Revisit the Music and Politics of the 60s in Shinjuku’s Jazz Cafes

Japan is a popular tourist destination not only for anime lovers, foodies and globetrotters from different parts of the world but the Land of the Rising Sun is also among the bucket list of music enthusiasts who are interested to explore different kinds of musical piece. One of the most well loved genre of all time is the jazz. It did not only have a nationwide impact in the country but also became famous on a universal scale.


At the capital city of Japan lies the Shinjuku district which is home to the songs of the 1960’s and 70’s. It was at the height of these decades when Shinjuku became capital for jazz music. It was especially popular among the young Japanese who are into music and the arts. According to Hozumi Nakadaira, one of the cafe owners in Shinjuku area, “There used to be jazz kissa(cafes) everywhere.” It was also druring the 1960s when student activists proliferated in Tokyo in order to protest against the Vietnam War, the use nuclear weapons and the involvement of the United States of America in postwar Japan.


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Since these young activists considered music and the arts as an avenue for politics, Shinjuku area came to be known as the site of a radical shift in music. Jazz also gained tremendous popularity in this novel combination of the artistic and political world. The jazz boom in the 60s paved the way for the influx of jazz kissa or jazz cafes in Shinjuku district where artists and music enthusiasts can gather to appreciate their love for the music genre while sharing a common political sentiment over a cup of coffee.


One of the most sought after jazz cafes in Shinjuku is called the “Dug” which is located in the basement of a building in Yasukuni-dori. The cafe offers a one of a kind ambience perfect for music lovers. It also showcases the photographs of some of the most iconic jazz artists in the 60s. Up until the present time, the Dug is still open to serve both locals and foreign tourists, alike.


Reference: The jazz cafe offering sounds of the 1960s in a Shinjuku basement


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