N°135 [ENCOUNTER] Vegan writer Kato Hiroko

In Fifty Sounds (2021), a memoir about her time spent in Japan, translator and author Polly Barton remembers the day a Japanese friend took her and her brother to a yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant. “Upon learning that my brother didn’t eat meat, [my friend] said blithely, ‘Don’t worry, th[...]

No.134 [ENCOUNTER] Promoting social cohesion

Lee Thompson is a professor at the Faculty of Sports Science at Waseda University, Tokyo./ Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Lee Thompson, a sports specialist in Japan, has no doubt that the Japanese approach is unique. Zoom Japan interviewed Lee Thompson, a professor at the Faculty of Sport Sciences [...]
Wold Children, Hosoda Mamoru

No47 [Destiny] Hosoda’s little obsessions

The work of this renowned director was honoured at the Tokyo International Film Festival, which tookplace at the end of October To make good films, one needs a strong team to rely on. So says a master director. In the last few years Hosoda Mamoru has become one of the most sought-after anime directo[...]
Hara Keiichi

No47 [Encounter] Hara: directing is in his blood

In the space of just a few years, Hara Keiichi has become one of Japanese animation’s most important directors. The director of Miss Hokusai and Colorful takes a critical look at the changes in the animation industry. On a cold and cloudy October afternoon I paid a visit to Production I.G’s offi[...]

No46 [Encounter] The amazing Kakuta Mitsuyo

Kakuta has written a wide variety of novels and depicted the lives of many different types of women through her characters. Having received a number of literary awards during her career, Kakuta Mitsuyo is now considered as one of the leading authors representing Japan today. Her 2004 work “Woman o[...]
yu miri

No45 [Interview] For those with nowhere to go

The author Yu miri, as someone who had nowhere to go herself, has continued writing for people in the same situation. In 2018, two translations of author Yu Miri’s works will be released in the U.K. Living a mere 23km from the troubled nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture, what does Miri see now,[...]

No44 [Interview] Lupine rockers head abroad!

We asked Man With A Mission, a Japanese rock band, about the appeal of playing abroad, especially in Europe. There is a band whose five members are said to be the results of an experiment by a mad scientist to create the ultimate life form, with the body of a man but the head of a wolf! Their name i[...]

No41 [Interview] In the shadow of the superheroes

after playing the key character in Ultraman’s first series, kurobe Susumu still remains very popular 50 years later. Since the beginning of the Ultraman saga 50 years ago, many actors have played Ultraman’s human alter ego, but few people can compete in popularity with Kurobe Susumu, aka the[...]

No41 [Cinema] Iwai Shunji, multi-talented genius

On the release his new picture; The Murder Case of Hana & Alice, the filmmaker reveals what motivates his work. Ten years after Hana & Alice (the 2004 film that consolidated his fame as one of Japan’s top directors), Iwai Shunji has finally managed to fulfil his dream of making another w[...]

No41 [Encounter] A unique skill

President of Tsuburaya Productions, Ooka Shinichi looks back on his career and the incredible longevity of his superhero.   Though most movie fans are interested only in the people who appear in front of the camera, film making is very much a team effort and the invisible crew working in the ba[...]

No39 [Interview] The cowards who looked to the sky

Zoom Japan met with director Tanada Yuki at the U.K. screening of her new film “The Cowards who Looked to the sky”.   We went to talk to director Tanada Yuki about the interesting episodes that occurred during the making of her new film “The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky”, s[...]

No38 [Sound] Pitch perfect for Dominique Fillon

This French jazzman found not only inspiration in the archipelago, but also the desire to share his musical knowledge. For over 28 years, Dominique Fillon, pianist and colourful jazz composer, has enchanted us with his music inspired by African and Brazilian rhythms. Yet it’s in Japan, a world awa[...]

No37 [Interview] One hour with Osaki Akira

The director speaks to Zoom Japan at the screening of his film at the Raindance Film Festival..   What are the main highlights that we should we look out for in “Obon Brothers”, your film that’s being shown at the Raindance Film Festival? Osaki Akira: There are many things in it, but I th[...]

No37 [Encounter] Bikes and the meaning of life

For Ikeda Shin, who’s passionate about Harleys, motorbikes have been a great means of self-expression. Editor-in-chief of the magazine Hotbike Japan, Ikeda Shin has been passionate about Harley Davidsons for over 25 years. Yet this indefatigable globe-trotter was not always a “biker”. Born 196[...]

