Rockabilly is a Japanese fashion modeled after the American fashion style of the same name. It imported to Japan in the 1950s, around the time of its creation in America, and remains an active style to this day.

The fashion is primarily recognized for its Elvis-like style for men, and it's poodle skirt style for women. It is also known for its culture of mass dance parties in the streets, dancing to Rockabilly music.

Rockabilly is considered to be a part of the larger, Ametora movement.

History[edit | edit source]

The Rockabilly culture in Japan emerged in the 1950s, mimicking the styles, music, and dance trends of the American subculture of the same name. The style imported these trends, with those who wore the style often imitating American movies and TV from the time period exactly, down to their movements and how they brushed their hair. [1][2][3]

1950s dance styles were always a central part of the style, however, it wasn't until 1982-1983 that these dance parties hosted by those who wore the style became more popular, as they took to dancing in the street, similar to takenokozoku. [4][5]

The Rockabilly subculture in Japan is still active to this day, with dance groups still performing in areas of Tokyo and other cities. [4][5]

Style Basics[edit | edit source]

Rockabilly fashion draws extensively from American rockabilly fashion. As such, it is similar in many ways. However, it does have some distinct aspects that set it apart from its American counterpart. [1][2][5]

Men's Rockabilly Style[edit | edit source]

Men's fashion in Japanese rockabilly is much less varied than American styles. The main style is primarily black clothing, meaning black t-shirts, often printed with the logo of the dance group, black or very dark blue jeans, and black leather shoes. Black leather jackets, similar to greaser jackets, are also popular. Occasionally, men may swap out black t-shirts for white, or add in a red jacket instead of black, but the majority of outfits remain fairly similar.

Women's Rockabilly Style[edit | edit source]

Women's rockabilly fashion in Japan is much more similar to its American counterpart. The stereotypical poodle skirts and other circle skirts in various patterns, such as polka dots, are common. Blouses with cardigans and 1950s style dresses are also worn, in a variety of colors and styles.

Women may also choose to wear a style similar to men's rockabilly, wearing dark clothing, dark-colored pants, and black leather jackets. However, this variant seems to be less common.

Hairstyles[edit | edit source]

For men, the huge pompadour hairstyle, similar to an exaggerated Elvis hairdo, is popular, as well as greased back hair. Generally, hair is kept natural and not dyed.

For women, ponytails and victory roll hairstyles are popular, along with any other 1950s-esque hairdo. Natural colors are popular, although blond and light brown colors are sometimes seen.

The Biggest Difference[edit | edit source]

Where Japanese rockabilly differs from American rockabilly the most is that the style has not modernized as much. American styles have changed and grown with the trends while still remaining close to the source material. For instance, some newer outfits can be sexier than a traditional 1950s coordinate, with shorter hemlines for women and lower collars. In contrast, Japanese rockabilly still holds more true to the original look as it would have been during the actual 1950s period. Although, it definitely has become more stylized based on the Japanese interpretation of what that ideal look should be, and adopting the aspects of certain outfit types that they like best.

Brands & Shops[edit | edit source]

There are no specific brands associated with Japanese rockabilly style, however, any rockabilly brand, Asian or American, would qualify as the style, as long as it seeks to semi-accurately portray the style as it existed in the 1950s.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Chris Kincaid. "Rockabilly in Japan, Baby." Japan Powered. October 19, 2014. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The Tokyo Subculture of 1950s Rockabilly Gangs." Messy Nessy. January 7, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from
  3. Michael Furmanovsky. ""Rokabiri," Student Radicalism and the Japanization of American Pop Culture, 1955-60." Ryukoku University. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from
  4. 4.0 4.1 Roy. "Takenoko-zoku." q-taro. July 31, 2005. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Paul Muller-Rode. "Tokyo's Rockabilly Scene." CBS News. (n.d.) Retrieved August 26, 2020 from

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