N°135 [FOCUS] Vegan Japan

Despite the influence of Buddhism, the Japanese are slow to return to the vegetarian cuisine that has long characterized them. Dish prepared at Millet (see pp. 20-21). / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan By their nature, humans are omnivorous animals, and the Japanese are by no means an exception. Tod[...]

No.134 [PASSION] Ekiden, the race first and foremost

Every year, the Hakone ekiden, sponsored by the Yomiuri Shimbun, attracts enormous crowds./ Gianni Simone for Zoom Japan The first big sporting event of the year, the team relay marathon between Tokyo and Hakone is hugely popular. During the New Year’s festivities, a lot of people follow the same [...]

No.134 [TRADITION] Gymnastics for everyone

This physical exercise session remains very popular with the Japanese, especially the more elderly.Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan A daily appointment with rajio taiso, a radio programme that encourages millions of listeners to get moving. It’s 6.30 a.m. on a muggy summer’s day. The sun is alrea[...]

No.134 [FOCUS] Sport is a serious business!

Every year, on the second Monday in October, sports day takes place, and all children and parents must attend. / Gianni Simone for Zoom Japan In Japan, Sport Day is an institution no Japanese person can avoid. An elementary school stood above the dunes. I went around to the back of the school and wa[...]

No.133 [HISTORY] The dark side of the earthquake

The statue dedicated to the children who were victims of the 1923 earthquake in Yokoamichô Park. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Amid the great loss of property and human life caused by the Great Kanto Earthquake, a particularly grisly and shameful detail that should not be forgotten is the fact [...]

No. 133 [FOCUS] Great Kanto Earthquake

Hibiya crossroads shortly after the earthquake. The smoke was added to dramatize the event. Memorial Museum of the Great Kanto Earthquake. – Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan On 1 September 1923, at 11:58 a.m., a 7.9 magnitude  earthquake shook the Kanto region encompassing Tokyo and its su[...]

No.133 [INTERVIEW] Imaging disaster: Gennifer Weisenfeld

Postcard depicting the Nihonbashi Bridge shortly after the earthquake – Odaira Namihei for Zoom Japan The Great Kanto Earthquake has generated a vast literature even in Western languages. One of the more interesting products of all the resulting research is Gennifer Weisenfeld’s Imaging Disa[...]

No.106 [FOCUS] The unique ryokan experience

Ryokan Yuen Shinjuku is one of Tokyo’s leading inns. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan A symbol of Japanese hospitality, the traditional inn is still a great place to stay. Staying at a ryokan – a traditional Japanese inn – means spending a night completely wrapped in the living tradition of l[...]

No.106 [FOCUS] Nothing but a stay at an inn will do

Saikaitei Jidaiya is a medium-sized inn where you will feel like a pig in clover. / Odaira Namihei for Zoom Japan Visiting Japan without spending a night in a ryokan is a mistake you should not make. Never without a stay at a ryokan (traditional Japanese-style inn). That is how I could describe my n[...]

No.105 [FOCUS] PRESS Min’yu, Fukushima’s other voice

Editor-in-chief Ono Hiroshi supports the “rebellious” side of his newspaper. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan The prefecture’s second daily newspaper argues with passion and professionalism for a return to normality. The Fukushima Min’yu is one of Fukushima’s two main newspapers. Founded [...]

N0.104 [FOCUS] leyasu – a little-known hero

The portrait of Tokugawa Ieyasu by Kano Tan’yu. / Collection of Osaka Castle To coincide with NHK’s drama series broadcast in his honour, here is a detailed portrait of Tokugawa Ieyasu. T okugawa Ieyasu, a feudal lord who brought peace to Japan at the beginning of the 17th century after ending 1[...]

No.103 [FOCUS] Up close with Minpo

Daruma decorated with cuttings from the Fukushima Minpo. These figurines are supposed to grant the wishes of their owners. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan The leading regional daily paper has learned from its long history that it must continue serving its readers. The Fukushima Minpo, the prefectu[...]