No35 [Interview] Miyavi, master of the guitar

The world famous Miyavi was back in London during his latest European Tour and shared his thoughts with us.   Congratulations on the release of your album “We are all the others”. What is the big selling point of this album and were there any things that were tough for you in making it or a[...]

No34 [Interview] Setsuko loves local agriculture

Farmers have long been supported by a system that allowed them to to influence politics, but not anymore. There is growing concern among people in Japan about the future of local agriculture, due both to American trade pressure and the Abe Shinzo administration’s apparent lack of interest in the m[...]

No33 [Culture] Japan according to Barakan

He has lived in Japan for over 40 years, and every week this Briton puts forward his views on his adopted country. On a beautiful sunny afternoon in Tokyo we met up in NHK’s offices, close to the former Olympic stadium currently being demolished to make way for new facilities where most of th[...]

No33 [Music] The Bawdies are coming

The Tokyo-based band is about to make its first attempt to win over European audiences. Japan has a pretty good rock and R&B revivalist scene, but few bands have been as successful as The Bawdies. The stylish four-piece from Tokyo — Ryo “Roy” Watanabe (bass/vocals), Taku “Taxman” Funay[...]

No32 [Architecture] Sugawara, a connected builder

Keenly aware of the challenges facing our society, Sugawara Daisuke shares his architectural vision with us. Has your perception of architecture changed since the earthquake on the 11th of March 2011? Sugawara Daisuke: Far from changing the way I think, the 11th of March 2011 has convinced me that I[...]

No31 [Music] Worldwide success – SCANDAL

This girl-band who are not only popular in Japan but all around the world, are finally going on a world tour, including London.   How were the group first formed? Scandal : All four of us used to attend the same vocal and dance school in Osaka in 2006. Although we did not do any training to pla[...]

No30 [Movie] “My characters are my friends”

In an exclusive interview with Zoom, Yamada Yoji looks back at his 60-yearlong career. Let’s start from the beginning. In 1954, after majoring in Law at Tokyo University, you started to work at Shochiku, one of the major film studios in the country. Why did you want to be a director? Yamada Yoji :[...]

No29 [Interview] Always aim higher

Successful author Yumemakura Baku discusses his work with the mangaka who have adapted it. Yumemakura Baku is one of Japan’s most famous authors. His work has often been influenced by his travels and personal involvement in activities such as martial arts, and many of his books have been adapted i[...]

No29 [Interview] Wood Job – Yaguchi Shinobu

This month Zoom Japan met with film director Yaguchi Shinobu to talk about his latest project, a film about more than just lumberjacks!   Please could you tell us what led to you making the film Wood Job? YAGUCHI Shinobu: Up until now I have only worked on original projects, but it is not the c[...]

No.28 [Interview] Meet the king of comedy

Rakugo is a very unique way of making laugh people in Japan. We met Katsura Sunshine, one of his best representative.   I hear that you were already a successful playwright and composer in Canada when you started doing rakugo, but what was your first point of contact with Japanese culture? Kats[...]

No26 [Movie] The world of Nakashima Tetsuya

Adapting a novel by Akio Fukamachi, the director offers a very strong film full of violence. He explains his choice. Have you been to the U.K. before? Nakashima Tetsuya : No, this is my first time here.   I see, so what kind of impression did it leave on you? N. T. : I’ve only just arrive[...]

No25 [Manga] A model never equalled

As a great lover of manga, the writer Kawamoto Saburo shares with us his admiration for this legendary magazine. As far back as he can remember, Kawamoto Saburo has always loved manga. Now 70 years old, the writer is a famous literary and film critic; he is also a compulsive manga reader and an astu[...]

No24 [Art, manga] The amazing Yokoyama Yuichi

The leader of neo-manga is presenting his work in europe for the first time with an exhibition in Toulouse, France. Yokoyama Yuichi’s manga defy convention. There is something alien in the stories that the 47-year-old graphic designer and illustrator creates that never ceases to surprise a reader[...]

No24 [Food] Yukari in wonderland

To work in one of these big shops selling the finest goods means acquiring a proper set of skills. This is the tale of how one woman did it. Born in Tokyo and raised in the United States, Sakamoto Yukari trained as a chef and baker at the French Culinary Institute, and as a sommelier at The American[...]

