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Flood Control Kuumba Backside Main Event Fighter Mugshot Family Crest Kyoto Crows Rare Grooves Artists Taro Okamoto Pitpi Nitro Love Hotels Get Ya Weight Up Kazuo Umezz Hyper Media Tokyo G Ex Police Chief The High Life Ikebana

フランクワンファイブワンはフリーマガジンであってフリーペーパーではありません。

staff + contents photo Jonathan Savoie

CONTENTS


d i s t r o l e a g u e . c o m


Frank151 Staff Founding Publishers Publisher Creative Director Editor In Chief Managing Editor Art Director Guest Curator Far East Operations Directors Photo Editor Special Designer Header Design Digital Production Junior Designer Contributors

Translation Finance Manager Partnership Marketing Manager Industry Relations Distro League Management Japanese Ad Sales Online Creative Coordinator Chop Shop Director Office Manager Editorial Intern Advertising Inquiries Creative Submissions General Information

Mike and Stephen Malbon Chris Nagy Sir Frank Frank Green J. Nicely Carl Rauschenbach Dexta Pamphile Lyntaro Wajima, Takayuki Shibaki Craig Wetherby Daisuke Shiromoto Maaya (powder-rm.info) Abel Rugama Roos Levano, Nikita Jayasuriya, Diem Nguyen Rie Endo, Joe Glover, Takasuke Hoshina, Masaaki Iizuka, Eichi Kami, Shuhei Kaminaga, Kanamedia, Kahimi Karie, Norio Kato, Kaori Kobayashi, Rikki Kasso, Kazra, Hironobu Konno, Akihiro Koseki, Frank Lee, Tim Mcggur, Tomonori Mitsuo, Naoto Miyazaki, Haruhiko Murase, Makoto Nakajima, Mr. Nagakura from Savage, Yosuke Nakata, Daisuke Oguchi, Shin Okishima, David Perez Shadi, Tiffany Ito Rauschenbach, Ewan Reynolds, Peter Ryan, Jonathan Savoie, Jesse Sharer, sonarz, Wataru Takeshita, Shu Tajima, Tsushimi, Chez Whitey, Yasumasa Yonehara, Kentaro Yoshida, aabin Dan Y. Wever Dan Tochterman Domingo Neris Christian Alexander Daniel Girma, Keino Skeete, Yasef McClairen Reietsu Sasaki Victor Organic Mike Bolton Julia Dexter Josh Bock, Marie Dasaro, Liana Ponce advertising@frank151.com content@frank151.com info@frank151.com

FRANK is published quarterly by Frank151 Media Group LLC “Frank”, “Frank 151”, and “Frank151.com” are trademarks of Frank151 Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is strictly prohibited.


f l o o d

c o n t r o l

words + photos david perez shadi

If you’ve ever seen Akira you will instantly feel like you are heading into the bowels of Neo-Tokyo to meet up with Kaneda for a secret mission to save Tokyo. Fluorescent lit tunnels that seem to go on for miles, cavernous silos that fill up with water in emergencies -- it started out 12 years ago as the GCans Project, a series of tunnels and silos that are designed to deal with the overflow of water from the rainy season and typhoons.


Tunnel

Pitch Pressure Tank

Water Flow

Control Room Show Room

Silo 2 Silo 1

Silo 3

Silo 4

Silo 5

Pump Room

Edogawa River Descending 65 meters of stairs to enter the main holding tank, we entered a room the length of 2 football fields. Standing at the bottom I felt like a man at the base of something that was left by ancient architects that might have helped build the Pyramids. My intention of going there was to do a technical scout for a film I was shooting. The only problem was there was nowhere to get electricity from to power the lights. It was still wet from the previous storm a few weeks ago and another was on the way threatening our shoot. I couldn’t help imagining what it was like filled with water as I looked around. We took a short trip about 3 Kilometers away to one of the 5 water silos where water goes into from local waterways before it gets sent into the containment tank. It is a vertical tunnel that is 32m in diameter and 64m deep. We went down one of these silos by way of a construction elevator. Not the sturdiest thing I’ve ever been in. These silos hold water as well and are massive; they connect to tunnels in both direc-

tions. Strolling down one of the tunnels to check out the lighting and how far they went, I felt like walking into the Holland Tunnel of the end of the world. Dim fluorescent lights lined the walls as far as one could see with the feeling that something massive just passed thru there. The tunnels ferry the water from the 5 Silos to the main holding room. The whole system is powered by 14,000 horsepower turbines that pump 200 tons of water per second into the outlying Edogawa River before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. We came up with some great ideas to shoot in the tunnels and holding tanks, and it was going to be a challenge to put lights in this massive underground lair, but unfortunately the day before the shoot a big storm hit Tokyo and the G-Cans were forced to let in water for safety reasons. The water would take weeks to drain completely -- my shoot was canceled. Maybe next trip we can try to do it again, but for now I have to live with the photos I got.