No.102 [FOCUS] The man who never gives up

Re-elected for the third time in October 2022, Governor Uchibori Masao is determined to change the image of Fukushima Prefecture. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Determined to get the prefecture back on track, Governor Uchibori Masao is not short of ambition. Zoom Japan had a chance to talk to G[...]

No.101 [FOCUS] Rent and return

At the end of rental manga, there was a card on which the customer’s number, rental date and return stamp were recorded. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Rental bookshops (kashihonya) played a key role in the development of manga in Japan. Once upon a time, people used to enjoy physical goods. No[...]

No.101 [TREASURE] A world that has not been lost

Naiki Toshio’s encounter with Lost World by Tezuka Osamu changed his life.Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Thanks to the passion and determination of Naiki Toshio, a large number of rental manga have been preserved. Nowadays, manga are popular around the world; they are admired as both highly creat[...]

No.100 [TREND] Christmas in Japan

In Yoyogi-Uehara district, in Tokyo, the shops had already put up their Christmas decorations in November. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan This tradition imported from the West was rapidly embraced by the Japanese who love its warmth. In December, as the days get gradually colder and shorter, illu[...]

No.100 [HISTORY] Reasons for the hype

Disguising yourself as a Christmas tree is one way of celebrating this festive season in Osaka. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Even without the religious dimension it has elsewhere, Christmas is an important time for the Japanese. Foreign observers wonder why the Japanese love Christmas so much. [...]

No.99 [TASTE] A return to favour for shoyu

In Bar Flute Flute, champagne has found an unusual companion: soy sauce./ All Rights Reserved The commitment of small-scale producers is succeeding in attracting new customers. There’s not just one kind of soy sauce. Besides the five main types that are identified according to which production met[...]

No.99 Shoyu, miso: top two

Packets of miso on a supermarket shelf. There is a wide range to suit all tastes./ Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Two key ingredients of Japanese cuisine have seen their popularity wane in Japan. Washoku has conquered the world thanks to dishes such as sushi, tempura, soba and ramen. Many people ar[...]

No.99 [INFLUENCE] An empire named Kikkoman

The gigantic size of its industrial facilities illustrates the brand’s economic importance./ Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Located to the east of Tokyo, the company has become a global giant in the space of a few decades. Noda City, in the north-western corner of Chiba Prefecture, occupies a str[...]

No.98 [FOCUS] En route to another Japan

The all-enveloping tarako (cod-roe) coloured livery of the KiHa trains recalls the Showa era. / Gianni Simone for Zoom Japan As Japan prepares to reopen her borders to tourists, we will guide you to some little-known places. Travelling during a pandemic is supposed to be dangerous. That is unless yo[...]

No.98 [FOCUS] ADVENTURE In Tojinbo, watch your step

Every year, between 15 and 25 people choose the Tojinbo cliffs to commit suicide. / Gianni Simone for Zoom Japan The famous cliffs on the Sea of Japan are the scene of many suicides, but their beauty is life-affirming. When I stepped out of my hotel in Maizuru, I was welcomed by the deafening sound [...]

No.98 [FOCUS] TIP Tango, the incredible peninsular

Amanohashidate first appeared about 6,000 years ago when sea levels rose. / Gianni Simone for Zoom Japan Welcome to the hidden side of Kyoto, this often not easily accessible place is full of surprises. The coast of the Sea of Japan is not exactly a memorable place. Its many coves, simple sandy beac[...]

No.97 [FOCUS] Third age: the Japanese exprience

With almost 30% of its population aged over 65, Japan is working on a “long life project” (choju shakai). / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan According to gerontology specialist Akiyama Hiroko, Japan should be a pioneer in the management of aging. As Japan and the rest of the world’s population [...]

No.96 [EVOLUTION] Kotobuki-cho has gone grey

Ageing have become main causes for concern in Kotobuki-cho. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Formerly a base for day labourers, the district has undergone profound changes over the past 30 years. In Yokohama there are many districts with auspicious names – Horai-cho (Sacred Mountain), Kogane-cho [...]

