Kjeld Duits

Kjeld Duits

Residing in Japan for over 30 years, Dutch photojournalist Kjeld Duits is Tokyo Journal's Street Editor. In addition to managing one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the first to cover Japanese street fashion in English, he owns a vast collection of vintage photographs, illustrations and maps of Japan between the 1860s and 1930s (Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa periods) and covers news stories and natural disasters for media organizations worldwide.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014 00:54

Tokyo Street Fashion/Harajuku

Tokyo Journal Street Editor Kjeld Duits hits the streets with his lens to see what's hot in Harajuku

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

Tuesday, 17 June 2014 00:03

Tokyo Street Editorial

FOLLOWING the record-breaking bouts of snow that hit Tokyo and the east coast of North America in 2014, we await cherry blossom season anxiously. Soon, Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park will be full of revelers basking in the glory of its many cherry blossom trees. Yoyogi Park is of course the location of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Village and the iconic Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

Tuesday, 06 May 2014 09:23

Time Warp

Time Warp

Nijubashi, Imperial Palace

AMONG the most photographed spots in Tokyo is the entrance to the Imperial Palace. Every day thousands of people stand here, their backs to the castle, their legs slightly apart, to have themselves photographed. The stately stone bridge, the old castle gate, the traditional turret and the many trees make for an iconic photo.

Monday, 23 December 2013 10:10

Hanayashiki, Asakusa

Hanayashiki, Asakusa

By Kjeld Duits

A MAJOR tourist attraction in Tokyo is the Buddhist temple of Sensō-ji in Asakusa. Every year nearly 30 million visitors pass through the huge entrance gate, and many people are surprised to find a long row of shops on the temple grounds. It actually takes a while to reach the temple buildings.

Some visitors never make it to the temple. Their progress is stalled by the delicious and interesting items for sale. The shops even made an impression on American scholar Alice Mabel Bacon, the first western woman to live in a Japanese household. She visited the temple grounds in 1889 and wrote:

“When we had come as near to the temple as the kurumas (rickshaws) were allowed to approach, we got out to walk the rest of the way; but we had to pass a line of small shops, in which every conceivable variety of toy is kept, and so attractive was the display that we succumbed to the temptation, spent all our time at the toy-shops, and did not reach the temple at all.”

Thursday, 05 December 2013 13:04

Tokyo Fashion Week

Tokyo Fashion Week

By Kjeld Duits

NOT even nature’s fury can stop Japan’s fashionistas. As Typhoon Wipha lashed Japan during the third week of October, Tokyo’s Fashion Week went on as usual. Since luxury car maker Mercedes Benz became the main sponsor in 2011, the event has been gaining stature. This year, the members of legendary rock band KISS even graced it with their presence. Their walk down Japanese fashion brand Christian Dada’s runway created enormous buzz and attracted a record number of media people.

Thursday, 05 December 2013 12:58

Harajuku

Tokyo Journal Street Editor Kjeld Duits hits the streets with his lens to see what's hot in Harajuku

The complete article is available in Issue #273. Click here to order from Amazon

Thursday, 05 December 2013 09:36

Tokyo Street Editorial

TOKYO’S weather was getting cooler when this issue went to press, but political discourse was heating up as Prime Minister Abe tried to pass a new state secrecy law. Opponents were alarmed. The bill would severely weaken Japan’s democracy and limit freedom of the press, they said. On November 20, a group of independent journalists presented a petition to the government. It included Soichiro Tahara, the country’s best-known political commentator. This shows the high level of unease as Japanese journalists rarely deliver petitions.

Renewed Hope
Before the law’s deliberations dampened people’s spirits, Japan received some much needed hope. Tokyo was selected to host the 2020 Summer Olympics this September. Some commentators cried on live TV. Soon after, as if on cue, a rainbow appeared over Tokyo.

Hot Talent
The highlight is our 12-page feature Interview with Visual Kei pioneer, rock legend and classical genius Yoshiki. The X Japan founder shared his struggles and successes from his state-of-the-art Hollywood recording studio. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie’s questions dig deep and cover an amazing range of topics.

