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Japan’s underground Chicano culture

Japan has always been famous for its fashion subcultures. Walk about Tokyo on the weekend and you’ll see the usual mash-up of lolita, rockabilly and cosplay enthusiasts. But look that little bit harder and you’ll also see the chino slacks, white vests and tattoos belonging to Japanese ‘Cholos’ – those who have dedicated their life to Chicano subculture. Now often negatively associated with L.A. street gangs, Chicano culture actually has its roots in the Mexican-American empowerment movement which spanned the 1940s through 1970s. So how did it end up in Japan?

Pinched from Dazed Digital

Shot on location in Tokyo, Osaka and Hyogo, Chicano is a new documentary from British filmmakers Louis Ellison and Jacob Hodgkinson, featuring direct access to those in the Chicano scene, and those responsible for bringing it to Japan. “When the Lowrider movement got popular in the 1990s, gangs and Cholos were imported from the US as a culture to Japan through Lowrider Magazine,” explains Shin Miyata, owner of Barrio Gold Records, who stars in the film and has spent most of his life bringing Chicano music and culture to a Japanese audience. “In America, everyone knew Chicanos were in a minority. It is because they are in a minority that they didn’t express their political opinions to the surrounding society directly. They did it through their cars or fashion.”

Chicano is an exploration between the similarities and differences between Chicano culture in America and Japan, and how the scene is not all about gang culture, but has a deep-seated root in family values.

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Written By



  1. M.T. Goins

    August 11, 2017 at 12:53 am

    Carmen Vasquez

  2. M.T. Goins

    August 11, 2017 at 12:52 am

    C Tadgh Ó Floinn

  3. Tony Santoriello

    August 10, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Brandon Moriarty

    • Brandon Moriarty

      August 10, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      So wait Japanese people are into mexican ms13 black magic now? Wow

    • Tony Santoriello

      August 10, 2017 at 9:38 pm

      Brandon Moriarty Japanese do everything better too so they will make a fucking Mexican dragon appear

    • Brandon Moriarty

      August 10, 2017 at 9:39 pm

      Tony Santoriello I wish our culture was this based

  4. Chuck Machinery

    August 9, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Recuerdas cuando dijiste que los japoneses hacian cosplay de los mexicanos? Fernando Morales

  5. Buddy Suffering

    August 9, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    David Bubba Martinez

  6. Brett Rothmeyer

    August 9, 2017 at 3:58 pm


    • Dennis Cowan

      August 9, 2017 at 6:01 pm

      My grandfather straight off the boat wore creased dickies until the day he died. He was a carpenter and that is just what he did to look good, be proud and get ahead. My son has his name, Colton William Cowan. Anyway, those people would last about 18 seconds in LA.

    • Brett Rothmeyer

      August 9, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      that maybe true but proof again when the Japanese take over a subculture they do it the best

    • Dennis Cowan

      August 9, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      Look up the history of Boyle Heights, the Japanese and White Fence and the Jewish people. There is some online but it is really rare.

  7. Cristal Panico

    August 9, 2017 at 3:18 pm


  8. Jaycob Johnson

    August 9, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Ariel Segovia

  9. Eric Tolman

    August 9, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    I thought for some reason it said Chicago’s Chicano Culture. And I was like is it really hidden? Then I realized it said JAPAN.

  10. John Phillip Cole

    August 9, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    The Japanese do this with almost ever “so called” western culture or fad.

  11. Cody McGrew

    August 9, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Elissa Raquel

  12. Pato Thornycroft

    August 9, 2017 at 10:47 am


  13. Marcus Mercer

    August 9, 2017 at 10:05 am

    Julia Jones thoughts?

  14. Danny Ryan

    August 9, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Alex Nickels Brian Melendez

    • Brian Melendez

      August 9, 2017 at 10:26 am

      Its interesting bc when I went to Korea there was like NO trace of any form of counterculture

  15. Fernand Oer

    August 9, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Dustin Stephenson

  16. Alexander Sean MacIntyre

    August 9, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Two nukes really messed them up eh?

