Tokyo Rockabilly Club
A dying breed of big fifties revivalists the Tokyo Rockabilly Club have attained cult icon notoriety for their highly distinctive combination of Elvis hair, yakuza tattoos and predisposition to publicly jive to 50s rock ’n’ roll. Their classic greaser look is inspired by the Japanese street culture, known as “rokabiri-zoku” (the rockabilly tribe), that is modeled on the American rock ‘n’ roll movement of the mid-1950s.
Image source: Michael John Grist
These rebels without a cause can be found in Harajuku’s Yoyogi Park on a Sunday decked out in retro threads, donning psychobilly pompadours and towering quiffs, and gyrating to a boombox blasting rockabilly tunes of yesteryear as if Elvis had never left the building.
Image source: Lars Borges
The rockabilly style first emerged in Japan in 1958 when thousands of teenagers, heavily influenced by the new “rockabilly” music that had recently swept the U.S., fashioned a so-called “rokabiri-bumu” (rockabilly boom), the first popular culture movement of post-Occupation Japan.
Image source: Flickr
The influence of this musical genre and its fanatical following proved short-lived with the style waning in the 1960s, but during the late 1970s and early 1980s, rockabilly enjoyed a major revival of popularity reappearing on the streets of Harajuku.
Image source: Flickr
Harajuku had become a mecca for youth and youth fashion and saw groups of teenagers, such as the “takenoko-zoku” (bamboo shoot tribe), convened on the streets dressed in garish clothes and dancing to portable music. Within this landscape fifties nostalgia was resurrected and the rock ‘n’ roller relics of a bygone era, precursors to the new wave urban tribes – the gothic lolita and cosplayers – have been entertaining onlookers in Yoyogi Park ever since.
Image source: Grizzly Bear Modern
The official music video for “Nothing To Worry About” by Swedish indie rock band Peter Bjorn and John from their album Living Thing features the Tokyo Rockabilly Club in Yoyogi Park.