So apparently there is a trend quietly roaming the streets of Japan: B-style. B-style—a contraction of the words ‘Black’ and ‘Lifestyle’ refers to a subculture of Japanese teenagers who love American hip-hop culture so much that they do everything in their power to look as African American as possible. Strange? Hell no!
Vice like to stay across trends like these and they interviewed Dutch photographer Desiré van den Berg, who currently lives in Hong Kong. But when she was in Tokyo, back in December 2013, she met Hina, whose shop has the tagline ‘Black for Life’. She described its products as ‘a tribute to Black culture: the music, the fashion, and style of dance’.
Desiré interviewed Hina about B-style and other odd Japanese subcultures. ‘There are things like the Harajuku Girls, which I guess are rather normal but some are complete excesses. Hina often goes to New York, and she idolizes America. Japanese TV is full of American films and commercials and that must be a reason, too. She sees America as a kind of promised land,’ she said.
She discovered that the Japanese Beyoncé, Hina, likes to use some English slang when she speaks Japanese with her B-style friends, like finishing a sentence with ‘man’ or using bad words like ‘motherfucker’ jokingly.
What do B-stylers do to look and feel more African American? Hina, for example, visits a tanning salon every week to darken her skin. B-stylers also listen to hip-hop, and visit special African hair salons to get braids or curly hair. These salons are usually found in Tokyo’s ghettos and are run by small African communities. Hina wears coloured contact lenses: they are a lighter shade of brown to make her eyes seem bigger.