''shironuri'' (白塗り) litteraly means ''painted in white''. It refers to the white traditional makeup worn by geishas and stage actors. It is also sometimes called ''shiro mamba'' (white mamba) because it uses heavy makeup as yamamba, but with reversed colors.
The shironuri community isn't the same as the Harajuku kids community. They have their own gatherings and parties, that is why they rarely appear on any Harajuku-based snaps site such as Tokyo Fashion. Two exceptions are Uri who attends events such as Pop N Cute and Minori who can often be seen in the streets of Harajuku. While the Harajuku community is located in the Tokyo Harajuku-Shinjuku area, the angura and shironuri community is stronger in the Kansai area (Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto-Nara). However, there also are big shironuri meetings in Tokyo. Inspiration
Shironuri fashion takes its inspiration from many sources. As there are no real rules except having your face painted in white, any clothing worn with shironuri makeup can be considered shironuri. However, some influences are more specific to shironuri fashion. (Please take note that the names that I use aren't real ''styles''. It is only to make it easier to understand.)
''RETRO japanese look'' While most other japanese fashion styles have their sources in european culture, shironuri uses traditional japanese elements. Kimono, hakama and geta are sometimes part of the outfits. However, more than the purely traditional style, the Showa era (1926-1989) had a strong incluence on shironuri fashion. Gakuran, sailor fuku, military uniforms and japanese war flags are common elements. This picture slideshow is quite representative of this look: shironuri meeting@harajuku on youtube
''Gothic/dolly look'' European fashion elements can also be used in shironuri. While some will go for a more gothic aristocratic look with well tailored clothes, the ''antique doll'' look is also popular. This look is created by wearing layers of vintage, sometimes ragged, clothes.
Some individuals have their own sub-style such as Uri's decora-shironuri and Minori's nature inspired outfits. I have also seen some lolita and cyber girls with shironuri makeup!
Inspiration list : grotesque, monsters, youkai, inugami, folklore, circus, grand guignol, horror, uniforms, black stars, japanese war flag, eclipses, dolls, gothic, cross, jester, clown, eyepatch, bandages.
First comes the white foundation (cream or liquid) and white powder. You can either apply it only in the face like if it would be a white mask, or cover your neck area and make sure all your visible skin is painted in white. In this case, either paint your hands or wear gloves. (Other angura styles sometimes use white powder or very light foundation on the face to create a softer effect than shironuri.) Black heavy eyeliner is the most popular, with top and bottom fake lashes. Make sure the lashes you choose are long enough to show even over a tick eyeliner line. Another option is a very tick eyeliner line all arround the eye with smudged black eyeshadow and no fake lashes. This will give a less feminine panda-ish look. For the lips, you may decide to leave them white or to reshape it and recolor it as you want. Black or red are popular colors. Lenses are also often worn, either the special effects ones or the more classical circle lenses.
In shironuri, makeup is a step where you can have some fun and give a unique look to your whole outfit. Don't be affraid to experiment and draw on your face as you like! Kuchisake-onna's makeup (a sliced mouth with sharp teeths drawn on the side of the real mouth) or the japanese war flag are popular exemples. (No, it wasn't Kyary Pamyu Pamyu that invented this makeup, it is part of the japanese folklore).
Black is the most classic hair color in shironuri, as it is the natural color of most japanese people. However, unnatural bright and flashy colors are also popular, often worn as wigs.
Unless you are going for an all-in-white outfit, I would recommend avoiding pale hair color such as blond or white, as it won't contrast with the white makeup and your face will look larger.
SHIRONURI fashion icons (Now is the moment you will all think ''MINORI'', but sorry she is not the one I want to talk about first.)
