|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Where are they now? The metamorphosis of the yamanba tribe 2001,04,01
SPA! by Ryann Connell
They kinda looked like pandas, with fluorescent make-up around their eyes and mouths.
Their wild, dyed-blonde locks gave them the name yamanba, or mountain hags.
And a couple of years ago, you could hardly go anywhere without seeing them staggering along in their micro-minis and platforms.
But now, Spa! says, the yamanba have pretty well disappeared, even from the streets of Tokyo's trendy Shibuya district - a place they once considered their own hallowed ground.
"Girls around 20 were the first generation to really consider Shibuya their own. The only environments they'd really ever known were school and home. Then, for some unknown reason, from about '95 they just started hanging out around Shibuya. They made it their base to do as they liked," Chisako Wada, editor-in-chief of gotta-have teenzine Popteen, tells Spa!
"Once they'd found that base it probably gave birth to their street fashion. Up until then, any street fashion in Japan had been an imported one. Let's not forget the first street fashion in Japan was putting a hibiscus in your hair."
Wada continues, offering an explanation for the demise of the yamanba:"I suppose they're getting a little anxious. We had an enormous reaction to a recent special we ran on 'finding yourself.' It seems that wanting to find yourself so you feel strong is making these girls feel a bit ill at ease with their current lifestyles."
Perhaps the staff at 109, the Shibuya department store the yamanba made their Mecca, know more than anybody else about why the flamboyant femmes have suddenly gone mainstream.
"Now the girls who used to walk around with deeply tanned faces and the like have clearly adapted more adult-like tastes," a spokesman for the department store tells Spa!
"It seems like we're welcoming the end of the culture that placed its prime focus on letting girls express their individuality in the most outrageous way."
Some of the former yamanba seem to agree.
"I just got a little sick of all these people coming up to me and asking, 'What're you gonna do next? What're you gonna do next' I was always trying to think up some new trend," says Tomomi Kudo, once the pin-up girl of the mountain hag generation and now an aspiring celebrity.
"It sort of got to the stage where I'd go outside and always be wondering what people were thinking about me."