No16 [Practical information] What you need to know

There is a list of words the sento user needs to know in order to take full advantage of the place. Entotsu – the chimney For decades before cities were taken over by tall buildings, the sento chimney was an urban point of reference. This is not the case anymore today, but it is important to know [...]

No16 [Culture] We want our daily bath

Washing and relaxing in very hot water is a ritual deeply embedded in Japanese life. It’s time to scrub each other’s backs. Whether CEO, beggar, monk or yakuza, elderly or young, everyone is equal in the bath – just bodies asking to be washed. There is no difference between us when naked. Ever[...]

No15 [Record] Great dishes in little boxes

There exist approximately 3,000 varieties of ekiben across Japan. Zoom Japan is going to let you in on which ones are the best. Jérémie Souteyrat for Zoom Japan Our regular readers will know by now that at Zoom Japan we love to travel by train and will never miss an opportunity to discover a regio[...]

No15 [Trend] Food to go Japanese style

We investigated how the relationship the Japanese have with ekiben has changed over the last few decades. For many people in Japan, ekiben conjure up bucolic images of local trains slowly following the contours of the island or climbing steep mountains. This romantic side of travelling has not been [...]

No15 [Culture] The art of eating on a train

Since the end of the 19th century, the Japanese have known how to combine the pleasure of travelling with eating well, with the station lunch box becoming a firm tradition. Some people catch a train just to travel from A to B. Every day, thousands of Japanese use the Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osa[...]

No14 [Visit] Back to the future?

Little known to foreign visitors, and even to the Japanese themselves, the Tokyo Olympic Memorial Gallery is an original and interesting place where many souvenirs are gathered from the Olympic Games that took place in the Japanese capital between the 10th and the 24th of October 1964. It is situate[...]

No14 [Meeting] The man who experienced the revolution

The famous columnist Kawamoto Saburo remembers this very important period for post-war Japan. For 45 years writer Kawamoto Saburo has chronicled Tokyo’s past and present. Born in the city’s Yoyogi district 69 years ago, Kawamoto has witnessed all the main events that have shaped Japan’s capita[...]

No14 [The Olympic games] he meamorphosis

On September the 7th, the International Olympic Committee meets to decide which city will host the 2020 Games and Tokyo is in with a chance of winning. When this issue of Zoom Japan goes to print, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will not yet have met in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to elect th[...]

No13 [Curiosity] Ghost busters

As you move away from the louder streets in the neighbourhood, you may have a few surprising encounters. Around the back of the trendiest streets in Harajuku, there is a tiny neighbourhood that has preserved all of its mystery. Dotted with wholesalers and cafes frequented by elegantly dressed locals[...]

No13 [Memories] A river runs through it

Watari Koichi, director of the Watarium, was born and raised in Harajuku. He will guide us through this area so dear to him. Harajuku is more than just a place on a map, it is a state of mind. For example, there is a station with such a name, but a district called Harajuku does not actually exist. M[...]

No13 [Trend] Harajuku’s little princess

Artist Chocomoo has become very popular with many brands. Here she tells us more about her favourite places.  This year’s rainy season has been quite dry so far, so Zoom Japan’s dynamic duo (this writer and ace photographer Jeremie Souteyrat) decide to head to Japan’s street fashion capit[...]

No13 [Harajuku] Follow the locals!

In the space of five decades, this ancient and once tranquil district has become one of the foremost centres for international fashion.  It can’t be repeated too often that Tokyo’s 1964 Olympic Games had an incredible impact on the appearance of the Japanese capital. For a long time, Haraju[...]

No12 [Cinema] In the footsteps of a master

In several of his movies, Ozu Yasujiro placed his camera in Shitamachi’s popular quarters, in Tokyo. Ozu Yasujiro’s films tend to impress a distinctive mood on the viewer. Rather than a particular place (e.g. Nouvelle Vague’s Paris or John Ford’s Monument Valley), we remember the quintessent[...]

No12 [Cinema] Let’s try Ozu again

It’s been 50 years since he passed away. Now, during the year that also marks the 110th anniversary of his birth, let us rediscover his work.    The Japanese still think of Ozu as the most Japanese of all of Japan’s filmmakers. He may not be everyone’s favourite, but he is the on[...]

No11 [Investigation] We are learning how to live together all over again

House sharing is currently developing as a significant societal trend, especially since the disasters of March 11th 2011.  Household models and lifestyles in Japan have remained pretty stable through the years. In particular, most young people usually live with their families well into their 20s an[...]

No10 [Commitment] In the name of every mother

Even though she doesn’t have any children, Kusano Mie has understood that a healthy future needs to be ensured for birth rates to rise. At 52, Kusano Mie has never had any children, but we wanted to give her a platform after all she has done as the “maternal heart” of the action to help childr[...]

No10 [Destiny] Extreme care

The tragic events of the 11th of March 2011 affected this couple’s dream of having many children.    Saitama is a suburb in the northeast of Tokyo. We’re in a trendy two-room flat in which Ida Andre and his wife Tomoko live. Lukas, their son, is cuddled up in his mother’s arms. With his tous[...]

