I’m standing in Treasure Chest, a watering hole deep in the bowels of Shibuya. An old-school Jamaican-style sound system blasts cumbia and rock-en-Español while patrons trickle in, buy drinks and start shaking handmade rattles to the beat. In an hour or so, the band EKD (above) will set up behind the bar and play a free set of Latin-inflected surf-rock. They are relatively unknown so far, but if Japanese tastes continue on the same trajectory, EKD will be playing much larger venues soon enough.
Whether it be salsa, flamenco, samba or mambo, the Latin musical spectrum has a long and storied history in Japan, but in recent years more eclectic and subversive sounds have gained traction with the twentysomething set. These bands frequently mix traditional musical elements with punk ethos or political predilections. Sometimes both.