k u u m b a interview tomonori mitsuo

The Kuumba incense factory resides silently without a sign in a small office/storefront between the Tokyo neighborhoods of Aoyama and Harajuku. There we interviewed one of the company’s founders about his history, philosophy, and life. FRANK151: Why did you start to make incense sticks? Kuumba: Because we smell. As you can see, because of the way we look, nobody would hire us, so we started our own business. It didn’t have to be incense, it could have been anything. Suddenly thirteen years have passed since we started. This is our calling. Making okou is our life.

us energy to live. Most people don’t care enough about the food they eat. McDonald’s is out of the question. You can eat foie gras or salmon roe and die from apoplexy. We make our own food here everyday. We make our own tsukemono in the middle of Harajuku! The most essential elements are fresh water, clean air, and healthy food.

F151: Is it true that you also run a catering business? K: We take cooking seriously as well. We never ever eat out. We never eat food that we don’t know where it came from or who made it. Food is the most valuable thing which gives

F151: Why is there a barber’s chair in your shop? K: Rasta is the name of our barbershop. It doesn’t make sense, but we think of our shop as a community. We don’t cut hair, but a barbershop is necessary for a community.

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People can chill out here while talking to their friends, like “I got infected disease and fell itchy after having a sex with that girl”. Then they buy their favorite fragrance of incense and ride their bike home. F151: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know? K: We are being allowed to live. You have to understand your life is an extension of thousands and millions of years of history. It’ll be a disgrace to your ancestors if you don’t live up to your life. The carpenters or the tofu makers who are true to themselves are okay. But what the fuck is I.T. or stock? They are too much for the world.

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We are tour guides who introduce people to the world of incense, we are the Samurai still living. We would travel forever until we feel uncomfortable. There are good days and bad days, but every day is special. One thing you should not forget is that love is the best spice. Nothing beats that.


ANNOUNCING

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b a c k s i d e words + photos rikki kasso

Island music is island music, but still, I am having a hard time realizing that the island of Japan is the home of a Reggae revolution. Believe it or not, Reggae music and Jamaican culture is wrapped up and packaged like sushi here in the streets of the TKO. From dreadlock extensions to Rasta colored shoelaces and reggae style bibles, there are many ways to be involved. One thing that is certain are the girls walking around in laced up thigh high boots representing their Jamaican brethren, shaking their asses harder than the Kobe earthquake. Having proven themselves in the homeland of jerk chicken and Marley joints, and even walking away with the Dancehall Queen title, the girls of Japan are shaking up a storm around the world. Check out www.oneandg.com to see what it’s all about.


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m a i n

e v e n t

words + photos david perez shadi

In July of 2005, I was invited to witness a fight in Tokyo. This was not just any fight, but a K-1 Hero’s Fight. At the time, I didn’t know anything about K-1 fights or any similar kinds of fighting in Japan. The only kinds of fighting I had ever seen were Mike Tyson style fights and street fights. K-1 fighting is a combination of many stand-up fighting styles such as Karate, Kung-Fu, Kickboxing, etc. Now, if you’ve ever seen a New York City beat down, you should know exactly what a K-1 fight is like.


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The fight I was going to see was Norifumi “KID” Yamamoto versus Ian Schaffa, a fighter from Australia. KID is a small man with one huge reputation. Born on March 15, 1977, he began his career as an amateur wrestler at the age of 21. At 28, he has already won six of seven Proto Shoot matches (4 KOs), and since 2004 he has won four of six K-1 fights. He won all three Hero fights since 2005 (3 KOs) and on New Year’s Eve he achieved the first Hero’s Middle Weight Championship Belt in a K-1 Premium Dynamite Fight. In addition to this, he has the Killer Bee’s Gym, his own clothing line, and has modeled for W-Taps, Dickies, and Burton. Just one day after the fight, I went into a popular woman’s store to buy a gift for my girl. When I simply mentioned to the sales lady that I had seen the KID fight the night before, every girl in the store stopped what they were doing and was eager to hear about my adventure. Mind you, I went to this fight expecting to receive a ticket, sit down, and watch a couple of guys punch each other. To my surprise, I was met at the gate, led down a long hall, and was walked into the belly of the beast, KID’s locker room. Suddenly, and without any introduction, I was surrounded by some of the toughest Asian men I have ever seen, guys that looked like they could break down doors with their heads. I was in the midst of the Killer Bee team, a mix of veteran fighters and up-and-comers. The mood in the locker room was serious, so serious that I thought I might get a pre-fight beating just for taking pictures.


