March 31, 2020

TOKYO BEAT 1964

Spy Vibers might be trapped inside during this pandemic, but that doesn't mean you can't travel! There are lots of museums and destinations that are offering virtual tours and experiences right now. And after our recent two-part radio series about the Japanese ninja/spy series Phantom Agents on Spy Vibe, I thought it would be fun to take the Tardis on a trip to 1964 Tokyo. Youth Culture: Life Magazine helped to fuel a fascination with Japan in anticipation of the Summer Olympics scheduled for October 1964 with a special September issue. Ambassador Edwin O. Reischauer wrote about the partnership between the US and Japan (I have a spy novel out with agents now that includes some shocking secrets Reischauer kept from the public!), and author Yukio Mishima shared his frustrations with both cultures. Much of the issue focussed on tensions between traditional and contemporary society, with features like "The Modern Paradoxes" by Brian Brake and "The Talisman," a short story of rebellion by Masao Yamakawa. A major highlight was "The Young in Revolt," an in-depth essay photographed by Michael Rougier (seen in top photo below). Rougier and correspondent Robert Morse followed a sub-culture of teens obsessed with a Tokyo Beatles band and captured both dynamic abandon and intimate fellowship among the "lost ones." The aim may have been to document disaffected youth, but the images tell us much more about cultural revolution and new styles of expression. Life magazine's timing couldn't have been better, as A Hard Days Night debuted in Japan in August of 1964 and Beatlemania is still going strong.  Forty years later, I filmed and photographed The Silver Beats, a Beatles cover band at the Tokyo Cavern Club, as they re-enacted the period night after night with scholarly zeal and quite a lot of musical talent. Although our scene was probably more subdued than Rougier's in '64, it was a highlight of my art life to publish a photo of the group in Rolling Stone and to help the band land a spot in Liverpool's Beatles Week events. The series of images below from 1964 serve as a valuable window into early '60s Japan, exploding with new-found freedom and the pulse of Beat Music. Learn more about the era: Japanese New Wave cinema at CriterionGroovy Imitation Bands, Tadanori Yokoo, Japanese Group Sounds DVD, protest movement article Japan Times.











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