No.96 [TASTE] A long love affair

With 1,936 restaurants, Sukiya, founded in Yokohama, is the main gyudon chain in Japan. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Since it opened to trade, this port city has served as a gateway to the cuisines of the world. The Japanese are curious eaters and have always welcomed foreign food with open arm[...]

No.95 [FOCUS] An uncertain future for the train

The pandemic has been a major factor in driving away train passengers in Japan. Mojiko Station, at the northern tip of Kyushu. / Odaira Namihei for Zoom Japan In the opinion of Hara Takeshi, the pandemic may be the final blow for Japanese railways. Covid-19 has changed many people’s lifestyles and[...]

No.94 [THE PAST] Still a red-hot issue

Among other things, Kishi Toshihiko has edited an encyclopaedia of Manchurian history. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Though interest in the topic has declined over time, historian Kishi Toshihiko continues to keep it alive. What remains today of Japan’s relationship with Manchuria, the Chinese[...]

No.94 [FOCUS] Lessons of Manchukuo

Mukden railway station (present-day Shenyang) and the famous Asia Express train, flagship of the South Manchurian Railway Company (Mantetsu). / Collection Claude Leblanc As Ukraine continues to dominate the news, it is worth remembering the example of Manchu. It is said that history is a series of h[...]

Vol.93 Sakoku or spirit of closure

Japan welcomed nearly 32 million foreign visitors in 2019, in contrast to only 250,000 in 2021! The Japanese government has finally decided to reopen the country’s borders, but for how long? In response to the situation in Ukraine after Russia invaded the country on 24th February, the Japanese Pos[...]

Vol.93 [ENCOUNTER] The weight of history

According to Ito Gaichi, this tendency to look inwards has its roots in the country’s past. According to writer Ito Gaichi, the spirit of closure remains deeply ingrained, especially among the older generation. Before the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on our lives, Japan had become one of the wo[...]

No.92 [FOCUS] Okinawa’s desire for change

Elected as governor of Okinawa Prefecture in 2018, Tamaki Denny will try to retain his position in the elections scheduled for next September. Zoom Japan obtained an exclusive interview with Governor Tamaki Denny to discuss the situation in the archipelago. Okinawa governor Tamaki Denny likes to wea[...]

No.92 [DISCOVERY] The great tradition of awamori

Awamori aged for 5 years in a pot (kamejikomi) produced by the Ishikawa distillery. In the space of just a few years, Ishikawa Yumiko has established herself as one of its foremost experts. Okinawa stands out among Japanese prefectures as a culturally and gastronomically peculiar place. Its distinct[...]

Vol.91 [FOCUS] Mizuki’s 100th anniversary

Self-portrait of Mizuki Shigeru surrounded by his most famous characters. A titan of manga culture, Mizuki Shigeru would have been 100 years old this year. This is his story. Zoom Japan has made a habit, in recent years, of publishing an issue devoted to manga to coincide with the Angoulême Intern[...]

Vol.91 [DESTINY] “He was a workaholic”

Photo of Mizuki Shigeru on display in Kitaro Chaya, in Chofu, in the western suburbs of Tokyo. Haraguchi Naoko, the Mizuki Shigeru’s daughter, recalls her father and what life with him was like. A lot has been written about Mizuki Shigeru’s art, but what was he like as a person and particularly [...]

No.90 [FOCUS] Once upon a time… Tora-san

This fictional character created by the filmmaker Yamada Yoji has left a deep impression on Japanese society. Between 1969 (1968, if we count the TV drama) and 1995, Tora-san was a constant presence on Japan’s small and big screens as new instalments of the Otoko wa tsurai yo (It’s Tough Being a[...]

No.90 [PLACE] Shibamata or the soul of the Tiger

The spirit of Tora-san is ever present in this district in the north-east of the capital where he lived. Otoko wa tsurai yo (It’s Tough Being a Man) may be a thing of the past, but Tora-san fans can revisit the series and its many film locations at an annual event which takes place in Shibamata, w[...]

