September 25, 2012

Bagel head.

A Japanese body modification trend.


Pastafarian said...

Jesus Christ. What is wrong with the Japanese?

Carnifex said...

I always assume American pop underground culture is the worst, but then the Japanese come along to set me straight. Time after time.

Inga said...

And they do this....why?

Darrell said...

Combine this with trepanation, and Andy R can literally get his brains fucked out.

elkh1 said...

Shows what a dying culture is like.

dbp said...

At least it is only temporary.

Seven Machos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seven Machos said...

You people are way behind the curve. The new thing in Tokyo is bukkake bagel head.

edutcher said...

The flip side of what the Flathead Indians did.

Darrell said...

Seven, Yeah. But they took it too far with Charlize Theron in Snow White and the Huntsman.
Got the color off, too.

McTriumph said...

Get use to it, it's what happens to countries that experience a two decades long recession and fake monetized growth. Keep in mind that is our future if the present track continues, but we don't have gun control.

Palladian said...

So three people doing something stupid is a trend?

The NY Times does stories like this: two or three neurotic friends of friends of the "reporter" are into something like toilet plunger decoration or bedscarves or sphincter piercing and it becomes a 1000 word article about a "growing trend".

I guess this is how one meets deadlines.

Seven Machos said...

Darrell's link is sublimely hilarious.

ddh said...

One is an anecdote, two are data, and three are a trend. That article was still one Japanese short of a trend.

Ann Althouse said...

"The flip side of what the Flathead Indians did."

The Flathead Indians were the ones who DIDN'T distort their heads. Normal heads looked flat in comparison to what other tribes did.

Curious George said...

"Seven Machos said...
You people are way behind the curve. The new thing in Tokyo is bukkake bagel head."

That would be the cream cheese and bagel hread.

yashu said...

"I'm not making a tag for this"


edutcher said...

Very astute, Madame.

I stand corrected.

john said...

What Palladian said.

National Geographic also did the story about the 300-lb diaper man with the adult crib and nurse. Which should raise the question about which entity is creating the news.

Balfegor said...

Re: Pastafarian:

Jesus Christ. What is wrong with the Japanese?

I think most of them had no idea this was going on until it was broadcast overseas sometime last year. Here's a thread about it. Let me translate some of the comments:

That's too gross, really

First time I saw this.
Too gross

Isn't body modification an American and German thing?

Surprisingly disgusting

Eeeeh WTF?

Not one in 100,000 do this, right?
I've only ever seen this in Psychometer Eiji (a comic book series)

Recently, it's like there's a different Japan from the Japan I know.

Hint; Zainichi (Koreans resident in Japan)

Are there people like this?

Are they Star Trek fans?

I am scared to look at the pictures

How the hell do foreigners know about this when I, a Japanese, am seeing the for the first time?

They watched too much Star Trek

Isn't America the lead country for demented body modifications?

No, no, this came from America, didn't it?

At last, mutants have been born

Do Americans think Japanese are crazy?

If you hit it would it burst?

In the first place, this is a method thought up by an American madman

The effects of radiation here too

The Japan that is introduced overseas is all stuff I have never seen.

John Lynch said...

What's wrong with your FACE?

John Lynch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrell said...

How the hell do foreigners know about this when I, a Japanese law professor, am seeing the for the first time?


MadisonMan said...

The tag made me LOL.

MadisonMan said...

That extra pressure would give me a wicked headache today.

wild chicken said...

"The Flathead Indians were the ones who DIDN'T distort their heads"

Not to challenge you or anything, but do you have a link for that, Ann?

Methadras said...

So should I even bother asking what schmearing is going to look like?

Darrell said...

Here you go, chicken-

Methadras said...

Darrell said...

Here you go, chicken-

Thank god it isn't a shovelhead. :D

wild chicken said...

NM. I found it.

wild chicken said...

Huh, murdercycles. Right.

McTriumph said...

They had to change the racing rules, British Iron was kicking their asses.

bagoh20 said...


Eustace Chilke said...

Beats tattoos. At least it's gone before you have time to wonder what the hell you were thinking.

Robert Cook said...

I read a short story by Stanislaw Lem about 30 years ago in which technological advancements make the most extreme plastic surgeries possible, and over the course of the story he presents the succeeding waves of ever more fanciful and bizarre body mods to which humans submitted, all in the timeless effort of human beings to stay on the forward edge of stylishness.

Lem had human psychology nailed!

Balfegor said...

RE: Eustace Chilke:

Beats tattoos. At least it's gone before you have time to wonder what the hell you were thinking.

Oh, most of them seem to have horrific tatoos too.

Tatoos are actually even more of a dysfunction-signifier in Japan than they are in the US. In many cases, you can't go to public baths or hot springs if you have visible tatoos. Public pools either, I think. What I heard in the past was that it's because of Yakuza, but I suspect the majority of tatoo-wearers today have nothing to do with Yakuza; they're just regarded as unclean freaks by normal people.

madAsHell said...

In the past, these people suffered wedgies, and were then kicked to the side of the road.

