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Big in Japan

Forget Honda, Fujitsu and Sony--take your next big cue from Tokyo's teenage girls.

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This story appears in the December 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

They gather in Tokyo's Shibuya district-teenage girls with unnaturally dark tans, hair streaked with gray, cell phones dangling like charms from chains, schoolgirl uniforms shortened up to there. Or they're wearing Hawaiian prints and cork wedgies, hair bleached blonde. Or next week-well, that's too far away to guess what the world's trendiest teens will be donning.

But why should you care? Because not only do these harbingers of hip affect trends in their native Tokyo, but their last-minute decisions on the next "kawaii" thing (think obnoxiously cute) often show up here. Take a look at many of the trends from the past 10 years, and you'll see "Made in Japan" stamped underneath-Tamagotchi, Pokémon, Hello Kitty, photo sticker machines, sushi and sake, Zen-inspired décor.

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