The bustling main street of Shinjuku, c. 1930
Isetan Department Store, Shinjuku, c. 1935
Shinjuku Station, c. 1930
Yodobashi (Shinjuku), c. 1910
“Shinjuku in 1960 was thronged with sidewalk shoeshine stands, city-operated streetcars on Toden Dori (now Yasukuni Dori), camera shops filled with bargain hunters, cinemas surrounding the Kabukicho peace park, commuters switching trains in a tumbledown national railway station … To the youthful vanguard in 1960, Shinjuku meant cheap rent, plays and concerts in Kinokuniya Hall, a first-rate bookstore, a handful of galleries sponsoring contemporary art, and tales from an older generation about pre-war salon culture in Nakamuraya, a bakery and cafe long since out of favor with the young.
“Whereas the postwar epicenter of high-culture experiments was Sogetsu Hall in sleek Akasaka, some of the first tremors of a true artistic underground in Japan were being felt in workaday Shinjuku. Yoshimasu Gozo, the photographer and poet, sets the scene:
‘In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Shinjuku was the center of artistic ferment in theater, photography, jazz, and dance as well as the visual arts. Takiguchi Buzo, for example, was very interested in Buto. He used to spend time in Shinjuku with us hippies in a bar called Nadja or in other tiny drinking establishments. Those bars, a few jazz coffeehouses, and the Fugetsudo restaurant on Toden Dori were the nurses of the underground arts in those days.
‘We young artists, playwrights, poets, and photographers felt the effect of the Beat generation in America, especially in the overheated atmosphere and intellectual energy of Nadja. Yes, Shinjuku was it, wasn’t it?'”
– Radicals And Realists in the Japanese Nonverbal Arts: The Avant-garde Rejection of Modernism, by Thomas R. H. Havens, 2006
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