On Japan Category (97)



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.

After the Inferno

Written by  |  Published in Editorial Features & Reviews

After the Inferno

by Donald Richie

In this installment of a series, Donald Richie recalls a poignant post-war moment with Nobel Prize-winner Yasunari Kawabata

It was 1947 and the Sumida River, silver in the winter sun, glistened beneath us. Yasunari Kawabata and I were on the roof of the Asakusa subway terminal tower, looking out over downtown Tokyo, still in ruins, still showing the conflagration of two years earlier, the burned concrete black against the lemon yellow of new wood.

Horiyoshi III

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Horiyoshi III

Japan’s Legendary Tattoo Master

Interview by Kimo Friese and Horikichi

TJ: Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
HORIYOSHI: My real name is Yoshihito Nakano. I was born on March 9, 1946 in Shimada, Shizuoka. I am the eldest son with a sister and brother.

TJ: Tell us a little about Irezumi, the traditional art form of Japanese tattooing.
HORIYOSHI: It depends what you mean by traditional? Tattoo tradition, Japanese tradition or Asian tradition? If you say Asian tradition, it was most affected by Confucianism. But if you are obedient to Confucianism, you can’t get tattooed because the belief states that you should not hurt your body. But since tattoo culture had already existed before the ancient Chinese ideas that transformed into Samurai philosophy in Japan, Confucianism couldn’t exclude tattoo culture. The concept of the tattoo can translate into strength, religion, or many other things. But in Japan, it basically represents courage or strength, like the Samurai’s fighting spirit. On the other hand, tattoos also have artistic aspects. Actually, it’s difficult to talk about Irezumi tattoo and tradition because the scope is too wide.

Time Warp

Written by  |  Published in Tokyo 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.

Garrity's Japan

Written by  |  Published in Editor's Insight

Editor’s Insight

Garrity’s Japan

The Open Road

The following is a continuation of Robert Garrity’s story describing his walk across Japan; a journey replicating haiku poet Matsuo Basho’s 1,500-mile journey from Fukagawa, Tokyo to Japan’s northern wilderness, as detailed in Basho’s world-famous travel diary, “Oku no Hosomichi.” Garrity began the first leg of his journey in the summer of 1994, and continues walking different segments each time he returns to Japan.

Paul Tange

Written by  |  Published in Architecture

Genius is in the Genes

Interview with Tange Associates President Paul Noritaka Tange

SEPTEMBER 4, 2013 marked 100 years since the birth of one of the most influential architects of the 20 century – Pritzker Prize winning Japanese architect Kenzo Tange (1913 - 2005). Many of Tokyo’s most renowned landmarks are Kenzo Tange’s structures, including the Tokyo City Hall Complex (Tocho); the National Gymnasium designed for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics; Shinjuku Park Tower / Park Hyatt Tokyo; Akasaka Prince Hotel, as well as dozens of celebrated structures across Japan and the world. A professor of architecture at Japan’s prestigious University of Tokyo, Kenzo Tange mentored many of Japan’s most acclaimed architects including Kisho Kurokawa, Arata Isozaki, Yoshio Taniguchi and Fumihiko Maki.

Kenzo Tange passed away on March 22, 2005 at the age of 91, but not before passing the baton to his son Paul Noritaka Tange. Paul earned his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University (1981) and master’s in architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (1985), before completing a research term with the Ministry of Construction. He then joined Kenzo Tange Associates, where he was promoted to Executive Vice President in 1988 and President in 1996. In 2003 the father and son duo renamed the company Tange Associates, with Paul Tange as its first president.

Paul Tange had significant success heading up the architectural design of complex projects such as the Tokyo Dome Hotel (2000) despite pressure from critics of neighboring goliath structure, the Tokyo Dome. In order to approve and complete the Tokyo Dome Hotel project Tange’s architects had to make considerable adjustments, including having to rotate the entire hotel to make it appear thinner.

In 2005, after the passing of Kenzo Tange, the world of architecture waited with great anticipation to see whether Paul Tange possessed his father’s artistic genius. The answer came in 2008 when, under Paul Tange’s direction, Tange Associates unveiled one of Tokyo’s most remarkable structures and the world’s second tallest educational building: the MODE GAKUEN Cocoon Tower. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie spoke with Paul Tange.

