“Mexicans and Japanese have a closeness.”
“Chicano,” a new mini-doc by filmmakers Louis Ellison and Jacob Hodgkinson, is less than 10 minutes long but it packs plenty of insight about a peculiar Japanese subculture: those who love Chicano gang culture. Japanese “Chicanos” emulate the ’90s-era looks of Los Angeles gang members (and their associates) to a tee, but this film reveals their attraction to the culture is far from superficial. One of the interviewees is Shin Miyata, the owner of Barrio Gold, a record label that distributes Chicano oldies and modern Chicano rap music. Miyara, who lived in Los Angeles briefly to see and experience the culture for himself, explains that in the ’90s, Lowrider magazine made its way out to Japan, exposing them to a new, exciting culture. Soon, people like Miyata became hungry to learn more not just about Chicano gang fashion, but the social conditions that helped create it. Some Japanese “Chicanos” did more than just adopt the style displayed by their American counterparts, they also began building lowriders, with an attention to detail — check out the Carl’s Jr at the 3:15 mark — that they believe is a hallmark of both Chicano and Japanese culture.