No.71 [FOCUS] Japan, open up with care

The government wants to attract more foreign workers, but appears not to have chosen the best way to go about it. Immigration has been one of the top three topics that have agitated the Japanese in recent months, along with the Carlos Ghosn affair and the start of the new Imperial era (see Zoom Japa[...]

No.71 [TREND] A minimum opening up

Many Japanese have discovered a growing number of foreigners working in their local convenience stores… The face of Japanese convenience stores is changing, literally. More and more often the cash registers are operated by foreign students who work part time in the ubiquitous konbini, as the s[...]

No.71 [DEBATE] A still badly-prepared country

A keen observer of immigration issues, MOcHIzuKI Hiroki challenges the authorities’ approach to the question. What is the future of immigration in Japan? And is this country ready to welcome foreign workers? We asked writer and columnist MOCHIzUKI Hiroki who edits Nippon Fukuzatsu Kiko (Japan: Com[...]
No.071 taxidriver-hinomaru-zoom-japon90

No.71 [EXPERIENCE] Hinomaru’s gamble

This Tokyo taxi company has begun to recruit foreign drivers with a certain degree of success. It’s 07.30, and people are milling around Hinomaru Kotsu Co.’s Setagaya depot. Drivers are bustling in and out of the office building, checking their cars, taking breathalyser tests and adding the last[...]

No.70 [CULTURE] Otaku are everywhere

It’s taken 30 years for the otaku subculture to become established, both in Japan and the rest of the world. Neon Genesis Evangelion by ANNO Hideaki was first broadcast in 1995.   The Heisei period witnessed the advent of an otaku Golden Age that has taken not only Japan but the whole world b[...]

No.70 [INNOVATION] Galapagos syndrome

As a leader in technology, Japan has seen its position increasingly challenged during the past three decades. Toyoda Akio in front of a Mirai, the first hydrogen-powered consumer vehicle.   For many years, Japan was famous for its ability to learn from foreign cultures, importing their technolo[...]

No.70 [ENCOUNTER] A two-tiered society

According to YuAsAMakoto, Japan has been too slow taking into consideration the rise in poverty in the archipelago. Yuasa Makoto in Paris in March.   In September 2017, Zoom Japan devoted an issue to the problem of poverty in the Archipelago. Last year, KORE-EDA Hirokazu’s film Manbiki kazoku[...]

No.70 [FOCUS] Goodbye Heisei…

In a few days time, Japan will enter a new era. This presents an opportunity to look back over the last 30 years. On 11 March 2012, one year after the tsunami that led to the Fukushima power plant disaster, thousands of Japanese demonstrated against nuclear energy.   When, in 1989, the Japanese[...]

No.69 [FOCUS] Kumamoto, land of hope

The Kawaragawas settled in Mizukami after the Fukushima disaster and successfully embarked on indigo dyeing.   For a growing number of city dwellers, the prefecture is central to their discovery of an eco-friendly way of life. The Kato household rises at the crack of dawn. In the icy hours of e[...]

No.68 [INTERVIEW] “I wanted to remain invisible”

Taken from “Numa” (The Swamp), which first appeared in issue no.18 of Garo (February 1966, pp.118-131). Someone who’s considered to be a living manga genius agreed to answer our questions. 2019 will be remembered by manga fans as the “Year of Tsuge Yoshiharu”. For a very long time, and wit[...]

No.68 [EXPERIENCE] In the footsteps of the mangaka

Futomi, a fishing village in decilne, is one of the places that made an impression on the author of “Neji-shiki”.   As a fan of a Japan that has disappeared from the cities, Tsuge has always had a soft spot for Chiba. We went to visit it. Chiba Prefecture is not exactly a popular travel des[...]

No.68 [ENCOUNTER] The tireless traveller

The first issue of Manga shugi (March 1967) was almost wholly devoted to Tsuge Yoshiharu.   The work of Tsuge Yoshiharu was influenced by his experiences as a traveller. Takano Shinzo tells us about them.   The name of Takano Shinzo may not mean much even to hardcore manga fans, but in the[...]

