Tuesday, 06 May 2014 09:10

Paul Tange

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.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 07:06

What to Do in Tokyo

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.

Thursday, 26 December 2013 00:00


This buddy comedy had its world premiere at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival and won outstanding screenplay at the 2013 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF). It hit theaters in the U.S. in November 2013. TJ spoke with the Osaka-born, L.A.-based director Junya Sakino and in-demand Japanese actor Gaku Hamada.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013 13:30

Doing Business in the U.S. and Japan

CEO in Focus

Clarion Corporation of America

Paul Lachner, President

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.

Monday, 23 December 2013 09:56

Travel to Southern California

San Diego and Orange County

TJ’S hotel reviewers and their bicultural families headed out to Southern California to scope out some of the best places to stay and the fun things to do in San Diego and Orange County. After arriving at LAX, our families headed 45 minutes south on the 405 Freeway. First stop: Orange County. We stayed at many hotels and ate at many restaurants. Here is a list of some of our favorite things to do and places to stay in Orange County:

Thursday, 19 December 2013 13:26

The Platters are still Going Strong

With 4 #1 hits and 40 charting singles on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1955, the Platters are still going strong. Known for such hits as "The Great Pretender", "Only You", "Earth Angel" and "Smoke Gets in your Eyes", the Platters are led by B.J. Mitchell, a member who was brought into the group by original recording member, Paul Robi. Under B.J., the group has performed all over the world for the last 44 years. On November 20, 2013, the Platters performed in Brazil with the great Carnival band of Salvador, Olodum. This collaborative performance represented a melding of traditional African and Afro-Brazilian drum-based compositions and the timeless classics of the Platters.

Saturday, 07 December 2013 00:00

Senjaku Nakamura

Senjaku Nakamura

Keeping the Kabuki Tradition

From his great-great-grandfather Kanjaku Nakamura III to his son Toranosuke Nakamura, Senjaku Nakamura and his family have been keeping the tradition of kabuki alive. Senjaku debuted at the famous Kabuki-za theater in 1967 and is a talented and trained onnagata, a male actor who plays female roles in kabuki.
Interview by Hana Kobayashi and Chisato Kato

TJ: How did you get started in your career as a kabuki actor?
NAKAMURA: I made my debut as a kabuki actor at Kabuki-za in Tokyo when I was six years old. Based on the tradition that an actor will succeed if he starts training on June 6 at the age of 6, I started training that day. I made my debut in November of that year. The performance was dedicated to the first Ganjiro Nakamura, my grandfather, on the 33rd anniversary of his death.

TJ: As the member of a kabuki family, what do you want to hand down to your descendants of what you have inherited from your ancestors?
NAKAMURA: Our family is Kamigata (Osaka)-oriented and is self-taught. We learned to act by watching and imitating veterans. It is significantly different to Edo (Tokyo) kabuki. I suggest that future kabuki actors learn how to act by watching veterans, as this is essential for developing a high level of professionalism.

TJ: You play different roles on the same day. Is there anything you do to prepare for that?
NAKAMURA: Nothing special. However, since it is impossible to change my body shape in a single day when I play both male and female characters, I put a cotton pad called a Kiniku under the costume, or I make myself look fatter or skinnier during the wig fitting. I can also vary my appearance with makeup. Also, I have to be careful with my voice. I focus on abdominal voice production in order not to crack my voice. For a female role, I use the highest tone of my own voice because it is difficult to convey emotions in falsetto. Training in Nagauta or Gidayu would help in gaining the ability to create high-pitched sounds.

TJ: You have given performances in foreign countries such as the U.S. and Germany. Did you feel anything different from what you feel in Japan?
NAKAMURA: I performed in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Italy, Romania and Japan. Of course the responses were different depending on the audience’s nationalities; but more importantly, the responses are different depending on the program. Receiving a standing ovation or curtain call, even in Japan, is not attributed to the audience’s nationality but to the quality of program. In other words, a play is universal. A good play is acclaimed regardless of where it is performed. I was told that I couldn’t expect a standing ovation like in Japan on the first day of performances in Germany, but Natsumatsuri Naniwa Kagami by Heisei Nakamura-za received a full standing ovation.

TJ: 歌舞伎役者としてキャリアをスタートさせ た経緯をお聞かせ願えますか?
ナカムラ:初舞台は 6 歳(1967 年)、東京歌 舞伎座の舞台でした。日本の伝統で 6 歳 6 月 6 日に稽古事を始めると上達するという言い伝え があり、私も 6 歳 6 月 6 日から日本舞踊を始め、 11 月に歌舞伎役者としてのスタートを切りま した。その公演は祖父初代中村鴈治郎の 33 回 忌興行で、その機会に合わせての初舞台となり ました。

