- In: Culture
- Published on 02 January 2013
- By James
For many, being a teenager sucked. You are suddenly faced with a changing body, rapidly unleashed hormones, and a sense of self-awareness that wasn't quite so present just a few years before. Teenagers are also expected to perform above and beyond what family and society expects of them: "Hey shape up, you're already sixteen kiddo, life's no picnic." At the same time they are also expected to fail at every turned corner because they're just teenagers: "You can't do what you want, you're only sixteen." Teenagers are a walking paradox rarely understood by the generations that came before.
The 1960s were a time of great societal upheaval in Europe and America, but perhaps no place experienced a societal upheaval quite like Japan. I say this because in a society which, at least from the outside, portrays a culture of conformity and forced success, breaking away from that culture often times means to recklessly and purposely drive oneself towards oblivion. As correspondent Robert Morse commented at the time of this photo essay, "A large segment of Japanese young people are, deep down, desperately unhappy and lost. And they talk freely about their frustrations. Many have lost respect for their elders, always a keystone of Japanese life, and in some cases denounce the older people for having gotten us into a senseless war.”
What you see here is a culture of youth stuck on an island with no where to run. They're confined by society, geography, and socio-econimics. So they rebel.
[Special thanks to the Life Archives]