Tokyo Street Editorial

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  • Wednesday, 23 October 2013 06:34
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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.

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.

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.

Donald Richie
We continue our tribute to Japan expert and former Tokyo Journal contributor Donald Richie. In this issue we reprint “Honorable Visitors,” originally published in 1994. It introduces the historical handshake between former U.S. president General Ulysses S. Grant and Emperor Meiji in July 1879. It was the first time ever that a Japanese emperor shook someone’s hand. Richie also describes Rudyard Kipling’s visit to Japan. Not brainwashed by the idea of Japanese as unique and inscrutable, Kipling gave us “one of the best views to be had of Meiji-period Japan,” writes Richie. And, did you know there were plans to assassinate Charlie Chaplin during his 1932 visit to Japan?

Past and Present
In another echo from the past, we talk with the man who brought sushi to the U.S., while in a Tokyo Journal exclusive Cheap Trick tells International Editor Dr. Anthony Al-Jamie how Tokyo’s Budokan indoor arena made them famous some 35 years ago. From the past we jump to the future with articles about the game-changing architects Tadao Ando and Michael Graves. “There is a world of difference between what Japanese architects do and what I do,” says Graves. “I believe in humanism and Japanese architects like Ito and Ando are abstractionists.”

We return to the present with a dive into anime. We look at the Anime Expo in Los Angeles, which had record-breaking attendance; we talk with Japanese actors Yuki Furukawa and Ryohei Suzuki about their roles in the adaptations of popular manga and anime; and to top it off, we interview Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, CEO of Production I.G, best known for its “Ghost in the Shell” series. There is so much to enjoy in this summer issue that you just might have to take the magazine to the beach with you. When at the beach, make sure you are wearing this summer’s hottest colors: Royal Blue, Aquamarine, or Electric Red. tj

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

Written By:

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.


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