not just a fashionscape of Tokyo, but also a cultural snapshot of life in the megalopolis.' She succeeds in both objectives, giving readers a window into the eccentric, eclectic and exotic clothing of Tokyo youth.

Listen to a podcast interview with the author at

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