No.68 [DESTINY] A good fairy called Asakawa

A great admirer of Tsuge Yoshiharu, Asakawa Mitsuhiro worked hard to ensure his work was finally published in its entirety in the West.   An expert on mangaka, Asakawa Mitsuhiro talks about his ties to Tsuge and his views on his work. Few people know Tsuge Yoshiharu’s work better than Asakawa[...]

No.68 [FOCUS] Tsuge Yoshiharu’s japan

Taken from “Ri-san ikka” (The Family of Mr Lee), which first appeared in issue no. 34 of Garo (June 1967, pp. 177-188).   For the first time in France, the entire work of this manga genius has been published in translation by Cornelius. The best works of art are those that stay with you for[...]

No.67 [MUSIC] Rock’n’roll attitude

Yoshiki considers himself to be the spokesperson of Turtle Island rather than its leader.   A good example of creativity used to help others, every year Turtle Island organises a unique kind of music festival. Few bands in Japan are as exciting as Turtle Island. Formed in 1999 in Toyota, near N[...]

No.67 [PUBLISHING] First impressions of Tokyo

Hajime is the first work to be published by the ToCo collective, in which artists recall their first impressions of the Japanese capital.   Unity is strength. By embracing this old adage, artists have joined together to produce high-quality zines. Koenji is a nice, quiet place in the Tokyo subu[...]

No.67 [TREND] A new vision of economic exchange

Benjamin Parks for Zoom Japan In West Tokyo, there’s a new kind of market where people come to donate things they no longer need. On a warm Sunday afternoon, I find myself outside Kunitachi Station, in Tokyo’s western suburbs. The streets are still wet, but luckily last night’s rain has been r[...]

No.66 [ENCOUNTER] The Mishima experience

Promoting zines is an important part of Cry in Public’s activities.   Outside the Japanese capital, there are numerous very active groups supporting entrepreneurial freedom. DIY culture can flourish anywhere, and Mishima is no exception. Located in Shizuoka Prefecture, some 90 km south of Tok[...]

No.67 [FOCUS] An alternative Japan

Situated in the Kamagasaki district of Osaka, Cocoroom was founded by the poet Ueda Kanayo.   After the madness of the financial bubble and the subsequent crisis, some people are rethinking the way society interacts. Once upon a time, Japan was in flames, literally. As we reported in our April [...]

No.66 [ORGANISATION] Converting the try

2019 RWc   According to the Organising Committee of the 2019 RWC, arrangements for the competition are well in hand. With less than a year to go before the much anticipated 2019 Rugby World Cup kicks off, Zoom Japan checked how things are progressing with Nicholas van Santen, International Comm[...]

No.66 [REPORT] The oval ball as a cure

Benjamin Parks for Zoom Japan   A victim of the 2011 tsunami, Kamaishi turned to its tradition of rugby playing to help its recovery. Most people who come to Kamaishi by train do the last leg of their journey on the lovely Kamaishi Line, a 90 km railway which meanders through deep valleys thick[...]

No.66 [ENCOUNTER] A rapidly evolving game

Benjamin Parks for Zoom Japan   A keen observer of rugby, the editorin- chief of Rugby Magazine shares his analysis of the Japanese game. The Japanese rugby movement has a nominal base of about 120,000 players – not only lower than traditional world powers such as England, France and South Af[...]

No.66 [FOCUS] Japan, home of rugby

© British library Rugby is not new to the archipelago. The 2019 World Cup will open a new chapter. In less than a year’s time, Japan will host the Rugby World Cup for the first time in its history. The event is of paramount importance for the authorities as it will be a kind of dry run for the To[...]

No65 [STRATEGY] Sake, an influential factor

After manga, animation and cuisine, sake is an essential element of Japanese soft power. Since the end of the Cold War at the turn of the 1990s, Japan has been searching for its place in the world. After living in the shadow of the United States, which had assured its security and allowed it to deve[...]

No65 [FOCUS] Japan according to Takahashi Gen’ichiro

The writer, who is considered to be one of the finest novelists in the archipelago, shared his thoughts with us. Takahashi Gen’Ichiro is one of the most important all-round Japanese writers of the last 40 years, and one of the pioneers of the post-modern novel in this country. From fiction to essa[...]