As the second to last fight began to wrap up, I figured that I should get to my seat and watch KID’s fight. Yet, as the entourage made its way down to the stage entrance, I was pulled along with them into the ring. The fighting began and KID and Schaffa got down to business right away. Within the first round, KID had already been hit by his opponent three times in the groin. The fight had almost come to end earlier than expected. Instead, KID relieved his anger at the fouls with a series of direct hits that brought Schaffa to the floor. Once on the floor, Schaffa remained there for the rest of the round. This must have seemed like hours for the defeated Australian. When these guys go down, the fight isn’t necessarily over and it only gets uglier. I was on the edge of the other side of the ring, my camera on the mat, and still, I could feel the punches to the face. KID was a pile driver of punches into Schaffa’s face and I had this queasy feeling in my gut as if someone was about to die. I have only felt this way one other time, when I was 18-years-old and witnessed a late night club beating. Four guys got into it with another and left him on the street to die. Shadi would like to thank Tim Mcgurr for making this story possible. Shadinyc.com

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f i g h t e r

m u g s h o t

Photos Courtesy of K-1 , pride, smart, ihara gym

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How many people in the world are aware of the martial arts frenzy that is taking place in Japan at this moment? Japan is probably the only country in the world that can gather a crowd of 90,000 for a martial arts tournament. For this issue, with the help of Ewan Reynolds, we have assembled mugshots of some the fiercest, most formidable fighters that represent the Playford VS. Team in Tokyo. If you catch one of these guys talking to your girl at the bar, your best bet is to let it slide, or curl up into a little ball and ride out the beating until the cops arrive or you pass out, which ever comes first. www.playford.jp


Musashi-Japan-Karate

Francois Botha-South Africa-Boxing

Kozo Takeda-Japan-Kick Boxing

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Peter Aerts-Holland-Kick Boxing

Kaoklai Kaennorsing-Thailand-Muay Thai

Mighty MO-USA-Boxing


Ray Sefo-New Zealand-Boxing

Earnesto Hoost-Holland-Kick Boxing

Takanori Gomi-Japan-Wrestring

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira-Brazil-Jiu Jitsu

BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE PLAYFORD VS TEAM photo jfkk direction playford design g13 / tanasex

Semmy Schilt-Holland-Total Fighting


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f a m i l y

c r e s t

words marie dasaro

Have you ever seen family crests on formal kimonos worn during funeral ceremonies or weddings? You may have seen them while watching a period play. A samurai decorates his kimonos, swords, house, and other belongings with his family crest. The traditional Japanese family crests are black and white patterns featuring a variety of motifs. Such motifs include plants, birds, animals, and other characters. Frank151 researched six famous Japanese family crests and discovered the history of each clan chief and stories from old Japanese history.


During the golden period of Japanese heraldry and as early as the Nara period (710 - 786), a beautiful butterfly pattern was favored amongst many warlords and their samurai. This family crest was used by Taira no Kiyomori (1118 - 1181), a general of the late Heian period of Japan. He is famous for establishing the first samurai-dominated administrative government in Japanese history. Taira no Kiyomori

Nobunaga Oda

This family crest was used by the most powerful and impressive Shogun during the warrior period, Nobunaga Oda. The design was inspired by the cut ends of cucumber, pumpkin, and melon. Nobunaga Oda (1534 - 1582) was a major daimyo during the Japanese warrior period. His revolutionary innovations altered the way war was fought in Japan and gave birth to one of the most modernized forces in the world at the time. Nobunaga developed and extended the use of long pikes, firearms, ironclad ships, and castle fortifications in order to accommodate the expansion of mass battles. Powerful and brilliant, he was also a sharp businessman, perceptive to the principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics. In recorded history, Nobunaga is amongst the first of the Japanese people to wear European style clothing.

This design came from the Chinese bellflower, and the family crest dates back to the famous daimyo Mitsuhide Akechi (1528 - 1582). Mitsuhide was a samurai who lived during the warrior period. He was a general under Nobunaga Oda, although he later betrayed Nobunaga and forced him to commit suicide. Mitsuhide Akechi

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This symbol is the crest of Shogun Hideyoshi Toyotomi and his family, and was once used exclusively by the Imperial Family. Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1536 - 1598) was a warrior daimyo who had brought unity to Japan. A successor to his former master, Nobunaga Oda, Toyotomi brought an end to the warrior period. He was well known for invading Korea and for a number of cultural legacies, including the restriction of bearing arms to anyone who is not a member of the samurai class. The period of Toyotomi’s rule is often referred to as the Momoyama period, and is named after the castle in which he reigned.

This design is a sparrow in the bamboo. The family crest was used by the Shogun Date Masamune. Nicknamed “The One-Eyed Dragon”, Date Masamune (1567 - 1636) is remembered as a distinguished daimyo of his time. While suffering a smallpox infection as a child, Masamune had a fit and pulled out his eye. His own mother declared him unsuitable to take over the clan as leader, and instead, began to favor his brother. She tried to poison Masamune and in his rise to power, he killed his brother. Masamune was a supporter of the arts and sympathetic towards foreign causes, but he was most remembered as one of the most domineering and determined daimyos of all time.

