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Elvis Presley’s influence in Japan

whysojapan elvis presley

This is a collaborative post.

Often referred to as “the King of Rock and Roll” or simply “the King,” Elvis Presley’s influence and image makes him one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century. He’s so popular that people today still honor his legacy with the plethora of impersonators and commemorative items, as well as all the Graceland celebrations. Elvis’ brand of music, his style of rock ‘n’ roll, has even reached the far corners of the globe, more specifically in conservative Eastern nations such as Japan.

Fotoroom featured a story about a particularly trendy zone in Tokyo, Japan where stumbling upon a group of people in black leather jeans and pants is as common as ramen and sushi restaurants. In more ways than one, Harajuku represents Elvis Presley’s effect in the country. From diehard rockabilly fans who eat, sleep, and breathe the subculture, to style junkies with their slick pompadour haircuts and Grease-like outfits, there’s no denying Elvis’ popularity in the Land of the Rising Sun.

In hindsight, remembering Elvis Presley through various outlets has been a common theme throughout the world. Apart from the obvious musical aspect, its Western heavy culture, and his longstanding worldwide fan clubs, it’s also worth noting how Elvis’ likeness is the basis of other popular forms of media. Venture Beat has an article that talks about the ten Elvis Presley references in video games. It highlights the King’s image and how it’s used in 16-bit games such as Super Nintendo System’s Clay Fighter, as well as the more modern 3D Rock ‘n’ Roll Adventures on Wii. He even has his own online slots game on Pocketfruity, appropriately called Elvis: the King Lives.

Aside from famous media platforms and ventures, Elvis Presley has some sort of political effect in Japan. So much so that even its former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi declared his love for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and openly shared the enthusiasm of the thousands of Presley fans in the country. In 1987, Junichiro, along with his brother Masaya who was also a former senior advisor of the Tokyo-based fan club at that time, financed the construction of an Elvis statue in Harajuku. His loyalty to the King may or may not have even helped him with his campaign in the early 2000s.

Japan represents how people from other parts of the globe, those who didn’t exactly get to experience Elvis Presley’s charisma firsthand, can appreciate greatness in every sense of the word. Even though he’s never performed outside the United States and Canada during the peak of his career, Elvis remains one of the pioneers of a universal music movement. His influence may be more significant in some parts of the globe than others, but one fact remains: the King’s legacy is still alive and well, up to this day.





Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Music Leave a comment