Elvis is Alive and Performing in Yoyogi Park

It was a beautiful autumn afternoon yesterday in Yoyogi Park, and the rockabilly clubs were out in force. These guys gather around boom boxes near the Harajuku Station entrance, occasionally swigging from a bottle of whisky, taking turns dancing their hearts out to “Blue Suede Shoes” and other classics from when The King was king. There were several different clubs, each with their names on their backs of their black leather jackets and tight black t-shirts. And Elvis would definitely have envied their pompadours, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Sputnik circled the earth.

I’m always amazed at the effort people here put into their after-work pursuits. The rockabilly guys could really dance. The contact jugglers should have been in Cirque du Soleil. The jazz jammers should have been surrounded by a club. And because so many people live in cramped apartments without so much as a carport (let alone a garage or basement), groups gather in the public parks to practice together and hone their skills, with delightful un-selfconsciousness.

If you’d like to visit Yoyogi Park the next time you’re in Tokyo, directions & a map are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

In the wake of a deadly earthquake, fans erupt in a frenzy of mourning when it’s discovered that their favorite pop star is among the dead. But when Detective Kenji Nakamura is sent to investigate a death at a local shrine, he finds evidence that suggests the impossible: How could the head priest have been murdered by…read more