The complete article is available in Issue #273. Click here to order from Amazon

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 06:34

Tokyo Street Editorial

JULY brought the noise of political campaigning to the streets of Japan, culminating with the upper house elections on July 21. Thanks to the popularity of Abenomics, the coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito regained the majority it had lost in 2007.

Some worry that this might persuade Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to return to his dream of removing Japan’s pacifism from the country’s constitution. But in spite of the landslide, his party doesn’t have enough seats to do this on its own and coalition partner Komeito is strongly opposed.

So for the time being, Abe likely will remain focused on the economy. His newly acquired power, however, should give him enough freedom to push through unpopular but badly needed reforms.

Olympics
With the important upper house elections out of the way, Japanese eyes are now fixed on the next elections: those for choosing the city to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. Tokyo is one of the three finalists and its chances look favorable. The International Olympic Committee will elect the host city on September 7 at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina. To warm up, we look at Tokyo’s Olympic bid and the surprising link between the Olympics and Harajuku, Tokyo’s irreverent center of youth culture.

Festivals
Summer in Japan, of course, means matsuri, or street festivals. Religious in origin, many are now spectacles that unite the community and attract lots of tourists. In this issue, acclaimed Japanese fashion designer Junko Koshino shares how the powerful festival of her hometown influenced her work. This inspired our cover photo of the gorgeous kimono she designed. In the same vein, I invited a number of Tokyo street fashion icons to show me looks inspired by summer and matsuri. They brought me an explosion of creativity and color, with many incorporating traditional Japanese elements in very modern ways.


Monday, 16 September 2013 09:30

Asakusa Souvenir Shops

THE large photo of a crowd walking past shops along the approach to the Buddhist temple Sensoji was taken some time in 1934. Notice that while most men and even the children wear Western clothing, the women still wear kimono.

The shops, known as Asakusa Nakamise, were great crowd pleasers. Their origins are rooted in a harvest festival called Tori no Ichi. Held in November, long lines of people would wind their way along the rice pad- dies to pray and enjoy themselves at Sensoji. Naturally, this attracted a large number of merchants and entertainers, who were mostly located in the entertainment district behind the temple. Eventually, neighborhood merchants were allowed to open their shops in the approach to the temple as well.

Many of the shops developed “Asakusa Meibutsu,” or Asakusa specialties. These included Asakusa Nori (sheets of edible seaweed), Asakusa-gami (a kind of paper), Tondari Hanetari (small toys that jumped) and Fusayoji, or fairly large tufted tooth- picks made from willow trees or shrubs and used to clean the teeth as an early version of the toothbrush.

Monday, 16 September 2013 09:13

Harajuku's Link to the Olympics

Harajuku’s Forgotten Link with the Olympic Games

The 2020 Olympics will envelop Tokyo’s youth district of Harajuku, world famous as Japan’s center of street fashion. Every day tens of thousands of people come here to shop, hang out and see the latest trends. This square mile area is jam-packed with boutiques, fashion malls and chain stores – and it is located right at the center of the planned Olympic district.

Hopefully, the huge crowds and security presence that the Olympics would bring to Harajuku won’t smother the irreverent energy of this incubation center of Japanese pop culture. That would be painfully ironic because Harajuku partly came into being because of the Olympics.

The area was originally a small village inhabited by low-level samurai. Harajuku’s start as a center of fashion and youth culture came after WWII. U.S. Army barracks, called Washington Heights, were built in the nearby Yoyogi neighborhood, a former military drill area of the Japanese Imperial Army. Shops catering to American military families followed, and this attracted young people curious about Western culture.

When the 1964 Summer Olympics were held in Tokyo, Washington Heights became the Olympic Village for housing the athletes. People from all over Japan came to Harajuku for a chance to meet the athletes. The influx of young people persuaded young creators to set up shop in Harajuku. World famous Japanese fashion designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons got their starts in small apartments in the area.

The complete article is available in Issue #272. Click here to order from Amazon

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