NOTEBOOK:Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo


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Welcome to NOTEBOOK, a cultural guide to art, design and architecture, along with local views and travel news in English giving a realistic view of Tokyo from two perspectives, one from Japan and the other from abroad. Get in touch: Instagram: @NOTEBOOK_pod Photo: Getty Images

Episode Date
10/03, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Kanji "Antonio" Inoki passed away last Saturday after being diagnosed with a heart decease several year ago. He came to be known for the unusual mixed martial arts contest with Muhammed Ali at the Nippon Budokan Hall in 1978, and later turned to politics, leveraging his influence in places such as Iraq and North Korea to negotiate the release of Japanese hostages and abductees. Yu Miri's own story is as a Zainichi writer of Korean and Japanese descent. Her latest book Tokyo Ueno Station won the fifth Berkeley Japan Prize last week at an award ceremony in California, and it tells the story of a worker from Fukushima looking for work in the run up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and their later life as the 2020 Olympics Games are announced. Miri's champions the forgotten and disregarded in society, a tale that now resonates around the world.
Oct 03, 2022
09/30, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
China and Japan celebrated 50 years of diplomatic ties despite the recent strain over the Senkaku islands in the South China Sea and the issue of Taiwan. Meanwhile, Art Week Tokyo returns for its first full iteration following its soft launch last summer. The string of 50 of Tokyo's museums, galleries and art spaces are linked across 6 different routes throughout the city and the art week hopes to generate interest by introducing local artists to a more global audience and nurture the local scene by encouraging the conversation of art’s worth beyond its monetary value.
Sep 30, 2022
09/29, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
The American VP Kamila Harris meets with tech leaders in Japan to boost the manufacture of semi-conductors in the country ,while a new drone is being tested to deliver items to remote parts in Japan. And in the port city of Uwajima, Ehime prefecture, Kaminari serves a hearty lunch of kona-mono : Okonomiyake pancake AND a large bowl of udon.
Sep 29, 2022
09/28, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Russia's FSB interrogate the Japanese consul in Vladivostok accusing the diplomat of engaging in espionage after obtaining classified information in exchange for money. All this as the state funeral for former PM Shinzo Abe takes place at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan Hall. It was originally built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to showcase the martial arts. The hall was based on the 'Yumedono', or Hall of Dreams, a similar octagonal structure at Horyuji Temple in Nara, played host to Muhammad Ali and the Beatles, and still serves as a religious venue for annual remembrance.
Sep 28, 2022
09/27, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Tamawashi won this Autumn's Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku over the weekend fending off No.3 Takayasu to become the oldest winner an Emperor's Cup while almost 38 years of age. And the day before, Genki Kawamura won 'Best Director' at the 70th San Sebastian International Film Festival in Spain for his directorial debut Hyakka (A Hundred Flowers) staring Masaki Suda, Mieko Harada, Masami Nagasawa, and Masatoshi Nagase.
Sep 27, 2022
09/26, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
A team of Japanese researchers are fitting cockroaches with solar cells to be sent on search and rescue missions, while never-seen-before silent footage shot by Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department of the Beatles visiting Japan in 1966 has finally released albeit in censored form.
Sep 26, 2022
09/23, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
PM Kishida announces plans to remove the limit is on daily arrivals to Japan, while also removing the need for short-term travel visa as well as individual travel. And while Police unveil a new service whereby members of the public can share image and video of an incident on-the-fly, the skateboarding photography magazine Kawa views the world through the lens of possibility, valuing places that other people simply. The magazine has just launched its fourth issue and also has a photo exhibition at Studio 35 Minutes in Araiyakushimae which runs until October 1st.
Sep 23, 2022
09/22, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
A man self-immolates near the offices of the Japanese PM protesting the upcoming state funeral for Shinzo Abe. In Ibaraki, chestnuts are being picked as Autumn draws in. And with food in mind, the difference between Otoushi, tsukidashi, and sakizuke dishes disguise the start of every meal in a Japanese restaurant. We look at their differences and the way each connect with older forms of dining.
Sep 22, 2022
09/21, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Typhoon Nanmadol moves on leaving a dangerous turtle free to cause havoc of its own. PM Kishida heads to the U.N. General Assembly while the Digital Minister Kono Taro is tipped to be the next PM as Kida's cabinet slumps even further among a certain portion of the electorate. Escape from al of this would seem the best option. But autumn is beckoning so now may be the last time to visit one of several Citizen Forests — Tomin-no-mori — outside Tokyo, leaving the city behind for several days to experience the wild in mild weather.
Sep 21, 2022
09/20, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Typhoon Nanmadol batters the country and cripples travel throughout the region and wider country by rail and by air. Meanwhile, the National Film Archive of Japan celebrates 90 years of Toho Studios with the second part of a two-part season of films dedicated to the studio. From Sotoji Kimura's “Ongaku kigeki: horoyoi Jinsei” (1933) to Shiro Moritani's “Aka zu-kin chan, kiwotsukete” or Take Care Little Red Riding Hood (1970) suggests how the Toho Studio might of responded in later years to the changing cultural landscape, picturing the country’s mood, its sentiment, climate, even weather, expressing a cultural, generational and environmental change.