No23 [Mascot] Kumamon, a hairy bear

Koyama Kundo’s mission is to make people happy, a mission that he has accomplished admirably thanks to his popular mascot character. Script and broadcast writer Koyama Kundo is a man of many talents. Since joining [***TV] when he was still in college, Koyama has written a number of hit progra[...]

No23 [Mascot] Goda Tsuneo’s lucky star

Since he created Domo, NHK’s star character, this animator has experienced great success. A Japanese dwarf is conquering the West, one country after another, with its army of cute monsters and animals. The dwarf in question is Goda Tsuneo’s animation studio. Since the late 1990s, Goda has create[...]

No23 [Cinema] Advertising Nagai Akira

In his second film, ‘Judge!’, director Nagai Akira tackles a subject he knows well: advertising. Don’t miss this gem! So, Mr. Nagai, what was your aim with this film? Nagai Akira: Well, it’s a story about the world of advertising, in which I usually work as a director. So I packed every feel[...]

No22 [Culture] Ito Toyo, in the service of men

On his recent visit to Paris, the winner of the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize returned to the subject of his different projects. Zoom Japon, our French sister publication, made a plea to its readers to help rebuild Rikuzentakata’s community centre.   The donors would like to know wha[...]

No22 [Train] The man who loved trains

His railway creations are what dreams are made of. Okuyama Ken tells us more about his work and projects. You can’t talk about Japanese train design today without mentioning Okuyama Kiyoyuki, or Ken Okuyama as he is known abroad. For many years Okuyama has worked with cars, as a chief designer for[...]

No21 [Culture] A few useful things to know

Politicians are increasingly tempted to play with history. A game that could prove dangerous. In the ongoing debate on historical memory and revisionism in Japan, it is sometimes hard to tell the truth from ideological propaganda. Therefore, in order to make things clear, Zoom Japan paid a visit to [...]

No21 [Culture] A point of view from America

Tony Marano, alias Texas Daddy, has been defending radical theories for several years. The debate about Japan’s wartime history (particularly the more thorny issues, like the Nanking Massacre and the use of both sex slaves and slave labour) has carried on for several years now, pitting politicians[...]

No21 [Culture] Never forget

Since 2006, the Chukiren Peace Memorial Hall has been fighting to present the truth about the war. If the Yushukan Museum represents the attractive, glossy, rose-tinted version of Japanese history, its direct opposite can be found about 30 kilometres north of Tokyo, in Saitama Prefecture. After gett[...]

No20 [Music] Yoshiki back to England

Considered as one of Japan’s most influential artists, the founder of XJapan will be in London just for one night.   Tell us about your memories of London and any interesting episodes you had here. Yoshiki: The first place I ever went abroad was London. At the time, X (now X Japan) was signed to [...]

No19 [Interview] Meet a hard rock vampire!

This month we took a walk on the dark side of Japanese rock and tracked down Hyde to ask him how preparations were going. This is your second time playing in London, so what were your impressions of the audience last time and what kind of expectations do you have for your upcoming performance? Hyde [...]

No19 [Interview] Colorful, the story of a family

© 2010 ETO MORI / FUJI TELEVISION NETWORK, INC. / SUNRISE INC. / DENTSU INC. / ANIPLEX INC./SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT (JAPAN) INC. / TOHO CO., LTD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED You can discover Hara Keiichi’s fabulous film during The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme. Could you tell us about the orig[...]

No18 [Interview] Master Tester Fukumoto

Tokyu Hands’ success can be explained by the will to share expertise about the various products they sell. Every working place needs its captain, even a store like Tokyu Hands whose system is based on collaboration, team work and employee feedback, and for the last 18 years Fukumoto Kazuhiro has s[...]

No17 [Interview] Shinkai Makoto’s words

The director of The Inner Earth and Realm of Agartha signals his comeback with The Garden of Words. His first work, The Place Promised In Our Early Days was enchanting, 5 Centimetres Per Second was touching and The Inner Earth and Realm of Agartha was intriguing. Shinkai Makoto is back with The Gard[...]

No17 [Interview] Easy-Peasy Sushi

Many foreign chefs travel to Japan to learn the techniques of preparing traditional Japanese cuisine. The rising interest in Japanese cuisine around the world has led many international chefs to study washoku’s rigorous techniques, and the most serious ones have gone all the way to Japan in order [...]