This family crest is one of the most famous and is well known as the crest of Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543 - 1616). This design based on three hollyhock leaves was formerly the crest for the Kamo Shinto Shrine. Ieyasu Tokugawa was the founder of the Tokugawa Bakuhu of Japan, which ruled from 1600 to 1868. In 1603, he was appointed Shogun by the Emperor. Having established his government in Edo (Tokyo), the period of Ieyasu’s rule is often referred to as the Edo period. For over a remarkable 250 years, the Tokugawa shoguns continued to rule Japan.

Hideyoshi Toyotomi

Date Masamune

Ieyasu Tokugawa


k y o t

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photos joe glover


c r o w s words liana ponce photos sir frank

It is thought the problem really started in 1994 when the Tokyo Metropolitan Government pushed the use of clear garbage bags because they are more environmentally friendly. So friendly apparently that Tokyo’s crows couldn’t get enough of them. The birds could see right through the bags and feast on last night’s leftovers. This influx of food helped them reproduce, creating the crow infestation. By 2001 the city was home to almost 37,000 birds, compared to 7,000 in 1985. In the campaign launched against the birds, the government pushed the use of anti-bird nets for use over garbage, garbage collection at night, and the all out capturing and execution of birds. While they showed some success, these methods left much to be desired. Translucence might ultimately lead to a human victory over the winged menace. After a series of crow tests, a yellow kind of semi-transparent trash bag was developed. The pigment is such that humans can make out the contents but not the crows. These combined efforts reduced the crow population to 20,000 by 2004, but the battle continues.


r a r e

g r o o v e s

photos jonathan savoie

As a recognized pioneer, Muro has consistently been at the forefront of Japanese Hip Hop culture. From teaming up with DJ Krush as a member of Krush Posse, to fronting his own group Microphone Pager, to his current career as a solo artist and entrepreneur, Muro has always been a prolific collector of rare groves. One look at his record collection is proof that Muro is Japan’s King of Diggin’. For Frank151’s Far Eastern Conference issue he took a break from his busy schedule of running Savage, his retail store, and Incredible, his apparel/music label, to open up his vault and share some of his favorite Japanese records; albums that are not only superb pieces of artwork, but that have also influenced him musically. Keep diggin’...

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Shogun Assassin

The Gorilla 7

Hitler Rap

Tumblin’Dice

Wild Style

Dance Frankenstein


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Moeru Toukon

The Inugami Clan

Seibu Keisatsu

Baseball Jankie’s Poem

The Roard to Munich

The Funky Bureau


Listen Kurosawa

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

The Breaks

Soundtrack of Birdie Oppo

High & Low movie soundtrack

Sukiyaki


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Super Gun

Marchin On

One

Rhythm Heritage

Funk Party

Don’t Forget To My Men


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a r t i s t s ryusuke eda AK51 sense zY $ wanto rei mosgtdestroy™


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r y u s u k e

e d a

Eda has been a creative force since founding the BAL brand at the age of 22. He has participated in art shows, held solo exhibitions, contributed his work to magazines, controlled visuals of the Fivemanarmy label/brand, FAR, and has also worked with New York artist EASE on the BAL collaboration label Ease Exclusive.


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A K 5 1 While Kouichi Akiyama was a student at Kuwasawa Design Laboratory his artwork caught the eyes of esteemed photographer/graphic artist Mote Sinabel, helping to jumpstart his career in advertising and as an album cover artist. In 2000 he was a crucial component to the successful rise of the apparel brand/design studio Sonarproject. Currently Akiyama is launching a new project called Others, which will cover everything from music to t-shirt graphics.


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s e n s e After careers as a snow boarder, track maker, and a guitarist, Sense held his first solo exhibition in 2002, launching his career as an artist. With live painting and art writing as his basis, he became widely known to the world for his works of art in advertising, murals, illustration, clothing design, and album cover art.


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Z Y $ SHINJITSU-WA-YAMINONAKA. TOO MUCH PAIN TOO MUCH GAIN. drawamok TOK¥O. DE$TRO¥ ALL MONSTER. DOUBLE ACTION MOMENTS. DIME HUNTER. SKILL FUCKER.TNF.OWN. ¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥ ¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥ ¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥ ¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥ ¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥ ¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥ ¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥ ¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥


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w a n t o Hmm, what should I do today? Maybe have a Big Mac and a coffee, I only have 350 yen, maybe Yoshinoya? Now that I’ve had breakfast, maybe I’ll walk around Shibuya. There is nothing new to see around here. Hey, that spot looks pretty cool -- it’s mine now! No time to waste on sleeping. I love you Tokyo, the city of tagging.


