Made in Japan

Oh Sundays!

They never cease to amaze me here in the land of cultural schizophrenia where girls wear skirts so short you can almost see Heaven but dare to look them in the eye and they're likely to run as if on fire, where ball and chain salarymen who wouldn't even dream of stepping out of line at the office nonchalantly knock unsuspecting females out of the way on their dash to the last seat on the train, where kindly old grannies take on the vicious delibrateness of a menacing NHLer if you happen to inadvertantly cross their path while shopping, where uptight office workers in dreadfully sober suits and ties wearing tight faces of grim death quite suddenly turn into drunken lunatic werewolves when the sun goes down along with the booze as they roam the streets in jailbreak abandon pissing on the sidewalk and growling at the police on their nightly journey to their families and televisions all the while working that keitai like a fiendish crackhead on his absolutely final hit.

J-Land. Gotta Love it!

And I can imagine no better example to display this bizzare dichotomy then the Too-Cool Gang that forms at Kyoto City Hall on any given Sunday to do their thing come Hell or high water, curious onlookers, serious shoppers, goofy skatebums, gawky tourists, hyper busybodies and societal snobs be damned.

I give you the Kyoto Lucille Rock-N-Rollers.

Only in Japan.
You very well may be thinking- They can't be serious.

Try telling them that only keep your dukes up when you say it.

Yes, like many a J-Land Citizen then and now these fanatical characters approach their vocation about as eagerly as a drowning man grabs a rubber raft in the middle of a vast lonely ocean.
I've actually witnessed these Rockabilly enthusiasts performing on numerous occasions in the past but this Sunday was the first time I decided to at last and at least attempt to strike up a conversation and perhaps gain some knowledge regarding their group identity as I hopefully approached rapport.

The conversation part? Pretty much hit-n-miss. They hit. Me miss.

The rapport? No dice!

At first contact, however, I did immediately gain some valuable insight into a collective mentality that definitely sets them widely apart from the majority of their countryman's countless social clubs, hobbyists or lifestyle fetishists.

While they certainly go to extraordinary lengths to present and maintain their unique aesthetic (just try walking into a Japanese 9-5er with a giant greased back pompadour sometime and see how well it goes over with the Boss) and make no secret nor display any shame as they energetically pursue their passion unlike most public performers the Lucillers devoutly displayed an absolutely hardcore disdain for any unwanted attention that may happen to inadvertantly float their way, treating the crowds that scurried past them as if they were ants at a raucous Lucille Rock-n-Rolling picnic as they boogied, strutted, struck poses, smoked squares and pounded beers while the Law kept a watchful eye (and safe distance) on them.

When I approached the guy I assumed to be one of their Senior Leaders his initial response to my very polite query could not have been more clear- He half snarled a “Not now....busy workin' it'” at me and waved me away with an imperious backhanded dismissal. After some persistence on my part he did allow me, however, to bust out my camera and after I hung out a bit I caught him when everyone was kicking back and polishing their Cool as they polished off the beers and he finally deigned to answer a few quick questions as he saw fit.

Name? Wrong question.

What do you do for a living? Next.

Is the group name Black Shadows? No, those guys are just visiting from Harajuku in Tokyo. We're the Kyoto Lucille Rock-n-Rollers.

How long you all been around? 30 years and going strong. (indeed the Next Generation was patiently waiting their turn on the sidelines)

Here every Sunday? If the weather's good.

Sensing I was losing him and chilled by the universally frosty stares of his gang I then gave up on the interview and bowed humbly while offering him my most sincere thanks.

He stood tall and shot me a crooked grimace that said- “Cut the act roundeye before me and my Crew dance on the back of your head.”

I felt right at Home.


Forever Lucille!

posted by Billy at 18:34 | Kyoto (Japan)