Bosozoku japanese biker gangs and bosozoku style

Bosozoku japanese biker gangs and bosozoku style

Bosozoku (“violent running gang”) is a Japanese subculture associated with motorcycle gangs. At their worst they start weapons with sword and molotov cocktails, but mostly they’re about style, noise and speed. We give you the bosozoku history and how-to fashion style.

A history of the bosozoku gangs

Bosozoku were first seen in the 1950s as the Japanese automobile industry expanded rapidly. The first bosozoku were known as kaminari-zoku (“Lightning Tribes”). They’d hand around city centres listening ‘The Roosters’ and ‘The Street Sliders’ at full volume.

The word bosozoku is also applied to motorcycle gangs, who share an interest in modifications (often illegal) for motorcycles, such as removing the mufflers so that more noise is produced. These bosozoku groups also engage in dangerous or reckless driving, such as weaving in traffic, not wearing motorcycle helmets, and running red lights. Another activity is shinai boso speeding in city streets, not usually for street racing but more for thrills. With many bikes involved, the leading one is driven by the sentosha, the leader, who is responsible for the event and is not allowed to be overtaken. Japanese police call them Maru-So, and dispatch a police vehicle to trail any groups of bikes to prevent any possible incidents, which can include riding through suburbs at speeds of 5-10 miles an hour, creating a loud disturbance and waving imperial Japanese flags, to starting fights which can include weapons such as swords and Molotov cocktails. These bosozoku gangs are generally composed of people under the legal adult age, which in Japan is 20 years old, and are subject to increasing state and police pressure.

Getting the Bosozoku style

In anime and manga, typical bosozoku member often wear a uniform that mixes 1950s soldier, 1950s rocker and a sense of dystopian, apocalyptic futurism:

  • A jumpsuit like those worn by manual laborers
  • A tokko-fuku, a type of military issued overcoat with kanji slogans. Tokko-Fuku in Japanese means “Special Attack Uniform”, which is the uniform of the Kamikaze pilots, which in Japanese were called the “Special Attack Battalion”. The overcoats are often decorated with army slogans, patriotic rising sun patches, ancient Chinese characters, or even manji. The overcoat is usually worn open with no shirt underneath. Which is all very well for boys.
  • Bandaged torsos – Be warned, a bandaged torso is easier to achieve for skinny boys than busty girls. The bandaged torsos aren’t so much a modern zombie look – they’re actually tasuki, which is a sash tied in X around the torso, a look inspired by Japanese World War II fighter pilots.
  • Baggy trousers tucked inside tall boots
  • Leather jackets and even full leather suits can replace the overcoat. These will often be embroidered with club/gang logos.
  • Wrap-around sunglasses are a bit of a must.
  • Long hachimaki headbands are often worn over high greased rockabilly quiffs, which are probably a nod to the greaser/rocker look loved by yakuza thugs (so a girl could do the girl’s rockabilly equivalent with a high quiff and greased ponytail).
  • Surgical masks are occasionally worn to protect a bosozoku member’s identity – although they’d not be so weird-looking in Japan as similar masks are often worn by allergy sufferers in Japan, especially during autumn.
  • Female bosozoku hair is long and often dyed
  • Female bosozoku makeup is excessive
  • Bosozoku girls wear high-heeled boots – the shinier and the more buckles the better!

Nasty look, long dyed hair, military dress with kanji motifs, too much make-up – this girl’s bosozoku through and through!

Taking bosozoku fashion into the west: Long dyed hair, military elements, high heels and weird armbands

Long bosozoku overcoat, dyed hair, high heels, weird armband AND tasuki sash! Amazing. You’ve got to be in it to win it.

Surgical masks? Dungarees? Heavy boots? Customised bike? Oh god. These girls are amazing.

Kyoku manga – check the bosozoku girl on the left. Is nice.