The Ancestors of a New Society: The Tribes (Buzoku) and their Journey through the Misunderstandings of the Japanese Countercultural Scene

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Author: Yaxkin Melchy, University of Tsukuba, Japan
Email: [email protected]
https://doi.org/10.22492/ijcs.6.1.04

Citation: Melchy, Y. (2021). The Ancestors of a New Society: The Tribes (Buzoku) and their Journey through the Misunderstandings of the Japanese Countercultural Scene. IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijcs.6.1.04


Abstract

Buzoku 部族, generally translated as The Tribe (or The Tribes), was a transnational collective of artists, poets, activists, and young people who soon became one of the most vital Japanese counterculture voices. Between 1967 and 1980, they participated in what they called “building a new society into the shell of this civilization” in the Japanese islands. Despite scholars and mass media’s recent interest in their lives and literary works, there are common misunderstandings resulting from characterizing Buzoku as the Japanese hippies, or fūten. This paper focuses on the transition period (1965-1968), going from the foundation of the prior group named Bum Academy to the formation of Buzoku. This article recounts this part of their history to show that this transition was vital for forging Buzoku’s identity and original ideology guided by a cross-cultural approach to spirituality and arts. They used a range of synchronization, translation, appropriation, and juxtaposition skills to set the bases of a “dreamed” community of tribes. This research shows that at least one countercultural collective in Japan’s sixties scene was involved in complex linguistic, artistic, and spiritual synchronizations with the global scene while simultaneously practicing the art of embodying the dream of building a new civilization.

Keywords

Buzoku, countercultural, fūten, hippie, Nanao Sakaki