Anthony Al-Jamie

Anthony Al-Jamie

Dr. Anthony Al-Jamie lived and worked as an educational administrator and journalist in Tokyo for over 20 years. His in-depth understanding of Japanese language and culture has allowed him to carry out interviews with many of the most renowned individuals in Japan. He first began writing for the Tokyo Journal in the 1990s as Education Editor, later he was promoted to Senior Editor, and eventually International Editor. He currently works in higher education publishing and serves the Tokyo Journal as Executive Editor.

Saturday, 13 September 2014 05:01

Hatsune Miku

Virtual Singer Hatsune Miku

The World’s Leading Vocaloid Opens for Lady Gaga

Japan’s top superstar with more fans on the Internet than any other Japanese pop star is virtual. Synthesized songstress Hatsune Miku has wowed audiences around the world with an innovative ensemble of music software that has allowed her fans to create over 100,000 songs, digital animation and live 3D performances both in Japan and abroad. She also opened for Lady Gaga in the U.S. Tokyo Journal’s Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie explored what’s behind global phenom Hatsune Miku with Crypton Future Media, the creators behind Japan’s virtual singer

TJ: Could you explain a little about what a vocaloid is? How does it work? Who uses it, and for what?
CRYPTON: “VOCALOID” is singing synthesizing technology developed by YAMAHA Corp. Hatsune Miku is software which came into the world as a result of this technology. By entering melodies and lyrics on one’s PC, the software sings them exactly as they are.

Saturday, 13 September 2014 04:54

Sebastian Masuda

Ambassador of Kawaii

Interview by Anthony Al-Jamie

Fashion, art exhibition, music video, and even Christmas tree designer, Sebastian Masuda is a standout in Japan’s modern artistic culture. Since creating Harajuku-based kawaii fashion outlet 6%DOKIDOKI in 1995, Masuda has worked relentlessly to spread Harajuku culture to people all over the world. As 6%DOKIDOKI’s 20th anniversary fast approaches, Tokyo Journal’s Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie spoke to Sebastian Masuda about the beginnings of his brand, and what’s still to come.

Saturday, 13 September 2014 04:46

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

Japan's Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the Queen of Kawaii

Interview by Anthony Al-Jamie

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has caused a revolution in the J-pop world with her unique blending of kawaii [cuteness] with creepy chic. In 2012, the mayor of Shibuya named her the “Kawaii Ambassador” of Harajuku, and her success has mushroomed overseas. She’s gone on global tours, her breakthrough song “PONPONPON” was featured on “The Simpsons,” American pop idol Katy Perry has tweeted about Kyary’s music and in July 2014 she released her third studio album “Pika Pika Fantajin.” Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie interviewed the 21-year-old chart-topping singer about music, fashion and her future.

Thursday, 04 September 2014 22:54

Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Cuba Gooding, Jr. Academy Award Winning Actor Expands his Creative Boundaries

With his mother being a singer with the Sweethearts and his father the lead vocalist of The Main Ingredient, Cuba Gooding, Jr. was introduced to the world of entertainment from a young age. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie talked to the film star, who won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for “Jerry Maguire,” about his roles in historical civil rights films as well as his aspirations to become a screenplay writer and director.

TJ: What are you doing in New York?
GOODING: I flew in for a couple of reasons, one of which was to meet with my agents and present them with my new screenplay. I’ve been writing scripts for the past year and I’m on my next one, which I’m really excited about.

TJ: Can you tell us about that?
GOODING: Well, I think I got into writing scripts because the last eight or nine years of my career I’ve been doing a lot of independent films. A lot of the financing has been contingent on my involvement, so I wound up in a producer capacity developing these scripts - actually choosing first-time directors, working on shot lists with directors, and seeing them through the process, including the editing room and post production by putting the final product together, looking for distribution and starting relationships with distributors and financiers. I think I found that the most important part of filmmaking is the director and I think that’s now my goal - being an actor/director. I think the easiest way for me to show my capability as a director is to bring the material, so it got me to thinking…working on scripts and finally turning out a screenplay. I went to Broadway for a production of “A Trip to Bountiful” with Cicely Tyson last year for seven months. I grew so much as an actor, as a filmmaker, as an artist period. When I was in that creative headspace, it made me want to continue to create even past what I was working on then, and that was when I wrote my first screenplay. So this is just a natural progression of things. I got another idea and wrote it down and now I’m working on that second one. Eventually, I will present this to buyers and see if there is any real interest in turning it into a screenplay. But right now I’m just allowing my creative juices to dictate what I do.

