Japanese musicians pursuing a passion for country music in America

by Mario Lucero, March 10, 2023:


A devoted group of Japanese musicians pursue a lifelong passion for country music in honky-tonks from Tokyo to Nashville.” — Amazon Prime’s synopsis of the documentary FAR WESTERN.


Seemingly unrelated identities have expressed themselves in both the US and Japan.  While reporting for The New York Times, Walter Thompson-Hernández was surprised to find the Chicano subculture alive and well in Japan, complete with trademark lowriders and Chicano-style hip-hop. 

This Western lifestyle subculture found its way to Japan the same way Western wear and country-Western music did.  As showcased in the FAR WESTERN documentary it traveled through the countryside and cityscapes, making its way to talented creatives throughout the island nation.

Tomi Fujiyama and Charlie Nagatani became Japan’s legends of country music, the latter of which even set up the former annual Country Gold concert series in Kumamoto, attracting international country-Western stalwarts Rick Trevino, Daryle Singletary, and Brad Paisley.  While that particular event may be on ice, the music certainly isn’t done. “Good Time Charlie” is still rocking his music with one of the longest-running bands in Japanese history, The Cannonballs.

Honky-tonks throughout Japan carry on this tradition, venues like Little Texas and Lone Star Cafe in Tokyo, Stagecoach in Chigasaki, and Armadillo in Nagoya. 

These locations tend to serve good Texan and Southwestern cuisine fare, so these Japanese honky-tonks are an upgrade from their American dive bar inspiration.

Along with featuring performances by Bronco & Spirits, Cadillac Cowboys, Country Wagon, Dicky Kitano, Asako & Geeks, and Swinging Doors.

“The Land of Enchantment” of New Mexico was no stranger to diverse inspirations.  The famed New Mexico chile pepper, important to New Mexican cuisine heritage, became a regional staple thanks to pioneer Mexican American horticulturist Fabian Garcia.  His student Roy Nakayama, son of Japanese immigrants, became known as “Mr. Chile” for his creation of the Big Jim variety.

Let’s not forget Yokohama’s native son Norio Hayakawa, a former regular of the Coast to Coast paranormal broadcast.  Also known for his stints in country-Western and New Mexico music and as a member of Johnny Whitecloud’s band.  Norio moved to Albuquerque to attend college, settling in Rio Rancho, and falling in love with New Mexico’s culture.

CLICK and you can listen to all his songs here:

Norio Hayakawa, Japanese country & western singer from New Mexico, U.S.A.

Norio Hayakawa, Japanese country & western singer from New Mexico, U.S.A.

He toured the US performing country music, enjoying the Western lifestyle, exploring paranormal research, and even hosted a Nippon TV documentary on the UFO claims surrounding Dulce, New Mexico. 

Americans of Japanese heritage have long made a name on the Western lifestyle itself.




E-mail = noriohayakawa@gmail.com

Facebook = http://www.facebook.com/fernandon.hayakawa

Please also watch Norio Hayakawa’s YouTube videos

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