The Image Factory


The Image Factory: Fads & Fashions in Japan (2003), by Donald Richie, takes a penetrating and frequently humorous look at Japan’s styles and crazes, from Tamagotchi digital pets, cosplay, manga, yamanba (mountain hag) girls, and cell phones, to pachinko, fake foreigners, the kawaii mindset, and the sex trade.


Writing about fashion, as Richie points out in the book, is to write about the past. Particularly in Japan, where styles are rapidly adopted and dropped. As such, parts of The Image Factory are naturally outdated. Richie was aware this would be the case, and so in writing the book he chose to shine light especially on how Japanese culture, its rules, and its history engender such uniquely Japanese trends and modes of expression, many of them extreme in comparison to their counterparts overseas. So we get a shrewd and witty exploration of a people and the stimuli that activate its constant creation of images to reflect its ever-changing identity, with plenty of examples of fads and fashions from the years and decades before.



Cosplay

Rockabilly

Geisha

Yamanba (Mountain Hag) Girls

Ganguro Girl

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