Tuesday, 03 June 2014 18:13

Overnight Sensation

Overnight Sensation

Anthony Bourdain's Culinary Quest Crosses Cultures

Chef, TV host and author Anthony Bourdain began his culinary career as a dishwasher and worked his way up to line cook, sous chef and chef in New York restaurant kitchens. Rave reviews for his 1997 article “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” published in the “New Yorker,” helped spawn his New York Times bestselling memoir “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” in 2000. Instant fame launched the Culinary Institute of America graduate’s career from executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles to television host of “A Cook’s Tour,” and two Emmy-winning programs: “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” and CNN’s “Parts Unknown.” These programs have allowed Bourdain to swap New York kitchens for worldwide culinary adventures, as local hosts introduce him to their culture and cuisine. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie spoke with Anthony Bourdain to find out how he went from small fry in the Big Apple to the big cheese on television’s top news, food and travel channels.

Friday, 02 May 2014 00:00

Dancing on Air II

Dancing on Air II

Dancer, Adam Young, Defies the Odds, Battling Cystic Fibrosis

The following is Part II of a series of interviews with Adam Young, a 32-year old ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary dancer from California, who has cystic fibrosis (CF) and received a double lung transplant at UCLA in May 2013. He began dancing at the age of six in Riverside, California, and won national competitions in the United States and Australia at the age of 17, as well as the Kennedy Center Emerging Young Artist Award Scholarship at age 18. He was offered a full scholarship to the renowned Juilliard School and the Ailey School in New York but was unable to relocate due to CF complications. Graduating from the University of California, Irvine with honors on full scholarship as a dance major in 2003, he went on to dance with the Nashville Ballet for two seasons. He trained at the Conservatoire de Paris and has danced, judged and taught throughout the United States and performed internationally in France, Germany, Australia, Canada and Mexico. His professional career was put on hold in 2006 when cystic fibrosis caused his lung capacity to fall below 40 percent. Adam’s determination to overcome an addiction to pharmaceutical drugs through a 12-step program in 2010 allowed him to receive his lung transplant in 2013 – which has in turn given Adam a chance to return to the stage and continue pursuing his passion for dance. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor, Anthony Al-Jamie, talked to Adam about his inspirational story.

Monday, 05 May 2014 09:38

Spider-Man Creator Stan Lee

Spider-Man Creator Stan Lee

The Marvel of Comic Books and his POW!erful Partner Gill Champion

Stan Lee is the man behind some of the world’s best-loved superheroes, including Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers, X-Men, The Fantastic Four and over 300 more. An American comic book writer, editor, publisher, media producer, actor, and voice actor, Stan Lee is currently Chairman Emeritus and Editorial Board Member of Marvel Comics, as well as Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of POW! Entertainment. Aged 91, Stan Lee is as sharp as ever and his lifetime accomplishments are as remarkable as the heroes he created. He successfully forced the Comics Code Authority to reform its censorship policies. He led the expansion of Marvel Comics from a small division of a publishing company to a multimedia powerhouse. The Spider-Man strip appeared in more than 500 newspapers worldwide, making it the world’s most successful syndicated adventure strip. He has been inducted into the comic industry’s most hallowed halls of fame and received numerous awards including the 2008 American National Medal of the Arts presented by President George Bush for his work as one of America’s most prolific storytellers and for recreating the American comic book. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie met with Stan Lee and business partner Gill Champion at their headquarters in Beverly Hills, California.

Friday, 02 May 2014 11:20

KISS's Gene Simmons

Rock ’N’ Roll Samurai

From Legendary Rock and Roll Superstar to Business Warrior, Music Business CEO Gene Simmons Conquers All

Interview by Anthony Al-Jamie

Rock star, producer, publisher, actor, reality TV star, family man, professional sports team owner, entrepreneur and all-round marketing genius: what kind of steroids must one take to master so many ventures with dynamic energy and youthful enthusiasm for over 40 years? To find out, I drove to Gene Simmons’ Beverly Hills mansion. Meeting Gene Simmons was an educational experience from the get-go. Parking on the edge of the large circular driveway to this huge mansion - the kind you only see on a reality TV show - I looked up to see the towering KISS star on top of the staircase, yelling pinpoint directions to me about where to park. Before the interview; before I’d even parked the car, I knew this was a man who was in control. I couldn’t help but feel intimidated, but as I entered his palatial estate Simmons greeted me with a kind smile and, knowing that I had lived in Japan for many years, introduced himself in perfect Japanese using all the politest forms of the language. He offered me a cup of coffee and asked me to wait in his office, which doubles as a KISS museum. It includes literally thousands of unique KISS and Gene Simmons branded memorabilia – everything from motor scooters to pachinko machines!

