On Japan Category (97)



Francis Ford Coppola

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On October 16, 2013, Francis Ford Coppola, one of the most influential movie directors, producers and screenwriters of all time, was awarded the Praemium Imperiale in Tokyo, Japan. The Praemium Imperiale is an annual global arts prize awarded by the Japan Art Association in recognition of a lifetime achievement in the arts, in categories not covered by the Nobel Prizes. This award, which Mr. Coppola received from Prince Hitachi of Japan’s Imperial Family, is the most recent of many accolades for the filmmaker. He and his films have received six Academy Awards and the Coppola family is one of two families in history to have three generations of Academy Award recipients. Four of his films (“The Godfather,” “The Godfather Part II,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Patton”) were included by the Writers Guild of America’s list of “101 Greatest Screenplays Ever.” He has been honored with the Directors Guild of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and he is one of only eight filmmakers to win two Palme d’Or awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Prior to leaving for Japan, Tokyo Journal’s Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie interviewed Mr. Coppola regarding his love for film and his affinity for Japan.

TJ: I understand you will be receiving the Praemium Imperiale from Prince Hitachi of
the Imperial Family. Can you tell us about the award?
COPPOLA: It was an award I hadn’t known of, but it’s an award that was given in honor of the arts in fields that the Nobel Prize does not cover such as film, theater, literature, architecture, and sculpture.

TJ: Tell me about your background in Japan. When was your f irst visit to Japan?
COPPOLA: It’s hard for me to really pin down my first visit to Japan. I’ve been there a dozen times. I did visit Japan many times during the period in which I was making “Apocalypse Now.” While we were filming in the Philippines, we would often stop in Japan as my family loved going there, and over the years I went many, many times. My little children travelled with me at the time and they also love Japanese culture. That was the basis of Sofia’s fondness for Japan and her experience there.

TJ: What is your favorite part of Japan?
COPPOLA: In terms of a place, there are certainly Tokyo and Kyoto. But I think my favorite part of Japan is its unique and beautiful culture where they are able to combine the mundane steps of life with beauty, and each area of life has been understood as a kind of expression of grace, harmony and beauty. The culture is so unique in that everything that is done there has been a tradition of doing it with exquisite beauty. It is that very unique aspect of Japan that is so admirable. Whether it’s a piece of fabric, poem or food, there exists some sort of perfection in every area.


2013 年 10 月 16 日、東京で、高松宮殿下記念世界文化賞の授賞式が行われた。演劇・映画部門では、映画監督、 プ ロ デュー サ ー 、 脚 本 家 として 歴 史 上 最 も 影 響 力 を 持 つ 巨 匠 の1人で あ るフ ラン シ ス・フォ ード・コッ ポ ラ 氏 が 受 賞 。 日 本 美 術 協 会 が 創 設 し た 同 賞 は 、 優 れ た 芸 術 家 を 顕 彰 す る た め に 年 1回 授 与 さ れ るも の で 、 ノ ー ベ ル 賞 が 対 象 とし な い領域をカバーしている。常陸宮殿下から授与されたこの賞が、コッポラ氏の受賞歴に新たに加わった。氏はこれま でに6つのアカデミー賞を受賞している。3世代にわたってアカデミー賞を受賞したのはコッポラ一族を含め2例だけ。 氏の作品「ゴッドファーザー」「ゴッドファーザーPart II」「地獄の黙示録」「パットン大戦車軍団」は、全米脚本家 協会が選ぶ映画脚本ベスト101 にランクイン。また全米監督協会のライフタイム・アチーブメント・アワード、カンヌ 国際映画祭パルム・ドールも受賞している。パルム・ドールの栄誉を2回手にしたのはコッポラ氏を含め8人だけ。東 京ジャーナルのエグゼクティブ・エディター アントニー・アルジェイミーが、日本に発つ前のコッポラ氏に、映画に対 する情熱と日本との縁について聞いた。


TJ: 高松宮殿下記念世界文化賞を受賞され、常 陸宮殿下から顕彰メダルを授与されるそうです ね。
コッポラ:僕は知らなかったが、ノーベル賞が カバーしていない映像、演劇、建築、彫刻など の分野の芸術家を対象とした顕彰制度だそう だ。

TJ: 日本との関わりについて教えてください。 最初に日本を訪れたのはいつですか?
コッ ポラ:最初に行ったのがいつだったかは 分からないが、日本にはもう数え切れないほ ど行っているよ。「地獄の黙示録」の製作中も、 撮影場所はフィリピンだったが、途中でよく日 本に立ち寄ったんだ。家族が行きたがったから ね。子供が小さい頃は一緒に旅行したから、子 供たちも日本の文化が大好きだ。ソフィアが親 日家なのは、小さい頃の経験ゆえだろうね。

