Charlie Nagatani cuts a striking figure in his big cowboy hat. Since he fell in love with the music of the U.S. occupiers back in the 1950s, this 80-year-old Japanese musician has lived for country music. As the owner of a famous country music bar and the founder of the annual Country Gold Festival, he is the figurehead of this remarkable Japanese subculture. Far Western starts out by concentrating on Charlie’s contemporaries, elderly men with nimble guitar fingers and an endearing southern twang (with a Japanese accent), but as the film progresses, the horizon broadens. The music is still attracting new, young fans, and the Country Gold Festival features big American names. The cultural exchange is complete when a number of Japanese bands tour the United States and jam with their American counterparts. And Charlie Nagatani? He heads for Nashville to perform at the legendary Grand Ole Opry – but not before buying himself a new cowboy hat.
Matthew Leach for Fieldguide Media