It’s June again, and that means it’s time for Himeji City in Hyogo Prefecture to hold its annual Himeji Yukata Festival! The three-day event incorporates around 800 businesses and draws in around 200,000 attendees, many of whom are dressed in traditional Japanese summer wear yukata.

It’s a festive time for the whole family, but the Himeji Yukata Festival also has a dark side that city officials and police are looking to stop once and for all. This problem comes in the form of biker gangs known in Japan as bōsōzoku. But these are not just any biker gangs; they’re biker gangs… without bikes.

At this point you might be wondering “Wouldn’t they just be a regular gang if they don’t have bikes?” That’s a valid question and easy to explain.

You see, Japanese biker-gang members tend to prefer a specific fashion known as tokkōfuku or “special attack uniforms.” Tokkōfuku is modeled after clothes worn by kamikaze pilots during WWII but contain some alterations like messages written phonetically in Chinese characters.

This is very similar but distinct from the clothes worn by bike-less ruffians. Pedestrian gangs can sometimes be seen wearing garb called bontan, tanran, and nagaran which are distorted versions of school uniforms.

The street-toughs threatening the Yukata Festival have been sporting tokkōfuku and so have been labelled as bikers. However, not having a bike would make them “walking bikers.” This sounds somewhat less absurd if you directly translate bōsōzoku as an “out-of-control gang,” removing the mention of actual motorcycles. This would then make these particular kids a “walking out-of-control gang.”

These pedestrian biker gangs have caused problems in the past during the Himeji Yukata Festival. They have been known to board trains in large groups and intimidate the other passengers. They have also engaged in egg-throwing and general roughhousing on the festival grounds.

City officials and police have formed a 110-person task force to deal with this menace. On 18 June they announced their intentions to enforce a regulation set up in 2008 against two or more people wearing tokkōfuku together. They showed members of the press their training for the festival wherein police officers dressed up as bikers and pretended to be unruly while other officers confirmed the proper way to issue warnings and take them into custody.

Thanks to these public workers the Himeji Yukata Festival should be safe and peaceful for folks of all ages to enjoy. As for those thugs, they’ll just have to get on their bikes and ride awa–oh, never mind.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News (Japanese)
Top image: Wikipedia – Corpse Reviver (Altered by RocketNews24)
Tokkofuku image: Amazon
Bontan image: Amazon 1, 23