A Look Inside Japan’s Chicano Culture
Is it crazy to think that a specific culture native to Southern California and parts of Mexico could not only exist, but also thrive in another country?
Believe it or not, the answer is yes, and you will find it all in Japan. Take a closer look at how this unique microcosm unfolded in foreign territory through this short documentary produced by the New York Times.
Host Walter Thompson-Hernandez investigates in Nagoya, where lowrider car culture blew up during the 80’s thanks to imported magazines and Japanese journalists. An interest in chicano culture suddenly took off, spreading from cars to the music, clothing, art, people, and even the culture itself.
Rich extensions of chicano culture can also be found in places like Osaka and Tokyo. You’ve got Miki Style, a man who opened up a boutique shop called La Puerta which sells street clothes from Los Angeles; Night tha Funksta, a comic artist whose cartoon strips illustrate chicanos but without the heavy emphasis on drugs, violence, and other gang-related activity; and last but not least, Mona a.k.a. Sad Girl, a Japanese chicano-style female rapper, who has basically fully embraced Latinx culture even though she never grew up in a Latinx setting.
It’s quite surreal to see these Japanese individuals heavily integrated in a culture beyond their country’s borders. I admire the way Japan is adopting and celebrating Latinx culture: not only admiring the styles and practices of being a chicano, but taking the time to fully understand how the culture works too. Japan is forging a fusion that follows cultural practices in a manner that is respectful and at the same time, fun.
And who knows, will “Jacanos” be a thing of the future?