No64 [TASTE] Drinking is quite an art

To enjoy all of sake’s subtleties, the drinking vessel must be chosen with care. Here’s some advice. The taste of sake changes according to the drinking vessel used.   T hose who have already visited Japan must have sometimes seen something odd in izakaya (Japanese-style pub): letting clien[...]

No64 [TREND] Mrs Imada is the master brewer

Like Imada Miho, more and more women are starting to work in the production of the drink of the gods. Some of the treasures from the Imada brewery, founded exactly 150 years ago.   Japan has always known how to safeguard its traditions, which have endured for centuries but which also have their[...]

No64 [FOCUS] Kenbishi, the soul of sake

As one of the oldest breweries in the archipelago, it endeavours to preserve traditional methods of production. The celebrated logo of the Kenbishi brewery, founded in 1505.   Kenbishi is more than just the name of a sake brewery. Founded in 1505, it’s historically one of the oldest and best [...]

No63 [NEWS] Japonisme in the 21st century

The work of Yoshida Kimiko is representative of the multitude of connections between Japan and France. The Cherry Blossom Bride. Self-portrait, 2006   2018 marks the 160th anniversary of Franco-Japanese diplomatic relations with an event entitled Japonismes, and the opportunity to take a new lo[...]

No63 [SUCCESS] A movement in perpetual motion

Are animation films an example of a kind of Japonisme, which continues to reinvent itself? The Blunt Sword (Namakura katana) by Kouchi Jun’ichi (1917).   T he Japanese film animation industry is a real labyrinth. It’s an extraordinary maze of ideas, whose influence on the international scen[...]

No63 [TREASURE] Hokusai, an international artist

According to the leading collector of the famous Manga, its fame rests on the incredible imagination of the artist. According to URAGAMI Mitsuru, Hokusai’s Manga is a precious account of the Edo period.   URAGAMI Mitsuru, the renowned gallery owner has the world’s largest collection of [...]

No63 [TECHNIQUE] Prints -a magnetic attraction

The phenomenon that excited curiosity and fascinated collectors in the West has had a remarkable evolution. The River Tama in Musashi Province (Bushu Tamagawa), from “The thirty-six views of Mount Fuji” (Fuji sanjurokkei), 8th view, around 1829-1833, by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). Woodblock [...]

No63 [TREND] Paris, a town under influence

From the second half of the 19th century, the French capital followed the example of Japan. Poster for the 1890 exhibition devoted to Japanese prints.   During the second half of the 19th century, Japanese art held an unparalleled fascination for the West, which generated the extraordinary aest[...]

No63 [HISTORY] A multifaceted interest

During the past few decades, the extent of Japan’s influence on the Western art world has been revealed. This poster for Clément bicycles, circa 1900, illustrates the Japanese influence.   The word “Japonisme” came into being after the successful visit of Japan’s official envoy to [...]

No63 [FOCUS] The roots of “Japonismes”

To coincide with the opening of a season devoted to Japanese culture, we invite you to discover the origins of Japonisme in France. It was thanks to the initiative of Siegfried Bing that the Society of Friends of Japanese Art came into being. Its meetings were announced on cards decorated “in the [...]

No62 [FOCUS] Hanno, a secret garden

This green lung in the Tokyo region is ideal for those who love walking and unusual discoveries. The Greater Tokyo area has no shortage of beautiful trekking and hiking trails, starting with Mount Takao in the capital’s western suburbs and, of course, the mighty Mount Fuji, which is only two hours[...]

No62 [FOCUS] Kurahashi – the gods’ choice

You’ll never grow weary of this island of paradise, which is often used as a film setting. i still experience the same emotion when we come round the mountain and see the little town with its blue roofs and the little islands on the horizon.   Who among us hasn’t dreamed of going to liv[...]

No62 [FOCUS] Oga, the wild coast

One of the most scenic areas in the country, the Oga Peninsula is really worth a visit Namahage are omnipresent on the Oga Peninsula.   Why are you going to Oga? There’s nothing there.” The woman in her 60s sitting next to me on the shinkansen to Akita was born on the Oga Peninsula, Akita P[...]

