If you have ever heard of Onizuka Eikichi or watched Great Teacher Onizuka for that matter atone point in your life, chances are you are aware of what a Japanese Biker Gang would look like. Mentioning biker gangs here is very important since we are going to be talking about the Bosozoku fashion style which originates and mostly being used only by the bosozoku - the Japanese Biker Gangs.
If you don’t know what or who the Biker Gangs are, these groups are often composed of young boys of the ages sixteen to nineteen. The term Bosozuku means “running out of control” and are often used to be seen in many groups, running around the streets using their bikes. These bikers are very conspicuous so it’s not hard to find them when they pass by your streets.
The origin of the Bosozuku started from the time when the use of industrial motorcycles was coming to a rise. They got the idea of riding in groups from many Western movies that are highly renowned for their biker gang stories of rebellion. Many Bosozuku joins the groups due to their dissatisfaction with society and many, if not most, bōsōzoku members came from a lower socioeconomic class and may have used the motorcycle gang activities as a way to express disaffection and dissatisfaction with Japanese mainstream society.
The Bosozuku Fashion
The inspiration of the Bosozoku Fashion stems from the Western influence of the Biker Gangs, where most of the riders are wearing cool leather jackets as part of their fashion statement. The Bosozuku are often seen dressed in white robes that have a lot of Kanji characters written all over it - and yes, this is the standard for the Bosozoku fashion. And as mentioned, they are known for their simple fashion style with the robes that they wear which are boiler suits that are almost similar to those that are used by manual laborers. They also make use of leather jackets sometimes, pairing it up with some baggy pants, and some tall boots for their footwear. Their boilersuits also come with a lot of Kanji characters written on it. The characters that are written are not random as these characters represent are typed-in in remembrance and allegiance to their bosozoku gang. The bosozoku gang is known for their loyalty towards their gang and can be likened to that of a fraternity level of brotherhood. The boiler suits that they use when they are riding are called “tokko-fuku”, or in literal translation, Special Attack Clothing. As it turns out, the same term is used for the suits that the Kamikaze pilots used to wear whenever they are to fly (and as you might have guessed, yes the kamikaze pilots are the types of pilots that are willing to give up their lives just for the benefit of Japan). And if you have already guessed yes, they use these boiler suits everywhere they go. These are sometimes made out of unique leather biking gear embellished with symbols and Japanese characters, and for its connection to motorcycles, gangs, and sports cars. They embroidered these characters and aside from the many include kanji army slogans and patriotic rising sun patches, they even apply on some ancient Chinese characters or even manji. These jumpsuits are often worn open to reveal haramaki, or bandages wrapped around the torso, and are paired with baggy pants and military boots. They also make use of leather jackets to fit the style that they visualize their inspiration from - the American bikers themselves.
As another part of their clothing, they also make use of Hachimaki - a Japanese headband, featuring a Kanji design at the front, and can be in the colors red or white, or a combination of the two. They will also be found wearing surgical masks to cover their faces, and sunglasses to protect their eyes from the heat of the sun when going out taking their rounds. They also apply patches on their clothing and even on their motorcycles, displaying the Japanese Imperial flag because of the origins of the Bosozoku itself. As part of their fashion, they also style up with hair in either a pompadour or in a punch perm fashion.
Bōsōzoku isknown to modify their motorcycles in peculiar and showy ways, which are called Kaizōsha. As part of their fashion statement, the Bosozoku are often seen off with flashy designs of their motorcycles (after all, they’re a bike gang), and doing these are illegal. The rides that you will see them using are usually just your typical Japanese road bikes that they’ve added some extravagant designs that are reminiscent of some American motorcycle designs.
The Bosozukus is mostly made up of young Japanese men. But there are also women Bosozukus who came up with their gangs themselves. The women would also wear the same type of fashion that the men wear, but they are commonly seen wearing high rise or high heeled boots. They also wear excessive makeup and they often have long, dyed hair. They also sometimes go to wear a skirt when they feel most like it and it was also highly acceptable. Some modern girl gangs are also bringing long nails, pink colors, and other "girly" things to the fashion, while still keeping the core style the same.
The female bosozukus are also seen to be sporting their motorcycles with bright colors, usually in the color pink, depending on the design that they want their motorcycle to have.
The Bosozuku Today
Unfortunately, if you decide to walk the street of Japan right now, the chances of seeing the Bosozuku now are very rare. There has been a large decline when it comes to their numbers as the police are slowly and efficiently hunting down these people due to their relevance to the rising juvenile crimes that most Bosozuku gang members commit. Many nowadays are more counterculture rebels than violent, and simply enjoy the style and its association with fast cars and motorcycles, and its condoning of rebellious attitudes and actions. Older bosozoku believe that modern groups are too soft, and condone their adoption of helmets and customizing scooters instead of actual motorcycles.
Today, there are only a handful of members of Bosozukus even when you look at the different gangs that are used to compose the subculture. Now, there are only enthusiasts who mostly just follow the fashion of the Bosozkus than to choose to follow its legacies due to the efforts of the police to slowly track them down to refrain them from being violence enablers of their communities as different gangs are often found fighting against each other for certain reasons that concern the parties.