No17 [Interview] Okuda is preparing a taste revolution

The owner of two Michelin starred restaurants in Tokyo is moving to Paris to introduce the best of his cuisine. According to the respected Michelin guide, Tokyo rules the culinary world. Yet Okuda Toru manages to stand out with a whopping five stars under his belt. Not content with owning three-star[...]

No17 [Interview] The evangelists of Japanese cuisine

The Agency for Cultural Affairs plays a key role in defending Japanese cuisine. We interviewed one of its directors. By the time this issue of Zoom Japan comes out, the eighth session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee convened on the 2nd – 7th December in Baku, Azerbaijan, should have [...]

No15 [Interview] Uesugi Tsuyoshi, King of Ekiben

For 40 years this modest high school teacher has been collecting everything to do with station lunchboxes. Passions can take many different forms and often result in extraordinary collections which testify to a persons love for a particular object. When thinking about Japan, the first things that co[...]

No13 [Interview] Hanazawa, an unintentional hero

A rising star of the manga world, and the author of I am a Hero, Hanazawa Kengo lets usin on his work and his take on Japanese society. Hanazawa Kengo already has a few successes to boast of. The latest, I am a Hero, has been published in Big Comic Spirits magazine since 2009. We took advantage of h[...]

No12 [Interview] All about lovely monsters

Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto are the men behind the Pokémon manga series. Zoom Japan met them to talk about about their work. Please briefly introduce yourself. Hidenori Kusaka : My name is Hidenori Kusaka and I work as a creator of manga comics. Currently the series “Pokémon Adventures[...]

No12 [Interview] We’ve all learned something from Ozu

This year is the 60th anniversary of the release of Tokyo Story. Yamada Yoji drew inspiration from this major work. Directors Yamada Yoji and Watanabe Yutaka (Kinoshita Keisuke’s assistant) came to the Shochiku Studios in Ofuna in 1954, one year after Ozu directed his opus, Tokyo Story there. [...]

No11 [Interview] Ajikan, rock made in Japan

Before setting out on their first European tour, Asian Kung-fu generation (ajikan) agreed to answer Zoom Japan’s questions in an exclusive interview. If you’ve never heard of Japanese rock, it’s about time you opened your ears! Asian Kung-fu Generation is travelling to Europe for their first t[...]

No11 [Interview] A very special agency

Moriyama Tetsuro experienced house sharing as a student. He decided to make a living from it and has had great success. Tell me the story of Tokyo Share House. Moriyama Tetsuro : After graduating from high school I went to Australia to study English. At the time I realized that I could learn more by[...]

No11 [Interview] Welcome to our place

For some people, it’s hard to imagine living any other way that in a shared house. Cocoya Shibuya Usuki is a female-only, twostorey, four-bedroom share house not far from Shibuya Station in Tokyo. Eleven women – two of them from South Korea – currently live here. One of them was kind enough to[...]

No10 [Interview] “Literature and life are like gambling”

Writer Takahashi Genichiro on writing, politics and the charms of horse racing. Takahashi Genichiro is one of the most important all-around Japanese writers of the last 30 years and one of the pioneers of the postmodern novel in this country. From fiction to essay, from literary criticism to sports [...]

No9 [Interview] Narita Daisuke, The Godfather of Japanese Zines

People say that your main weapons are a photocopier and a sewing machine. Narita Daisuke : They are right (laughs). You see, I graduated from fashion school. So on Thursdays we have a clothes-making circle. And the motto is to let your creativity fly!   Like many people involved in the DIY com[...]

No7 [Interview] Ichimura Masachika Interview

Zoom Japan have managed to get an exclusive interview with Ichimura Masachika, star of the play: Anjin: The Shogun and The English Samurai that is showing in London from Thursday the 31st of January to Saturday the 9th of February 2013. Firstly, what was it that made you want to become a musical and[...]

No7 [Interview] Simplicity at it’s purest

One of Miyamoto Tsuneichi’s former students says it is essential to continue supporting the work of craftsmen. Situated down a street in the old town of Kamakura, Kuno Keiichi’s shop looks like a museum. Finely chiselled potteries, ceramic tea sets, old-fashioned baskets and indigo dyes are all [...]

