Japan’s answer to the Hippies – the Fuuten-zoku – used to clutter up Shinjuku station in the late 60s during the day and sleep out in the bushes in the night (the so-called “Green House”). In a land of few illicit substances, they took sleeping pills and huffed paint thinner out of plastic bags. The authorities came in and washed these kids away, and by the end of ’69, they were essentially gone.
There’s a good reason no one has much nostalgia for the 60s in Japan: they smelled like tear gas and paint thinner.
A side note: I spent most of last night looking through a History of Japan series created in the early 60s, flipping through pages upon pages of pictures from the immediate post-War period. A lot of the events of that era do not make it into the English textbooks about Japan, except as small references to bigger trends, and noticing this, I realized that I have much left to learn about 20th century Japanese cultural history. We look back upon everything as if Bubble-era wealth and 90s-taste were some predetermined, inevitable conclusion when the truth is that for a very long time, Japan was a grey, dreary place straddling the fence between Fascist relapse and Socialist revolution. The older generation always whines: the kids don’t get the poverty we went through, and they are right. Unlike Americans who worship the Wonder Years of American Dreams, the Japanese don’t have a history fetish for anything post-1920 and pre-1980. Much effort is required to really feel the social history of that specific time frame.