Why would you do this?

Kimberly said...

Eh. I feel the same way about this as I do about any "body modification" trend.

1. They look like dorks.
2. If they're lucky, the modification won't be injurious long-term (or, in this case, won't even be long-term).

If only the people who do this for attention only realized how many of us roll our eyes at their dorkness and then go back to our day...

Carnifex said...


I read a similar story, one of the characters had a fetish for orcas, and had her shin colored as an orca. To retain her look she had to bath in vinegar every day, but needs must when style demands. She also had surgery to make her hands flipper-like, etc. Was very surreal but very believable, especially when we see the stuff going on today.

Carnifex said...


Is that communal bath before or after they buy used womens panties from a soda dispenser?

Every society has something that other societies look on and go WTF. I look on ALL societies and go WTF.

EDH said...

There's a little samurai in that look, no?

EDH said...

Looks more like a Today's Sponge.

But are these people "sponge worthy". (Notice, George is eating a bagel.)

clint said...


Sometimes I really love Japanese culture.

Eric said...

Isn't body modification an American and German thing?

You see piercing and tattoos in Japanese movies and TV shows, but it's almost always on the evil bad guy.

kentuckyliz said...

Flash poll: who else clicked the tag "I'm not making a tag for this " to see if any other posts were tagged like that?

Eric said...

One thing "Spike" (a Canadian living in Tokyo) at Spike Japan likes to complain about is the way only two stories make it out of Japan and into foreign media: "Those Japanese are taking over the world look they work 27 hours a day" and "Those wacky Japanese are crazy".

The first was pretty ubiquitous in the '80s when the were in the midst of a bubble. Lately it's been more of the second.

The funny thing is people who actually go to Japan expecting this kind of thing are shocked to discover the weirdos are a tiny, tiny minority surrounded by vast numbers of ordinary people. Even more so than in other countries.

Tokyo Cheesehead said...

This is NOT a trend. I have lived here 15 years, my wife is Japanese. We live in the Tokyo metro area, I work in Tokyo and neither we nor anyone we know has ever seen, or even heard of this. The Daily Mail runs one of these so-called Japanese trend pieces several times a year but I've yet to see one that actually is a trend.

Tokyo Cheesehead said...

Eric hits the nail on the head (and I apologize for not reading your post before writing mine.)

DEEBEE said...

A generation used to a sideways, but rich, economy seeing no ever advancing future has to become self indulfent -- we are looking at our future.

Rusty said...

Looks more like a butt head to me.

Michael said...

When every redneck, hipster and housewife on the beach has a tattoo indicating their uniqueness it is time to move on. We will see more of this as the clock ticks, more willingness to disfigure to prove how very special one is and remains. It is interesting to watch. Pierce your nipple I will pierce my tongue. Pierce your ear I will pierce my eyebrow. Tramp stamp the top of your crack and I will tramp stamp my face. I am sorry I wont be around to enjoy the long term effects of some of these maneuvers because I think it will be very entertaining. Bagel face will be nothing compared to what you will see on the streets and subways in a few years when the boredom and cluelessness devolve into ever more wrenching mutilations.

Drew W said...

Why did "bagel head" body modification become popular before "Klingon head?" Face it, lots of guys thought that Roxann Dawson (as B'Elanna Torres) looked pretty hot in Star Trek Voyager, albeit with less prominent forehead ridges, as she was only half Klingon. On one hand, I think the Japanese bagel head people in that article are nuts, but on the other hand, I think I can come up with a fun game to play tonight when we break the Yom Kippur fast.

Freeman Hunt said...

Well, that is one thing a person can do.

Unknown said...

Fake from 2009. Young Turks ran it in 2011. Google is a two edged weapon.

Balfegor said...

Fake from 2009. Young Turks ran it in 2011. Google is a two edged weapon.

It's obviously not a real trend, but it's not like it was invented whole cloth. Here, for example is a 2005 blog post in Japanese talking about a picture he saw of this phenomenon:


The postcard is a portrait of a human who has got a saline injection in his forehead.
I thought about uploading the picture, but it's gross so I decided not to. Imagine the look of a donut buried in a forehead

The actual term Bagel-head seems to have been suggested by a British interviewer from Vice Magazine -- you can see that the Japanese interviewee does not actually adopt the terminology himself, but instead refers to "the donut, bagel effect."

Since then, of course, there's been lots of web pages in Japanese talking about Bagel-head or Donut-head (in appalled terms). The search the purported debunk post ran wouldn't have caught all of them (sometimes it's ベーグル頭, rather than ベーグルヘッド). But in any event, it's just one small part of the broader body modification by saline injection thing. Bagel-head references in Japanese now all seem to be Japanese people all appalled that such a thing could be happening in Japan, and keying off of foreign sources.

Balfegor said...

Actually no, never mind -- not sure where "Bagelhead" as a term came from. Vice magazine article is later than the putative debunk. Either way, though, the basic point stands -- the Japanese interviewee doesn't use the term, so whatever they call it within the actual body modification scene, it evidently isn't "bagel-head."