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No9 [History] Once upon a time, there were machines…

The country’s modernisation at the end of the 19th century coincided with the introduction of the first vending machines. Since then, they have become a very important part of everyday life.   The first vending machine in Japan dates from 1876 when Ueno Park in Tokyo was opened to the public. An [...]

No9 [Trend] Vending Machines are putting up a fight

They are everywhere. From the north to the south, on top of Mount Fuji or under the sea and they are in service around the clock, adapting to evolving technologies and the changing habits of consumers. There are three elements in the Japanese landscape that can be found all over the country: the tra[...]

No8 [Crisis] A recipe to escape the stew

No only is it good to eat, nowadays ramen has a significant economic role to play in the country. In Japan, as in other developed countries, publishing is not doing so well. Publishers struggle to attract readers who are spending more and more time with new digital technology but they have found a s[...]

No8 [Trend] Once ramen, always ramen

First it was sushi, now French consumers have discovered the pleasure of noodle soup. Zoom Japan investigated.   Aware of the large part that popular culture plays in both the commercial interests and image of the country, the Japanese government is now redoubling its efforts to promote manga, lite[...]

No7 [Tradition] Miyata Hiroshi, master basket maker

A late-comer to bamboo weaving, he learned everything from his father. Bamboo craftwork has a long history in Japan; excavations have revealed finely woven and lacquered baskets dating back to the late Jômon period (1100-300 B.C.). Most likely imported from China, the techniques used in Japan have [...]

No7 [Trend] Can you feel the spirit of mingei?

After re-appearing at the beginning of the last century, folk handicrafts are making a comeback, but with a different emphasis. In its November 2012 issue published at the beginning of October, Ryoko Yomiuri, one of Japan’s most popular travel magazines, dedicated a whole special edition to mingei[...]

No6 [Music] They won’t keep their mouths shut

All around the world, dozens of artists and bands fight to defend their right to be different. It is no exception in Japan despite its reputation for reticence. Don’t keep quiet. Use music to assert yourself and make your voice heard! Such is the motto of many modern Japanese artists who wish to m[...]

No5 [Pleasure] Royce’, the Rolls of chocolates

Situated close to Sapporo, this company is gaining increasing popularity amongst chocolate lovers. Hokkaido is famous for fish, shellfish, râmen (especially famous in Sapporo and Asahikawa), maybe even cheese (Hokkaido’s famous camembert sold in a tin box), and that is about it. This represents m[...]

No5 [Beer] From producer to consumer

A few kilometres away from Sapporo, Otaru’s little port is experiencing a revival with help from a master brewer who comes from Germany. Nowadays, Otaru is a little port like any other. However, until the ninteen-forties it was the region’s economic powerhouse. It owed its importance to commerce[...]

No5 [Wine] In Tokachi, dreams are made of grand crus

For approximately 50 years, Château Ikeda has been building a solid reputation with its wine. On arriving in Ikeda on the Nemuro line, 250 kilometres southeast of Sapporo, your attention is caught by a huge concrete building rising above the station. On a grey, cloudy day, it is enough to get horro[...]