Sep 20, 2022
09/19, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Typhoon No.14 also known as ‘Nanmadol’ approaching the southwestern region of Kyushu made landfall yesterday, causing havoc with trains and planes throughout the region but also across Japan. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Kyushu-native Seicho Matsumoto (1909-1992), a mystery and suspense novelist well-known for his true crime dramatizations turned into extended television dramas from the 1960s onward. Upon his death, his Tokyo residence has transplanted to Kokura in Kyushu where he grew up and installed within the Matsumoto Seicho Memorial Museum.
Sep 19, 2022
09/16, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
JR Kyushu unveiled its new sightseeing train the Futatsuboshi 4047 which will run along the Nagasaki and Omiya lines in Kyushu. The service will start next week on the 23rd and also coincide with the opening of the West Kyushu Shinkansen Line. Meanwhile, artist Kazuna Taguchi also brings her exhibition “A Quiet Sun” at Ginza Maison Hermès Le Forum to a close, bringing life to dead images while scooping up references to other works, namely the Mnemosyne Atlas by the German historian and cultural theorist Aby Warburg. In the Renzo Piano designed Hermes gallery, her small photographic works ask a lingering question: What kind of images are produced by the setting sun?
Sep 16, 2022
09/15, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
As the Nikkei stock index plunged by almost 3 percent, and the yen fell to 145 against the U.S dollar, the wrestlers Mayu Shidochi and Nonoka Ozaki both claimed titles at the World Wrestling Championships in Belgrade. Less active but no less important, putting the world to rights over food and drink is the central reason for being at Stand Botefuri, a standing bar tachinomiya found in Tokyo's Jimbocho.
Sep 15, 2022
09/14, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Japanese government mulls removing the entry cap of 50,000 foreign tourists per day. And Wakayama Prefecture harvests 150,000 tonnes of mandarin oranges known for ripening fast in Tanabe City. Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan in Ikebukuro designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and Arata Endo in 1921 is also only one of two examples of Wright's work in Japan to completely retain its original appearance.
Sep 14, 2022
09/13, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
A portable tea ceremony takes place on Mt. Fuji marking the end of this summer's climbing season. In Mie prefecture, Maruyama's terraced rice fields hold 'Inekari-no-tsudoi', their annual get together for the first time in three years. Meanwhile, the filmmaker Masao Adachi plans to make a film centered around Tetsuya Yamagami, the man accused of killing the ex-Prime minister Shinzo Abe and release in time for Abe's state funeral on September 27th. Like Adachi's 1969 documentary AKA Serial Killer, this latest film will lean heavily on landscape: rural, urban, visual and political.
Sep 13, 2022
09/12, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Daily infections in Tokyo fall below 10,000 while Emperor Naruhito expresses his intention to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96 last Thursday. Prime Minister Kishida pays his condolences at the UK Embassy to Japan, while Katsuhiro Otomo expresses his love of writer Kido Okamoto (1872-1939) popular for his subtle style of introducing the 'other' into the background of Japanese literature and whose father worked as an interpreter for the Embassy's British Legation in Tokyo during the late 1800s.
Sep 12, 2022
09/09, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
As Pro-Russia Hacker group 'Killnet' attacks Japanese infrastructure and the number of permitted visitors into the Japan on any given day increased from 20,000 to 50,000, Onsen Confidential, an art festival with a difference, does its bit to boost the cooperative power of like-mindedness at home and abroad by kicking off the event with a one-day conference in the coastal resort of Atami, Shizuoka.
Sep 09, 2022
09/08, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
An office building collapses in Yamaguchi prefecture, trapping several people and injuring others. In Tokyo, the cost of the state funeral for the late Shinzo Abe is said to have swelled by six times its original figure. All of this as the price of fish has also gone up though this is due to rising inflation and the cost of gas and electricity. The chain restaurant Kura Sushi announced it would raise its cheapest dishes by 5 yen while reduce some of its more expensive lines by 55 yen in a move to manage costs and still retain loyal customers. All this happens as some fish are coming back into season following the relentless summer — from engawa to kohada, and amaebi to ikura.
Sep 08, 2022
09/07, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Russia withdraws from the reciprocal visa-free program for Japanese residents to the Northern Territories as a former Dentsu exec receives yet another warrant for his arrest following further claims of Olympic related bribery. Meanwhile, we briefly look at the writer Sanjugo Naoki (1891-1927) whose name lends the Naoki Prize its name and whose tomb is now found at Choshu-ji Temple, in Yokohama not far from Negishi Bay.
Sep 07, 2022
09/06, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
The 'Kitano Goryoe', a ceremony happens at the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto for the first time in 550 years. And in Shiga prefecture, Burume-no-Oka Brewery holds hop-picking sessions for its locally brewed beer. In Fukushima's Sukagawa Archive Center is holding yearly special-effects workshops with the hope of finding the next generation of SFX artists like the legendary effects artist Eiji Tsuburaya (1901-1970), the "Father of Tokusatsu" who co-created Godzilla, was responsible for Ultraman and whose hometown is also Sukagawa City.