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r e i Rei has continued to travel and snowboard in and outside the country since 1992. He formed Normalization in 1999 and has contributed to many events as a live painter. He believes “A painter should exist as a territory, just as the cultures of skaters, rappers, and surfers.� Rei will continue his quest to spread the importance of being creative.


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Art

m o s g t d e s t r o y ™ At the age of 20, mosgtdestroy was accepted to the department of Hip Hop at Osaka Mode Gakuen (academy). There he wrote lyrics on his own, but also discovered his inability to rhyme. Upon graduating he remained a resident of the Hip Hop department. At this time, he discovered designing on the Mac and “Wild Style”, became “baptized” by Graffiti art and aspired to become an MC and a pseudodesigner. At first, he worked mainly in the Kinki area of Japan as a poster bomber. In order to “bomb” larger posters, mosgtdestroy started his own production company, Panzer Inc.


t a r o

o k a m o t o words jay escobara photos wataru takeshita

In the era where Japan’s economy was growing and the country was a quarter century fresh into global expansion, a bright explosion onto Japan’s art scene occurred. Taro Okamoto (1911 - 1996) entered a creative period that engaged passionately in avant-garde / surreal art. Initially inspired and trained by Picasso, Mr. Okamoto traveled to Paris, where he honed his craft and became more aware of his cognitive sensibilities outside of the arts. Simultaneously, Japan was struggling to adapt to its new culture and environments as a modern country. Many artists were marginalized into a social status above middle class and below royalty. Taro, however, disassociated himself from those constraining ideas and encouraged fresher ones. His work caught the attention of a variety of notable players on the scene, including Japan’s Nika Kai - a group of anti-main-

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stream artists. He wanted to use art to challenge the popular notions of the time by establishing the idea of new emerging traditions. In the 1940s, he was sent off to China to fight and returned to find his works had been raided and burned. It was at this point that some believe Okamoto embarked upon a new train of thought, which would bring about his greatest works, quickly defining Japan as an icon of artistic intelligence. Postwar Japan witnessed many hardcore movements that would bring about new levels of artistic expression that hadn’t previously been displayed in Japan. These movements are called Han Geijutsu. Taro Okamoto stood at the helm of this movement, which reviled artists whom were believed to create art to satisfy Gaijin (foreign) sensibilities. Many saw Okamoto’s art


as confrontational and rebellious, yet it did more than that… it EXPLODED! “Art is explosion,” described Mr. Okamoto in a depiction of his polarism painting method. This quote became a national saying made synonymous with the artist. During the post-war re-building of Japan, Taro Okamoto expounded his “poly-sci” views in the form of published journals through Yoru No Kai (publisher). From these journals came many important essays, such as “Heavy Industry”; “Law of the Jungle”; “Thought on Jomon Earthenware”; and most popular, “Today’s Art”. In “Today’s Art” Okamoto states that in order for Japan as a culture to continue and survive, Japan must circumcise the old parts and forge new ones, as if being reborn. In light of the frail state of ANPO (US/Japan treaty), many young Japanese artists answered Okamoto’s direct call to action. Groups such as Hi Red Center, Shigeko Kubota (famous for vagina paintings), and Kyushu Ha exhibited raw art made up of passionate anarchism intending to “destroy everything with monstrous energy.” This same energy allowed Taro Okamoto to separate the masses from the art through a new tradition. These works established a profound restoration of art in Japan. He was featured as the key producer/artist at the $10 billion 1970 World Expo in Osaka, along with architect Kenzo Tangei. It is there where the world famous “Tower of the Sun” resides. Taro Okamoto is a pillar of Japan’s youth culture, as Andy Warhol is to American pop culture. Many artists today admit to adopting his creative passion in order to make their form of Japanese art special and chime with a rhythmic profundity that resonates strongly among the Japanese.


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b i r t h

o f

t h e

c o o l s

interview lyntaro wajima photos courtesy of pitpi mizuguchi

“It used to be so hard to make a film or a TV show, or to create moving images by ourselves because we didn’t have the ability to do that in Japan. Everything we’d find around us was imported from America,” says Harayuki “Pitpi” Mizuguchi when speaking about the state of Japanese culture when he was a youth. In the 1970s when hippie style dominated Japanese fashion, a rebellious young Pitpi could be found on the streets of Harajuku dressed in a tight leather jacket, hair slicked back, and a comb sticking out of the back pocket of his jeans. It was there that he met his fellow COOLS, an encounter which would later help launch his acting career, leading him to work and form a friendship with Shintaro Katsu, an internationally acclaimed actor/director who is remembered as much for his influential work as his frequent troubles with the law for illegal possession of marijuana and other drugs. Pitpi Mizuguchi sat down with Frank151 to share some of his memories of 1970s Tokyo, and how the COOLS sent out cultural shockwaves that would set trends shaping generations to come.


