Anthony Al-Jamie

Anthony Al-Jamie

Anthony Al-Jamie lived and worked in Japan 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 and Executive Editor. He currently serves the Tokyo Journal as Editor-in-Chief.

Monday, 21 October 2013 00:00

2013 America's Got Talent Winner

2013 America's Got Talent Winner: Kenichi Ebina Sneak Preview

On September 18th, 2013, dancer Kenichi Ebina became the first Japanese performer to win NBC's hit TV show America's Got Talent! He won $1,000,000 and will get his own show in Las Vegas. The following is an excerpt of Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie's exclusive Interview with Kenichi. For the full-length interview see Tokyo Journal's Autumn Issue.

TJ: When did you first start to dance?
EBINA: I was attending an English Language Institute for international students who don't speak English. It was connected to the college I graduated from and since it was on a college campus, students in the English school were invited to college activities. I went to a dance party for welcoming freshman. At the time I wasn't big into dancing at all but I knew the steps for the "Running Man" that I had learned from some friends. At the party they made a circle and people started showing off. I had to go in and I did the Running Man. People started getting loud. At the time I thought they were loud because I wasn't good, but it was the opposite - they were cheering for me! After that, I started thinking dancing was fun. I started watching videos and copied their moves and steps.

How Yul Brynner and “Shogun” Made Sushi Popular

TJ: Can you tell us what you did before you became involved with Mutual Trading?
KANAI: World War II was a very big shock to me. So after the war I read about philosophy. I was very interested in Robert Owen, a famous English philosopher. I took his philosophy, which taught me many good things, and decided to make my own life to improve myself.

During the war, the U.S. was Japan’s enemy but during the Occupation they did very good things to help build Japan back up. We could not imagine that the U.S. would do so many good things for us. At that time, I met Mr. Chuhei Ishii, who was a food supplier to the U.S. before the war. He had been in the U.S. for 30 years in Santa Maria doing food distribution, but he went to China during the war to take care of the Peking Grand Hotel – a large, famous hotel owned by the French. Mr. Ishii bought the hotel and moved to Peking. At the end of the war, I met him in Japan. As his wife and my mother were friends in Japan, my mother told me, “If you do business with the United States, go see Mr. Ishii and ask him questions.” So I visited Mr. Ishii. Although he wanted to return to the States, he lost his U.S. permanent residency when he went to China. He said to me, “I am thinking of making a business exporting food to the United States because there are many Japanese immigrants who cannot get Japanese food conveniently. Why don’t you help me?” So I joined him.
“ Shogun really launched Japanese culture in the U.S.”

Wednesday, 02 October 2013 11:33

Cheap Trick

The Band that Put the Legendary Budokan on the Map

TJ Exclusive Interview with Rick Nielsen

TJ caught up with Cheap Trick guitarist, backing vocalist and primary songwriter Rick Nielsen to talk about the 35th anniversary of Cheap Trick at Budokan. It was their best-selling album and is ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Cheap Trick was referred to by the Japanese media as the “American Beatles” and ranked #25 in VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Bands such as Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Weezer, Stone Temple Pilots, and Extreme have cited Cheap Trick as an influence.

Thursday, 08 August 2013 00:00

Food Allergy

Educating the World about the Deadly Danger of Food Allergies

Interview with Food Allergy Research & Education CEO John Lehr

Potentially deadly food allergies affect one in 13 children in the United States, or roughly two in every classroom. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) is a nonprofit organization that works on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies, including those at the risk of life-threatening anaphylaxis (an extreme and often life-threatening allergic reaction to an antigen). Tokyo Journal International Editor Anthony Al-Jamie met with FARE CEO John Lehr.

Friday, 09 August 2013 00:00

Michael Graves

Good Design for the Quality of Everyday Life

Interview by Anthony Al-Jamie

Identified as one of the New York Five, Michael Graves is an American architect known for his contemporary building designs as well as his domestic products for such companies as Target, J.C. Penney, Disney, Philips and Black & Decker. Born in Indianapolis, he earned a master’s degree in architecture from Harvard University and is the Robert Schirmer Professor of Architecture, Emeritus at Princeton University. His firm, Michael Graves & Associates, has offices in Princeton, New Jersey and New York City. Graves was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and a senior fellow of the Design Futures Council. He has received numerous awards including the National Medal of Arts, the AIA Gold Medal, the AIA Topaz Medal and the Driehaus Prize for Classical Architecture. He is credited with broadening the role of the architect in society and raising public interest in good design as essential to the quality of everyday life.

