A yanki is simply a subculture that was popular in Japan in the 80's and 90's. Moreover, it was basically the style of delinquent students. They were characterized by punch perms or pompadours, shaved eyebrows, altered school uniforms, popping squats, being poor students and causing violence or trouble. Yanki is a term that applies to both boys and girls. Although it is said some yanki would be recruited into the yakuza, or Japanese organized crime, this is not always true. Many yanki simply joined the regular workforce and lived regular, productive lives after high school. Being a yanki was simply a way to enjoy youth and lash out at society similar to the punk rock movement in the West.
Bōsōzoku (暴走族) had a similar style to yanki, but were known for their outrageous and illegally modified motorcycles. Their outfits usually consisted of long jackets or flight suits consisting of complicated kanji with multiple meanings. On occasion, bike gangs would gather and parade down streets interfering with traffic or waking people at night. In their heyday, both yanki and bosozoku were considered a menace to society.
The term "yanki" has been popularized in American culture through the movie Kamikaze Girls. However, in Japan it comprises whole a genre of comics, movies, and even music.
But the Yanki should not be seen as mere wild beasts. They live by a strict moral code that owes something to the oyabun-kobun (parent-child) system of the yakuza. They also take inspiration from the “live beautifully, die young” sentiments familiar to Kamikaze pilots. A Yanki boss is sometimes called a Tokko-taicho; the captain of a suicide mission. Sometimes, they even decorate themselves with the old Japanese Imperial flag, inseparable from memories of World War II.
By the age of 18 or 19, the life of a Yanki in his or her prime is winding down. Anyone who stays past the age of 20 is a loser, even by loser standards. The boys get blue-collar jobs in factories, and the Yanki girls get pregnant and become moms with dizzying speed. But Yanki adults keep strong ties to their former gangs. Visits to the old hangouts are common, where they regale the younglings with tales of heroic deeds that begin “when I was your age…”
Few Yanki ever leave their hometowns. And aside from growing older, there’s really nowhere to go. This is the fundamental tragedy of the Yanki. They have created their own culture and style, one worthy of further study, but they are incapable, or unwilling, to communicate it to outsiders often.
The stereotypical bōsōzoku look is often portrayed, and even caricatured, in many forms of Japanese media such as anime, manga and films. The typical bōsōzoku member is often depicted in a uniform consisting of a jumpsuit like those worn by manual laborers or a tokkō-fuku (特攻服), a type of military issued overcoat with kanji slogans usually worn open with no shirt underneath showing off their bandaged torsos and baggy matching pants tucked inside tall boots. Tokkō-fuku in Japanese means "Special Attack Uniform", which is the uniform of the Kamikaze pilots, which in Japanese were called the "Special Attack Battalion" (特攻隊). The uniforms will most likely be adorned with militaristic slogans, patriotic rising sun patches, ancient Chinese characters, or even manji. They will also often wrap a taskui, which is a sash tied in X around the torso, a look inspired by Japanese World War II fighter pilots. Leather jackets, often embroidered with club/gang logos, and even full leather suits are also seen as common elements of the bōsōzoku look. Among other items in the bōsōzoku attire are usually round or wrap-around sunglasses, long hachimaki headbands also with battle slogans and a pompadour hairstyle most likely akin to the greaser/rocker look or perhaps because of the hairstyle's association with yakuza thugs. The punch perm is considered a common bōsōzoku hairstyle as well. Surgical masks are also stereotypically worn by bōsōzokus perhaps to conceal their identities although these type of masks are also worn by allergy sufferers in Japan, especially during autumn. Females are also shown dressed in a similar style but dress in a more feminine manner with long and often dyed hair, high-heeled boots and excessive make-up.