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Kido Mafon
Kido MafonPhotography Kido Mafon @ifucktokyo

In pictures: Tokyo’s underground youth culture at night

Photographer Kido Mafon documents emerging Tokyo subcultures and frenetic nightlife on her Instagram account @ifucktookyo

Tokyo is a hive of subcultures: J-hip-hop is taking a drill u-turn led by artists like Jumadiba and kZm, while the Urahara district of the city is thriving with new shops occupied by small local brands, and konbinis popping up all over offer an alternative to the traditional NYC bodega. In such an eclectic capital, it’s hard to keep tabs on what is going on in the underground. 

Photographer Kido Mafon documents this ever-evolving scene under the guise of IFUCKTOKYO. Shooting on film with a Contax G1, Mafon captures scenes from the city’s frenetic nightlife and youth culture. From the club kids with layered, multicoloured hair, to new wave tech-blokecore j-rappers and die-hard Tokyo Vitamin fans, Mafon takes to the city after dark to document the most febrile club nights.

“I was looking for a job [in] the fashion industry and I applied for a position as an intern to do street snaps outside and inside of fashion shows,” Mafon tells Dazed. “From there, I started taking portraits and met a bunch of talented photographers and creatives who inspired me.” Now, she is part of this vivid ecosystem of subcultures which congregate at clubs – including Mitsuki and Lion in Shibuya, or the sleek underground venues of Omotesando – and assemble around Cat Street, heading towards Harajuku and unauthorised skate spots. 

Camera in hand, Mafon is far from being an intrusive voyeur. “I was always filming the people around me because we would go out every single night,” she tells Dazed. From dancers to nail artists, DJs, painters, designers, stylists, and animators, Mafon immortalised Tokyo’s emerging creative community. 

“A year ago, I [thought] youth culture in Tokyo was pretty much dead... But recently, I feel like a lot of us started realising that we need to change things up. I feel like the power shift will come soon, [like a] revival of youth, where we, young creatives, come together and create a movement. Probably, like the Urahara period,” says Mafon, referring to the network of cool backstreets in Shibuya. 

It’s true – something is materialising in the streets of central Tokyo. Since the end of the pandemic, Tokyoite youth culture seems to have mobilised with full force. Reflecting on some of the key figures in the scene, Mafon mentions Yugo Kato, a groundbreaking kickboxer bridging sports and avant-garde fashion. “Since kickboxing is a very niche sport that only sports enthusiasts know, he is trying to bring a cultural movement toward the sport by involving creatives in the fashion and music scene.” She also highlights Joy Inagawa as an underrated multi-faceted creative transforming videography and creative directing. She explains, “He’s very lowkey but he has collaborated with people like Bloody Osiris and London big names.” An accomplice to the undying ingenuity of Tokyo, Mafon knows there’s more to come: “I feel like there are many chances lying in the current society for IFUCKTOKYO to bring a new wave, so I’m very excited.” 

Visit the gallery above for a closer look at Kido Mafon’s portraits of Tokyo’s club kids. 

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