Tokyo Damage Report

gekiteki 7 : retro japanese pop

Besides war nostalgia and religion, another  way to be "wayou" (east meets west) is to fuse rock with old-timey Japanese music.


Minyou kyoku= folk songs

kouta = early Meiji era : traditional short, fun songs

roukyoku =  also early Meiji : dark, manly ballads about duty and honor

Ryuukouka =  1920's music that sounded Eastern

Kayoukyoku = 1920's music that sounded Western

Enka = you know what that is


Given that Ryuukouka and Kayoukyoku (and the enka revivial of the '50s) were all about combining traditional older music with emerging pop forms to make something new, it's no surprise that  some bands are combining rock and Japanese music – usually with the scales and the singer's tone-of-voice being the Japanese part.


Frankly the only surprise is that there are not MORE of these bands.


If anyone knows enka/rock bands, please let me know and I'll try to add them. This page is wildly incomplete. . .


Readers wishing to know more about the history of Japanese pop music in the early 1900s can read my report on enka here.


氣志團 (kishidan)


MEANING : : medival knights
CITY . . :  Country suburbs of Chiba.
ERA . . . : 1996~
SOUND . . :
JAPANESE TRADITIONAL INFLUENCE :  '80s gangster culture.
CLIQUE . . . :
STYLE . . . : retro
ALBUM TO GET . . . :
HISTORICAL ATMOSPHERE :   the early '80s gangster world

WEB . . . :

I think the '80s is old enough to be considered retro, so here is Kishidan. They are a big arena rock group.

Famous for their ‘juvenile delinquent’ costumes, their lyrics often borrow from or parody popular manga or kayoukyoku.


MASAMANIA has a superb collection of kishidan cos-play fans here.


more recent, funny:

earlier, perfect every juvenile delinquent cliche totally REBEL AGAINST FUCKING AUTHORITY ATTACK OF GANG FOREVER FUCKING MAN!!!!!!

  母檸檬 (haha lemon)

MEANING : :  parody of the "mama lemon" soap of the Taisho era.
CITY . . :
ERA . . . :  2001 ~ ???
SOUND . . : kind of dumb pop, but not dance, more like random pop.
JAPANESE TRADITIONAL INFLUENCE : flags, and sad Showa era girls, Terayama, Dazai Osamu.
CLIQUE . . . : strawberry??
STYLE . . . : retro
ALBUM TO GET . . . : 愛孕哀歌 (aihara muaika)

WEB . . . : myspace,

They perform twisted versions of  童謡 (nursery rhymes)

They have a heavy Showa vibe. Also (along with afurirampo, inugami circus dan, and other female avant-garde bands)  they always seem to rock the red "under-kimono" look which I've talked about elsewhere.

Despite  being around for 10 years, and being big in the whole arty-farty scene (i often hear them mentioned alongside bands like  strawberry song orchestra or inugami circus dan), there is basically nothing at all on the web. Like not even photos. 


Anyone who knows more about the philosophy or influences of the band please get in touch.





MEANING : : : Asakusa is a neighborhood in Tokyo famous for temples but also old-school working-class culture, yakuza, day-laborers, colorful drifters, etc. Jinta is a form of chindonya. Chindonya is a kind of small traditional marching band that stores would hire to stand out front to attract a crowd of customers, or to march around the neighborhood handing out flyers as they play.
CITY . . : Tokyo
ERA . . . : 2005 ~ now
SOUND . . : enka-billy
CLIQUE . . . : デスマーチ 艦隊, 浅草ジンタ, QP crazy
STYLE . . . : retro
ALBUM TO GET . . . :

WEB . . . :, myspace

After Deathmarch Kantai broke up, Dynamyte Oshou formed a new band ? also a retro-‘30s rockabilly marching band ? but different: Asakusa Jinta focused more on enka-ish love songs, songs about matsuri (traditional festivals), and the Asakusa lifestyle.





アザラシ (azarashi)


MEANING : : : harbor seal (taken from the Stalin song of the same name)
CITY . . : hokkaido
ERA . . . :  ???
SOUND . . :  thrash (early), crappy fast glam (mid-period)
CLIQUE . . . :
STYLE . . . : retro
ALBUM TO GET . . . : 蛆蟲

WEB . . . : myspace


need better picture!

My friend said they had  old-school pop (歌謡曲) vocals over hardcore music ???

But nothing I've heard by them sounds like that. Can fans of this band confirm or deny?


In any case, the costumes are from all different eras of Japanese history. Hopefully I'll have more about that later.


Lyrics are almost entirely about heartbreak, but in that very revenge-crazed enka way.


nice gut-eating horror video:


 霞鳥幻樂団 (kasutori yourakudan)???



CITY . . : tokyo
ERA . . . : 2008~present
SOUND . . :  happy folk/metal
CLIQUE . . . : a la mode
STYLE . . . : retro
ALBUM TO GET . . . :
HISTORICAL ATMOSPHERE : Edo, though I'd love to get a breakdown on all the individual costumes.

WEB . . . : myspace
TDR REPORT . . .: hhhhhhereeeeeeeeeee


A new band, associated with the ARTISM and A la mode folks. They play uptempo folk/metal, with a shamisen, accordion, and  a banjo?!?!? yes a banjo.

The shamisen and banjo play iron-maiden-like harmony leads. I don't know what the lyrics are about.

6 comments Tags: ,

6 Comments so far

  1. sephim August 18th, 2011 4:55 am

    My favourite category so far.

    I haven't stopped listening to Inugami Circus Dan all week. I have basically devoured everything I could find by them except for a few annoying missing albums…

  2. un_rock August 18th, 2011 2:23 pm

    all this info is great, thanks again for making it available.
    what's up with this band "Shinsei Kamattechan".
    Mono is a nutter on those ustream vids
    they broadcast.
    thanks again Steve.

  3. Steve August 19th, 2011 8:43 am

    Just to add a layer of intrigue to Kishidan, the former-lead singer has done all sorts of mainstream theatrical pop. His latest gig is DJ OZMA, where he plays an afro'ed dude (usually greased up and half-nude) obsessed with 90s dance music, and performs Japanese covers of old Korean pop songs.

  4. admin August 19th, 2011 11:15 am

    @steve: that is important and wonderful! also OZMA is basically the best album by the Melvins.

  5. François August 20th, 2011 5:10 am

    DJ Ozma /Kishidan dude was also in the FANTA commercial/mock band. I think he was the F, with other people being an ex-Megadeth guitarist, a dude in drags, a pop singer called Tanimura and Akebono, the ex-yokozuna & ex-failed-wrestler.

  6. un_rock August 20th, 2011 2:14 pm

    Marty Friedman, ex-Megadeth, also did something
    with Sound Horizon. I think he still lives in Japan.

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