ABSTRACT

Th is chapter discusses “rockabilly” in Japan in the late 1930s of the Shōwa period (around 195663), from the year when a cover version of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” became a smash hit to the year preceding the rise of Th e Beatles’ popularity. During this period, a concert titled “Nichigeki Western Carnival” in which many “rockabilly” artists appeared became a social phenomenon in 1958. “Rockabilly” was characterized by young singers who covered American hits originally sung by such artists as Elvis Presley, and its popularity rapidly increased fi rst in the metropolitan area. Its cultural context was diff erent from that in the United States, with the genre being much broader than in the United States. Th e prime aim of this chapter is to clarify the consequences of utilizing this “rockabilly” (hereaft er without quotation marks) as “identity politics” among the contemporary young Japanese. Th ey adopted rockabilly as part of their identity, which served to produce autonomous self-awareness, utilizing it for their own sake as strategically as possible, and their activities as a whole enabled Japanese popular music to break away from the covering of American and, furthermore, Western popular songs.