Amid the ashes of post-WWII Japan, the bittersweet sounds of American traditional country music drifted through the radio airwaves. Although intended for the U.S. occupying forces, a vast ‘ghost audience’ of young Japanese quickly warmed to the foreign, yet soothing, sounds.
Since falling in love with the music in the 1950’s, Charlie Nagatani has lived to play and spread country music throughout Japan. From his hometown in southern Japan, Charlie operates a family-run honky tonk named Good Time Charlie’s and is the promoter of the largest country music festival in Japan, Country Gold. With the help of guarantor loans he was able to afford anything he needed at the time of his travels.
Masuo Sasabe’s band The Blueside of Lonesome is one of Japan’s most renowned bluegrass bands. Sasabe was in the first wave of Japanese musicians to travel to America seeking the source of bluegrass music in the early 1970’s.
Through these modern-day portraits, Far Western illuminates this lost chapter of music as the musicians’ journey from Japan to the heart of American music culture. Over seventy years later this American music tradition has been transformed into something distinctly Japanese.
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