JAPAN: Japanese Sub-Cultures (Yankii)

Every country has a population of disgruntled youth who rebel against society and Japan is no exception.  But from a country who brought you such colorful trends as Dekotora, Gyaru, Lolita and Visual Kei, it only makes sense that their sub-culture of rebellious youth are just as colorful and trendy.

Japan’s largest and most well-known sub-culture consisting primarily of working class kids is called Yankii (ヤンキー).  Yankii also represents a whole genre of comics, movies and music in Japan. The word Yankii, came into existence in the 1950s and is said to have originated from the term “Yankee,” which refers to people from the United States. Perhaps influenced by the early post-war motorcycle gangs formed by former Kamikaze pilots known as Kaminari zoku (雷族), the Yankii lifestyle revolves around motorcycles and cars and is perhaps one of the most tradition-bound segments of the Japanese populace today.

Most kids begin their life-style as a Yankii around age 14 and are known for their pranks, bullying and petty crimes. They try to maintain a yakuza-like image but they are not as dangerous as their highly organized, older icons. They highlight their working class roots by wearing clothing associated with Japanese construction workers, such as oversized baggy pants known as Tobi trousers. Yankii boys and girls also tend to have shaved off eyebrows, permed hair (punch perm/ パンチパーマ/  panchi pamaa), dyed hair, pompadours, flamboyant, oversized clothes and customized school uniforms. Younger Yankii are expected to speak to the older members of their clan (senpai) in Keigo (reverent speech) at all times and run their errands. Members also observe a code of honor specific to their particular clan. The three pillars of Yankii behavior are said to be guts (konjyo), sincerity (seii) and dedication of the soul (nyukon).  Most Yankii tend to drop out of school by age 17 and get married. This early marriage is referred to as sokon.

Some Yankii eventually do get recruited by the Yakuza (Japanese organized crime) but many simply blend into Japanese society, join the workforce and live regular, productive lives after lashing out at society and enjoying their youth.













Japan: Okinawa Zoo (Christmas Fantasy)

Given Okinawa’s climate, one would not immediately associate Christmas with the region. But, like the rest of Japan, Christmas is celebrated here in the form of various illumination events.

One such event is the popular Okinawa Zoo Christmas Fantasy celebration, which attracts more than 40,000 visitors to Okinawa City annually. The event began in 1995 and transforms the Okinawa Zoo & Museum into a Christmas wonderland adorned with countless colorful lights and festive decorations. Reminiscent of places like Southern California and Hawaii, the palm trees are lit up with sparkling lights. Snow blowers produce snow in Kodomo-no Kuni allowing children to experience what it is like to make a snowman and have a snowball fight. It snows at the Okinawa Zoo daily at 5:30 PM, 7:25 PM and          8:40 PM! There is also a large snow slide and igloos where children can play (extra fee required).

For adults, Okinawan Eisa-dance performances are given at the main stage. You will also find jugglers, comics and other street performers entertaining the crowd.

At 6:15 PM, 7:50 PM and 9:15 PM there is a Super Laser Show, considered to be the best laser show in Okinawa. It employs various special effects featuring fire, snow and other variations, all designed to amaze and entertain.

Oh, and did I mention the festival food?

The Okinawa Zoo is located in Okinawa City. It is easily accessible by taking the Okinawa Expressway to Exit 4 (Minami Okinawa) then following the signs to the zoo or by driving along Route 330 into central Okinawa City and following the signs from there.










Web Page:

Dates:             Christmas week (ends December 28th)

Time:              4:00 PM – 9:30 PM

Admission:    Advance tickets:

¥1,800 yen for adults (aged 12 and over)

¥1,000 yen for children (aged 4 to 12)

Free entry for children 3 and under


Same-day tickets:

¥2,200 yen for adults (aged 13 and over)

¥1,200 yen for children (aged 4 to 12)

Free entry for children 3 and under