No62 [FOCUS] Yasugi’s taste of the eternal

Thanks to the Adachi Museum of Art surrounded by its magnificent garden, this small city is an essential place to visit. From behind vast bay windows, visitors can watch the way nature changes over the course of time.   François Berthier, one of the great historians of Japanese art and an expe[...]

No62 [FOCUS] Shichimen-san

Mount Fuji as you’ve never seen it before Awe-inspiring experiences typically start in mundane ways, and this was no exception. My friend Nicolas was penning a piece about the mysteries that lay in store for us, at the peak of Mount Shichimen. Our trip started with a bullet-train out of Tokyo,[...]

No62 [FOCUS] A journey of discovery

From the north to the south of the archipelago, we invite you to discover original and authentic places to visit. Thanks to a comprehensive railway network, it’s easy to travel throughout the country, which has encouraged the publication of some wonderful tourist maps.   Once again this year,[...]

No61 [TREND] A bold director

After working under the great Wakamatsu Koji, Shiraishi Kazuya knows exactly how to achieve his goals. SHIRAISHI Kazuya is hopeful that new players like Netflix will prove to be a good influence.   With his wealth of experience in television, Shiraishi Kazuya has succeeded in creating films aim[...]

No61 [AMBITION] Resolved to do it her way

In her films, Ogigami Naoko focuses on demonstrating that Japanese society needs to evolve. OGIGAMI Naoko would like to see Japanese society become more open.   Determined to write her own stories, the director, an admirer of Jim Jarmusch, applied techniques she learned during her long stay in [...]

No61 [SHOWPIECE] In the footsteps of Cassavetes

The work of American director Cassavetes has greatly influenced Hamaguchi Ryusuke, the rising star of Japanese cinema. HAMAGUCHI ryusuke has cast convention aside to create his own unique style, unanimously praised by audiences and critics.   After just a few years and relatively few films, thi[...]

No61 [CONSCIENCE] A universalist approach

A documentary and fiction film-maker, Funahashi Atsushi has numerous ambitious projects. FuNAHASHi Atsushi considers that cinema can help audiences makes their own minds up about the state of the world around them.   Though he has gained international recognition with his documentaries such as [...]

No61 [FOCUS] In search of renewed energy

Film director Aoyama Shinji agreed to give us an exclusive interview about his vision for contemporary Japanese cinema. On the roof of Eigabi gakko (Film School of Tokyo), where the great names of cinema – Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Aoyama Shinji and Kore-Eda Hirokazu – all teach.   It’s been quit[...]

No60 [ANALYSIS] A pivotal year for theatre

An expert on Japanese theatre, William Andrews offers his analysis of how it changed at the end of the 1960s. Poster of The Little Prince (Hoshi no Ojisama) played by Tenjo Sajiki troupe led by Terayama Shuji.   According to some observers and theatre insiders, Kyoto is the most exciting centre[...]

No60 [ENCOUNTER] A new cultural expression

As one of the foremost observers of contemporary culture, Kawamoto Saburo shares his views of turbulent Shinjuku. Kawamoto Saburo at the main entrance of the famous bookshop Kinokuniya.   Kawamoto Saburo is well known in Japan as a film and literary critic and a manga connoisseur, but his very [...]

No60 [MEMORIES] Yokoo, Oshima and the others

A major player on the art scene of the period, Yokoo Tadanori recalls his years in this emblematic district. Yokoo Tadanori in his studio designed by Isozaki Arata, 15 March 2018.   world-renowned graphic designer and painter Yokoo Tadanori is famous for his iconic posters and easily recognizab[...]

No60 [HISTORY] 50 years of change

From its time as one of Tokyo’s culture centres, Shinjuku has experienced profound upheaval. Shinjuku in 2018, photo by Jérémie Souteyrat.   after spending the last 25 years of my life in Tokyo, I can say more than ever that I’m in love with this city. When it comes to exciting, vibra[...]