TSUNOSHI (津野氏) Tsunoshi is the very first person that got me into shironuri fashion. Her style is inspired by grandmothers and old clothing, and includes many handcrafted accessories. She calls herself a ''fat magician'' that can't perform magic tricks, but that crafts and draws. She is well known in the shironuri community as she attends and organizes shironuri meetings. Oh and she is really kind~ Facebook Fan Page - Tumblr - Twitter - Ameba
N.96 N.96 is known for her impressive monster masks and makeups. All of her masks and other props are handmade. Her inspiration comes from Halloween and she likes to create ''colorful monsters' . Twitter - Ameba
KAZE TAKA(風鷹) Kaze Taka is easy to recognize with her bird-skull-like hat that she almost always wear. Beside attending shironuri meetings, she also performed with Tokyo Decadance. She also does some accessory crafting. Twitter - Ameba
(on the right) URI (兎り) Uri is a deco-boy who is part of both the harajuku and the shironuri communities, sometimes dressing in decora style, sometimes doing shironuri makeup and often mixing both of them. Ameba
MINORI Minori is probably the most popular shironuri artist on the internet right now (at least on tumblr). She has a style that is unique to her and as she states herself in her interview with Tokyo Fashion that it differs from the usually darker shironuri style. Her inspiration comes from nature and vintage european fashion. Her outfits often include pale puffy and curly wigs, dolly-like makeup and many layers of pale frilly clothing. She also draws and crafts.
About ANGURA culture (NSFW warning – there is no explicit content, but I will be talking about some R-18 stuff. )
''angura'' comes from the japanese pronunciation of ''underground'' (anda gurando). The underground culture touches to many artistic aspects such as theater, manga, painting and music. Please note that this is in no way an exhaustive list. There are many more, but naming them all would be endless. Basically, the angura world is like a big spider web where everything is connected. I selected only a few artists from each cathegory who seemed to me the most relevents to understand shironuri fashion's influences.
From all the cultural aspects of the underground, theater is probably the one that had the stronger influence on shironuri. As I said at the beginning of this article, before becoming a fashion trend, shironuri was worn by stage actors. At the end of the 20th century, there were still a lot of actors that would wear shironuri makeup on stage. [Angura theater posters. From left to right : Tenjo Sajiki, Tokyo Grand Guignol, Gesshoku Kageki Dan and Kaiten Hyakume Theatrical. ]
TENJO SAJIKI (天井桟敷) – from 1967 to 1983 Tenjo Sajiki is a legendary angura theater founded by Terayama Shuuji. The name of the company comes from the french movie ''Children of Paradise'' (''Tenjo Sajiki no Hitobito'' in japanese). Along with the Joukyou Theater, the Wasedashou Theater and the Theater Kuro Tent (other theater companies from the same time), they were called the four kings of the underground. They presented experimental plays with erotic and grotesque elements. They did adaptations of many well known stories such as Blue Beard, The Little Prince and Dr. Caligari. Terayama Shuuji was an important figure of the underground culture. In adition to writing and directing theater plays, he also was a poet and a film director.
TOKYO Grand Guignol (東京グランギニョル) – from 1983 to 1986 The compagnie's name and concept was inspired by the french Grand Guignol theater. Their plays featured boys in school uniforms, shironuri makeup, blood and grotesque elements. They only performed 4 plays before dissolving. Their most well known play is probably ''Litchi HIKARI Club'' which was adapted into a manga by Furuya Usamaru. [Mercuro – 1984, GARACHIA TEITO MONOGATARI – 1985, Litchi HIKARI Club – 1985, Walpurgis – 1986]
GESSHOKU KAGEKI DAN (月蝕歌劇団）''The Lunar Eclipse Opera'' – from 1985 to today Gesshoku Kageki Dan was founded by Takatori Ei, who also wrote most of its plays. They performed several plays based on Terayama Shuuji's works and adapted many mangas such as Metropolis and Shoujo Kakumei Utena. They also did a play inspired by Yumeno Kyuusaku's famous novel Dogra Magra. Website
