Keio University student writer explains why Toyoko became a lawless zone. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Keio University student writer explains why Toyoko became a lawless zone.

2022, Kabukicho is now......

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The “Toyoko Kids” were a big hit in 2021. Nowadays, Toyoko is often referred to as a dangerous area where disorderly minors gather, but it was not always that way.

The kids started to appear in Kabukicho, Shinjuku, around 2006. It all started when a group of “selfie-loving” young people who had been connected on social networking sites such as Twitter chose the area in front of TOHO Cinemas in Kabukicho as their hangout spot to interact in real life. With hashtags like “I want to connect with fashionable people,” they called themselves the “selfie community.

The former “Toyoko”. The police stepped up their crackdown due to frequent crimes. The kids have completely disappeared (photo by Takero Yuzoku)

The minors who wear black based fashion called “mine style” and play on the street with fireworks and flip-flops were ridiculed as “kids who have no choice but to play on the street because of their age and money” by the adults who used to live in Kabukicho. As a result, they came to be known as “Toyoko Kids.

On the other hand, they resisted being called “kids” and began to call themselves the “Toyoko neighborhood.

With the popularity of TikTok, the “Toyoko” gradually became a major presence in Japan around 2009. For boys and girls who had no place to go at home or school, Toyoko was the “place where trends were born” and became a place of longing. In fact, the “Don Quijote” character t-shirt-wearing “Don Pen Codes” became popular in Toyoko, and sales of Don Pen goods increased nationwide. In the 21st year, many minors who had been confined to their homes due to the Covid-19 disaster began to gather at Toyoko.

When minors with a dark heart gather together, what they do gradually becomes more extreme. In the beginning, it was just street drinking at best, but the so-called “dark culture” such as group overdose (OD) and group wrist cutting also increased.

As the number of people increased, the places where the kids gathered changed. The street next to TOHO used to be the place to hang out, but in the summer of 2009, it was moved to “Cine City Square” (formerly the square in front of the Koma Theater). The plaza is a place where young people after clubbing, homeless people, and groups like half-criminal gather. As the kids mixed with the traditional residents of Kabukicho, and the media started to cover Toyoko, the lawlessness of Toyoko became unstoppable. Adults began to recognize Toyoko as a place where minors with no place to stay could gather, and incidents began to occur frequently.

In May 2009, there was a suicide attempt and kidnapping of a minor; in October, a 21-year-old man was arrested for child prostitution; and in November, a group including kids lynched and killed a homeless man. A 19-year-old boy in a mine-like fashion who has been in Toyoko for a long time spilled the beans.

Before I moved to the Plaza, I used to OD and take over-the-counter drugs like Bron. But after I came to the Plaza, they started selling psyllace and marijuana, and it got worse. Whenever we gathered, we would get mixed up with people who looked like half-trolls. ……

As the incidents have become more frequent, the police have stepped up their crackdown. Nowadays, the “kids” are rarely seen in Kabukicho anymore. Now that they have lost their place again, where will they go? The boy continued.

We used to live on our own, but now the adults intervene and make rules for us and try to make us follow them. That’s why we’re going to create a new neighborhood. This time, we won’t be disturbed by adults. That’s why we’re looking at different places now. As long as there is a charismatic person at the center, we can create a “neighborhood” anywhere.

We will create a new “neighborhood” on our own at ……. I wonder if the kids’ greenish plan will work.

Chihuahua Sasaki
Born in Tokyo in 2000.
After attending an integrated school in Tokyo from elementary to high school, he went on to Keio University.
He has been going to Kabukicho since he was 15, and has a wide range of connections.
At university, he is studying the sociology of downtown areas including Kabukicho.
The Disease of “Pien”: Consumption and Approval of the SNS Generation” (Fusosha Shinsho ) is now on sale.

From the January 21, 2022 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Takero Kizuna

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