Jamaican Social Cultures & Japan

The land of the Rising Sun, is no longer Islands of ancient histories filled with Warmongers, Cherry Blossoms, Macrobiotic Foods Cooking, Sublime Sensibilities, and human longevity.

Japan, its people, traditional social cultures, geographical location, is a place of exciting contrast. Where ultra-modern and ancient coexist in perfect harmony.

With a population of 126 million people, Japan creative innovations, comic-animation industry, fashion and art. Continue to attract massive numbers of fans world wide. The concepts of team work, is at the root of Japan’s technological, modernising, and advancing progress.

Tokyo – City Centre

Digital Technologies, have created an artificial world, one without barriers or frontiers. Without leaving the comforts of our rooms, we are at the centre of online-living experiences, anywhere in the world.

In Jamaica

The relationship between the two places, Japan and Jamaica. May appear to be only about music and good times. On closer inspection, you will see clearly, it goes much deeper than that.

I remember, when first meeting a group of Japanese in Jamaica. It was during the early 1970s. Prince Lincoln and the Royal Rasses, had signed a music recording contract with United Artist.

Mighty Crown – Award Winning – Sound System Crew

The group and studio musicians, were in the process of developing the second album of Conscious, Roots Reggae music.

Many creative Japanese were among us in the cool, lush tropical mountains in Jamaica. They were all living, and sharing daily life.

Exchanging knowledge about all things. Including music, cultures, socio-politics, and economics.

Some of us in the Ras-Tafari – Haile Selassie 1 Brotherhood, learnt acupuncture. others obtain the Fungus drink for medicinal purposes.

Pablove Black, Kidus I, Prince Lincoln, Agustus Pablo, and many others, happily embraced our Japanese guests. They were the First Nation outside of Jamaica to join us in the hills, and accept our teachings.

Poems were written, and great song were penned about the event. Here is the first line of one – “The land of the Rising Sun, shall stretch forth her hands.” From there, like minded people and kindred spirits. Our twinned relationships were deeply sown and planted, with mutual love and nourishing affections.

Father & Daughter – Tea Ceremony

Before the great events of the 1970s social and cultural revolutions. In the 1960s, many Japanese were in Jamaica, the island in the eye of the Caribbean sea. They were mainly there to complete engineering projects.

In Japan

In 1975, vocal group, the Pioneers toured Japan in 1975. Music pollination and hybrid styles, began from the early days of Ska.

The song titled, ‘Sukiyaki’ is one of my favourite. Jamaican, Japanese, or Chinese versions, all are beautiful and serene. Modern Japanese artist like ‘Kiki Hitomi’ from King Midas sound system, is one artist who have continued the trend of mixing old Japanese and Jamaican music, in new creative hybrid styles.

Bright Moon – Relaxing Evening

The first place of my visit to Japan was Shinjuku. At that time, There was a growing community of Jamaicans living there.

Some were there with Japanese wives and husbands. Similar to Ras Kush and Yumi. Among many others, the singer and songwriter, Yami Bolo, lived in Japan for many years.

In 1985, Sugar Minott, with the Black Roots sound system, and Youth-Man Promotions. Toured Japan with Deejays, Singers, Dancers in Dancehall vibrations.

The troupe included among many others, Tiger, Frankie Paul, Tenor Saw, Sister Carol. JapanSplash, and other major music festivals followed suit, and was highlighted in many Japanese cities. The exchange visits between both places, became a continuous trend to the present time. With many Japanese moving to live, and open businesses in Jamaica.


Fusions & Hybrids

In 2002 Montego Bay, the crowning of Dancehall Queen – ‘Junko Kudo’ a Japanese. Opened the contest for people living outside the island.

Now, there are hundreds of Reggae sound systems in all major cities of Japan. My favourite, award winning ‘Mighty Crown’ is the best known worldwide.

There are many Japanese-Jamaican influencers, like Masaya Hayashi in ‘Osaka.’ Shizuo Ishi in ‘Tokyo.’

Culturally rich ‘Kyoto’ with its ancient temples and traditional festivals. On the outskirts of the city, Buddhist Monk ‘Ejima Kodo’ played a Reggae music sound system regular, for many years.


Not only music, you are also able to find good quality authentic Jamaican cuisine.

Reggae clubs, bars, and restaurants can be found in many Japanese cities. On sale also, are Japanese style dancehall and reggae music, including vintage vinyl roots music, and other paraphernalia relating to the culture.

During the new Dancehall, Rap and Deejay uprising, at the start of the 21st century. I was commissioned to photograph the ‘Sun Cycle’ crew in London. Some displaying the angst and nihilism of the young rebellious, in fury and attitudes of couldn’t give a damn! I was surprised, even though it was recorded and produced in London. The music was only available in Japan. Dani-Jah