No.89 [FOCUS] 1966: Beatlemania

29 June 1966. Akasaka police notice near the Beatles’ hotel asking Beatles fans not to gather and to go home. The Liverpool band’s only tour of Japan was both a headache and a historic moment. More than 50 years after they broke up, the Beatles remain one of the most popular bands ever, and Japa[...]

No.89 [DESTINY] A part of the legend

Yokokura Kunie with the little flag she made for the Budokan concerts. At the age of 17 Yokokura Kunie was lucky enough to go to not one but three concerts by the Fab Four in Tokyo. When the Beatles came to Japan in the summer of 1966, so many people wanted to attend their five concerts that the org[...]

No.88 [FOCUS] Rice – a treasure in peril

Rice dominates the landscape in the archipelago whatever the season. At the heart of Japanese culture, today this cereal is threatened by changing eating habits. Rice and Japan are inseparable. Rice is such an integral part of Japanese life that it pops up everywhere. Indeed, some of the food foreig[...]

No.88 [DESTINY] Rice sommelier Nishijima Toyozo

Nishijima Toyozo promotes rice as a way to avoid the decline of the country. Considered the country’s leading expert on rice, the owner of Suzunobu is unremittingly enthusiastic about it. Nishijima Toyozo is arguably the best known Japanese expert on all things rice-related. After graduating from [...]

No.87 [FOCUS] Discovering another Japan

The sea occupies a fundamental place in the culture of the country and is an essential part of the journey wherever you go. After 27 years spent almost entirely in Tokyo, our regular contributor has set out on a journey of discovery. How long have you lived in Japan? The life of an immigrant is ofte[...]

No.87 [HERO] In search of Jirocho in Shimizu

The sight of Mount Fuji always has a magical, even mystical quality. An extraordinary historical figure, the former yakuza promoted the opening up of the country. After spending two nights in Shimoda, I took the first bus leaving for Toi, on the Izu peninsula’s west coast. From there, I crossed Su[...]

No.87 [SCHOOL] Help for pupils with special needs

Kutsuna Tomohiko and Kazuko set up the Shiokaze no denwa to keep in touch with lost loved ones. Faced with a school system unable to accept students who are different, a school in Tahara welcomes and educates them. The Atsumi Line is a tiny, single track railroad in Aichi Prefecture connecting Toyoh[...]

No.87 [BEACH] Heirs of the Sun Tribe

The cultivation of this flower took off in the Heian period (794-1185) after being imported from China. A major shipbuilding centre, Innoshima has lost some of its splendour, but retains its charm. Only six people joined me on the small white boat that would take me from Imabari, in Shikoku, to Inno[...]

No.86 [FOCUS] The Great Wall of Japan

Workers at the dam construction site in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture. To avoid a recurrence of the 11 March 2011 tragedy, the Japanese authorities have undertaken the construction of a gigantic concrete barrier to prevent tsunamis. It is 14:46 on 11 March 2011, and half of Japan is shaking as a long and[...]

We love anime!

In the space of a few decades, animation has become a mainstay in the world of Japanese pop culture. An essential element of Japanese pop culture, animation has a long history. Here it is. For many people outside Japan, watching anime is their first contact with otaku culture and remains their main [...]

[HISTORY] Animation’s bond with television

The famous 34th episode of Tetsuwan Atom was produced by Studio Zero in 1963. To explain the reason behind our great love of Japanese anime, we need to look at the role played by the small screen. Writer and editor NAkAGAWA Yusuke is the author of more than 70 books about Japanese pop culture. he wa[...]

[TREND] Watch your step

Based on her long experience, TAKEUCHI Yukari analyses the prospects for the animation industry. In the coming years, the Japanese animation industry could experience a decline. What is the current status of animation in Japan, and in what direction is it going? Zoom Japan discussed the past, presen[...]

[ECONOMY] Quality always pays

According to Francesco Prandoni from Production I.g, the studio’s success is due to its maintaining the highest standards. In the vast world of Japanese animation, a company that has consistently come up with original and beautifully produced works is Production I.G, one of the hundreds of studios[...]

