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Bright Lights, Big Shoulder Pads: A Timid Japan Recalls Its Bubble Era

TOKYO — Kaori Masukodera remembers, barely, riding as a child with her mother, her hair teased and her lips bright red, in the family’s convertible to the beach. It was the last gasp of the 1980s, a time of Champagne, garish colors and bubbly disco dance-floor anthems, and the last time many people in Japan felt rich and ascendant.

A so-called Lost Decade and many economically stagnant years later, the family’s convertible and beach vacations are long gone — but Ms. Masukodera is helping to bring the rest of Japan’s bubble era back. She performs in a pop-music duo called Bed In that borrows heavily from the keyboard lines, electric drums and power chords of the ’80s. They dress ’80s, too: The shoulder pads are big, the skirts are mini and the hues are Day-Glo when they aren’t just plain shiny.

Bed In, a pop duo, has borrowed the sounds and the looks of Japan’s 1980s bubble era. Video by King Records

“Until a few years ago, most people saw the bubble period as a negative legacy, and it was considered quite tacky,” said Ms. Masukodera, 32, wearing a tight blazer with jutting shoulder pads emblazoned with images of the Tokyo nightscape, paired with a miniskirt and gold jewelry.

“That completely changed in the last few years,” she added. “Now people recognize it as kind of a cool period.”

Photo

Bed In’s 2017 album, “Tokyo.” The band borrows heavily from the keyboard lines, electric drums and power chords of the 1980s.

Credit
Ko Sasaki for The New York Times

Japan is in the midst of its most prosperous period in decades, as the economy cranks up and companies scramble for increasingly scarce workers. Still, for many people in Japan, that only underlines how far the country has fallen from the heights of the ’80s — wages are barely rising, the population is aging and shrinking, and many feel that Japan’s best days are over.

That feeling has helped fuel nostalgia for the last time Japan was unquestionably on top of the world, joining a global reappreciation for the ’80s in general.

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News credit : Nytimes