The Beginning of a Subculture
The Bōsōzoku phenomenon started after World War II, around the 1950s, as a form of revolt of the young people against the Japanese society based on a very strict hierarchy.
In this context, these groups, formed in gangs of motorcyclists, appeared immediately after the war.
The first groups of motorcyclists, mainly made up of young people from rich families, were called kaminari-zoku and were known for modifying their motorcycles to produce violent sounds.
The Gang Culture
In the 1960s, with the development of the automotive industry, these groups began to use cars and motorcycles on an increasingly large scale.
There were incidents involving bōsōzoku, especially in the latter part of the group’s existence, in which crowds of young people gathered in public parks and gardens to take part in gang activities.
Between 1967 and 1972, there were incidents in which gangs of criminals destroyed car showrooms.
The “Toyama” incident was the culmination of the violence: 1104 suspects out of more than three thousand participants in the attacks were arrested. The media now speaks of bōsōzoku as “tribes out of control.”
Unlike previous groups, this one manages to recruit many members. In 1981, about 40,600 young people joined the bōsōzoku gang.
Given the conformity of the Japanese society, the style adopted by young offenders attracts, even more, the public attention to their deviant behaviour. They wear uniforms inspired by the overalls worn by kamikaze pilots, decorated with personalized inscriptions and the flag of Imperial Japan.
The period of youth revolt does not last long, most of the bōsōzoku members being between sixteen and nineteen years old, reintegrating into society at the age of twenty.
In parallel with the bōsōzoku groups, gangs of exclusively female members – sukeban – began to form. Young sukeban choose to change their school uniforms in ways that undermine both the standards imposed by society and tradition.
Today, bōsōzoku is no longer a prominent subculture as it was in the past, remaining only a memory of those young people who once disturbed the balance of Japanese society. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMpZLrODd3k
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