[TOP] Anatomy of an incredible success

Despite its childlike appearance, Demon Slayer has attracted a very large audience. By successfully dethroning Spirited Away, Demon Slayer has become the new phenomenon in Japanese animation. Japanese animation even managed to grab the world’s attention during the Covid-19 pandemic. This time, how[...]

No.83 [FOCUS] Eternal spirit of pleasure

The erotic album of the Comical Cuckoo Clock or Sex Adoration of the Women of the Night (Ehon hakai yobuko-dori). Detail from the 9th print. Unsigned. Philippe Pons and Pierre-François Souyri invite us to explore the world of sexuality and eroticism. Published in France at the beginning of October [...]

No.83 [TREND] Sex, did you say sex ?

From the early 1990s, some men began to turn their back on flesh and blood women. Over the past three decades, Japanese sexual habits have changed. We assess the situation. Sex is both a necessity and a pleasure, and popular attitudes toward sex have historically oscillated between these two poles. [...]

No.83 [ECONOMY] Business is business

The sex industry represents a huge market. Benefitting from loopholes in the law, there are countless specialised establishments generating an incredible turnover. Japan has the biggest sex industry in Asia and one of the biggest in the world, but finding reliable data on its inner workings and the [...]

No.83 [EVOLUTION] Soapland, an odd bath

Nikita, 28, takes a break between shifts at Soapland Paradise, in Kawasaki. Despite being banned, prostitution continues to thrive with the existence of particular establishments. Look for Yoshiwara on the map and you won’t find it. Officially, the name does not exist anymore, the district having [...]

No.83 [IN SITU] I’m Riri, a soapland employee

Aged 29, this university graduate has chosen to work in one of these establishments popular with men. It’s 11:00 on an unusually warm day in November when I walk into one of the many soaplands that take up four full blocks in Senzoku, the Tokyo red-light district that used to be called Yoshiwara. [...]
Tokyo_Architecture_ building _Asakusa

[ARCHITECTURE] In the centre of a perpetual building site

Symbol of the outrageous architecture of the 1980s, the Golden Flame designed by the Frenchman Philippe Stark near the Tokyo Sky Tree “toothpick” / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japon No other city in the world has undergone so many changes in its appearance as Japan’s capital city. In 1998, f[...]

[FOCUS] His name was Mishima Yukio

Jimbocho district, Tokyo, famous for its second-hand bookshops where a rare items like this record cover can be found. On 25 November 1970, the writer killed himself in a spectacular manner. We look back at the last years of his life. Mishima Yukio’s life can be roughly divided into two periods, b[...]

No.81 [FOCUS] A story of hiccups

The Japanese love beer, but it does not always share the same characteristics as beer drunk in Europe.   Though the current beer market resembles those in other countries, it has undergone many changes over the past century. Beer-making in Japan is about 400 years old, and Japanese beer-brewing[...]

No.81 [MARKET] A heavy tax burden

Advertisement for Orion Brewery, originally established in Okinawa, which has 0.8% of the beer market.   Representing 40% of the alcohol consumed in the country, beer remains popular, but is dependent on the economic situation. Japan loves beer. In absolute terms, it is the seventh-largest beer[...]

No.81 [ENCOUNTER] Happiness in a glass

The microbrewery uses three brewing systems (60,10 and 2.5hectolitres respectively).   Journalist Noda Ikuko’s discovery of beer mirrors the Japanese encounter with this drink. While Japan has been in love with beer for more than a century, most people know little about the vast and varied be[...]

No.81 [ADVENTURE] Baird Beer, small but strong

The microbrewery uses three brewing systems (60,10 and 2.5hectolitres respectively).   Founded in 2000, this microbrewery’s high quality produce has been successful in Japan and abroad. The Izu Peninsula just south of Tokyo is popular for its beaches, hot springs and gorgeous nature. Since 20[...]

