May 6, 2010

ViSuAl KeI in JaPaNeSe RoCk! - by Guest Columnist Lacey McDaniel

When one thinks of Japan, Rock normally doesn’t spring to mind; however there is a very lively rock scene in most of the major cities. From Fukuoka in the South, to the streets of Tokyo and up to Akita, one can see its cultural manifestations in the younger generation’s fashion sense and attitude. Some of its fashion influences, among many, are: gothic & punk lolita, gangaro, glam rocker, yanki, Osharei Kei, and (my personal favorite) Visual Kei.
Since the 1980s Japanese rock has been developing and evolving into its own hybrid sound. The three showcased bands (Plastic Tree, Penicillin, and X Japan) are only the tip of the iceberg among the Japanese rock repertoire and are perfect examples of the androgenic Visual Kei.


The group is known for its radical lyrics and the Visual Kei outfits put together in their videos and live performances. Since 1993, Ryūtarō Arimura has been the band’s lead vocalist. His soft and melodic voice contrasts the group’s heavier instrumental sound.

The group formed in 1992 and has been going strong ever since. They are most well known for their lead vocalist, Hakuei, one of Japan’s most famous male models. Hakuei is currently modeling with Black Peace Now, but considers music to be his number one priority, according to one of his recent interviews while posing in France. He beautiful face is the personification of the Visual Kei that has spawned from Japanese rock over the years. He uses make up to draw attention to his delicate androgenic facial features, while his fashion is constantly transforming.

Last, but not least, X Japan is one of the most famous and quintessential Japanese Visual Kei influencers in the history of Japanese rock music. However, don’t be fooled by their tough exterior. X Japan’s lyrics are mainly about love and getting one’s heartbroken. With a song list of: “Forever Love,” “Dry Your Tears with Love,” and “Crucify My Love,” I would hardly consider them menacing--but their music is beautifully endearing and classic.

Please enjoy the bands and their flamboyant outfits.

* This post was written by Guest Columnist Lacey McDaniel

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