Sep 06, 2022
09/05, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Typhoon Hinnamnor approaches Kyushu as Russia parades its military on the Northern Territories, islands near Hokkaido which Russia claims it owns calling them the Southern Kurils. And flooding in the Aomori city of Hirosaki has also devastated apple orchards there. But change is not limited to rural Japan. In Shibuya, the club Sound Museum Vision closed its doors this past weekend and Contact between Shibuya and Ebisu will also close later this month, all because of a project to redevelopment land in and around Shibuya Station, marking not only the changing face of Shibuya but also becoming the changing face of music culture in Tokyo.
Sep 05, 2022
09/02, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
With 2,000 pears stolen from a field in Shimotsuma, Ibaraki, and Japanese food company Meiji attacked by a ransomware virus in Singapore, the contemporary artist Taro Shinoda unexpectedly passed away at the age of 58. His installations, Kare-sansui, Abstraction of Confusion and Lunar Reflections, offered reflections of a series of phenomena from an artist concerned with now humans coexist with the natural world. Roppongi Art Night 2022 also considers who these two things might come together for three days later this month.
Sep 02, 2022
09/01, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, hope its new robot named Nyokkey will help compensate for labor shortages in the face of Japan's declining population. Japanese marine biologists managed to reach a record depth of 9,801 metres while studying the ocean floor. And in Iwate, the independent sake brewery Kiku-zakari, founded in 1894 and rebuilt following the 2011 earthquake, was named with a renewed sense of purpose in mind, determined to press ahead no matter what happens. Its two best brands of Junmai-shu sake, “Taxi Driver” and “Ya-kyoku”, look to Scorsese and folk songs for further inspiration.
Sep 01, 2022
08/31, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Typhoon Hinnamnor, the 11th typhoon this year, heads towards Okinawa with a band of low pressure stretching as far as Tohoku and Aomori in the north of Japan bringing the promise of heavy rain and possible flooding to the region. Meanwhile, we briefly look at the writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927) whose name lends the Akutagawa Prize its name and whose tomb is now found alongside his two sons at Jigan-ji Temple, a small residential cemetery in Sugamo, Tokyo.
Aug 31, 2022
08/30, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
As the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates and the Japanese currency falls to 138JPY against the US dollar in response, a police box in the town closest to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant reopens for the first time in more than 11 years. Futaba town is also welcoming back residents despite still being declared a difficult-to-return zone. In Tokyo, cinematographer Seizo Sengen is remembered in a season a films being screened at Cinema Vera in Shibuya, having worked on classics like "Sailor Suit and Machine Gun" by Shinji Somai and “Satusjin Yugi” (The Murder Game) also by Tōru Murakawa, featuring the late and great Yutaka Matsuda.
Aug 30, 2022
08/29, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Seven nuclear power reactors in Japan are potentially being restarted as new, next-generation power plants are also being considered to quell concerns over energy production in the country. Yet, bigger challenges exist in how best to manage waste from old power plants without the whole exercise becoming too costly. In Tokyo, there is no shortage of fiction. Both Junko Takase and Misumi Kubo, attended a press conference and prize-giving ceremony for this year's Akutagawa Prize and Naoki Prize for Japanese literature, Takase's short novel "Oishii Gohan ga Tabe-rare-masu-yo-ni” (To become able to eat delicious food) received the Akutagawa Prize and Kubo's short story collection "Yoru ni Hoshi o Hanatsu" (Releasing stars into the night sky) receiving the Naoki Prize.
Aug 29, 2022
08/26, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
In Yamanashi prefecture, Shine Muscat are being stolen from vineyards. So farmers there are looking towards drone technology and thermal imaging to thwart the perpetrator. And in Tokyo, photographer Osamu Kanemura pictures an urban landscape spinning out of control with his latest exhibition 'Sold Out Artist' at Cave-Ayumi Gallery. His uses video and sound not to reproduce a single image of the city but to trick the mind into thinking the city he sees is somewhere we might recognize, even remember. A playful proposition which, to paraphrase Ralf Hütter of Kraftwerk, is all about friendship and excitement — "we play with images [and] images play with us”.
Aug 26, 2022
08/25, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Travel restrictions are slowly being easing, at least in terms of how many tourists can enter each day. from the current 20,000, 50,000 are expected to be allowed in each day. Travel will still be limited to tour groups but unescorted, giving some freedom to people wanting to wander. And with these incremental changes comes the hope that tourism can benefit more quickly. In Otsu next to Lake Biwa in Shiga prefecture, 'Shisei-an' is busy preparing Funa-zushi for the new year. The fermented delicacy is made from carp, or ni-goro-buna, that come from the lake. The dish is said to ward off ailments, even boost the immune system.