KAITEN HYAKUME (廻天百眼) – from around 2005 to today Kaiten Hyakume is a quite recent theater group that performs in many underground events. Their plays include grotesque and traditional japanese elements, and shironuri makeup. In 2011 they did a play based on Maruo Suehiro's manga Shoujo Tsubaki. Their most recent play is Onihime. Website Trailer for Kaiten Hyakume's Shoujo Tsubaki
The genre ''eroguro'' comes from the expression ''Erotic Grotesque Nonsense''. It features explicit gore and sexual content in a strange and disturbing setting. Angura theater plays and eroguro mangas are often quite similar. Magazines : Garo, Yasou(夜想), Takarajima(宝島) [From left to right : Maruo Suehiro's Shoujo Tsubaki, Furuya Usamaru's Litchi Hikari Club and Kago Shintaro's Anamorphosis no Meijuu]
MARUO SUEHIRO (丸尾末広) Maruo is a mangaka born in 1956. In his high school years, he tried to get published by Shonen Jump, but his submission was rejected because it was too graphic for the magazine. He later became an important contributor to the underground magazine Garo. Frequent themes in his mangas are Showa Era, circus freaks and other odities. Some of his most famous works are Barairo no Kaibutsu, Yume no Q-SAKU, Shouji Tsubaki, Maruo Jigoku and LUNATIC LOVER'S. He was involved in the production of Tokyo Grand Guignol and drew the posters for their plays. He also drew the cover for R shitei's album ''Nihon Chinbotsu''. His manga Shoujo Tsubaki was made into an animation movie named ''Midori''. It was also adapted into a theater play in 2011 by Kaiten Hyakume Theatrical. Website
FURUYA USAMARU (古屋兎丸) Furuya Usamaru in a mangaka born in Tokyo in 1968. In his high school years, he discovered the underground culture through Tokyo Grand Guignol's plays. He was later published in the magazine Garo. His style is greatly inspired by Maruo Suehiro (there are many reccuring elements between their works such as black stars and licking eyeballs). He did the manga adaption of Sono Shion's Suicide Club movie and of Tokyo Grand Guignol's play Litchi Hikari Club. He also drew a manga based on Dazai Osamu's novel Ningen Jikkaku. Genkaku Picasso is one of his more recent publications. His independent works include Palepoli, Garden, and other oneshots. Blog - Twitter
KAGO SHINTARO (駕籠真太郎) Kago Shintarou was born in 1969. His style mixes grotesque elements with science fiction and extreme sex. Some of his works include Hannya Haramita, Yume no Omocha Koujo, Anamorphosis no Meijuu and many oneshots. Website
Authors YUMENO KYUUSAKU Born in 1889, Yumeno Kyuusaku is a writer from the early Showa era. His style is know as avant-gardism and surrealistic. His gothic novel Dogra Magra was adapted to the theater by Gesshoku Kageki Dan. Maruo Suehiro's manga Yume no Q-SAKU (pronounced ''Yume no Kyuu-saku'') is probably named after him.
[Covers of Yamamoto Takato's artbooks]
YAMAMOTO TAKATO (山本タカト) Yamamoto Takato is a painter and illustrator born in 1960. He released many artbooks through his career. His style is characterised by naked women in shibari, school uniforms, traditional japanese elements and grotesque. He drew the cover art of Dir en Grey's Dozing Green single.
LUCIO MAEKAWA(前川ルチオ) Lucio Maekawa is a painter from Osaka. He is not a major artist yet. His paintings are unrealistic and use grotesque and symbolic elements. He did many collaborations with Nao-san, painting portraits of shironuri/angura people based on Nao-san's photos. Website - Tumblr Lucio Maekawa's collaboration with Nao-san (on Qhoto) Bands
INUGAMI Circus DAN (犬神サーカス団) Inugami Circus Dan was formed in 1994 by Inugami Kyouko through an announce she posted in the magazine Garo. They began performing in 1997. Their visual features shironuri makeup, a kimono for Kyouko and school uniforms for the three male members. In 2011, they did the music for Kaiten Hyakume's play ''Shoujou Tsubaki''. Website Inugami Circus Dan PV DEAD END KIDS on youtube
GURUGURU EIGAKAN (グルグル映畫館) Guruguru Eigakan is a visual kei angura group formed in 1995. They disbanded in 2012. Their concept is based on the eroguro nonsense. They always appear in school uniforms and shironuri makeup. Their performances are very theater-like. Website
Strawberry Song Orchestra (苺楽團・ストロベリーソングオーケストラ) Strawberry Song Orchestra was founded in 1998. They have many former members, but their current lineup is composed of 17 members (8 actors, 8 musicians and their leader, Miyaaku Sensha). They call themselves ”freak show punk” (見世物パンク一座). The band concept is based on the opposition of reality and fiction, and the illusional town ”Kagamimachi” (mirror town). All members have two names, their ”real” name and their ”kagamimachi” name. Strawberry Song Orchestra’s world is greatly influenced by the works of Terayama Shuuji, Edogawa Ranpo, Yumeno Kyuusaku and angura bands such as Guruguru Eigakan and Inugami Circus Dan.Website Strawberry Song Orchestra PV Mekki no Circus on youtube