No7 [Interview] Rediscovering mingei with Okuma Takeo

After having been a buyer for the designer shop idée, Ôkuma Takeo worked for Tsubasa no ôkoku, ana’s inflight magazine. He is now director at Claska where he showcases craftwork.    What is your definition of mingei? Okuma Takeo : It’s a very difficult question to answer. In Yanagi [...]

No8 [Interview] Barak Kushner, a long story

Barak Kushner teaches the history of Japan at the University of Cambridge. He is a specialist in Sino-Japanese relations and his second book, Slurp! A Social and Culinary History of Ramen, was published by Global Oriental (2012). What got you interested in ramen? Barak Kushner: There are two reasons[...]

No6 [Interview] An interview with the GazettE

On the European release of “Visual Kei” band the GazettE’s latest album, Division, the band members answered our questions during an exclusive interview. Tell us about the time when the band was created. Ruki: Our first show. I want to experience that sensation of tension again. Th[...]

No6 [Interview]Tha Blue Herb, alive and kicking

From left to right, O.N.O. the beat maker, and Boss, the MC (master of ceremony). The two members of Tha Blue Herb.   You are from Hokkaido. Your regional roots are often said to be very important to you. Why is that? Boss : It’s very simple. This is where we were born, where we grew up, and [...]

No6 [Interview] Shinsei Kamattechan shares his secrets

From left to right, Mono, Misako, Chibagin and Noko. The four members of Shinsei Kamattechan.   Could you tell us about the band ? Mono : There’s Noko (guitar, vocals), Chibagin (bass guitar), Misako (drums) and me (keyboard). I’ve known Noko and Chibagin since kindergarten. Misako teamed u[...]

No6 [Interview] Mori Yoshitaka, An expert’s opinion

Mori Yoshitaka is a sociologist and a professor at Tokyo University of the Arts. He carefully analyses the evolution of the music scene, and has published many articles and books on the subject, including Sutorîto no shiso [The Thought in the Streets: a turn in the 1990s, 2009]   Since the six[...]

No5 [Interview] Interview with Hotei Tomoyasu

Since August this year, legendary guitarist Hotei Tomoyasu has shifted his base from Japan to London and on Tuesday the 18th of December he will be performing his first ever solo live show here. You moved to London recently but I understand that you have visited the city many times before. What wer[...]

No4 [Interview] Ueno Makoto, at the heart of the Japanese soul

The folklorist Ueno makoto was born in 1960. he is an expert on the man’yôshû, the first anthology of Japanese poetry that dates back to the year 760. he focuses on the founding texts of Japanese culture, including the Kojiki. he currently teaches in the literature department at Nara University.[...]

No3 [Interview] The press embodies local identity

The local press plays an important role in the far flung regions of Japan, but how it works is quite a mystery. A respected academic reveals some answers. Anthony Rausch lives in TohokuJapan’s northern Tohoku region, in Hirosaki, a city that the Japanese appreciate for its castle and the thousand[...]

No2 [Interview] Miyazaki at the BFI Southbank

Copyright Studios Ghibli On June 8th at 6 pm, during a weekend dedicated to anime, the BFI Southbank will be presenting Miyazaki’s long awaited From Up on Poppy Hill. The director reveals the secrets of how it was made.   There were five years between the making of Takes from Earthsea and Fr[...]

No2 [Interview] Eight voices to remember

Journalist Elin Lindqvist publishes a wonderful book in which she puts the tragic events of 11th May 2011 into perspective. Born in Japan in 1982, Elin Lindqvist evidently remains very connected to the country although she now lives in England. After the earthquake and the tsunami, that were not onl[...]

No2 [Interview] Mita Masahiro : A pinch of nostalgia

Writer Mita Masahiro was born in 1948. He teaches at Musashino University in Tokyo. In 1977, he won the Akutagawa Prize, one of Japan’s most prestigious literary prizes, and has been working on copyright law for the past few years. What does the Tokyo Tower mean to you? Mita Masahiro : The Tokyo T[...]

No1 [Interview] Change is Hara Kenya’s dream

Born in 1958, HARA Kenya is art director of Muji since 2001 and designed the opening and closing ceremony programs ofthe Nagano Winter Olympic Games 1998. He has published “Designing Design”, in which he elaborates on the importance of “emptiness” in both the visual and philosophical traditi[...]