Japan’s Popeye Magazine Is A Surprising Relic of the Not-So-Distant Past

November 25, 2016 5:00 am


The Japanese have some pretty “out there” tastes. Whether it’s generally cute stuff or museum’s full of funny faced rocks, the country is on its own planet when it comes to what’s deemed popular. The following example might just take the cake.

The Los Angeles Times reported on one of the country’s most famous (and exceedingly weird) obsessions: a pop culture and fashion magazine called Popeye, which is phonebook heavy and for its 40th anniversary, reprinted its entire debut issue focusing on one thing: Los Angeles in 1976. Readers could find coverage of ’70s American fashion trends like the game-changing gym shorts and tennis shoes; and the Lakers basketball team, when it was headed up by sky-hook master Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.


It’s all part of an illustrious career of a magazine focused almost entirely on America worship. Founded in ’76, the magazine’s launch tagline was “Magazine for City Boys,” which the magazine itself still says it really has no idea what to make of (though they do admit on their website that it could be a “style” or “way of thinking”). The magazine was borne out of two previous titles—Ski Life and Made in the U.S.A.—both heavily focused on American life. The magazine’s original editor, 86-year-old Yoshihisa Kinameri told the L.A. Times: 

“It’s hard to capture the feeling [of 1976 L.A.] now, but then, it was just all so different. [The Japanese] had seen running in the Olympics, but seeing jogging in real life was completely strange….The hang gliding, the skateboarding, the variety of sneakers. It was all totally new. In Japan at the time, students had maybe two kinds of sneakers, and they were cheap and not stylish at all[.]”

Clearly, it helped the burgeoning culture come into its own—one, ironically, which we now look to for trending styles and architecture and many other aspects of life.

For more on the groundbreaking magazine, click here (and make sure to click your browser’s “translate” function, unless you’re fluent in Japanese).


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