No10 [Statement] The fate of the herbivores

If the Japanese are not having enough children, it’s their own fault. At least, that’s the opinion of one mother.  Watanabe Junko has been married to a Scot, Richard Dawson, for five years and is the mother of two children: Alexandre and Rika. Her husband, from Edinburgh, is the director of an [...]

No10 [Trend] Daddy’s come home

For the past few years, a new generation of fathers has been participating more in their children’s education. Kuromoto Kana chose to call her daughter Chihiro, like the hero of Miyazaki Hayao’s famous animation. The dark haired child is sleeping in her cot. Her maternal grandfather, Miyao, stan[...]

No10 [Society] Where have the children gone?

To start a family and have children isn’t an obvious choice in Japan anymore. Zoom Japan investigated. What does being a parent in Japan mean nowadays? We asked several Japanese families. Do they find that difficulties for young parents are increasing? And what do they consider to be easier for th[...]

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

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

No9 [Trend] Vending Machines are putting up a fight

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

No8 [Crisis] A recipe to escape the stew

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

No8 [Trend] Once ramen, always ramen

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

No7 [Tradition] Miyata Hiroshi, master basket maker

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

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

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

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

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

No5 [Pleasure] Royce’, the Rolls of chocolates

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

No5 [Beer] From producer to consumer

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

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

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

No5 [Food] Hokkaido makes your mouth water

Long considered to be rather an isolated region, the island was often ignored, but thanks to new rail links, it has become more accessible. Last April, the Japanese media gave a warm welcome to Michelin’s first guide to Hokkaido. After Tokyo and Kansai, this northern island has always been known f[...]

No4 [Focus] Heart to heart Soul to soul

Many foreigners have settled in Japan over the past few decades and many of them have also worked there.   And the Japanese, who wish to learn more about their lifestyle and gain inspiration from it, have given them a warm welcome. There are also those who have moved to Japan with the desire to cre[...]

No3 [Passion] A cop sits down to eat

This is a story about a talkative cop who likes to eat, but most of all loves to talk. It is to be consumed enthusiastically… Published in the popular weekly magazine Asahi Geino that covers Japanese show business, Meshibana deka Tachibana [Detective Tachibana’s food stories] is gaining a follow[...]

No3 [History] At Mr. Nobunaga’s service

By using the historical figure of Oda Nobunaga as a character, mangaka have succeeded in creating several very imaginative stories. Over the past few years, jidaigeki ( Japanese period films) have made a comeback in movies. Samurai films are acclaimed both by the audiences they entertain and the dir[...]

No3 [Initation] From producer to consumer

Arakawa Hiromu has taken a bold step with her new manga about agriculture. With Fullmetal Alchemist, Arakawa Hiromu has become one of the greatest names in manga, both in Japan and in the rest of the world. Her talent is greatly applauded and it is well known that everything she touches turns to gol[...]

No3 [Trend] Manga are now devoured in many different forms

2011 and 2012 saw a marked change in the way Japanese people read comic books.  Years go by but in the world of manga everything seems to stay the same. In 2005 the sales of graphic novels surpassed those of manga compilation magazines and the gap between the two formats continues to widen, indicat[...]

No2 [Trends] Going East

The opening of the Tokyo Sky Tree on the eastern side of the Japanese capital marks the start of a new era. Without doubt, Tokyo is experiencing a revolution. Admittedly it is a peaceful one, but still a revolution, that will change the geographical balance of the capital. This revolution is related[...]

No2 [Cinema] Fifty years as a film star

© 1961 Toho Co. Ltd. Film directors recognized the symbolic value of the Tokyo Tower and it was often used as a setting in their movies.  Film directors were right. They were quick to understand that the Tokyo Tower, symbol of the capital city as well as the whole country, had grown to be as famou[...]

No2 [History] The end of a symbol

A tower within a tower Tokyo Tower was built during the years of strong economic growth in Japan. Now that the country is in crisis, it is looking for a new beacon of hope. It is called Tokyo Sky Tree.  Built as a huge television aerial, the Tokyo Tower ended up representing far more.  On the fift[...]

No1 [Technology] Robots will make the difference

Whether for the future of their economy, or in everyday life, Japanese rely on robots.    The car industry was the motor of our economy for several decades. It is time to turn a page, and evolve towards something new. This something is robots.” Tomida Shigeru, Calio’s manager, is positive. Acc[...]

No1 [Trends] From “made in” to “made with”

In aeronautics, the Japanese are betting on international cooperation to establish their technology.  In the field of aeronautics, the Japanese have acquired a solid reputation with their famous hunter Zero made by Mitsubishi in the late thirties. It’s reliance and maneuverability allowed the Jap[...]

No1 [Challenge] Reinventing “made in japan”

After a challenging year on all sides, the Japanese population is set to slowly regain trust in it’s own products.   According to its end of year habit, Nikkei Business, a magazine specialised in economy, published the list of the most popular products in Japan. And it was a surprise to the journ[...]