Exploring Country Music In Japan

Odds are, when someone says Tokyo, one of the first things that comes to mind is technology, not twang.

"I had no idea when we first went to Japan that this subculture existed," said filmmaker James Payne.

He was so taken with the topic that he decided to do a documentary.

"I guess Japanese people just get really absorbed in things," says one Japanese country singer in the film.

That absorption started after WWII with the advent of a radio program for the American Occupied Forces in Japan.

"On that program we heard Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, Woody Guthrie, Bob Wills, Merle Haggard. We couldn't understand a single thing they were saying. Just the music," said two Japanese men who are country music enthusiasts.

"Music has this uncanny ability to travel, to cross language barriers, geographic barriers, and national barriers," said Payne.

The name of the film is Far Western, and there's still work to be done, hence a Kickstarter campaign.

A fascinating glimpse of how music can unite, even when languages divide. How's James' Japanese?

"Terrible, just a handful of pleasantries, and it's, I'm constantly having these lost in translation comedic moments in producing this film. It makes it more difficult, but it definitely makes it funny," he said.

From T-town to Tokyo, an exploration in the Far East of the old west.

"Country music is most of the part of my body inside, you know, and without this I can't live on I guess," said one singer.
close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off