As Japanese bike gangs succumb to police pressure, an aging outlaw (Hazuki Kazuhiro) confronts his tough guy past and tackles the dwindling options remaining for his future. In this candid, first non -Japanese documentary on the bosozoku or "Speed Tribes" we glimpse a side of Japan rarely imagined.
"SAYONARA SPEED TRIBES" offers a fascinating narrative and documents the decline of one of Japan's most colorful and controversial sub-cultures. The film blends verité footage and interviews, manga-style animation, still photography and riveting footage from bike runs.
As Japan reaped the benefits of post WWII reconstruction, it began experiencing growing pains. Once famous for its spartan disciplined austerity, Japan now experienced a surge in violent student protests and rising juvenile delinquency. A yearning for revolt among Japan's youth became a chaotic, yet palpable force. Nightly gatherings of youngsters on motorbikes drawing large crowds of spectators dominated the attention of police and media outlets after the outbreak of several riots that shook the nation. The media and authorities fashioned a new model for delinquency, packaged it for the masses and penned its name in the papers: "Bosozoku".
Bou 暴 means VIOLENT, Sou 走 SPEED and Zoku 族 TRIBE-- SPEED TRIBES. As the frenzy of police and media campaigns against the bikers saturated the Japan's news, the Bosozoku began flashing their outlaw image as a badge of honor. Far from destroying the Bosozoku, intense media coverage became a theatrical spotlight for gangsters who craved fame at all costs.
Bosozoku wear tokkofuku (battle uniforms)—nationalistic, kamikaze-themed uniforms designed with gang icons and embroidered with "poetry" in Japanese "kanji" characters. They ride customized, illegally modified bikes with chopped-off mufflers and ignore all traffic laws while evading police cruisers with the deft precision of fighter pilots. For decades they have ruled the streets at midnight, but times are changing fast and now, due to police pressure and shifting cultural trends, Bosozoku numbers are fading fast. For the general public, who typically view them as a nuisance, the decline of the Bosozoku is long overdue, but for Bosozoku enthusiasts, their decline is a bitter farewell to a proud tradition. For many, being a Bosozoku is a one-way journey into the underworld.
"Sayonara Speed Tribes" focuses on Hazuki, former leader of the infamous Narushino Specter gang. According to Hazuki, "Once you go Bosozoku, you've turned your back on Japanese society and given up on the idea of a 'normal' life." Much to his dismay, Bosozoku is becoming mostly about fashion and joyriding, a stark contrast to Bosozoku discipline and devotion to the team or gang of his glory days as leader of Specter. Specter once ruled much of Tokyo, but now is isolated to Hazuki's home town. Meetings in tokkofuku jackets and late night kamikaze-style bike runs are becoming things of the past.
Hazuki's only success in life seems to be his fame in the Bosozoku world as star of 'Teens Road,' a series of Bosozoku videos filmed early in the 1990s. Where can he carve a place out for himself in Japanese society?
The film is sure to be a cult hit among bike enthusiasts and those looking for a ride on the wild side of Japan. 暴走族 一斉封鎖 検問 bousouzoku 大阪