No.81 [AMBITION] Orion looks up to the stars

Founded in 1957 as the Okinawa Beer Co. Ltd., the brewery was renamed Orion in 1959.   Although its strong local roots enabled it to rise to the top, the brewery is now threatened by competition.   Some people say that Okinawa is not in Japan, and in some respects they are right. with its [...]

No.80 [PUBLISHING] In constant turmoil

Women played a key role in the development of the consumer society in Japan   Thanks to women’s magazines, people can understand the extent to which the role of women has improved in society.   For many years, women have been key players in Japan’s consumer culture, and they are undoub[...]

No.80 [PASSION] Words of an avid reader

Launched in 1966, Heibon Panchi Joseiban led the way for An An, and MIZUMOTO Akemi became a fan.   MIZUMOTO Akemi has been a fan of An An since it began. She tells us about her love for the magazine.   For many women, the appearance of An An magazine on the newsstands in March 1970 was a b[...]

No.80 [DESIGN] Revolutionary at every stage

In its first issue, An An was notably able to feature a text by MISHIMA all about glamour.   Both in terms of graphic design and editorial content, An An turned the publishing world upside down. Since modern women’s magazines first appeared in Japan at the beginning of the 20thcentury, they h[...]

No.80 [FOCUS] An An and the new Japan

Since its first appearance in 1970, An An has always reflected the development of Japanese women as they have became stronger and more independent of men.   1970 marked the emergence of a new Japan where women started to play an increasingly important role. In the aftermath of the Second World [...]

No.79 [TRADITION] Nagaoka sets the world on fire

Whatever the season, Nagaoka’s firework displays are always very impressive.   The city’s firework display festival is one of the most popular in the Archipelago today. Japan has a long and rich history of matsuri or traditional festivals. They are held everywhere, from Hokkaido to Okinawa,[...]

No.79 [TOURISM] Tsubame-Sanjo wants to believe it

Tourists can leave Sanjo with playing cards to collect and trade, which honour local artisans.   Although it does not enjoy the same advantages as largest cities, this small town is not short of ideas to attract visitors. Though Tokyo and Japan’s larger cities appear not to be suffering the m[...]

No.79 [FOCUS] The hidden side of Japan

Niigata, the largest city in the prefecture of the same name, is a gateway to the Sea of Japan and its immense potential.   The hidden side of Japan As the granary of the Archipelago, Niigata prefecture has experienced great hardship, but still has lots to offer.   Avisitor from abroad tra[...]

No.79 [DAILY PAPER] Close to its readers

To make young people aware of the importance of reading newspapers, Niigata Nippo has opened a museum on the premises of their new printing works.   With a circulation of more than 400,000, the Niigata Nippo has become a benchmark for the Japanese press. Niigata may be one of Japan’s less fla[...]

No.78 [PAST] The 1964 Olympics were cracking

SUZUKI Shin’ichi was 31 years old at the time of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.   As a privileged witness to the Olympic frenzy 56 years ago, Suzuki Shin’ichi shares his memories. Waiting for the Tokyo Olympics reached fever pitch at the start of 1964 and didn’t let up until the end of the[...]

No.78 [DISCOVERY] The adventure of Yakyu Shonen

  Launched in 1947 by KATO Ken’ichi, Yakyu Shonen was the first magazine for young people dedicated to baseball.   Baseball plays a large role in manga but you have to go back in time to find out why. The history of sports manga officially started in the mid-60s after the Tokyo Olympic G[...]

No.78 [ENTHUSIASM] A good knock-on effect

Slam Dunk by INOUE Takehiko helped to promote basketball in Japan.   Already avid readers of manga about sport, the Japanese are just as keen to put on their sporting gear. in my former student days, I was crazy about football. I watched it on TV and played it almost every day with my friends i[...]

No.78 [TREND] Updating sports genres

Shakunetsu Kabadi by MUSASHINO Hajime is all about kabaddi, an Indian contact team sport. As time goes by and with a more diverse readership, writers are exploring new horizons and new disciplines. As explained in our introductory essay, Japan is a baseball-loving country. Baseball is not only the m[...]

