Visual kei (Japanese: ヴィジュアル系,Hepburn: Vijuaru Kei, lit. "Visual Style" or "Visual System") is a movement among Japanese musicians, that is characterized by the use of varying levels of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgynousaesthetics, similar to Western glam rock.
The term "visual kei" was derived from one of X Japan's slogans, "Psychedelic Violence Crime of Visual Shock", seen on the cover of their second studio album Blue Blood (1989). This derivation is credited as being coined by Seiichi Hoshiko, the founding editor of Shoxx magazine, which was founded in 1990 as the first publication devoted to the subject. However, he explained in a 2018 interview with JRock News that visual kei was technically coined, or at least inspired by, X Japan's lead guitarist hide. Hoshiko also said that at the time they were called 'Okeshou Kei' (お化粧系,Okeshō Kei, "Makeup Style") "But it simply felt... too cheap... Even though X Japan was a big band and people used the term 'Okeshou kei' to describe them, the term was still lacking substance, I didn't like the term at all! Because of this, I tried to remind all the writers to not use this term as "They are not okeshou kei, they are visual-shock kei'. From there, it went from 'Visual-shock kei' to 'Visual-kei' to 'V-kei'. After we spread the word, fans naturally abbreviated it to 'V-kei'. The Japanese love to abbreviate everything as a matter of fact." Hoshiko considers visual kei a distinctive Japanese music genre and defined it "as the music itself along with all the visual aspects of it."