Aug 25, 2022
08/24, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Amid rumors of bribe-taking sponsorship for last year's Olympic Games, hospitals fighting COVID-19 infection and a shortage of hospital beds and Ukrainians fleeing Russian invasion hoping to make Japan a permanent home, the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel, north of Tokyo in the city of Kasukabe in Saitama, helps protect the local area and bolster Tokyo's defenses from local rivers and the Edogawa from bursting their banks at a time of worsening climate change.
Aug 24, 2022
08/23, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Colliding cargo ships and tankers off the Wakayama coastline and new infections in the capitol holding steady around 25,000 offer an overview of current concern. But on Nakano-doru, just north of Shinjuku, plan-B, the alternative art space that may be the first of its kind in Japan, returns after several years in hibernation. Founded in 1982 by dancer Min Tanaka, the late Kazue Kobata and a group of others, the space “not owned by anyone, but managed by volunteers" has survived by asking one simple question: What is freedom?
Aug 23, 2022
08/22, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Fireballs are seen over the skies of Kanto Japan and the Hitoboshi fire-spinning festival spins wheat over the Nanmoku River for the first time in three years. Elsewhere, a memorial archive in Ikebukuro dedicated to the mystery novelist Edogawa Ranpo is open to the public. It is where he lived until his death in 1965, and the studio includes all of his writings and personal effects, shedding light on this important mystery novelist responsible for classics like 'D-zaka no satsujin jiken' (The Case of the Murder on D. Hill), about about a woman killed in the throws of a sadomasochistic affair, and 'Ningen isu' (The Human Chair) about a man who hides within a chair to feel the bodies seated on top.
Aug 22, 2022
08/19, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Kana Satomi aims to become the first female professional player of shogi, the Japanese board game of strategy and patience. 9 year-old Reo Fujita also turns pro but this time for Go, another board game of territorial possession and capture played throughout East Asia. In Niigata, the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2022 is currently underway having been delayed a year and features Ongoing Village based in Sansho House a 150 year-old wooden school found in the region's ‘satoyama’ — a zone bordering both mountain and farm land.
Aug 19, 2022
08/18, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
The Corpse flower, known for its foul smell, blooms for the first time in Niigata. In Tokyo, Digital Minister Kono Taro emulates Taiwan's own Digital Minister Audrey Tang by advocating for 'radical transparency' within government. But how will openness in government tackle borders into Japan that remain closed for most? With only 140,000 visitors admitted in recent months, the real challenge will be achieving an open border. Finally, the spirit horses made of cucumber and eggplant appear in households across the land, marking the end of the bon festival and the start of late Summer in Japan.
Aug 18, 2022
08/17, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
An off-duty policeman looses a file containing 400 names from an ongoing criminal investigation after some heavy drinking, while a warehouse fire rages on unabated in Ibaraki. With the end of summer in sight and the Ibaraki fire still blazing, we look at fashion designer Issey Miyake (1938-2022) who despite his image of glamour took inspiration from the subtly and precision of women like Japanese activist Fusae Ichikawa and Austrian born, British artist Lucie Rie.
Aug 17, 2022
08/16, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Japan remembers Shū-sen kinen-bi, the Day the country remembers the end of the second world war, while people return from the summer Obon holiday. And with nature and nostalgia in mind Studio Ghibli and its Ghibli Museum is emblematic of this time of year. The one film which essentially formed the studio is also equally concerned with our relationship with nature and technology and how we yearn for the past, no matter how painful.
Aug 16, 2022
08/15, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Heavy pressure: Typhoon Meari hit Tokyo over the weekend as the PM Kishida received a 4th vaccination, hinting at a broader programme of vaccination. And as one storm leaves, other enters. Amid resigning politicians, church scandals and psychic marketing, the Summer Sonic music festival readies its return with an international line up, only to then leave days later. In contrast, A store Robot in Harajuku is a shop's worth of music, art, and fashion in Tokyo that has been around for far longer than any music festival, weather front, politician or pandemic.
Aug 15, 2022
08/12, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Fire breaks out for the second time this year at Taisho period-built Tanga Market in Kitakyushu destroying many of its shops including the Kokura Showa-kan cinema. And while Prime Minster Kishida reshuffles his cabinet to escape mounting criticism at his handling of political ties to Korean religious group, there are even more calls for him further reopen the country's borders to foreign tourism. Events like the international art fair STILL ALIVE: Aichi Triennale 2022 in Nagoya aim to bridge the gap while the country remains difficult to enter for the great majority of people.
Aug 12, 2022
08/11, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Sunflowers at the Serakogen Farm near Hiroshima and in Kagoshima are in full bloom, showing support for Ukrainian nationals living in Japan. Meanwhile, Nagoya's Daijin, an izakaya in the city since 1907, and Ippachi Honten serving kishimen udon are hidden treasures amid this year's current Aichi Triennale and the World Cosplay Summit, both taking place in and around Nagoya's Aichi Arts Center.