TJ: 日本の何が一番お好きですか?
コッ ポラ:場所で言えば東京と京都だが、何と いっても、平凡な日常と美を融合できる独特の 美しい文化に魅力を感じるね。生活そのものに、 気品、調和、美が感じられる文化なんだ。日本 の文化は全てにおいて個性的で、非常に美しい 伝統様式がある。それは日本の特徴であり、賞 賛されるべき点だ。繊維であれ詩であれ食べ物 であれ、あらゆる領域に“完璧”が存在する

Halloween in Tokyo's Roppongi

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Performer Yusuke Onuki

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Performer Yusuke Onuki Reflecting on Dorian Gray, Dancing, Singing and Acting

Photo courtesy of HoriPro

Interview by Miyuki Kawai

TJ: How did you first get into dancing? What styles of dance have you trained to do?
ONUKI: My mother is a dancer and runs a dance studio, so I naturally started to learn dancing. I started with jazz and modern dance. But when I was a primary school student, I saw “Rave2001,” a TV dance program, and got interested in street dancing. I began taking dance lessons and was into street dancing in junior high and high school. And gradually I started to be interested in contemporary dance and ballet.

Yuki Furukawa

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Yuki Furukawa leads “Playful Kiss” from Manga to Live Action Drama

Interview by Miyuki Kawai

TJ: You majored in control theory at university. Can you tell us what that is?
FURUKAWA: It deals with controlling things by programming. I focused on auto- motive breakdowns, but it can be applied to any field including the media or finance. In terms of automotive breakdowns, the hypothesis in the reduction of friction or slip is verified by programming.

TJ: How did you first get into acting?
FURUKAWA: When I was a junior at university, I went job hunting, but I had no specific career goals. Although Break dancing was my passion, I knew I couldn’t make a living out of it. While I passed my exam for graduate school, I applied to some companies. At that time, I was chosen as “Mr. Campus” of the university, and I automatically became a contestant for HoriPro’s 50th anniversary talent audition. A winner was chosen through competitions in blog making, fashion, shoe design, etc. I had no acting experience, but I received an award. That’s when I started my acting career.

Actor Ryohei Suzuki Takes the Lead

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Taking Anime and Manga Heroic Roles to the Big Screen Interview

by Miyuki Kawai

TJ: How did you first get into acting?
SUZUKI: I have been interested in acting since I was a junior high student. I moved to Tokyo when I entered university, and I joined an acting club. Then I looked into how to become an actor. I contacted nearly 50 agencies, and one company advised me to start as a model. Fortunately, after almost a year, the company got a partnership deal with HoriPro, and I stated to take acting lessons. An acting instructor took notice of me, and I joined HoriPro officially to start my acting career.

TJ:Has it been difficult adapting to fame?
SUZUKI:I am tall and stand out in a train, so I tend to avoid riding on trains. I often ride a bicycle, but don’t want to ride a motorcycle because I am afraid of accidents.

Asakusa Souvenir Shops

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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.

Harajuku's Link to the Olympics

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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

Toyo Ito

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Architect Toyo Ito Presented with the 2013 Pritzker

Architecture Prize

ON May 29, 2013, Tom Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, presented Toyo Ito with the Pritzker Architecture Prize medallion for 2013 and a $100,000 grant. In his acceptance speech, Architect Toyo Ito said, “This is the best day of my architectural life so far!” Mr. Ito was the 38th recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which has been sponsored by The Hyatt Foundation since its founding in 1979. A black-tie audience of more than 300 guests, including previous prize laureates, witnessed the ceremony in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. tj

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

Garrity’s Japan

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The Open Road Part II

The following is a continuation of Robert Garrity’s story describing his walk across Japan replicating Haiku Poet Matsuo Basho’s 2,500 kilometer journey from Fukugawa, Tokyo to Japan’s northern wilderness, as detailed in Basho’s world-famous “Oku no Hosomichi”. Robert Garrity began this journey in Summer of 1994, and broke it down into segments, walking the different segments each time he returned to Japan.

Basho Memorial Hall:
On the other side of the Sumidagawa bridge and down the street several blocks on the river- side is the Basho Memorial Hall, on the site of Basho’s original home. There is a banana tree in front that marks the hall.

The Tokyo Fish Market

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The Tokyo Fish Market

If you ask anybody in Tokyo about the city’s Nihonbashi district, they’ll most probably call it a staid business area. The Bank of Japan and the Tokyo Stock Exchange are located there, so too the headquarters of many financial companies. Even the Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya department stores there are thought conservative.

This hasn’t always been the case. Until 1923, Nihonbashi housed a colorful and busy fish market right next to the famous Nihonbashi bridge, the point from which even today all distances to the capital are measured. For hundreds of years at the empire’s navel, the smell of fish and the shouts of fishermen, brokers and peddlers penetrated the air. Some 300 fish wholesalers were located at the market. From fishing villages as far away as Hokkaido, fish arrived early in the morning every day of the year. “Piscine types almost as varied and as beautiful as those at the marvelous Naples Aquarium may be seen,” gushed Terry’s Guide to the Japanese Empire in its 1920 edition.

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