No.78 [FOCUS] Sport and manga: a long love story

In Tokyo’s Suginami Animation Museum, you’ll find souvenirs of the Olympic Games with the series Atakku No. 1, adapted for television at the end of the 1960s. There are countless numbers of manga series devoted to sport. Zoom Japan has done some investigating. Japanese comics are famous, among o[...]

No.77 [DESTINY] In the footsteps of a tragic genius

The iron bridge (rikkyo) spanning the tracks of the Chuo Line, which Dazai Osamu liked to frequent, is still a favourite spot for local inhabitants. Dazai Osamu is one of the most celebrated writers in the country, whose life and death are closely connected to the famous railway. For many years the [...]

No.77 [FOCUS] Following the Chuo Line

With its characteristic orange-striped coaches, the line cuts through the capital’s centre in a westerly direction through areas that are full of interest. Crossing the centre of the capital in a westerly direction, this railway occupies a special place in the heart of Tokyo. The Tokyo metropolis [...]

No.77 [A MUST-SEE] Tokyo-Broadway

Something to suit all tastes and purses. A 5-minute train journey from Shinjuku, Nakano district has established itself as one of the major centres of Otakuism. If Akihabara is the official, attention-seeking side of Otaku Tokyo, Nakano is its opposite, both geographically and temperamentally, quiet[...]

No.77 [DISCOVERY] At the heart of pop culture

Mr KIZAWA runs Gojira-ya, a shop where fans of Godzilla and other mythical characters find what they are looking for. Travelling westwards on the Chuo Line, you’ll discover a very special and culturally rich place. The vast suburban area which lies west of Shinjuku has traditionally been home to a[...]

No.77 [ENCOUNTER] Suginami delights

Greg Mudarri passionately defends his adopted neighbourhood. In charge of promoting the district, Greg Mudarri defends its original character. The westbound Chuo Line trains travel through the Tama plain before crossing into the prefectures of Kanagawa and Yamanashi. However, you don’t have to go [...]

No.76 [FOCUS] Once upon a time, wain…

Bottles of wine produced by Misawa Winery, Yamanashi Prefecture. For some years now, the Japanese have shown a real interest in this drink with a chequered history. For most Europeans who have never tasted or heard of Japanese wain (from the English “wine” to mean “wine from Japan”), that’[...]

No.76 [TREND] An industry full of promise

It’s the younger producers who have been developing new cultivation techniques. Even though the amount produced remains small, the conditions are in place to move up to the next level. The time of Japanese wine seems to have come, at last. After being considered just an import market for European,[...]

No.75 [FOCUS] No more bets!

There’s been a growing movement in South Korea over the past few months to boycott Japanese products./All Rights Reserved Both of the United States’ main allies in Asia are at daggers drawn, leading to a worrying situation. Relations between Japan and Korea have had their ups and downs for many [...]

No.75 [ANALYSIS] A never-ending quarrel

The Annexation Treaty formally placing Korea under Japanese rule was signed on 22 August 1910 by the pro-Japanese Prime Minister Yi Wan-yong and sealed by Sunjong, the last Emperor of Korea./All Rights Reserved According to OKUZONO Hideki, the two present governments have mismanaged the situation an[...]

No.75 [HISTORY] Over a century of complexity

Since 1905, the port of Shimonoseki has been one of the main entry points for Koreans in search of a better life in the Archipelago./All Rights Reserved To understand the reasons for the tensions, you need to be aware of the sometimes painful relations between the two countries. During the 1980s and[...]

No.75 [RESISTANCE] Culture without borders

Released on Japanese TV in 2000, Shiri paved the way for South Korean cinema in the Archipelago./All Rights Reserved Up until now and despite the tensions, the Japanese have remained very fond of cultural products from South korea. Japan’s troubled relationship with South Korea may be at its worst[...]

No.74 [FOCUS] A day in Katsushika…

“Beware Danger” is written on this sign targeted at the youngest inhabitants of this district where water is omnipresent. The last truly working-class district in the capital has partly maintained its immediate post-war atmosphere.   Tokyo is moving faster and faster towards the future, and[...]