Aug 11, 2022
08/10, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Watermelons are ritually split in Obanazawa while Chrysanthemum flowers in Itoshima City, Fukuoka are readied for the upcoming Bon festival. Meanwhile, works of ‘procedural architecture’ by the duo Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins explore ideas of life and possibility at the Aichi Arts Center for this year's Aichi Triennale in Nagoya. Their model for unbuilt project Bridge of Reversible Destiny from 1973-1989 is a rite of passage. And Reversible Destiny Lofts—Mitaka (In Memory of Helen Keller) from 2005, resonates with splitting fruit and floral tributes in the build up to Obon, a festival that bids one thing farewell, then welcomes something else in its place.
Aug 10, 2022
08/09, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
As the world's largest Buddha statue at Todai-ji in Nara is cleaned in readiness for the year ahead, the country remembers Nagasaki 77 years after the second ever atomic bomb used in aggression was dropped on the city. And after pioneering filmmaker Takahiko Iimura passed away last week aged 85, we take a brief look back at a film maker remembered not only for his abstract films but also for his association with groups like Fluxus and fellow artist Yoko Ono.
Aug 09, 2022
08/08, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Captive audiences: Chinese military training exercises near Taiwan run the risk of straying into Japanese territory with islands near Okinawa looking on with bemused, concerned expressions. On the other side of the country, Fujiyama Records has been in Tokyo's Sangenjyaya for almost 40 years. It's caught between several roads and looks out across several pedestrian crossings. It's here that die-hard musicians like Yukio Sato, or members of Non-Band, all play impromptu concerts to passing traffic and a small, assembled crowd of fans who are either going about their daily business and crossing the street or hovering to catch sight of something extraordinary.
Aug 08, 2022
08/05, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
As stormy waters gather near Kyushu, a group of marine students from the nearby National Fisheries University discover a rare Ryugu-no-tsukai, or giant Oarfish, then promptly eat it. In some small way devouring their rare find makes sense. As the national obon holiday approaches — a chance for families to remember past relatives — a rare find such as this connects the present with the past, people with the fathomless sea, treating an extraordinary sight as an everyday occurrence. At Chiba City's Museum of Art, “Summer Vacation at a Certain Museum” is just that; a museum caught between the everyday and the extraordinary, at a time that’s a little different from normal — a time for smaller, more special experiences. 
Aug 05, 2022
08/04, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Crashing thunder, heavy rainfall, and river's bursting banks, the summer exodus has finally begun. Nebuta is in full swing as has been reported several times this week. Yet, amid all these atmospherics, a political storm is brewing too, near the Senkaku islands, a stone's throw from Okinawa and the northern tip of Taiwan. Nancy Pelosi had visited the island in her capacity as Speaker and third in line to the U.S. President. It has sent Beijing officials into a tiswas of acrimony and threatens to spill over into Japanese waters. Perhaps amid the madness, the annual summer festivals sending off dead spirits to welcome in cooler months, some calm can be found in food and song, from the Japanese work songs of 'Soran Bushi' to food made at COOK DAN, a curry shop in Hachiobori by chef and rapper Raita Danjou, providing rhythm and beats that bind work, the environment and nature to cool the mind and ultimately dispel conflict.
Aug 04, 2022
08/03, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
With the Morioka Sansa Odori summer festival in Iwate prefecture taking place along with Sendai's Tanabata festival in Miyagi prefecture, traditions from both of these festival converge on this week's Aomori Nebuta, a festival of giant mobile lanterns in Aomori city committed to bidding old spirits farewell and ideas of "sleep" passed along 6 generations of Nebuta-shi craftsmen.
Aug 03, 2022
08/02, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
August the 6th this weekend marks 77 years since the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. To mark the occasion, the 1983 documentary "Tokyo Saiban" is being re-screened throughout Tokyo. Directed by Masaki Kobayashi, it was sourced from extensive film shot during the Tokyo Trials. However, this week also marks the beginning of the annual Obon holiday season along with Aomori's Nebuta festival, the first time in three years, all gearing up for the annual exodus to and from the capitol.
Aug 02, 2022
08/01, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
With old train stock on the JR Ube line in Yamaguchi revived amid a surge of new COVID-19 cases throughout the country, second-hand book stores nearest to stations remain a constant, dependable presence. Take Bohemian's Guild in Jimbocho for example, or Totodo in Shibuya. There is also Flotsam Books near Daitabashi station, SO BOOKS close to Yoyogi-Hachiman, Honk Books in between Kanamecho and Ikebukuro and Kongen Shobo near Ekoda on the Seibu-Ikebukuro line. After all, knowledge is power.
Aug 01, 2022
07/29, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
As a massive earthquake strikes the Philippines and Typhoon Songda blows itself out in the Philippine sea not far from Amami, Kyushu, and Okinawa, the second part of exhibition "Everywhere Gather Yourself Stand" continues at Yutaka Kikutake Gallery in Roppongi.
