An Intriguing Look at Japan’s Fascination with the Rockabilly Subculture


Tennessee native Denny Renshaw comes from the birthplace of Rockabilly, a music movement from the 1950s that was one of the earliest styles of rock and roll.

It therefore seems perfectly appropriate that Renshaw, now a photographer, would head across the world to capture a unique subculture heavily inspired by the Rockabilly – all the way to Japan no less!

The Japanese are known for embracing many different subcultures with passion, coining the term zoku (clan or tribe) to refer to the various subcultures beloved in the country.

Yoyogi Park, based in the Harajuku district of Tokyo, is possibly the best place to see this in action, with swathes of different subcultures present here, including the Rockabilly-inspired roller-zoku.

Their style is strongly based around fashion from the 1950s and 60s rock and roll eras, and they were exactly the type of subjects that Renshaw was hoping to capture, despite having no clue on how to find them!

They feature all the hallmarks of Rockabilly and rock and roll styles, sporting leather jackets, pompadour, and motorcycles, with people of all ages embracing the roller-zoku lifestyle.

Getting the fascinating photographs wasn’t plain sailing however, as Renshaw explains “I was stopped so many times trying to create these Rockers photos that it I couldn’t believe it when it happened and it came out my way,”

Since 2013, the American photographer has made frequent journeys to capture portraits of many different roller-zokus, gathering more than 40 photographs all while document the unique Japanese subculture that began over 40 years ago in the 1970s!

Denny Renshaw: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr h/t: [Spoon & Tamago]

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