Disneyland: Japanese Schoolgirls’ Playground
Disneyland is beloved all over the world, but in Japan, visitors take the theme park experience to another level. It’s “kawaii” at its most concentrated, a promise to take you away from reality into the land of dreams. For many people, this can be summed up in a word: youth. It’s the time of our lives to enjoy and express ourselves freely, and there’s no better place to do it than at the Disney resort. How have the Japanese made Disneyland a place with their own unique culture?
On any given day you can expect to see herds of girls walking together dressed in matching school uniforms. They’re the picture of sparkling youth as they go around the park in cute blazers and knee socks. This trend has been taking Disneyland by storm, extending beyond school girls to college students and even working adults. Fun fact: Girls often buy fake uniforms specially to dress up and Disneyland. They roll up the sleeves, shorten their skirts and top it all off with the cutest ribbon they can find outside their school regulations. It is a masquerade of young girls’ springtime.
Even if it’s not a school uniform, there are still ways to doll up for Disney. The secret is to match and accessorize. Nothing makes a bigger impact than walking together in a band of coordinated outfits, especially if everyone is carrying the same doll. One of the most popular items is the Minnie Mouse ears headband, an essential for school girls in particular.
Once everyone is dressed up and ready, the only thing left to do is to take pictures. Not just any pictures either—pictures that burst with colors and energy and show how much fun it is to be at Disneyland. The photographic souvenirs of carefree youth is important, so many people put in the effort to take memorable photos.
Being the excellent place for dates it is, it’s no surprise that there are always many couples at Disneyland for a fun day out. Bonus points if they come in matching outfits! Many people like to come in couple wear together with their partner, so they can get the most out of a photogenic opportunity at the Disney parks. With hours of waiting time for rides, there’s plenty of time for lovey-dovey talk time with a significant other.
Did you know that the Japanese love Disney so much they would even go after school? Houkago Disney (literally “Afterschool Disney”) refers to students who go straight to the Disney resort after school. They come with their friends, still in their uniforms but ready to spend the rest of their day at their favorite theme park. With Tokyo Disney Resort’s After 6 passport, it makes it even easier for people to visit the parks for half a day.
Just before everyone goes home and gets ready for the next day at school or work, the gift shops beckon. Inside, people shop for merchandise of their favorite characters to bring back as souvenirs. Some proudly wear their collection, pinning badges to jackets and key chains to school bags. The Duffy character family, found only at Tokyo Disneysea and exclusive to Japan, is extremely popular among people of all ages.
The sun goes down and the traces of the night’s fireworks fade away, while girls and boys return to the station chatting and looking at all the pictures they took that day. Even after the parks have closed the excitement doesn’t stop among the visitors, flushed and happy in their uniforms and character headbands. The train platform is packed with people but Disney tunes continue to play faintly in the background, a prelude to the next trip to the Land of Dreams.
Photos by Sharuru
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