Jul 29, 2022
07/28, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Mie Prefecture is hit by lightning, setting one house ablaze, while economic trade with Indonesia reconvenes. All the while, Lavender Opener Chair and the co-run diner Tohmei, both in Tokyo's Arakawa, present the latest farmed produce from Yamagata, north of Tokyo, riding out both economic and atmospheric storms.
Jul 28, 2022
07/27, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
As monkeypox reaches Japan and a rouge band of nihon-zaru, wild Japanese macaque, patrol the streets of Yamagata, the Tō-ji Buddhist Temple in Kyoto, built in the late 700s, marks its 1,200 year anniversary with a mandala painted by the artist Miwa Komatsu, currently on show at the Taro Okamoto Museum of Art in Kawasaki.
Jul 27, 2022
07/26, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Sakurajima volcano blows on the island of Kyushu as independent cinema Iwanami Hall in Tokyo is days away from its final screening. Meanwhile, the National Film Archive of Japan celebrates 90 years of Toho Studios with “Yowa mushi chin-sen-gumi” (1938), “Kimi no namae wa” (2016), Ishirō Honda’s “Gojira” (1954) and Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” (1954) as well as “Nihon chin-botsu” (1973) based on Sakyo Komatsu's disaster novel Japan Sinks which pictures the country as it falls into the sea, beginning with an erupting volcano!
Jul 26, 2022
07/25, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Japanese composer and musician Seigen Ono engineered early records by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Yasuaki Shimizu. His first album 'Seigen' was released on the ambient label Music Interior in 1984 and has since worked with theatre and ballet companies around the world. Yet it was one of his first jobs on arriving in Tokyo from Fukushima that introduced him to film and cinema. This week sees the Japanese release of 'BOX III', a box set of remastered films by film director Wim Wenders, containing Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989), Until the End of the World (1992), Faraway, So Close! (1993), and Buena Vista Social Club (1999). The man responsible for mixing sound for each film: Seigen Ono!
Jul 25, 2022
07/22, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Consumer prices go up once more as Chinese naval vessels sail around the Amami Archipelago, just south of Kagoshima in southern Japan. Meanwhile, the exhibition “Everywhere Gather Yourself Stand” at SCAI PIRAMIDE in Roppongi, one part of a wider exhibition, presents differing personal histories through found objects, heirlooms, paintings and short film.
Jul 22, 2022
07/21, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
As Osaka experiences a record high of infections and Tokyo looks set to follow suit, the izakaya Bacchus in Ikebukuro takes refuge below ground, surrounding itself in English football memorabilia and local baseball.
Jul 21, 2022
07/20, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Tokyo announces that it will host the 2025 World Athletics Championships as Yuzuru Hanyu announces his retirement from competitive figure skating as he turns professional. Meanwhile, Intermediatheque in KITTE Marunouchi showcases a permanent exhibition of scientific & cultural heritage from the University of Tokyo alongside collections from around the country, collections of flora, fauna, archeological finds, even a skeleton from the world's largest crocodile.
Jul 20, 2022
07/19, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
While Sumo suffers a wardrobe malfunction, 23 year-old Abdul Hakim Sani Brown becomes the first Japanese athlete to reach the Men's 100m sprint final at the World Athletics Championships. And with the release of Hong Kong documentary "Blue Island" by Chan Tze Woon at Shibuya's Eurospace exploring protests both past and present, the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival which awarded Chan's first film the Shinsuke Ogawa Prize in 2017 screens a selection of documentaries on rural Japan this August in readiness for its next film festival in 2023.
Jul 19, 2022
07/18, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Last week Saxophonist Akira Sakata (76) performed at his old school in Hiroshima, the city of his birth and where he saw John Coltrane play in 1966. The encounter inspired him to study marine biology at University before moving to Tokyo, playing for the likes of Shuji Terayama, and much on, later played with Chris Cosey from Throbbing Gristle. His latest record is a recording from 1986 of him playing with legendary drummer Takeo Moriyama and was release earlier this year. It was mixed by Jim O’Rourke and mastered by Martin Siewert of Austrian band Radian.
Jul 18, 2022
07/15, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Amid the swelling cases of infection in Tokyo and the yen falling even further to a 24-year low, Kyoto's Gion Matsuri Festival roles into town on July 17th. Meanwhile, Reina Sugihara's "Frame," a solo exhibition of paintings at Misako & Rosen relays the painter's haptic sense of touch as Ryan Gander's "Killing Time" at Taro Nasu Gallery embraces their own uncertainty by hugging the life out of it.
Jul 15, 2022
07/14, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Aomori’s Northwestern Regional Prefectural Citizens Bureau is soliciting "dreams" from the general public, saying, “we'll make your dreams come true!” Meanwhile, jazz pianist Yosuke Yamashita reenacts a performance from 1969 along with the Yosuke Yamashita Trio from their impromptu performance at Waseda University during the height of the student movement. The event was the brainchild of writer Haruki Murakami, who famously owned his own jazz bar. And in Shinjuku, far from jazz and even further from Aomori, the Eagle Suntory Lounge exists to service the hopes and dreams of customers from its basement bar, away from the falling yen and risk of increased infection.
