This is a close-up of a scanned image of the Samurai Spirit Skinheads crew’s patch. The SSS was (and maybe still is?) largely like any skinhead “crew” in the traditional sense; however, it was something of a nationalist movement as well. The Werewolfen compilation from 1995 first brought their scene and movement a lot of exposure around the world. Perhaps the most famous of the SSS bands is Sledge Hammer - whose name struck a chord with English speakers as being very similar to Skrewdriver.
Skinhead culture made its way to Japan with the explosion of the first and second waves of British punk rock - as it did in much of the world. But, beginning in the mid- to late-’80s, a lot of Japanese skinheads were influenced by the Nazi imagery and nationalist / right-wing politics coming from the British, European, and American RAC and WP scenes.
Seeing themselves as heirs to the nationalist spirit of Imperial Japan, a lot of Japanese skinheads thought it was entirely logical that they should identify and be “allied with” white right-wing skinheads from around the world - just as Hitler’s Germany allied with Japan in World War II. A lot of the early SSS bands were intensely nationalist, some even describing themselves as “Nazi skinheads”!
The SSS bands’ lyrics certainly deal with patriotic, nationalist, and even somewhat xenophobic subjects. There is little, if any, outright racism evidenced in SSS recordings at all. Due to that, and the rather serious language barrier, these bands have gotten a lot of notice from traditional skinheads around the world. The varying right-wing skinhead factions accepted them to greater and lesser degrees as swell. Obviously there were people who quite simply felt that, as these guys were not white, they were extremely misled. Others seem to also see things in a similar way to the SSS skins - basing their legitimacy on the historicity of the German-Japanese alliance.
However, the scene seems to have calmed down to some extent today. According to this paper exploring skinhead culture in Japan, most SSS members are simply traditional skinheads with strong national pride, who aspire to join an established and strong skinhead crew. I am not sure when that paper was written, but it would seem the SSS crew is still going strong today.
At one time, there was a very good blog dedicated to the SSS scene, samuraiss.blogspot.com, but it has not been updated in about two years and the links are slowly breaking. Damn shame. There is still quite a bit of information there for those interested!
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