The Beatnik Ethos of Harajuku
The Beats are taking over in Central Tokyo.
You can see it in the horn rimmed glasses affixed to every other face that passes you in the crowded alleyway of Cat Street.
You can feel it in the 1950s recreationist diners.
You can hear it in the bluesy jazz that blows in mostly every coffee shop you’ll ever wander into.
You can taste it in the all vegan plates served in the replicating Eco-Cafes.
And you are starting to get hit over the head with overt references. First there was the Tokyo Hipsters Club, a hybrid kind of shop built into a modern concrete bunker, serving locals with original beat bound volumes, as well as apparel inspired by the mid 1950s collective of San Francisco writers. The cover of Ginsberg’s Howl comes as a scene ready graphic T (for 120 US dollars) Or if you are feeling your pop culture oats, why not pick up the shirt of Kerouac in mouse ears?
It’s everywhere now.
It’s gaining traction on the Native American boon of last year.
The Beat Era is informing fashion, dictating iPod playlists, and creating a tangible sub-culture that is getting perilously close to the mainstream.
You can catch a glimpse of this emerging spirit in the eyes of all the rucksack wanderers, in this modern city, looking for meaning in the text of these graphic Ts, and in the way they rip and fatigue their denim.
You can catch a whiff of this blowing in the winds of Yoyogi Park as Bob Dylan plays on some shiny, new-fangled mp3 boombox.
The Beat definitely goes on in Tokyo.
It’s alive in all these people, desperately trying to define these times in their own way. In the way they use technology or art or music or words to lay down their vision of exactly what’s going on right now. In their pursuit of connection out of a great chaos. In their quest for true individuality, as they work their way up a ladder of fashion, to eventually achieve enlightenment out of the overload of these material things, in this consumerist capitol, there lies a common journey. For truth and understanding. People all searching their cell phones for answers in their own way.
This is the Beat of Tokyo now.
It’s a nexus of ideas, cultures, aesthetics and knowledge. It’s being combined and compiled to create a collective Somethingness, in opposition of the former collective Whateverness.
There exists now a tangible direction.
Out of the randomness, possible meaning.
The Beat goes on in Tokyo.