Jul 14, 2022
07/13, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Mt Fuji opens for the summer season to climbers and Aomori schoolchildren get ready for the annual Nebuta festival, both happening for the first time in almost 3 years. And while Kishio Kisho Kurokawa's iconic metabolist building the Nakagin Capsule Tower is almost gone, slowly demolished since last month, his other buildings in Tokyo suggest some of that spirit lives on in a different form.
Jul 13, 2022
07/12, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
The LDP consolidates its place in Japanese politics following last weekend's Upper House election, gaining enough of a majority within parliament to aim for constitutional reform. And later this month filmmaker Toshiaki Toyoda unveils his latest short film "Ikiteiru" (Alive) starring Kiyohiko Shibukawa. It's the latest part of his Ōkami series dedicated, in this age of Corona, to the Japanese wolf, an animal extinct since 1905 and worshipped during Cholera and Typhoid outbreaks in the late 19th century, and a film Toyoda hopes "questions the meaning of life in this day and age, a film overflowing with power."
Jul 12, 2022
07/11, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
For a country where political upheaval is unheard of, political violence is equally rare. Following the death of former PM Shinzo Abe, the mind turns to politician Inejirō Asanuma killed on the campaign trail in 1960 during a televised debate. And although unconnected, the Ikejiri-ohashi record store Omega Point near Shibuya stocks experimental, avant-garde music some of which stems from the same social, cultural period serving as a reminder; music to learn from.
Jul 11, 2022
07/08, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Corona infections surge with the latest strain of Omicron, BA.5. While a newly refurbished Fukushima Prefectural Library reopens just prior to this weekend's Upper House election, And Fumiaki Nagao at 4649 in Sugamo, and ACCUMULATIONS at Aoyama Meguro in Nakameguro both champion art on the fringes.
Jul 08, 2022
07/07, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Gangs are using Air Tags in Aichi to track the whereabouts of Police and three early paintings by Taro Okamoto have been unearthed in Paris by collectors. Meanwhile, Tokyo's infamous 'Kissaten' coffee houses like Nominoichi in Ikebukuro, the 'Jazz-kissa' DUG in Shinjuku and Rojina in Kunitachi are all places to avoid detection, rediscover the odd idea, or simply invent a new one.
Jul 07, 2022
07/06 Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
As Typhoon 'Aere' rips through Kyushu, Shikoku and the Tokai region, the Tanabata festival, known for its Super Moon, is due to appear between July 6th and 7th. While, Shinjuku's Thermae-Yu or Super Sento public bath is open 24 hours, 7 days a-week so you can avoid the strong winds, heavy rainfall, even celestial bodies as you tend to your own.
Jul 06, 2022
07/05, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Typhoon Aere approaches Kyushu as a team of researchers in the Beppu Bay Project close in on defining the Anthroposcene and the film OLD DAYS, winner of the Fukuoka Independent Film Festival 'Grand Prix' is released reliving the wild days of three fictional ex-bikers.
Jul 05, 2022
07/04, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Osaka's Grand Kabuki Summer Festival and Funanorikomi hits the Dotondori river this month. Meanwhile, live music continues the traditions of Osaka's Minamihorie district where the Socore Factory live house reimagines its warehouse roots, calling upon the latest in streaming culture to reach its audience, still hesitant to revisit live music in person.
Jul 04, 2022
07/01, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Some of Fukushima's Difficult-to-return zones reopen as daily COVID infections increase. Kogane-cho near Yokohama, home to Akira Kurosawa's film High and Low from 1963 and the fictional detective Hama-Mike from 1994, has experienced its own share of disasters, and is now home to the Koganecho Art Center community,
Jul 01, 2022
06/30, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Japan announce the 2023 G-7 Summit will be held in Hiroshima and Peach airline resumes international flights to other parts of Asia. And as Shibuya cleans up its act, Tokiwa-Shokudo in Sugamo continues to serve Sanpei-jiru and sake around the clock.
Jun 30, 2022
06/29, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Mask wearing is officially relaxed as the UK and Japan reaffirm their trade in produce from in and around Fukushima. Yet real hopes test with tourism, despite Tokyo Disneyland, for example, limiting its visitors. Closer to home, the As-Salaam Masjid mosque sits between the merchants and manufacturers of Okachimachi in Tokyo, and is topped with a Turkish dome made, incidentally, with the help of Tokyo Disneyland .
Jun 29, 2022
06/28, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Summer in the city starts with a vengeance as extreme heat sweeps across the country. And with the heat comes Nobi (Fires on the Plain) a 2015 film directed by Shinya Tsukamoto which plays again across the country to commemorate the 77th anniversary of war in the Pacific. A talk event and new book featuring the director press home the point that war, regardless of the generation it touches first, needs remembering.
