Pill-popping, jazz-loving Japanese youth in revolt, 1964 (photo)

LIFE.com has a beautiful gallery of Michael Rougier photographs from Japan in 1964: runaways, rock and rollers, biker gangs, "pill kids" and other Japanese teens. LIFE Magazine published some of these in September, 1964, but some have never before been published.

Above, the original caption from 1964: "Kako, languid from sleeping pills she takes, is lost in a world of her own in a jazz shop in Tokyo."


  1.  I think it’s time we blow this scene
    Get everybody and the stuff together
    3, 2, 1:
    Let’s jam

  2. Too bad these young Tokyo jazz lovers don’t exist anymore.

    Most of the time I play for middle aged people and other musicians.

    1. Jazz then was what clubbing is now and I can tell you that Tokyo clubs have to be among the best in the world. Also their live rock scene is very alive and kicking. I’ve seen some amazing shows in some tiny basement live houses. Seen these guys a bunch of times… They’re indie and unsigned but awesome: http://www.audioleaf.com/atgc/ wonder what they’re up to these days.

      Also: these photos rule. Kinda wish I coulda been there in the 60’s the fashion and the girls are so hot! I just had to link the Japanese Beatles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCiDb6XQYNw

  3. Wow, fantastic photos. 

    I see I’m not the only one who has seen a lot of older Japanese films. You see this wild youth culture portrayed in a lot of 60’s Japanese films, and not just ones that focus on youth culture – it’s in several Godzilla films (which perhaps were aimed at youths, so naturally feature youth culture). My favorite is Godzilla vs. Hedorah (aka The Smog Monster). It’s great to see the reality here, though. The films aren’t far off, but as an outsider it’s hard to know without comparing to something like these photos.

    It’s great to compare this to 60’s youth culture in the west, and compare the two again today: Japan has perhaps always been a little more extreme :)

  4. This reminds me of a Korean film I was researching recently, 별들의고향 (“The stars’ heavenly home”) from 1974, an angsty movie based on an angsty novel (clip here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zgd1XWuQ7hE ).  It’s something about the woman’s memories of a happier time (before she took up chewing gum), and then some sort of drugs, and then taking a nap in the snow.  

    The main character was named after my wife, which is a strange story in itself.

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