  17. Fabian El Zarco

    August 9, 2017 at 8:37 am

    This is fucking cool.

  18. Garett Allen

    August 9, 2017 at 7:36 am

    Mark Paich

  19. Lee Patterson

    August 9, 2017 at 6:44 am

    This is gonna be one hell of a comment section

  20. Rafael Garcia

    August 9, 2017 at 5:59 am

  21. Zac Ray

    August 9, 2017 at 5:53 am

    Manny Trevino

  22. Rafael Garcia

    August 9, 2017 at 5:52 am

    here’s some of their chianco-influenced rap artists:

  23. Bianca Isabela

    August 9, 2017 at 2:48 am

    Alx Lzr

  24. Andrew Ng

    August 9, 2017 at 12:51 am

    If these were white people, this entire article would be about how cultural appropriation is wrong and white people have no culture.

    • Alex LiCausi

      August 9, 2017 at 1:19 am

    • Andrew Fawcett

      August 9, 2017 at 1:28 am

      For better or for worse, he’s probably right.

    • Andrew Ng

      August 9, 2017 at 1:29 am

      No, no. He has a meme, he must be right.

    • Chris Smith

      August 9, 2017 at 2:57 am

      Luckily cultural appropriation is a pile of fetid dog shit made up by morons on the internet to start shit.

    • Andrew Ng

      August 9, 2017 at 3:00 am

      No, Chris, you don’t understand, probably because of your privilege. Any type of cultural sharing or boundary crossing, when done by you whites, is completely wrong. You’re only allowed to eat meatloaf and listen to polka, anything else is racist.

    • Chris Smith

      August 9, 2017 at 3:02 am


    • Josh Otero

      August 9, 2017 at 3:11 am

      sad but true

    • Nate Koss

      August 9, 2017 at 4:48 am

      This reminds me of the B stylers

    • Kai Deno

      August 9, 2017 at 8:37 am

      Whiteboy circle jerk here I see

    • Colin Neary

      August 9, 2017 at 10:43 am

      Cultural appropriation is p much inevitable in a multicultural society. Most aspects of culture practiced now aren’t practiced by the same people who formed a culture and a lot of times aren’t even practiced by the same race that formed the culture. I’m only saying this because I have yet to understand why it’s such a bad thing to adopt aspects from the culture of others when that’s literally how new cultures form. And like telling people to stick to their own race’s culture seems very antithetical to progress and puts race up on a higher pedastel.

    • Andrew Ng

      August 9, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Thanks for assuming, kai, but I’m not white.

    • Jade Deino

      August 9, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      White boys jerking each other off.

    • Kai Deno

      August 9, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      You’re not but almost every one who agrees with your dumb ass is.

    • Kai Deno

      August 9, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      You’re the Token Brown Guy™ for this argument right now, I hope you know that.

    • Gene Trosper

      August 9, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      Viva cultural appropriation!

    • Zach Ayvruhm

      August 9, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      ay now that shit is classy

      call him an uncle tom, too, for good measure

    • Colin Neary

      August 9, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      Can someone tell me outright why it’s such an indisputably bad thing? I genuinely would like to hear an argument that proves that because I’ve never seen one before and I’m not prepared to jump on the bandwagon without legit proof that it harms ppl

    • Andrew Ng

      August 9, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      Thanks for being racist, kai.

    • Antonio Gurgel

      August 9, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      Appropriation is about taking a piece of foreign culture and pretending it’s to do with as you please, like a white person wearing a cermonial headdress from an native American tribe. It’s disrespectful to them because the headdress has solemn meaning to them, which the white person is likely unaware of.

      That’s my understanding of it, anyway. The issue mostly amounts to respect, or at least avoiding tactless caricature.

    • Chris Jones

      August 10, 2017 at 3:11 pm

      Kai Deno loves getting in the middle of white boy circle jerks

    • Andrew Ng

      August 10, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Now, now. Just because Kai is a racist piece of shit doesn’t mean we have to resort to being homophobic.

  25. Angela Armie

    August 9, 2017 at 12:22 am

    Posers the whole lot of them.

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