Jun 28, 2022
06/27, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Enthusiasts and obsessives come in all shapes and sizes. Take tori-tetsu, a nationwide group dedicated to photographing trains. One small group in Tokyo have also arrested for stealing Lego. And then there is the age-old obsessive Mori Ogai who celebrates his 100 anniversary this year – a physician in the Imperial Japanese army who travelled to Germany and became one of the first to translate German literature into Japanese. And last but not least, David Bowie, who walked through Kyoto with photographer Masayoshi Sukita in 1980 who now happens to have an exhibition of pictures taken that day on display near Kyoto Station.
Jun 27, 2022
06/24, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Okinawa marks the 77th anniversary of the end of war in the Pacific while Japan's Kashiwa naval vessel arrives in London. Keijiban is a noticeboard gallery in Kanazawa city currently showing work by Katinka Bock and UK music label 4AD finally releases the Japan-only compilation "Pleasures & Treasures" available only from Tower Records.
Jun 24, 2022
06/23, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
More currency news as the JPY keeps falling against the USD and books are finally closed on last year's pandemic-delayed Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is places like Shou-chan in Shiinamachi that serve the best fish, making everything else going on in the world seem unimportant, if only for a few *very important* hours.
Jun 23, 2022
06/22, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
A bumper crop of strawberries from Tochigi is overshadowed by inflation, while NATO decides whether to accept Ukraine's application for membership, and a building by British architect Nigel Coates highlights the often tense and strange relationship between Russian and Ukraine embassies in Tokyo.
Jun 22, 2022
06/21, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Earthquakes hit Ishikawa as Action 4 Cinema in Tokyo strives to champion diversity in the Japanese film industry.
Jun 21, 2022
06/20, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Hybrid Economies: Toyota's EV technology and the upcoming Linear Shinkansen train line come under inspection, while nominees for this year's Akutagawa and Naoki Prize for Japanese literature are announced, each award dominated by a strong selection of female writers.
Jun 20, 2022
06/17, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Police tackle a suspect nailing straw dolls to a sacred tree and monitor the campaign trail for an upcoming election. All this alongside painting shows by Gerhard Richter at MOMAT, Ryuichiro Otake at Hagiwara Projects and Richard Aldrich at Misako & Rosen in Otsuka.
Jun 17, 2022
06/16, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
With reopening borders, the rules of etiquette for mask wearing here in Tokyo are best described as vague. Even advocates are having doubts. However, the clearest example often comes from eating out. Places like Oban-zushi in Kabukicho show that mask wearing is about keeping others comfortable, 'masking' the distance between people without drawing attention to it.
Jun 16, 2022
06/15, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
With a faltering start, the border open for some tourists but not without additional red tape. Meanwhile, an old apartment building home to Astro Boy's creator Osamu Tezuka has opened to celebrate his work, the work of others, as well as a quiet, suburban part of the city, post-pandemic.
Jun 15, 2022
06/14, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Cinemas and Summits: With the Asia Security Council having met last weekend we look at several independent cinemas in and around Tokyo that have been screening the latest films and documentaries from around Asia in Japan.
Jun 14, 2022
06/13, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Asteroids and Chirashi: As news of what the Hayabusa2 space probe found buried in an object floating out in space is revealed, a new book on Japanese Punk uncovers a counterculture found here on Earth.
Jun 13, 2022
06/10, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Alchemy, turning lead into gold, is where the future lives. Like the cost of domestic oil and gas, the price of Philippine Bananas has also gone up. And as unsuspecting Japanese holiday makers return home to find their gates missing and sold for scrap, the artist Mika Tajima considers the translation of an idea into diverse material, pondering what it means to be human.
Jun 10, 2022
06/09, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Well-known Chinese restaurant Heichinro calls it a day as FINGER IN THE SOUP, an artist-run diner in Tokyo's Kichijoji, revisits the experience of traveling abroad.
Jun 09, 2022
06/08, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
As challenging weathers descend upon Japan, and rural areas slowly come back emerge from lockdown, sustainability and recombinant fabric have come to describe the way old things are now being put to good use, meeting the challenge of an ever-changing landscape.
Jun 08, 2022
06/07, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
As infection rates slow down, attention turns to an economy desperate for foreign custom. Meanwhile, the wider region wrestles with new infections by protesting at signs of foreign alliances. Conversely, new Japanese films respond wearily to all this with their take on old sci-fi characters, a rediscovered classic from Tashio period cinema feels as relevant today as it ever did, and an old cinema house prepares to bid farewell with a documentary on walking, to reveal strange, unusual tales of a world to those who willingly travel on foot.
Jun 07, 2022
06/06, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
As Japan's border show signs of opening it still remains off-limits to the vast majority of potential visitors. We look at who is affected along with live music, all searching for ways to be "borderless" amid division.
Jun 06, 2022
Introducing NOTEBOOK, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Welcome to NOTEBOOK; a quick guide to art, culture, and tourism in Tokyo. Everyday around this time from Monday to Friday we will bring news and views from around Japan. It will be a list of personal interests, everything from music, to art, to books and the wider culture at play. And as the prospect of travel draws ever closer, we’ll also note changes at the border, at the airport, at the hotel, and at home, as and when they happen.
Jun 03, 2022