FRANK151: Where does the nickname “Pitpi” come from? Pitpi: It goes way back to a time before COOLS was made. I was about 20-years-old and working in a denim shop next to what was called the Roa Building. A lot of people would hang out in the shop. One of my co-workers went to Los Angeles on vacation and ended up hanging out with some Hells Angels. There was one member named Pitpi, the way I carried myself was so similar to him that my co-worker started calling me “Pitpi”. That’s how I got my name. F151: What made you get into Rock & Roll and riding a motorcycle? P: My father was 27-years-old when I was born. There is a picture of me with him when I was about 2-yearsold. He is wearing a white suit and tie, a contrasting black shirt, his hair slicked

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back, and a hat tilted to one side. He was holding me in his arms and I was wearing a shirt, a two-piece tweed suit, a hat, argyle socks, and a pair of leather shoes. It was my father’s style that I grew up with and I feel like that’s how I started getting myself into Rock & Roll. That’s where my style comes from. F151: Will you tell me about how the COOLS began? P: COOLS was united on Friday the 13th of December 1975. Even though we all hung out together many times before, it was that day that we started working together as a group. At a restaurant in Aoyama, we made a pledge to be COOLS. Each member wore a black leather jacket, their hair slicked back, and we all rode a black motorcycle. One member read the pledge which Hiroshi Tachi prepared.


We all agreed and cut the tips of our right hand middle fingers, and then signed the pledge in blood. It wasn’t like we were being filmed or anything special, but we were enjoying it and liked that kind of stuff. We decided to limit the number of COOLS to 22 members because Hiroshi Tachi was on a rugby team, which consists of 22 team players including bench warmers.

Since that day, people from the record company kept coming to Leon café to look for us. They’d ask, “Do you want to make a record with us?” Those people, especially Sasaki of King Record, came everyday with great enthusiasm for making a deal with us. Eventually we signed a deal with King Record that year and that’s how we started off in the music industry.

F151: Tell me where you guys used to hang out together. P: In the day, it was at the cafés Leon or Lope in Harajuku and also Grass. We would go to a pub called Cardinal in Roppongi and party through the night at disco clubs like Biburosu or Mugen in Akasaka and end up eating at a restaurant called Sara in Aoyama and then go home. That was kind of how we’d always hang out.

Around that time, COOLS member Kouichi Iwaki started working as an actor and it somehow was the turning point for all of our careers.

It used to be that most places had their own style and uniqueness, and now it’s more like you can get into any place or club if you just have money. Back then they would just turn their back on people, and if there were young kids they would joke around and say “come back later when you are old enough.” That would make us want to be cool dudes, so my buddies and I could hang out at those places. F151: So how did you guys get into music? P: In the beginning COOLS would always hang out together in the streets and sometimes go design some clothing. Music was not a part of our lifestyle. Then on April 13, 1975 Carol performed their last live concert in Hibiya Yagai Ongakudou, they asked COOLS to come in as bouncers, so we did.

F151: How did you meet actor Shintaro Katsu? P: COOLS member Hiroshi Tachi decided to leave the group behind and go on as a Rockabilly artist. I also decided to leave on January 1, 1980 and then came to New York. By the time I left COOLS, I was kind of losing interest in music and Mr. Katsu had told me one day that he wanted to meet me. So I went to see him in Roppongi. When I got there, he kindly asked me to have a seat. He was lying down on the floor and keeping himself quiet for a couple of minutes, he didn’t drop a single word. I didn’t know what was going on and it felt like such a long period of time that he didn’t say anything to me, even though it was only for a couple of minutes. A short while later he broke the silence and said, “You have a sense of humor. Are you interested in acting?” So I said, “I’m always like this, just pretending to be cool.” He put me in his Jaguar as if he was kidnapping me and brought me to an agent for a screen


test. After that, he changed his car to a Rolls-Royce and we headed to get some drinks in Ginza. That was the very fist day I hung out with him and it was such a memorable experience. He gave me a part to play in Keishi K (Inspector K), a one-hour long TV drama series. It was more of impromptu acting, so if I literally read my line from the script, he would cut me off and he’d say, “All you need to do is just respond to what I say. Just like what you always do in your real life.” I remember when we were shooting at the Haneda Airport, actor Yoshio Harada was there for a guest appearance and there were a great number of people working on the shoot. Mr. Katsu and I had been drinking until morning of that day, so I dropped him off at his agent’s to get some sleep before shooting. I went back later to pick him up, but he didn’t show up. Four or five hours later, he rolled up in his RollsRoyce looked up to the sky and said, “it’s a bit cloudy,” and just drove back home. That’s just how he was, and everybody who worked with Shintaro Katsu liked him just as who he was. I hadn’t seen him for awhile since the series, but one day I saw him on TV talking to the press that his company declared bankruptcy, in debt over 2 billion yen. In a very serious matter he said, “I am going to pay off all of the debts at any cost.” I went up to him as soon as I saw him on TV. It had been awhile, but as usual, he was just being himself as if we just met yesterday. I was getting all upset and worried about the situation say-

