Will a coven of Witch Girls grow in Japan?

March 29th, 2010 by Daniel Morales

Warming up the powerstone

Recharging the power stone

I share an apartment with five Japanese people – two girls and three guys – and on Sunday night I walked into our kitchen to discover one of the girls recharging her power stone. The stone was pink and smooth, some kind of quartz or something. She said she bought it in Peru. Recharging it involved sitting next to our stove, which is ventilated by a hood, and holding a smoking piece of white sage under the rock. “It stinks!” she yelled 10 minutes later before walking back into her room. “It smells like medicine!”

My other female roommate once went to a fortune teller. She said it cost ¥15,000 for an hour and a half, during which time she could ask anything. She collected business cards from her friends at work and brought them along, generously offering to use some of her time to ask about their future. “She told me this girl was going to have a lot of problems,” she told me in a low voice, holding one of the business cards in her hand.

“So what are you going to tell her?” I asked.

“I’ll make something up. Something nice.”

As the success of “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” have proved, the supernatural is a big hit with just about everyone, especially girls. In Japan, the recent tendency to classify girl-fashion trends has merged the natural and supernatural into “Witch Girls.”

As previously covered on Pulse, the “Forest Girl” phenomenon started in 2009 on Mixi as a group of girls who favor simple bangs, frilly layered clothing and flats. The movement was covered by magazines like Spoon, Fudge and Spur. This later gave birth to “Swamp Girls,” basically nihilistic Forest Girls who disavow any conscious fashion choices for their similar clothing selection, and also “Mountain Girls,” girls who love outdoor clothing brands.

“Witch Girls” (魔女ガール, Majo Gaaru), on the other hand, started in MISTY, a magazine about fortune telling. The February 2010 issue featured a section titled “Neo-Witchery 101” (ネオ魔女入門, Neo-majo Nyūmon). While the television show “Sukkiri!!” filmed a segment on the issue on Feb. 3, the Witch Girl movement didn’t hit critical mass until the goo search portal wrote a keyword column about the girls on March 25 titled “The next evolutionary step from Forest Girls? All about Witch Girls.” As people read the column, “Witch Girls” jumped up the Google keyword rankings, and membership in Mixi groups devoted to Witch Girls doubled in number from 400 to over 1,000 on Thursday night.

The column provides a breakdown of the TV segment, a summary of which is also on Nihon Terebi’s site. Witch Girls, according to the show, are girls that “love nature and go even deeper into the heart of the forest than Forest Girls.” The show interviewed René Van Dale Watanabe, a fortune teller who runs the “Super Natural Institute,” and he said that witchery is “the study of freeing your own mind and becoming one with nature.”

As was the case with Swamp Girls, a Mixi community group (one of two) provides a breakdown of all things Witch Girls:

  • We want to learn about nature.
  • We love fortune telling.
  • We’re cute but also poisonous.
  • We are Witch Girls who live in the forest!

While Forest, Swamp and Mountain Girls were all centered on the visual style, the goo keyword column, partially supported by the interests above, claims that Witch Girls are more interested in internal aspects. Someone forgot to tell the new Witch Girl recruits, as one of the recent topics on the mixi community was “Witch Girl Brands,” in which a witch says:

I thought
it would be great
if you could tell me
what kind of Witch Girl
brand clothing you wear.

The amount of Forest Girl clothing
has increased

so let’s make Witch Girls
real popular, too!

Whether or not companies will be able to turn Witch Girls into a marketable subculture remains to be seen, but clearly many of the elements – fortune telling, horoscopes, an interest in nature, witch icons like characters from the Miyazaki Hayao movie “Kiki’s Delivery” service, power stones, etc. – were already in place and the Witch Girls phenomenon merely put a name to them.

Tags: , , ,

2 Responses

  1. It sounds like they’re trying to reach for paganism and Wicca, but pushing it forward by validating it as a fashion movement. I’m intrigued to see where this will end up, and whether Neopaganism will actually gain a foothold in Japan.

  2. Yes, the Japanese are going to become Neo-Pagans through a short-lived fashion trend.



Recent Posts

  • J-blip: Ipsa’s Face Melody

    Every face has a name, a story and . . . a song? That’s the idea behind cosmetic company Ipsa’s newest creation. We should, uh, take it at face value, but the company claims that its Face Melody program can measure the user’s appearance and write a unique tune based on their attributes. The application […]

  • Japan celebrates the GIFs that keep on giving

    GIFs — which stands for graphics interchange format, don’t you know — have made the Internet an even more enjoyable place than before, and we have the receipts to prove it. These digital designs were technological wonders back in the days of AOL and Netscape (Google it, kids). But they eventually went from high-tech animation […]

  • Smart absolutions: Send off your sins with just one click

    The two-step method to purification.

  • Attack of the plant hunters, green carnivores and fleshy girls

    Never promised you a rose garden, but how about a fleshy plant or a stag-horn fern?

  • Make 12th-century art using 21st-century tech

    The Choju-Giga, the famed animal caricature ink paintings displayed Kyoto’s Kozan-ji Temple have been captivating people for centuries. The four scrolls, which date to the 12th and 13th centuries and depict rabbits and monkeys getting into mischief, are often cited as the first manga comics in Japan’s history. Now art lovers can create their own […]

  • Fuji Rock bound? Make sure you survive in style

    A few items that will help you stay dry and happy during Fuji Rock Festival’s unpredictable weather.

  • Pokemon ages ungracefully with middle-aged ‘Ojisan Monsters’

    “Ojimon” is a new mobile game where players can catch middle-aged pocket monsters and make them do their bidding.

  • The new face of Japanese beauty products

    A wise woman once said that beauty is pain, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. With designer face masks, even the simple act of skin moisturizing can become fun. Face masks rose to popularity after the 2011 Korean BB Cream craze. Over the past four years, the “lazy girl” alternative to […]

  • Dominique Ansel caters to Tokyo’s (semi)sweet tooth with cronuts and s’more

    Long queues will mark the spot where Dominique Ansel wil be serving a vast array of creative desserts and, of course, his famed Cronut.

  • Load up YouTube because it’s morphin’ time!

    Summon your Megazord because the Power Rangers are heading to YouTube — and it’s all in Japanese. “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” was a hit children’s show back in the ‘90s that featured campy acting, ridiculous monsters and possibly the best theme song of all time. It was actually based on the long-running “Super Sentai” TV […]