TJ: 代々歌舞伎業を営まれてきたご一族である と存じます。扇雀様がご先祖から伝えられ、 守られてきたものの中で、これから扇雀様ご自 身がご子孫に残し伝えていきたいと最もお考え になるもの / ことは何ですか?
ナ カムラ:私達の家系は上方 ( かみがた ) 即ち 大阪系の役者です。その流れは自分で工夫する ことに活路を見出す教えになっています。です から、ひたすら先輩の舞台を観て真似て、そこから自分自身の頌演技を生み出していきます。 これは、江戸歌舞伎と大きく違う点と言えます。 ですから子孫や後輩には、先輩の舞台から学び お客様に喜んで頂ける、納得して頂ける舞台を 創り上げるよう言いたいです。とにかく、プロ である意識を高めることです。

TJ: 同じ日に異なった役を演じられることがお ありになるのですね。事前準備として何か特別 に / 大切にされていることはおありになるので しょうか?
ナ カムラ:特にはありませんが、女性と男性の 役を演じる時に体型を 1 日の中で変化させるこ とは不可能ですので、衣裳の下に肌肉(きにく) と呼ばれる綿を詰めたものを着込んだり、かつ ら合わせの段階で太って見せたり痩せて見せた りする工夫をします。また化粧によってもその 変化を付けることができます。ただ、注意すべ きは声です。音の高さが違うので声を潰さぬよ うに腹式での発声に集中します。女形で裏声を使うことはなく、地声の一番高い部分を使いま す。なぜなら、裏声は感情が伝わりにくいから です。これも長唄や義太夫という音曲を稽古す ることにより、次第に高い音が出るようになり ます。

TJ: これまでアメリカ、ドイツなどで国際的に 歌舞伎公演をなさってきました。日本公演での 観客からの反響とは異なったものを海外でお感 じになったことはありますか?
ナカムラ:アメリカ・ドイツ・イギリス・イタ リア・ルーマニアそして日本と公演してきまし たが、それぞれの国で確かに反応は違います。 お国柄といいますかそれぞれの特徴はあります が、それよりも演目によっての反応が違うとい うことが重要だと思います。スタンディングオ ベーションやカーテンコール、今では日本でも 起こるようになりましたが、それはお国柄とい うより演目の内容に寄ることが大きいと思いま す。言い換えれば演劇は万国共通語で有るといえるのではないでしょうか。いいものには素直 に反応する。ドイツ公演の初日前に「ドイツは 日本と同じでスタンディングにはならないと思 います。」と言われていましたが、平成中村座 の「夏祭浪花鏡」は客席総立ちでした。

Saturday, 07 December 2013 00:00

Kenny Endo

Marching to the Beat of a Different Drum

Kenny Endo Talks Taiko

Taiko performer, composer and teacher Kenny Endo has spent 35 years paving new paths in the taiko genre of drumming, blending Japanese taiko with world music. Among his many distinctions are an M.A. in ethnomusicology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, an artist residency at the Lincoln Center Institute in New York, and certificates of honor from the Honolulu City Council and the House and Senate of the State of Hawaii. He has performed for Princess Diana, Prince Charles, Michael Jackson and Prince, and he has opened for The Who. He has performed with singer Bobby McFerrin, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Honolulu Symphony and the Tokyo Symphony, and he is featured on the soundtracks for Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” and Kayo Hatta’s film “Picture Bride.” Tokyo Journal caught up with Kenny to see how he continues to tread new ground for this ancient instrument.

Sunday, 08 December 2013 00:00


FAKY is the Real Thing

Japan’s New Girl Group has Global Appeal

Add a pinch of J-pop, a dash of K-pop and a hint of Europop glazed with an American-pop sound and you get FAKY. This five-member, biracial and bilingual girl group consists of Anna, Lil’ Fang, Mikako, Diane and Tina. The dance and vocal group recently released its 1st video, “Better Without You,” featuring a fusion of world-class music with the fashion and culture of Tokyo. Their website describes each of their personalities and backgrounds: Anna - the New Zealand-born leader; Lil’ Fang - an aggressive Tokyoite; Mikako - the “cute” one from Fukuoka; Diane - a half-Japanese/half-American Okinawan beauty and Tina - a half-Japanese/half-American “bohemian” from Atlanta, Georgia.

Sunday, 08 December 2013 00:00


Japanese Pop Idol Group, Star in “Innocent Lilies” is a Japanese idol group, composed of six girls: Mirin Furukawa, Risa Aizawa, Nemu Yumemi, Eimi Naruse (Eitaso), Ayane Fujisaki (Pinky), and Moga Mogami. The group belongs to Dear Stage, Akihabara’s most famous idol live house and bar where they perform regularly. All of the members are fans [otaku] of anime, manga, games, and costumes. The group performed at Tokyo Collection and has collaborated with leading fashion designers including Mikio Sakabe. They attract attention overseas as well and have performed at fashion events in Jakarta, Indonesia and solo concerts in Taipei, Taiwan. They debuted in their first film entitled “Innocent Lilies” (Director Koichi Sakamoto & Screenwriter Reiko Yoshida) that was released both in theaters and online in September 2013.
TJ Contributor Asami Iida met with Denpagumi at the movie premier in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
Interview by Asami Iida


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