Friday, 02 May 2014 10:57

Yoko Ono

Tokyo Journal’s Exclusive Interview with Yoko Ono on the 33rd Anniversary of John Lennon’s Death

Interview by Anthony Al-Jamie

Why is Yoko Ono amazing, you ask? What is not amazing about her would be a better question! Not only is she the most famous Japanese person in the world, she has been breaking new ground in art, peace activism, and music for six decades. Now, 81-years old, Yoko is producing one chart-topper after another, with 11 #1 dance singles, all while traveling the world promoting peace. Performing with her band, the Plastic Ono Band which includes the exceptionally talented Sean Lennon (son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono), Yoko has captured the interest of a new generation not emotionally vested in The Beatles and free of prejudice.

Yoko’s love for music and art began long before she met John Lennon. She grew up studying piano and composition and learning to sing classical opera and German lieder at the prestigious Jiyu-gakuen Music school in Japan. The great granddaughter of Yasuda bank’s founder Zenijiro Yasuda, Yoko came from an elite family and was the first woman ever admitted to the philosophy program at the prestigious Gakushuin University, where she was a classmate of the Crown Prince (the present Emperor of Japan). Yoko moved to New York and enrolled in the prestigious Sarah Lawrence College in 1952.

She went through two brief marriages: first to Toshi Ichiyanagi and later to Anthony Cox (who fathered her daughter Kyoko). During this period her artwork attracted the attention of leading members of New York’s avant-garde artistic community through her involvement with such artists as John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Ornette Coleman and Andy Warhol. In 1966 Yoko Ono met her third husband to be - John Lennon - when he visited a preview of her exhibition at the Indica Gallery in London, England. It was at this time that her life changed from that of avant-garde artist, highly respected by her peers and the artistic community, to household name whose art was picked apart by a public not ready for her radical approach.

I was fortunate enough to interview Yoko Ono on December 8th, 2013, the 33rd anniversary of John Lennon’s death. She was in Tokyo for the December 7th “Dream Power John Lennon Super Live Concert” at the legendary Budokan.

TJ: Tell us about your new video “Bad Dancer”. How did that come about?
ONO: Well, I needed a video from my album. Whenever I played that one, people just started moving their butts.

TJ: Who choreographed it?
ONO: Well, there’s no choreography, is there? We just brought in people. That was Ben [Dickinson]’s idea; he said, “Is it ok?” and I said, “ok.”

TJ: Tell me about your new album “Take Me to the Land of Hell”. Is there a deep message behind it?
ONO: The message? The message is good music. If I could give you some pleasure, enjoyment and knowledge, I’ll be very happy.

TJ: How was yesterday’s concert at Budokan?
ONO: It was good. It’s all to do with the exchange of power and the exchange of love. If we keep doing that, one day we’ll have a beautiful world.

TJ: You’ve always been concerned about war.
ONO: Yes, it’s such a silly thing to do. It’s not a way to solve anything. If you want to solve [problems] with war, then you become poorer and poorer, because it’s a very expensive game.

TJ: Yes it is, and you experienced war as a child in Tokyo during the WWII bombings of Tokyo, right?
ONO: Yes, I was in Tokyo and then I went to Nagano prefecture. Many families died, you know. Well, first of all, my father was in French Indochina, which was the name for Vietnam at the time and my mother was in Tokyo. She was looking after the house and whatever else. The three kids - me, my younger sister and my younger brother - were evacuated to the country and it was not easy.

TJ: So, do you think that difficult experience of the war made a strong impression on you and did that stimulate you to want to help bring about peace?
ONO: Well, I think at the time I thought that was just life. That was the only life I knew. Life was a pretty frightening thing, but also an exciting thing and I was right in the middle of that. Afterwards, when I think about it, wow! That experience was good.

TJ: Was it a difficult time in Japan for you?
ONO: Yes, it was very difficult. Well, not for me necessarily, but Japan changed altogether.

The complete article can be found in Issue #274 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.

Thursday, 26 December 2013 09:02

Dancing on Air

Dancer Adam Young Defies the Odds Battling Cystic Fibrosis

Adam Young is a 32-year old ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary dancer from California with cystic fibrosis (CF) who received a double lung transplant at UCLA in May 2013. He began dancing at the age of six in Riverside, California and won national competitions in the U.S. and Australia at the age of 17, as well as the Kennedy Center Emerging Young Artist Award Scholarship at age 18. He was offered a full scholarship to the renowned Julliard School and the Ailey School in New York but was unable to relocate due to CF complications. Graduating from the University of California, Irvine with honors on full scholarship as a dance major in 2003, he went on to dance with the Nashville Ballet for two seasons. He trained at the National Conservatoire de Paris and has danced, judged and taught throughout the United States and performed internationally in France, Germany, Australia, Canada and Mexico. His professional career was put on hold in 2006 when cystic fibrosis caused his lung capacity to fall below 40%. Adam’s determination to overcome an addiction to pharmaceutical drugs through a 12-step program in 2010 allowed him to receive his 2013 lung transplant, which has given Adam a chance to return to the stage and continue pursuing his passion for dance. TJ talked to Adam about his inspirational story.

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