No60 [FOCUS] Shinjuku 1968 – 2018

Just 50 years ago, this famous ward in the Japanese capital was one of the main centres of rebellion in the country. Shinjuku in 1968 as seen by Watanabe Hitomi in his book 1968 Shinjuku (pub. Machikarasha, Japan).   These may be photos of the past, but they show the present”. This testimonia[...]

[FOCUS HOKKAIDO] An open air laboratory

The hill of hope (Yubari kibo no oka) has lost some of its splendour, but the city council hopes that all is not lost.   Though Yubari is the poorest city in Japan, its inhabitants and those in charge believe in its future survival. Japan is frequently portrayed as a laboratory where all the ch[...]

[ENCOUNTER] Let the happiness in

In charge of Yubari since 2011, Suzuki Naomichi is fighting to transform the city.   In your official position, what have you done to become the symbol of a Japan, and a city, that refuses to die? SuzukINaomichi :The Tokyo Olympic Games will take place in 2020, and five years later, in 2025, th[...]
Tezuka Osamu and Mighty Atom at the Tezuka Productions office in Saitama.

[FOCUS] Tezuka Osamu, the original

Tezuka Osamu and Mighty Atom at the Tezuka Productions office in Saitama.   Frederik L. Schodt was one of the very few Westerners to become close friends with the mangaka. Few people outside Japan have known Tezuka Osamu as well as Frederik L. Schodt. Not only did the veteran author and transla[...]

[FOCUS] A visit to Tezuka Productions

Black Jack is one of the most famous manga by Tezuka Osamu.   The company aims to keep the memory of this brilliant artist alive, and to preserve and display his original work. Saitama may not be considered exactly cool by many Japanese, but in the last few years this prefecture just north of T[...]

[FOCUS] Between fiction and reality

Above : Extract from Red-Shirt Troops. Below : Extract from Rubi’s adventure.   We were able to immerse themselves in the make-believe world of the Mighty Atom, as its author knew how to make it seem real. We are used to seeing comic art as escapism – a genre in which improbable superheroes[...]

[FOCUS] There’s only one Atom statue

This character made Tezuka a legend in Japan and throughout the world, so naturally it’s been immortalised. Ask any anime fan if they know Hanno and they’ll tell you it’s the location for the Encouragement of Climb manga and TV series. The story is so popular that in the last few years this sm[...]

[FOCUS] A passion for Tezuka

Hayashi Shinji has been collecting all he can connected to the work of the mangaka for more than 30 years. When visiting Hayashi Shinji’s home, you don’t expect his rather ordinary house to contain so many “treasures”. “My collection has just returned from an exhibition, and I haven’t ye[...]

[FOCUS] Welcome to the Holy Land of Manga

This is the route to follow if you want to retrace the footsteps of Tezuka, and immerse yourself in the history of manga. Ikebukuro – once considered one of Tokyo’s sleaziest districts – has recently become a family-friendly playground attracting shoppers and pleasure-seekers from everywhere. [...]
No57 p4 Japan - africa Connections to build on

No57 [FOCUS] Japan – Africa Connections to build on

Yasuke is the first foreigner to have reached the highest warrior rank in Japan. He was a native of either central or west Africa. DR   Afro-Japanese relations date back to the16th century, but there’s still much room for improvement. During the past few years, Africa has increasingly appeare[...]
No57 p6 ENCOUNTER The most Japanese of Ghanaians

No57 [ENCOUNTER] The most Japanese of Ghanaians

Michael, David and Sanshiro Yano had a tough time before they became well-known.   After living in the archipelago for 28 years, Nanayew Sanul Aning recalls how he became a citizen of his host country. In the trendy neighbourhood of Akasaka, Pop greets me with a bow, extending his meishi (busin[...]
No57 p8 CULTURE Singing for a better life

No57 [CULTURE] Singing for a better life

Michael, David and Sanshiro Yano had a tough time before they became well-known.   The Yano Brothers have known both highs and lows since their arrival in the archipelago. with his slanting eyes and dreadlocks, Michael Yano makes his entrance singing “I’m an African in Japan”, his persona[...]
No57 p10 DISCOVERY a taste of africa in Tokyo

No57 [DISCOVERY] A taste of africa in Tokyo

140 square meters where you can eat, drink and recall Africa to mind in all its diversity.   Calabash is one of those rare places that beats to the African rhythm of life, thanks to its founder Kumazawa Fusahiro. every evening, you’ll find Kumazawa Fusahiro seated behind the counter at Calaba[...]

