Complete Guide to Japanese Street Snap Websites

18 January 2009
A comprehensive breakdown of all the internet's Japanese street photography sites
Ever since the 1990s, street photography has been an integral part of Japanese fashion culture. These photos, traditionally featured in monthly magazines, capture Japanese youth "in the wild," giving readers a glimpse of the most unique and creative styling at a worms-eye level. Shoichi Aoki pioneered the field when he started looking for the most extreme fashion in youth neighborhoods like Harajuku in Tokyo and Amemura in Osaka for his magazine FRUiTS. The practice then spread to mainstream magazine CUTiE, where editors used the photos to locate innovative young female style that moved independently from apparel industry and mainstream media direction. "Street snaps" — abbreviated machisuna in Japanese — capture the artistry of creative styling in real time, but also, provide an arena for young fashionistas to show off their unique perspective on clothing to compatriots around the country, and now thanks to globalization, the world.

Since the 1990s, photographing amateurs has become a core part of mainstream magazine coverage, from princess-y CanCam to punk-rock Zipper to refined Popeye. The photos allow readers to view cutting-edge fashion on real life Japanese fashion fans rather than on foreign or half-Japanese models. The street snaps have a reality not possible in editorial spreads. Trendspotters too have always liked the photos as they can view which media trends are popular amongst the masses, or even, to find grass-roots trends that the media has completely missed.

While Japanese fashion magazines still produce the highest quality street snaps, a new crop of websites offers a large number of free photographs updated on a constant basis. Thanks to these sites, those outside of Japan can still get a sense of what is happening on the streets.

The sheer number of street fashion sites, however, can be daunting. To make things easier, we have put together the following guide to the various Japanese street fashion sites on the net. "Street photography" is a technique, of course, not a genre, so we further divided the sites into four categories: mainstream style, arty/subcultural style, trend analysis, and regional style.

(In addition to these sites, MEKAS. offers original street photography from Harajuku and Omotesando each month. To view past months, click here.)
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