In 1964, LIFE photographer Michael Rougier (left, on assignment in Tokyo) and correspondent Robert Morse spent time documenting one Japanese generation’s age of revolt, and came away with an astonishingly intimate, frequently unsettling portrait of teenagers hurtling willfully toward oblivion.
In Rougier’s photographs — pictures that seem to breathe, at once, a reckless energy and an acute despair — we don’t merely glimpse kids pushing the boundaries of rebellion. Instead, we’re offered the rare and disquieting gift of complicity: this generation of lost boys and girls, Rougier’s pictures suggest, is trying to tell us something — something reproachful and perplexing — about the world we’ve made. Or rather, the world that we’ve broken.
Caption from original story in the Sept. 11, 1964, issue of LIFE: ”Kako, languid from sleeping pills she takes, is lost in a world of her own in a jazz shop in Tokyo.”