Japanese rastas


A small but devoted Rasta community developed in Japan in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Rasta shops selling natural foods, Reggae recordings, and other Rasta-related items sprang up in Tokyo, Osaka, and other cities. For several years, “Japan Splashes” or open-air Reggae concerts were held in various locations throughout Japan. For a review by two sociologists of how the Japanese Rasta movement can be explained in the context of modern Japanese society, see Dean W. Collinwood and Osamu Kusatsu, “Japanese Rastafarians: Non-Conformity in Modern Japan,” The Study of International Relations, No. 26, Tokyo: Tsuda College, March 2000 (research conducted in 1986 and 1987).

Where are these Japanese rastas today?

16 thoughts on “Japanese rastas”

  1. The short answer is that kids went for hip hop instead.

    Reggae picked up popularity again in the late 90s but it also took in dancehall and ragga and those fans didn’t necessarily develop an interest in rastafarianism. One landmark at the time was in 2002 when Junko “Bashment” Kudo became the first foreigner to be named dancehall queen in Jamaica. Here’s a BBC article from 2006 which describes the back end of that wave


    It seems the Sunsplash guys started up the Japan leg of the festival again in 2006 and 2007 but it doesn’t look like they held one last year.

  2. This may be a figment of my imagination, but I always got the impression that there were Japafarians in Kansai than there were in Kanto.

  3. “I always got the impression that there were Japafarians in Kansai than there were in Kanto.”

    I spent one hectic night in a rasta bar in Osaka’s Amemura in 1998. I don’t know if it is there anymore.

  4. Well, in Kyoto there’s one or two “reggae bars” on Kiyamachi, and on Kawaramachi there’s a rasta store that has a case full of bongs and bowls.

  5. I’ve seen a rather amazing-looking record shop in Osaka devoted to Jamaican 45s.

  6. I think the Rasta part has defiantly been watered down here. But elements of Rasta are still popular:

    Marijuana and the Rasta colors are popular symbols and fashion trends.

    The “slow life” and vegetarian-ism is very popular.

    One of my favorite restaurants is run by some hippies. They’re hippies in the real sense. They grow their own vegetables. They encourage vegetarian diet. They make their own clothes and accessories. They play and regularly listen to Reggae and folk music. They sell peace and hemp wears. They regularly close the shop to protest war and nuclear activity.

    They have friends who run a “hemp used wear” store and an art gallery.

    When I’ve asked the owners (a young man and wife) if they have any religious connection, they categorically deny that. And that’s understandable, since any real belief in religion in Japan is considered scary.

    Basically, I think Japanese have taken elements of either ideology, fashion or both (as best suits the individual) from Rasta and left the faith itself out.

  7. I ended up at a Jamaican themed “reggae bar” in downtown Kyoto for a couple of hours over the weekend and spoke with foreigners from Egypt, Turkey, Kenya, Brazil and the US but only one actual Jamaican. There was a poster on the wall with some Marley lyrics about Zion and some of the other usual bric-a-brac but I can’t say that the place had a particularly “Rastafarian” vibe. I mean, I ate jerked chicken and Rastas are supposed to be vegetarian right?

    On a related note, I noticed last week that the Rasta-themed head shop “麻や” on Kawaramachi just south of Sanjo closed down. I recall seeing it when I first came to Kyoto in 2002. And to think, just as pot is actually getting popular in Japan.

  8. If it’s a restaurant, they are probably just selling the chicken for the money. They might not eat it themselves.

    …It’s hard to live out an ideology when you have to worry about turning a profit.

  9. I hope there is many descendants of shem who have been blessed by Jah as i and i see it as a sign of great things to come. I-tal or Rastafarian diets is restricted but it depends which house i and i are under such as Nyabinghi order, Twelve tribes of Israel and the Bobo Ashanti

  10. i and i am wondering if any JapaFari were affected by the recent, horrible shift of our planet’s movements. do they need any assistance or aid? are there any missing brothers and sisters? is there anyway the world community can help. i and i love all of my planetary family, particularly those who would share a certain consciousness of Rastafari. if i can help in any way, please contact me. i share in a community of artists and visionary humans . . . i would be glad to do what i could to raise funds or send aid if needed. you have my email. Peace and One Love.
    – JahHannibal Abba-Ra

  11. RASTAS dont have to be vegetarian. The diet they follow (real rastas, not the fashionista trend followers) is called ital. Look it up. Y’all assume to much.

  12. Greetings in the name of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I.
    I&I would like to tell you about Rastafari movement in Japan.
    There are many rastafarian in each cities,towns and country side.some of them play music as singer,selector,band.and a few nahyahbingi man who have dread locks,
    Its hard to show a numbers,how many.but clearly have been develop in sociaty.
    One of commity organize to ibrate Earthstrong for Majesty in every end of July.they schedle thorght a year.
    on april,First visit to JA.on November Coromation,on Feb,birthdayfes for Bob Marley.
    These are kind of roots reggae night,and chanting drums as grounation.
    many of Rastafarian visit Jamaica,NY,London and Ethiopia.so they catch vibes and teaching from over the sea and shere to other Japanese people when they came forward to Japan.
    The earthstrong for his birthday held since 1995.
    then here is a intererting point.
    Japan have a Emperor and Royal family that have relationship to Ethiopian Royal family for long time.actualy Haile Selassie visit
    to Japan twice.
    so people know this trues and they have picture that Japanese Emperor and Emperor of Ethiopia shake their hands.
    I think this fact make them feel more close to H.I.M.
    thous,Rastafarians in Japan was infuluence by roots reggae music and Rasta community from other country.of couse Selassie him self.
    Rastafari is universal movement.this is true.
    Give thanks for preciouse space here.

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