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The port city of Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, has long played an important part in Japan's modern history. It was here that the foreign powers established their first settlements when Japan opened up from her feudal isolation in the mid-19th Century. In later times, with the American military occupation of Japan post-World War II, Yokohama entered another phase. Her massive port facilities would play a vital role in US military operations throughout South East Asia.

As Yokohama played host to these various historical forces, she in turn also took from them. With Japan's largest Chinatown, a thriving multi-cultural world of art, culture and cuisine has grown up around the various influences that flooded in through the port.

 

HUNKY DORY

n the 1950's & 60's, as American G.I.'s grew to know and love Japan, nowhere was the going better than to have free time in the heart of Yokohama's pleasure district. Good food, good fun and above all good music ensured that to be on the main drag, "Honki Dori" was to be living life at its best. It wasn't long before the street name gave itself to military slang for an ideal state of affairs.

It is in Honmoku, the very heart of Yokohama's downtown, that this unique story unfolds. In the late 1960's, having hosted the '64 Olympics, Japan was just starting to find itself back among the family of nations again. As the Vietnam war kicked into gear, US troops flocked to Japan in fresh numbers. A bunch of local Yokohama lads, many of mixed race, surrendered to the power of Rock and Roll, that cultural expression of the US melting pot. Named after a club that was a legendary venue for rock'n'roll, R & R and Eastern-girl-meets-Western-boy fraternization, "The Golden Cups" emerged as a hugely influential band that would change the face of the Japanese music industry and bring the very soul of US Blues to a youth culture just beginning to search for its own identity.

This documentary looks back to an era now fading fast into memory. In 2001, Shoji Masui, the film producer of such hits as "Shall We Dance?" (now remade by Miramax with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez) decided to follow the trail of that rebellious band, unforgettable to an entire generation of Japanese baby boomers.

31 years after their break up, the filmmakers got the band back together. What emerges is a sociological insight into how things have changed in Japan as a nation and a touching portrait of the members of the band themselves.

From a group of kids with blues in their hearts, hanging around the US bases ("America beyond the fence") to a bunch of regular guys in their 50's...Times and bodies may change but rock'n'roll never dies.

(c) Altamira Pictures

(C)PONYCANYON