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Tokyo's Rockabilly Dancers of Harajuku Park
The last of the old takenoko-zoku group still rocks away
David Michael Weber (crossfire)     Print Article 
Published 2008-05-15 03:24 (KST)   


Tokyo rockabilly dancers of Harajuku Park.
©2008 D.Weber

Tokyo's Harajuku Park has become internationally famous over recent years mainly for its collection of high school students decked out in wild Goth outfits and makeup. Just about every Sunday they can be found sitting around in groups with their similarly attired peers coolly ignoring the camera flashes exploding all about them.

One of the current Harajuku Park denizens.
©2008 D.Weber

But they were not always there. Before them, a more active and lively group ruled the park with a leather-gloved fist. They didn't sit around chatting or trying to brood darkly. They moved and swayed to the beat of good old rock 'n' roll.

Takenoko-zoku were once a familiar sight in Harajuku.
©2008 D.Weber

They were the takenoko-zoku or bamboo shoot kids. They were named so because they just sprang up sometime in the '80s. One group went in for the '50s-style look of leather jackets, pompadours, slicked back hair, white T-shirts and blue jeans. Basically, they looked like extras from a Japanese production of "Grease."

©2008 D.Weber

Every Sunday these rockers danced or rocked out with their local bands. Harajuku grooved to an old-time beat for many years until one fateful day.

©2008 D.Weber

It's never really been explained to anyone's satisfaction why the authorities felt the takenoko-zoku were such a menace to Japanese society. But in the mid-'90s the police showed up in force and drove off all the rockers, greasers, twisters and bump-n-grinders.

©2008 D.Weber

Into the vacuum trickled the goth Lolita crowd. Far weirder but quieter they slowly took over the former territory of the takenoko-zoku and became its main attraction in time.

When the old takenoko-zoku were driven off, a weirder crowd replaced them.
©2008 D.Weber

Goth maids took the place of bobby sox girls.
©2008 D.Weber

A block over from their old stomping grounds at the entrance of Yoyogi Park, some of the rockabilly takenoko-zoku still gather to rock the Sunday away. The last of a dying breed, they resist change and do what they have done for years -- dance.

Rock on!

Yeah, daddy-o!
©2008 D.Weber
©2008 OhmyNews
A native Tennesseean, David M. Weber is currently at the grammatical grindstone cranking out gerunds, dangling modifiers and perfecting tenses as an English teacher in Japan. In his travels, he has hiked the Inca Trail, been mugged in Mexico City, broke his leg in Switzerland, attempted to bike through Mexico and failed, climbed Pyramids in Egypt and Mexico, drank great quantities of beer at Oktoberfest and gambled at Monte Carlo.
Other articles by reporter David Michael Weber

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