cali≠gari Cali Gari is a visual kei experimental rock band formed in 1992. It was named after the horror movie ''The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari''. Their concept is also based on eroguro nonsense. Website Cali Gari PV MAGURO on youtube
Litchi HIKARI Club (ライチ☆光クラブ) Litchi Hikari Club is an unit created by Hakuei from Penicillin that released 17 songs over two years. It featured various artists such as Kimura Yuu and members from the band Anli Pollicino. The PVs and the lyrics were inspired by Furuya Usamaru's manga. The songs were also used in Litchi DE Hikari Club anime. Their last album, Grand Guignol, is a direct reference to Tokyo Grand Guignol's theater. There is also a reference to Maruo Suehiro's first manga, Barairo no Kaibutsu, at the beginning of the song Dark Night. Finally, the song ''GAGAGA'' is probably a reference to Sono Shion's Tokyo GAGAGA (as Hakuei stated in an interview, the song was supposed to give the feeling of a demonstration). Website (this website also includes all the information on the recent theater representations and on the anime) Litchi Hikari Club PV Haikyo no Teiou on youtube
[From left to right : Suicide Club, Strange Circus and Guilty of Romance]
SONO SHION (園子温) Sono Shion is a poet and a filmmaker. He organized in 1997 the Tokyo GAGAGA, a guerrilla performance poetry-reading where poets would walk in the streets with flags shouting ''Tokyo GAGAGA!''. He is mostly known for his movie ''Suicide Club'' released in 2001, about the high rate of suicides in Japan. A manga adaptation of his film was made by the mangaka Furuya Usamaru. Furuya also played in two of Sono's films, ''Love Exposure'' and ''Noriko's Dinner Table''. His movie ''Strange Circus'' is a great exemple of a modern eroguro movie, as it is inspired by Grand Guignol's theater and features sexual content with extreme gore and other odities.
[Posters for GANTAI Alice SHOKOGUN event, from 2010, 2012 and 2013]
GANTAI Alice SHOKOGUN (眼帯アリス症候群) ''Eyepatch Alice Syndrome'' Underground event held every two months in Tokyo and Osaka. It features a large variety of performers, from angura bands to theatrical groups and Djs.
The Harajuku fashion walk isn't the only fashion walk in Japan. Since a few years ago, there is one taking place in Nara too. As the angura community is bigger in this area, there are a lot more shironuri participants than in Harajuku. Nara fashion walk photos on Qhoto Video on youtube
Zombie Walk – HYAKKI YAKOU (百鬼夜行) ''Night Parade of One Hundred Demons'' Shironuri people like to dress up as monsters! Zombie Walks and Hyakki Yakou (a demon night parade based on japanese folklore) are often organized by the shironuri community. Zombie Walk photos on Qhoto Hyakki Yakou photos on Qhoto
Anima Animus (アニマアニムス) The Anima Animus is a ''secret'' club managed by Strawberry Song Orchestra in Osaka. There are two songs (Shihainin Kara no Aisatsu and Anima Animus) from their album ''Gesshoku no Circus'' that explain the club's purpose. The name of the club probably comes from Carl Jung's analitycal psychology, the Anima being the inner feminine part of a male personnality and the Animus the masculine part of the female one. The club holds themed events, performances and art expositions. (Lucio Maekawa's paintings and Nao-san's photos are currently exposed there.) Ameba
Other ANGURA fashion icons TETRA。 Tetra is a more recent and still unofficial member of the theatrical group Kaiten Hyakume. He's become a regular DJ at select angura events like Gantai Alice Shokogun and attends other events held at the Anima Animus.
Void Void is a 20 years old indie fashion designer. He does remake clothing and paints on shirts. His style is quite dark. Tumblr - Twitter Baabara
Baabara has her own unique style. She likes colorful things and sailor moon, and is a quite flashy person. Tumblr
Sorry for this long post! Thank you to those of you who read it until the end~~ I hope that from now on more people will get to like this community as I like it myself! (and if this kind of stuff interest you, please come talk with me~ : D )