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ing ”You got to come up with some solution instead of just acting like nothing happened.” He just laughed and asked, “Was it good how I carried myself at the press conference? Was it what people wanted me to say at that moment, just like lines from the script in a movie? Just to let you know, the money I spent for the drinks we had together was included in that 2 billion.” It was always about acting and he was living his life as if in an imaginary movie. When he held a press conference after temporary release from his cancer treatment in a hospital, he was wearing a black suit and shirt with a red tie. In his mind, he would constantly portray himself as an actor and in a very objective point of view. He was always conscious of reminding his audience and the world that every once in a while, it is necessary to look at yourself from a different perspective. He helped and taught me a lot. We can replace a President, but we cannot replace Shintaro Katsu. Nowadays, it seems that there is no one like him and it is boring. Even now I can’t help myself; I get tears in my eyes when I visit his grave. F151: Lastly, what is your definition of being cool? P: Once, there was an interview with James Dean and he said “Everything I say is cool.” In other words, it’s about how you live your life, your lifestyle, and I think this is what we made a pledge for.


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n i t r o

m i c r o p h o n e u n d e r g r o u n d

photos courtesy of nitro microphone underground


Frank151: Nitro Microphone Underground is a unique name for a group. How did you come up with it? Nitro Microphone Underground: There are a couple theories, but none are glamorous enough to talk about. F151: Which American Hip Hop artists have influenced your style? We know you have worked with U-God from Wu Tang as well as Warren G but what other International hip hop artists have you worked with or would you like to work with? NMU: There are a lot of artists that I like, but I don’t know about being influenced. The members of the group have a lot of artist they would like to work with. S-Word cites Just Blaze, Rashaad Smith, Christina Milian, Wayne Wonder and Rodefynes. Dabo cites Buck Wild. Gore-Tex cites Diamond D and Large Professor. Suiken cites Spinna. Big-Z cites Sugafree. F151: What type of music do you listen to? If we were to look in your CD player right now, what would we find? NMU: I usually listen to pretty much anything, but I probably listen to Hip Hop and R&B the most. I’ve got Biggie’s The Final Chapter, Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace, Damian Marley, Lil Wayne and, Black Coffeez in my car stereo at the moment. F151: What is next for Japanese Hip Hop? Do you think it has a chance to be embraced by an international audience the way American Hip Hop has been? NMU: I still think Nitro is going to dominate. We have a good chance at making it in Asia, but there’s still

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the boundary of language. I think the tracks are getting better. There are a lot of Japanese track makers that could make tracks for the American scene right now. F151: There is a feeling in the U.S. amongst many hip hop fans that the genre has become too commercial. Are there similar problems in Japan? Do you see this as a problem with U.S. Hip Hop? NMU: It’s even worse in Japan, but I don’t think it’s a problem. It’s like a fad among the listeners. I think fads always reflect the time of the era. F151: I know a lot of Nitro crew wear iced out chains. Do you get them custom made in Japan? NMU: I order mine from a friend who has a cool black diamond jewelry brand called Core Jewels. F151: I have seen some of Phase 2’s work in Nitro books, albums, and even advertisements. How did you end up working with a true graffiti legend like Phase 2? NMU: I don’t know how, but NITRO is on a streak of miracles! I think it’s amazing too. I think other people are starting to understand the interesting aspect of working with us. F151: Do you have any shout outs or anything else to add? NMU: Music is the international language. I think Japanese Hip Hop is going to evolve even more in the future. Japanese Hip-Hop will soon be spreading out to Asia, and in the near future Japanese track makers will definitely be making tracks for American artists.


l o v e

h o t e l s

words frank lee photos sir frank + kyu asaba

In the USA a hotel that rents rooms by the hour is always considered to be a crack shack or where you would take a prostitute for a quick sexual favor. Well that’s not always the case in Tokyo, there they are known as “love hotels”. They are perfect for you and your sweetie to rest up or get your love on. It’s a great experience for a couple who wants to spice up their l o v e h o t e l sex life as the rooms are all different themes. The couple walks in the photos sir frank

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lobby and ponders over a wall of fancy rooms, some with heart shaped beds that vibrate, others with Jacuzzi’s, S&M rooms, and even a schoolgirl locker room. Basically there is a room for every fantasy, sort of like the Disney World of sex. So if you’re up for it stop by the local AM/PM get your Okamoto condoms, ginseng, snacks, plenty of liquids, and you’re all good for a nice “rest”.