No56 [FOCUS] Scary stories

Don’t be afraid. The Japanese ghosts and monsters are ugly but not so bad.   Japan has a long tradition of stories featuring ghosts and other monsters. Follow the guide. Halloween is that time of the year when the occult, the macabre and the humorous come together in order to create a sort of[...]

No56 [CULTURE POP] Inescapable world

Pompoko (Heisei tanuki gassen ponpoko, 1994) features tanuki defending their forest home.   Yokai, monsters and other fantastic creatures still play a large part in Japanese popular culture. When Yo-kai Watch first appeared on the Japanese role-play video-game market, back in 2013, it was a mod[...]

No56 [EXPERIENCE] Shirotani’s ghost stories

The kaidan Live Bar decor creates just the right kind of eerie atmosphere for the audience.   Opened by Kondo Hiroko in 2012, this bar has inspired numerous similar venues across the country. The Tokyo district of Roppongi is famous for its discos and dance clubs, but there’s a place where on[...]

No56 [PROMENADE] Haunted Tokyo

Sogen-ji is a temple devoted to kappa, those mischievous characters who live in close proximity to rivers.   The Japanese capital is full of strange places where you’re sure to come across even stranger characters. If it’s true that supernatural beings are a form of energy strongly connecte[...]

No56 [GUIDE] Nine places to avoid… or not

If you’re not on the look out for nervewracking experiences, here’s some places we wouldn’t recommend you visit. In order to be more faithful to the spirit and mood of this article, we opted for a top-nine list instead of the usual top ten. You see, the Japanese consider ‘nine’ an unlucky [...]

No56 [CHALLENGE] It’s raining yokai

Published in 2017, this translation of works by Toriyama Sekien is a real tour de force.   After months of hard work, Matt Alt and Yoda Hiroko have succeeded in translating four of Sekien’s masterpieces. Everybody knows the Pocket Monsters, and if you have some knowledge of Japanese pop cultu[...]

No55 [INITIATIVE] The importance of thinking big

Nippon Foundation’s HANAoKA Hayato.   One of the main challenges facing Japan in the years to come is the precarious situation for children. The Nippon Foundation (Nippon Zaidan) is a private non-profit, grant-making organisation whose mission is to fund philanthropic activities and assist hu[...]

No55 [SOLIDARITY] Dandan: putting children first

According to Asahi Shimbun, there were 316 kodomo shokudo in the archipelago in 2016.   Opened by Kondo Hiroko in 2012, this “children’s cafeteria” has been emulated countrywide. In the Ota district, not far from Haneda airport, Kondo Hiroko, aged 59, waits for the children who usually ar[...]

No55 [MOBILISATION] Improving the system

Charles mcJilton is critical of the “village mentality” of the Japanese.   Founder and CEO of Second Harvest, Charles mcJilton is frustrated when encountering the reality of the situation. In two-speed Japanese society, where the privileged few get richer while the poor are struggling every[...]

No55 [CHALLENGE] The fighter against poverty

AMAMIYA Karin’s mission is to fight in defence of the precariat.   AMAMIYA Karin vigorously denounces the rise of poverty and the precariat in Japan. Tokyo’s western suburb of Koenji is famous for attracting many cultural and social activists. It’s not by chance that the anti-nuclear demo[...]

No55 [FOCUS] Woe are they…

Piggy banks by the exit of the Dandan cafeteria, where children (on the left) and adults (on the right) pay for their meals.   The deep wounds inflicted by twentyfive years of economic crisis in Japan will be very difficult to heal. Exactly 40 years ago the Japanese government commissioned a su[...]

