Tokyo in Pics


A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

Tokyo in Black and White: Rockabilly at Yoyogi Park

I think it was Neil Young who once said that rock and roll will never die.  And he was quite right. In Tokyo it is very much alive and kicking. These days it might be more of a niche market type of thing, but it still draws a good crowd at Yoyogi park.  Every Sunday afternoon as long as the weather is good, you can find the rockabilly groups at the main entrance to the park putting on a great show.

Dancing on a Sunday afternoon at Yoyogi park and look at those shoes!

Watching the dancers is a good way to pass some time.  These people, guys as well as girls, are really into it.  They have the right jeans, the jackets, the shoes, the hair styles and the attitude.  Most of all, they have all the moves.

Guys and girls of all ages are involved in the Tokyo rockabilly scene

The music starts up and the members form a circle, everyone pulling out their best moves followed by combs being whipped out of pockets to style that hair back into place.  And everyone has the strut, maybe the boys work at this a little harder than the girls. Actually, the boys work at it way harder than the girls.

Older doesn't necessarily mean slowing down

It’s all good fun though.  Highly entertaining. The group, Strangers, doesn’t mind anyone taking pictures and they put on a really good show for everyone.  I think this group, and another, the Lebels, have been dancing at Yoyogi Park for about thirty years or so? I might be quite wrong on that, so if I’m wrong, please let me know.  Still, I have a vague recollection of seeing them in the early 1990s when my girlfriend at the time took me there to see some rockabilly dancing.

The perfect rockabilly look

The dancers seem to be of a wide range of ages.  Some seem to be in the late teens, a few in their twenties, thirties and forties while a couple are in their fifties, or maybe even sixties?  They might be getting old, but they aren’t slowing down, they still have all the moves and still look cool.

Strangers, Tokyo rockabilly club

And they still pull a good crowd.  As they dance in front of the park entrance, a lot of people walk past them.  Most people stop to have a good look. Everyone takes a few pictures. Some move on after they’ve checked the rockabillies out, but a lot stay and enjoy the fun.

If you are ever free on a Sunday, and in the Harajuku area pop over to Yoyogi park, just a few minutes walk from the station, and have a look at these guys because rockabilly is still cool.