1950: The Year "Tokyo Boogie Woogie" Crossed the Pacific

Stuart Hall, Room 105

When the postwar ban on foreign travel for Japanese performers was lifted in 1950, popular musicians immediately launched into overseas activities. The list of musicians who conducted U.S. tours in 1950-1951 reads like a “Who’s Who” of mid-century Japanese pop. Appearing primarily before Japanese-American audiences, these U.S. appearances represented a breakthrough not only for the Japanese music industry, but also for local audiences. Barely five years removed from wartime internment camps, Japanese-Americans found the concerts a rare opportunity to celebrate publicly their connections to Japanese culture. While many performers used these tours as the basis for new films, stage revues, and songs after returning to Japan, the concerts themselves faded into historical oblivion—until 2008. A collection of audio recordings made at the Sacramento Nichibei Theater was discovered and restored, leaving us an astonishing archival treasure. This presentation will explore the cultural and historical significance of the 1950 tours and will include sound clips and images from the concerts.