No54 [FOCUS] Bread is gaining ground

Some of the speciality bread made and sold at the Signifiant Signifié bakery in Tokyo. It has become one of Japan’s favourite foods since the end of the Second World War. T his morning, Mayumi will eat bread and jam for breakfast. “It’s more practical and less complicated than making rice,”[...]

No54 [TECHNOLOGY] Rheon always at the top

Rheon’s factory is located an hour’s train journey away from the capital. This Japanese company has designed industrial bread-making machines, which have achieved outstanding results. fried kare-pan, a mountain of pink and green macaroons, shokupan, plaited brioches with a sugar and chocolate cr[...]

No54 [TASTE] A strong need for education

Aware of the need to educate Japanese’ taste buds, Kozaki Yoshimaru has taken on the role of teacher. As manager of Le Grenier à Pain “The Bread Attic” franchise, Kozaki Yoshimaru depends solely on authentic traditional French products. Why did you choose to set up Le Grenier à Pain in Tokyo[...]

No54 [PRODUCTION] Never stop innovating

For the past ten years, this baker has worked passionately to improve his products. Shiga Katsuei, head chef of the Significant Signifié bakery, has created a unique kind of baguette. You’ve just reviewed your means of production. Why? What changes have you made? SHIGA Katsuei :I opened my boutiq[...]

No54 [SUCCESS] shokupan is crossing borders

To appreciate the difference in flavour of the three varieties of shokupan, customers get three slices. Appreciation for Japanese white sliced bread is on the rise across the archipelago, and it’s now about to be exported. It’s almost 10am, in Ginza the smart district of Tokyo. Workers are strea[...]

No.53 The holy land of otakism

Not everyone can achieve their dream of making a living in Japan out of their passion for manga and cosplay. Otaku culture has never been so popular around the world. It is celebrated at countless conventions, while Japanese comics and animation are widely available in many languages, thanks to the [...]

No.53 [HISTORY] The story of Frederik the Great

One of the first to discover pop culture and popularize it, Frederik Schodt looks back on his illustrious career. Author and translator Frederik Schodt is famous for having worked for many years with Tezuka Osamu, the god of manga. But for many comic fans like me, Fred himself is a god, as he has he[...]

No53 [SUCCESS] Adam, or a passion for comics

In the space of few years, Adam Pasion has succeeded in making his mark in the world of dojinshi (fanzines). while many foreign comic artists dream about cracking the Japanese mainstream market and becoming the next Shonen Jump sensation, there are others who prefer to follow their own muse and rema[...]

No53 [IDOLS] Timeless Yuriko and Rebecca

One cannot talk about pop culture without mentioning aidoru (pop idols) and cosplayers, like Yuriko and Rebecca. The history of Japanese pop idols is very long and fascinating, starting in 1964 after the French movie Cherchez l’idole, starring the then 19-year-old “yé-yé” singer Sylv[...]

No52 The family on the screen

Without a doubt, Kore-eda Hirokazu is the best at portraying the Japanese family of today, as in Still Walking (2008). Japanese filmmakers have been fascinated by family stories, and have used them to create masterpieces. Japanese cinema is mainly known abroad for such genres as samurai films, J-Hor[...]

No52 [REPORT] Unsustainably fragile

In Harmonium, Fukada has chosen to present a broken family. The rising star of Japanese cinema, Fukada Koji, takes a hard look at the family unit in the archipelago. Fukada Koji’s Harmonium (original title: Fuchi ni tatsu, Standing on the Edge) was one of Japan’s best films last year, winning ma[...]

No52 [ENCOUNTER] The importance of family ties

a master of science fiction addresses the question of the family in a brilliantly original way. Kamiyama Kenji has tackled the theme of the family in an unexpected way. Fans of SF anime know director Kamiyama Kenji very well. After all, Kamiyama has worked on several popular projects related to the [...]

No51 [COMMITMENT] Someone ready to fight

NAKAMURA Fuminori takes an interest in the world around him. He doesn’t hesitate to share his views and put them to the test. Recognised for his talent in Japan as well as in other countries, Nakamura Fuminori is an attentive observer of the society in which he intends to play an active role. He f[...]