TJ: I understand you earned your bachelor’s degree at Harvard University and master’s in architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. How long were you in the Boston area?
TANGE: I was there for seven and a half years.

TJ: How is it living in Tokyo now?
TANGE: It’s a good time to be in Tokyo. Mr. Abe’s new economic policies seem to be working and the 2020 Olympics will help to make for an even better situation for our economy. It looks like we may be finally coming back into the global picture.

TJ: How is the field of architecture doing in Japan?
TANGE: Well, I think for some time Japanese architecture has been quite successful compared to other Japanese industries. It has gained global recognition and many Japanese architects have done work abroad. I believe my father was one of the first to begin doing work abroad in the 1960s. If I recall correctly, his first foreign project was the master plan of the city of Skopje in the former Yugoslavia. Skopje is now the capital of Macedonia. The city was destroyed by an earthquake and the United Nations asked my father to plan a new city. I believe last year was the 50th anniversary of that devastation and we went back to Skopje where we reconnected. I was very honored to be invited back on behalf of the Tanges after 50 years. So that was my father’s first project abroad. Many of his students followed him in the seventies and eighties.

TJ: Your father had many renowned students and disciples including the late architect Dr. Kisho Kurokawa, who did several projects abroad including the Kuala Lumpur Airport, the new wing of the Van Gogh Museum and the master plan for the capital city of Kazakhstan. He taught and mentored so many great architects.
TANGE: Yes, of course, Mr. Kurokawa, Mr. Isozaki, Mr. Taniguchi and many others. They worked for my father in the seventies and eighties and many graduates of Tange Kenkyushitsu have become leaders in the architectural world. So I believe it was a very rewarding thing for my father to be a professor.

TJ: Tell me about the MODE GAKUEN Cocoon Tower in Shinjuku. It’s fantastic!
TANGE: Thank you. It was quite an exciting project for us because it was a very rare situation where the client came without many restrictions. Their one and only requirement was they wanted to see architecture which they had never seen before.

TJ: There must have been a lot of architects vying for this project given the freedom granted by the client.
TANGE: I believe there were more than 200 entries and we were very fortunate to be awarded first prize and selected for the project.

Yoko Ono

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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.


Doing Business in the U.S. and Japan

Written by  |  Published in TJ Business Expert

TJ: Have you noticed any difference in the corporate cultures or management styles between Japanese- and American-owned companies?
LACHNER: Definitely. But I think it’s dangerous to classify all Japanese companies as the same. I think they are as diverse as American companies are. I spent five years at Sony before coming to Clarion. Of course, working for Sony I thought I was working for a Japanese company. Then I came to Clarion and I realized that Sony was a very different experience than it is at Clarion. Sony is a very Western Japanese company in their management, thinking and strategic planning, whereas Clarion is a more traditional Japanese company. Having only worked at two, I can’t generalize. But I can say that Clarion, as big as it is with 10,000 employees and $2 billion in sales, has a real family feel. It helps that almost all of the senior management in Japan have come through Clarion Corporation of America at some point in their career, so a lot of the folks in Clarion are well-known and liked here and do understand the American model.

What to Do in Tokyo

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VISIT the Roppongi area of central Tokyo, and you can check out striking new museums in what is known as the Art Triangle Roppongi: The National Art Center, Tokyo; the   and the Suntory Museum of Art (inside Tokyo Midtown). Discounts are offered for visiting all three. The
wave-shaped glass façade of the National Art Center, designed by internationally renowned architect Kisho Kurokawa, is extremely impressive, and the restaurant, cafés and museum shop compliment the center’s special exhibitions and educational programs.

Garrity's Japan

Written by  |  Published in Editor's Insight

The Open Road

The following is a continuation of Robert Garrity’s story describing his walk across Japan replicating haiku poet Matsuo Bashō’s 1,500-mile journey from Fukagawa, Tokyo to Japan’s northern wilderness as detailed in Bashō’s world-famous travel diary “Oku no Hosomichi.” Robert Garrity began his journey in the summer of 1994 and broke it down into segments, walking different segments each time he returned to Japan.

Sumida-ku: Since I am undertaking this journey alone and cannot read detailed Kanji, I know I will be lost on occasion and perhaps take a different route than Bashō. But that is part of the fun of the journey. The journey is life.

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