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Kogal|コギャル|kogyaru}} is a subculture of conspicuous consumption among girls and young women in urban Japan Is is one of several types of so-called gyaru, or peer conscious social groupings. Kogal are characterized by flaunting their disposable income through distinctive tastes in fashion, music, and social activity. In general, the kogal "look" roughly approximates a sun-tanned California Valley Girl, and indeed, there are even some linguistic similarities between these Western groups and Kogal. Both subcultures have derived entire sets of slang terms such as "Kogalese" コギャル語. Kogals are not to be confused with the ganguro subculture, although they are similar.

Kogals are known for wearing platform boots, a miniskirt, copious amounts of make-up, hair coluoring (usually blonde or brown), artificial suntans, and designer accessories. If in school uniform, the look typically includes skirts pinned very high and loose socks (large baggy socks that go up to the knee). Kogals' busy social lives and desire for new material goods lead them to be among the first consumers of Japanese mobile phone culture technology, and their taste in clothes tends toward Burberry scarves and Louis Vuitton handbags. Kogals spend much of their free time (and their parents' income) shopping, and their culture centers on the Shibuya, Tokyo district of Tokyo, in particular the Shibuya 109 building, although major Japanese cities are sure to have a small population. During the summer, kogals may sometimes be seen at the beach. They are generally not seen in high-end department stores.

Critics of the Kogal subculture decry its materialism as reflecting a larger psychological or spiritual emptiness in modern Japanese life. Some kogals support their lifestyle with allowances from wealthy parents, living a "freeter" or "parasite single" existence that grates against traditional principles of duty and industry.

The kogal phenomenon emerged in the mid-1990s and its effects can still be seen today in its numerous off-shoots of sub-categories, although conservative tastes in dress and hair color seem to be on the upswing. The Gothic Lolita aesthetic has been described as a reaction to the kogal look, since it attempts to reclaim childhood innocence, though skeptics point out that most Lolita merely model after J-rock cosplay and spend just as much, if not more money on their appearance when compared to kogals.

The term's etymology is disputed. The most common theory is that it was derived from the Japanese word for "high school", kōtō gakkō (高等学校), or kōkō (高校) for short, although others claim that it comes from ko (子), the Japanese word for "girl" or "child". The "gal" originates from English language.[1]. See Types of Gyaru.


The Ribon manga Gals! featured kogals as main characters during its 1999-2002 run, and also spawned an 52-episode Japanese/ English Dub anime series of the name "Super GALS! Ran Kotobuki".

Episode six in the third season of BBC's Japanorama documentary series covers kogal, ganguro and yamanba "bad girl" culture.

A Japanese drama titled Gal Circle prominently features gals.

Further reading[]

  • Macias & Evers. Page 49.