No51 [SOCIETY] Someone who appreciates rules

Murata Sayaka is unusual, both as a writer and in her attitude towards her part-time day-job. One of last year’s literary sensations was Murata Sayaka, a 37-year-old writer who has suddenly become a household name after her latest novel, Konbini ningen (Convenience Store People), was awarded the 1[...]

No51 [THE FUTURE] The one who observes change

The novelist never misses an opportunity to question the way Japan is evolving.   In her work, Kawakami Hiromi looks at what awaits humankind, for better or for worse. Just like her novels with their vision of a fantasy world, when meeting Kawakami Hiromi, her tone is both poetic and mysterious[...]

No51 [ECOLOGY] Humankind as the main point

Quitting his job as a journalist has given a new impetus to his career as a novelist.   Shiraishi Kazufumi casts a critical eye over the way his country has changed during the past two decades. Last year, Dalkey Archive Press published Me Against the World by renowned Japanese writer and Naoki [...]
No51 [MEMORY] A writer who cannot forget

No51 [MEMORY] A writer who cannot forget

The tragic events of 11 March 2011 rekindled the author’s links to the region of his birth.   Furukawa Hideo talks about his roots, nuclear power and the strange relation between men and animals. In Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure, published by Columbia University Press in 2[...]

No51 Five authors for one Japan

A good novel is sometimes better than reading fifteen essays to get the measure of Japanese society.   Literature is a great way to immerse yourself in Japanese culture.These authors confirm this. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Natsume Soseki’s birth (1867-1916), who was considered [...]

No50 [INNOVATION] Stars in his eyes

The CEO of PD Aerospace has never abandoned his childhood dreams. Based in the suburbs of Nagoya, Ogawa Shuji dreams of making space travel available to all. In Arimatsu, a district full of history in the suburbs of Nagoya, a display of dozens of Japanese dolls hung along the length of a wall catche[...]

No50 The return of machikoba

Large multinationals rely on a fund of know-how in the nations’ small business enterprises, despite the latter’s sometimes old-fashioned ways of working. For a long time they were held in low esteem, but now small local factories are gradually finding favour with the Japanese again. Desp[...]

No50 [CHALLENGE] The Japanese Cool Runnings

Around a hundred small businesses have joined forces to achieve success in this challenge. To save themselves from having to close down, several businesses have got together to build a bobsleigh. Tourist brochures often use the word shitamachi (literally low city or “downtown”, i.e. a wo[...]

No50 [THE FUTURE] Make way for women!

Suwa Takako had to fight to impose her ideas, but she finally succeeded. Suwa Takako’s success in a very masculine milieu has set a benchmark for women throughout Japan. For Suwa Takako, the decision to take her father’s place was practically made for her. It all happened on a cold and rainy eve[...]
Hiroshima, station, trum

No49 [HIROSHIMA] A triumphant return

This city and the surrounding region that were so devastated by the atomic bomb, has seen a rise in interest from both Japanese and overseas visitors. The Hiroshima region has made a successful comeback thanks to its many assets and a strong urge to promote the passion for life here. Japan is undoub[...]

No49 [ENCOUNTER] A quiet confidence

Elected governor of Hirsohima Prefecture in 2009, Yuzaki Hidehiko has succeeded in setting up his agenda for change. The governor of Hiroshima Prefecture does not lack ambition. He wants to make changes so that the Japanese can rediscover the pleasure of a better way of living, with his region servi[...]
abe shinzo, nippon kaigi

No48 [Politics] The phantom menace

ABE Shinzo at the Yasukuni Shrine in December 2013. Nippon Kaigi relies on Shinto organizations to spread its message. Founded 20 years ago, Nippon Kaigi has become the most influential conservative movement in the country. According to its website, Nippon Kaigi is just “a popular movement wit[...]

No48 [Encounter] A well organised network

Nagano Koichi, professor at Sophia University in Tokyo, is concerned about the Nippon Kaigi’s influence. The success of Nippon Kaigi is down to its ability to reach the greatest number of people, says a worried Nakano Koichi. Zoom Japan talked to Nakano Koichi, a Professor of Political Science[...]