Yoyogi Rockabillies

Mike Grist Japan, Manga / Anime / Cosplay 19 Comments

Sunglasses, pomade, gravity-defying quiffs, leather jackets, black gloves, check. 50’s music, party atmosphere, gyrating hips and waggling bent knees, chicks in preppy floral dresses, crowding camera-toting tourists- BAM!- welcome to the Tokyo Rockabilly club- Yoyogi chapter.

Showing his gang colors- black, leather.

The Rockabillies have been rocking out Elvis-style at the entrance to Yoyogi for years- certainly in all the 6 I’ve been in the country, and I gather for maybe decades more. They rock, plain and simple. A bunch of yakuza-looking guys just dancing their hip-shaking hearts out to ‘Rockabilly’ music- a mix of rock and roll and hillbilly country.

The baddest of the bad- I’ve seen this guy in photos outside Yoyogi going way back. I took a lot of shots of him, he’s crazy photogenic.

Recently (as far as I’m aware) the leather-wearing Rockabillies were joined by some swing-dancing ladies, the equivalent of Grease’s pink ladies. They’re less awesome than the Rockabillies, but make a nice side-show.

Clapping in time.


Swing out, sister.


Smiles at me? Ha ha, sweet!



But back to the main event- the fightin’ Elvises!

Look at that dome of hair. Amazing.


Watching, waiting for his turn in the center of the makeshift dancin’ ring.


His…. hair….. is….. alive? RUN!


What’s that?

You don’t mean it!


Oh, you do, arrgh!

I am badass.

My turn is coming soon, I can feel it.

This is how you SHAKE IT, come on!





And that’s your lot.


You can see all MJG’s Tokyo content here:

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Comments 19

  1. Have you spoken to some of them? Are they nice people ou just show-offs?
    Another stupid question, but are they dressed like this everyday or just when they come to this place? In your pictures I mainly see “old” people, how would you estimate the number of young people among them? Or in another way, is it a fading trend or is it still alive and kickin’?
    Are they the children from US troops or just random people?

    Lastly, the guy on the 4th picture from the bottom looks like a victim. In my honest opinion, he really doesn’t fit in all this. He seems to be lost and just following the leaders to do like everybody. The clothes don’t suit him.

    As always, pretty cool “tranche de vie”. Thanks 😉

  2. I went to a few rockabilly concerts here in LA back in the mid 90s such the Reverend Horton Heat. I still see rockabilly’s in LA but I have not seen any that extreme. But I have not been to Hollywood for awhile so I’m sure they are there.

  3. Fantastic! The guy that owns the Yakitori shop i used to go to in Yoyogi has a bit of Rockabilly going on … i was hoping to see him pictured but he’s not as outgoing as these guys. I live in Yoyogi and will look out for these guys now.

  4. Pingback: Japan « Paisley

  5. Nice pictures! I for one feel happy (sometimes) to see people who are different to the rest of us robots, though I’m not a particular fan of Elvis!

    Cheers~! \(*O*

  6. Post

    Freedom- Half expected to see you out there rocking it up with them. Ever teased your hair as tall as the dude with living hair? I could respect that.

    Jean Rob- I never spoke to them, there’s kind of an invisible barrier of intense concentration between them and us tourists- I’ve never seen them talk to anyone outside their circle. Perhaps we regular folk are worried they’re gangsters. As for are these their regular clothes- I have no way of knowing, but rather doubt it. It seems to me like cos-play, fairly well under control. About demographics, yeah some younger guys- less photogenic though, just getting started. I doubt they’re half-American, just a funky J-subgroup. The 4th guy from the bottom, I think I caught him in a weird moment- he was in the thick of it a short while later.

    Neil- Did you know about these guys in advance? I figured they were famous, but a lot of people I mentioned them to didn’t know about them.

    Paisley- True that.

    Hao- I feel happy to see these guys too. They give it their all, and we benefit. Rock on.

    Joao Paulo- Psychobillies- what is that then?

    Hiroshi- Thanks a lot for the link, glad you liked the shots 🙂

  7. Nice candid poses. An improvement over your last such post. I think it might be time to step up to the Nikkor 80-200mm.

    Having been visiting Yoyogi Park for the past 6 years, I’d have to say that the rock-a-billy group is mos def getting stronger, much stronger. They didn’t have their own logo-ed jackets back then and I feel didn’t have as many people rocking out with them each Sunday. Plus, that 1950s dance group was there then either in my memory.

    Maybe a follow-up post interviewing some of those guys to get their history for sure?

  8. Post

    Jason- Cheers, and you really think the Nikkor 80-200mm will be such a significant step up from the Sigma 70-200mm that it’s worth shelling out all the money for? I’m feeling v. satisfied with the Sigma. Also cheers for comment- don’t know why they should be better though as took them in the same sitting as I took the cosplayers. Maybe the way they’re cropped- less tight?

    Follow up with interview is a good idea yeah.

  9. OMG, I saw them on the PB&J video and was facsinated by them. So weird, like a horrific traffic accident, I’m so intrigued by them. So unique in a conformist kinda way. Leave it to the Japanese, high style, but no depth. I’m Japanese myself so don’t think I’m being racist : )

  10. These guys were there in 1996 when I lived in Tokyo, so it’s been going on at least that long. Anyone know when it officially started?

  11. NOOOOOO! I totally dislike this . The hair is outrageous. I can’t completely knock it though. Different strokes for different folks.

  12. As a fellow rockabilly I find this pure amazing it’s always interesting to see different cultures take on a certain lifestyle/style the amount of different material you have on here is sheer amazing thank u for sharing

    R.b uk

  13. These peeps need to let themselves off the hook with the shoe thing they have going. Looks like they haven’t been able to find pointy boots since the late 90’s trend faded. Someone needs to tell these guys that Chuck Taylor’s are authentic footwear as are pointy Cowboy Boots. I know those are both available there.

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