No.74 [MONUMENT] Tora-san, a Japanese hero

With its 50th film about to appear, Otoko wa tsurai yo is the longest series in cinema history. This mythical character of Japanese cinema inextricably linked to the district of Shibamata enjoys cult status.   I can’t believe my Japanese wife has never been to shibamata. I mean, she is old en[...]

No.74 [POP CULTURE] Ryo-san, olive and all the rest

Ryo-san in the foreground with his two sidekicks, heroes of the series Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Koen Mae Hashutsujo (KochiKame). Katsushika has inspired numerous manga authors, including the celebrated AKIMOTO Osamu and TAKAHASHI Yoichi.   In many ways, Katsushika has a strong connection w[...]

No.74 [DESTINY] Tsuge Tadao, stories from life

Tadao was very inspired by the red-light district of Tateishi. An extract from Garo no. 58, April 1969. In his work, the mangaka has often depicted working-class districts like Tateishi, where he has lived for a long time.   Tsuge Tadao is the stuff of legend. until quite recently the veteran c[...]

No.74 [PROMENADE] Encountering Tateishi

A traditional brush factory. Much of the district’s architecture from the 1950s and 60s has been preserved, even though it risks disappearing soon.   Katsushika is a multi-faceted area, and each one of its districts attracts a different kind of person: nature lovers stroll around Mizumoto Par[...]

No73 [FUCUS] Senior consumers and new economic trends

Ginza district, Tokyo.   The ageing of the Japanese population affects the way it behaves. japan’s rapidly changing demographic structure presents a few interesting challenges that have to be faced as soon as possible. Even from the perspective of consumer behaviour, the current and, in the f[...]

No73 [TREND] Old people, new stories

Cyborg Jiichan G published in 1989 by ObaTa Takeshi under the pseudonym KOBATAKE Ken.   For some time now, manga stories about elderly people have been very successful. comics may be still be considered a young art form for young readers, especially in the West, but a recent trend in Japan show[...]

No73 [TESTIMONY] New towns and old people

Symbols of Japan’s huge growth during the 1960s and ‘70s, danchi are occupied nowadays by elderly people who inspire Saito Nazuna’s work.   72-year-old mangaka Saito Nazuna has chosen to depict the bleak daily life of elderly people in her neighbourhood. on a sunny Friday afternoon, the d[...]

No.72 [FOCUS] Being Japanese in the 21st century

Omotesando district, Tokyo.   From the very beginning, Japan and its inhabitants have inspired questions and preconceived ideas. As soon as I saw Japan, I loved it. and yet!…” These are the words with which the journalist Ludovic Naudeau opens his book Le Japon Moderne (Modern Japan), publi[...]

No.72 [EXPERIENCE] Blending into the landscape

YAZAWA Yutaka’s book was published in U.K. (White Lion Publishing, £20).   After a long period abroad, YAZAWA Yutaka has had to reacquaint himself with Japan. He shares his experience with us. YAZAWA Yutaka is a British-educated Japanese lawyer who last year published his first book, How to [...]

No.72 [HOW TO] A matter of common sense

The Seibu Railway company published very nice posters to explain how to behave in the station.   How should you behave in Japan? A headache for some people, but all you have to do is look around you. T o many foreign visitors, Japan is akin to an alien planet whose inhabitants follow strange ru[...]

No.72 [IN SITU] Like a fish in water

It’s time to prepare dinner. Today’s menu is temaki-zushi. Yummy!   It’s possible to experience several hours of life in the heart of a Japanese family, thanks to Nagomi Visit. Have you ever wondered what a typical Japanese house looks like, and what kind of life the Japanese actually lea[...]

No.72 [PRACTICE] Choosing your nationality

some foreigners who have lived in the Archipelago for a long time have chosen to become Japanese nationals. In the previous articles we’ve seen what being Japanese means from a social and cultural point of view. But what if you want to get naturalised and become legally Japanese? Is it difficult? [...]