Wednesday, 07 August 2013 00:00

Living Legend - Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando

Self-Taught Architect

Tadao Ando, born in 1941, is a former boxer who became one of Japan’s most renowned architects. His projects, which can be found in Japan, the U.S., the U.K., Spain, Germany, France, and Italy, are known for having large expanses of unadorned architectural concrete walls combined with large windows and wooden or stone floors. He has received such awards as the Pritzker Prize, Gold Medal of Architecture from the French Academy of Architecture, Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects and Gold Medal of the Union Internationale des Architects. He is a visiting professor at Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University, and University of California, Berkeley.

Friday, 31 May 2013 09:25

Interview with Diamond Yukai

JAPANESE rock rebel Diamond Yukai, who was born Yutaka Tadokoro in 1962, continues to reinvent himself in a music, film, television and writing career that has spanned nearly three decades.

As a teen, his parents, who were civil servants in Saitama, wanted him to conform to the system. They told him he would never succeed as a rock and roller. Diamond Yukai proved them wrong in the mid-eighties by forming Red Warriors, a band that went on to fill stadiums throughout Japan including the legendary Budokan and Seibu, the latter of which seats close to 40,000.

During this time, Diamond Yukai branched into the movie industry, beginning with a starring role in the 1988 movie “Tokyo Pop” directed by Fran Kuzui, creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and Fox TV’s hit series “Angel.” He co-starred in “Tokyo Pop” with actress Carrie Hamilton, daugh- ter of the legendary comedienne Carol Burnett. He went on to appear in Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” in 2004 and numerous Japanese films and television dramas.

Donald Richie, a world authority on Japanese film, culture and the post-World War II lives of the Japanese, passed away in Tokyo on February 19, 2013. He was 88. Born in Lima, Ohio on April 17, 1924, Donald grew up with a love for cinema. He moved to Japan on December 31, 1946 as part of the U.S. Occupation. During the early part of his stay in Japan, he worked as a typist and civilian staff writer for the U.S. Military newspaper, the Pacific Stars and Stripes. He returned to the U.S. and received a B.S. in English from Columbia University before going back to Japan. He went on to write several books on Japan and its cinema and filmmakers as well as other topics. He wrote for English-language publications in Japan including The Japan Times, in which he had a regular column as a film critic, and the Tokyo Journal, for which he interviewed and contributed several pieces over the years.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013 09:32

The Man Who Brought Sushi to America

The Man Who Brought Sushi to America by Anthony Al-Jamie

This is the first in a series of interviews with Noritoshi Kanai, President of Mutual Trading, the man who coined the phrase “sushi bar”.

TJ: When did you become President of Mutual Trading?
KANAI: 1976.

TJ: Who was the original founder of Mutual Trading?
KANAI: Sadagoro Hoshizaki in 1926. He was a merchant in Little Tokyo From Odawara, Japan. At the time, it was difficult to bring Japanese food From Japan, so he created a co-op with other Japanese people in the area to import Japanese food to the U.S. When the war broke out in 1941, all Japanese had to go into internment camps. Most merchants in Little Tokyo were hawking their businesses and belongings, but near Mutual Trading on First Street there was a school called Maryknoll Catholic School that had a lot of Japanese students. The administrators said, “Just bring in all of your belongings and we’ll keep them in the basement.” The people at Mutual Trading were very lucky. However, the majority of the other people came back to Little Tokyo and found nothing. They had to rebuild and they needed utensils and cooking ware. So Mutual Trading had a purpose and was able to get back into business right away by helping many families in Little Tokyo get started with their lives again. I came into the business From the Tokyo side, with Tokyo Mutual Trading, which was the Tokyo-based export arm of Mutual Trading in Los Angeles (the import arm). I started Tokyo Mutual Trading in 1952.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013 06:51

Samurai #1: Akio Morita

Article by Anthony Al-Jamie (continued)

AKIO Morita was born the eldest son of a sake brewer and was groomed from childhood to take over as the fifteenth head of what is now a 400-year-old sake brewery. Morita studied physics at Osaka Imperial University. After graduating in 1944, he joined the Japanese Imperial Navy, where he met his future business partner, Navy researcher Masaru Ibuka.


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