Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Damn kids: The Bōsōzoku

From Wikipedia:
Bōsōzoku (暴走族) (literally "Violent Running Tribe") is a Japanese subculture very similar to car clubs: gangs of young men who share a common interest in designing (often illegal) modifications for cars and motorcycles. These modifications often include removing the silencing features so that more noise is produced. They also engage in dangerous driving, such as weaving from side to side on the road, not wearing crash helmets, and ignoring red traffic lights. Japanese police call them "Maru-So"(police code:マル走)

Among their activities is shinai bōsō (市内暴走), which consists of driving down city streets at illegally high speeds. It is not properly a race; it is typically done for the thrill. With many cars (or bikes) involved, the leading one is driven by the sentōsha (先頭車), the leader, who is responsible for the event. Nobody is allowed to overtake him. Others keep a lookout for side and rear cars/bikes. Although they do race, some groups prefer to just bōsō, or violently run. They modify their exhaust systems to be extra loud and drive through suburbs at speeds of 5-10 miles an hour, waving imperial Japanese flags and shouting obscenities, occasionally throwing Molotov cocktails and carrying swords/spears, daring bystanders to challenge them.
Bōsōzoku members tend to be perceived as criminals and misfits, and they are commonly said to be recruiting grounds for the yakuza. Very few bōsōzoku members are older than 20 as they are then considered adults under Japanese law and can earn a criminal record. Bōsōzoku members older than 20 are considered immature and childish.

Bōsōzoku were first seen in the 1950s as Japanese youth began to see more products of industry, such as cars and bikes. The first bōsōzoku were known as kaminari-zoku (雷族) or "Lightning Tribes". There are bōsōzoku clubs throughout Japan, including female bike gangs, identified by their stylish fashion and customised motorcycles. Members take part in mass rallies and have had gang wars amongst themselves. As a fashion and youth subculture, bōsōzoku are subject to increasing state and police pressure.

Bōsōzoku are known to modify their bikes in peculiar and often showy ways. A typical customized bosozoku bike usually consists of an average Japanese road bike that appears to combine elements of an American chopper style bike and a British café racer, for example: oversized visored fenders like those found on café racers, "sissy" bars and raised handle bars like those on a chopper. Loud paint jobs on the fenders or the gas tanks with motifs such as flames or kamikaze style "rising sun" designs are also quite common. The bikes will often be adorned with stickers and/or flags depicting the gang's symbol or logo. There is also marked regional differences in motorcycle modifications. For example, Ibaraki Bosozoku are known to modify their motorcycles in an extensively colorful, flashy way. They will often have 3 or 4 oversized visored fenders in a tower like way in a motorcycle painted in bright yellow or pink with Christmas light like adornments.
Want to know more about the the lightning (and sometimes called "speed") tribes?, go directly to the source.


Tokyo, said...

Hi I have been making a documentary about the bosozoku. you should check my site:

M.Christian said...

Thanks! We'll check it out asap --

If you have something fun to share please feel free to write us at zobop@aol.com