On 20 May, Osaka Prefectural Police announced the arrest of four boys ages 14 and 15 on charges of assault and robbery. The victims were two other male students caught in the act of “bontan hunting” which is ganging up on and attacking someone to steal their particular style of puffy pants.
In addition to this heinous crime, as news hit the internet the rest of Japan came down hard on Osaka for having teens who wear fashion and engage in activities that have been out of style for decades.
Bontan is the term for a pair of pants that resemble standard school uniform slacks but have thighs that flare out. Also, the hems around the ankles are extra tight for an even more exaggerated effect. In Japan circa 1980 they were popular among the more rough-and-tumble youths such as boso (motorcycle gangs).
According to police, on 8 April in Tondabayashi the two victims were hanging out when one of them typed their location on popular messaging app LINE along with the word “tsubusu” (smash) which is basically a call to rumble akin to “I’ll mop the floor witcha!”
This upset another ruffian so much that he got the idea to call for a good old-fashioned bontan hunting session over LINE. Soon after, the two boys were surrounded by 20 other junior high schoolers. The mob then proceeded (to use the parlance) to mop the floor with them and stole one of their pairs of bontan and tanran.
A tanran is another exaggerated article of school uniform in which a blazer is cut extra short around the waist line. This was also popular among ruffians in the 80’s along with the nagaran, a similar jacket only with an extra-long waist line.
After the dust had cleared, four of the attackers were arrested and the two victims received minor bumps to the head but severe bruises to their egos. There was one reader who commented against the cowardly attack of 20 on two, but they were lost amidst a sea of people expressing shock that people – especially teenagers – still wore bontan and went bontan hunting.
“Are people still wearing that? I thought it died out 30 years ago?”
“Osaka’s stuck in the Showa era (1926 – 1989)”
“MC Hammer wears those lol.”
“That takes me back. Reminds me of Bebop Highschool lol.”
“It’s weird hearing LINE and bontan hunting in the same sentence.”
“Old fashioned things like that linger on in Osaka.”
“Bo-lol-n-lol-ta-lol-n lol hunt-lol-ing”
“Bontan hunting yeah! lol”
If you want to learn more about the rich cultural heritage of Japanese street-toughs, then do as the one commenter recommends and pick up a copy of the manga or live-action Bebop High School series.
Or you could just come to certain parts of Osaka. It’s like one of those historical reenactment villages only no one is getting paid to live in the past.
Source: MSN News Sankei West via Itai News (Japanese)
Tanran/Nagaran Image: Amazon 1 , 2
Bontan Image: Henkei Doudeshou
Video: YouTube – theallrock1999 さんのチャンネル