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g e t

y a

w e i g h t

u p

words daisuke shiromoto photos sir frank Big-O is a creative juggernaut. Since debuting as an MC with Shakkazombie in 1994, he has released multiple albums with the group and as a solo artist. Numerous guest appearances with other artists have earned him the nickname “the Featuring King�. Outside of music Big-O and fellow Shakkazombie member Ignition Man started the clothing brand Swagger, leading them to collaborate with brands such as North Face, Timberland, and Levi’s. For the Far Eastern Conference issue Big-O took time out of his hectic schedule to show Frank how he gets his snack on when its munch time.

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Karamucyo

Karl

Potato Chips

Hot Chile Flavor

Chijimi

French Onion Soup

Tohito

Dontaccos

Potato Chips

Caramel Corn

Mexican Chile

Garlic Flavor

Kakinotane

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Pumpkin Seeds

Karl

O’zack

Cheese Flavor

Yamafuji’s Yakitori


Suppa Mu-chyo

Karl

Potato Chips

Salt & Vinegar

Chicken Flavor

Fried Chicken Boy

Takoyaki Tei

Pari-Pari Variation

Potato Chips

Octopus Dumpling

Shrimp & Mayo

Seaweed Flakes with Salt

O’zack

Sapporo Potato

Sauce Croquette

Japanese Curry Rice

BBQ Flavor

Patato Croquette


Tongari Corn

Umeshiba

Mildly Salted

Pickeled Plum

Chelsea

Pretz

Jagarico

Green Tea Milk

Salad Flavor

Salad Flavor

Koara no march

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Chips Star Mild Salt, Chile Hot Consome, Chile BBQ

Chocolate

Takenokonosato Chocolate

Gum Green Gum, Cool Mint, Plum, Black Black


Comic title: Senrei


k a z u o

u m e z z

Š kazuo umezz - shogakukan cartoons courtesy of kazuo umezz

Kazuo Umezz is one of the greatest cartoonists in Japan. Famous for his horror comics, his works have been translated and adapted into numerous animated movies and television series. His ingenious vision of the world can be found in graphic novels that are beyond the scale of a mere cartoon, their magnitude is an infinite universe unto itself.


Comic title: kami no hidarite akuma no migite


Comic title: The drifting classroom


Comic title: My name is shingo


h y p e r words chez whitey photo sir frank

m e d i a

Takashiro Tsuyoshi is often hailed as the godfather of hyper media creators. Always ahead of the curve, 20 years ago he could be found walking around with a desktop Macintosh SE 30 strapped to his back. His career was launched in 1987 upon winning the Tokyo International Video Biennale Grand Prix, leading him to work as a director of numerous music videos and commercials. His extensive resume includes work for Sony as a creative director, designer for the AIBO robotic


dog’s communication strategy, video game producer, and producer of the super rare promotional Louis Vuitton Takashi Murakami collaboration DVD Superflat Monogram. Working on literally thousands of projects every year it is said Takashiro only sleeps three-hours every night in order to accommodate his busy schedule. Currently he is President of his own multi-media production company, Future Pirates Inc.

In celebration of the release of his DVD Hyper Rainbow, for which he served as the Producer, Music Supervisor, VJ, and CG Animator, Takashiro created ten special limited edition DVD cases which contain a Special Made LCD Monitor and Media Player containing the entire movie.


photo Yoneda Kio (avgvst) make-up Kaori (avgvst) post Hil (weekend pussy) direction Peter Ryan (avgvst)


t o k y o

G

interview dexta pamphilewords hinobu konno Matsushima as Nakamura Nakazo as the Farmer Tsuchizo, actually Prince Koretaka

FRANK151: Tell us about your experiences so far. Matsu: When I was a young, I belonged to Bousouzoku and then I became a member of a gang. I was involved with so many bad things at that time; I was so bad that I was kicked out of the gang. Then when I was eighteen years old, I became a drug dealer. Now, I am a Reggae DJ. F151: Why did you become a Reggae DJ? M: First, actually I was a rapper because I wanted to be popular. I am good at convincing people by my skillful talk whenever I am arguing with somebody, so I thought that could be one of my skills for being a rapper. I now know that it is better for me to be a Reggae DJ than being a rapper because I can sing my true life as I like. My lyrics are about real life and my experiences on the street. That is easy for people to understand. I think music is the way to tell people what I think, so I do not sing about such ridiculous things as just enjoying the music or smoking weed. In today’s Reggae scene, most artists just focus on making money and the scene itself has become broken down. They think that it is all good for them to just appear on TV and become stars like people in the American music scene. I think it is not good for their reputations to sing about peaceful things. F151: Tell us more about your time growing up in the streets.

M: There has been a Chinese gang in my hometown since I was young. They do not understand Japanese, so we always fight each other when we are face to face. I have a friend who once said “BANRI NO CHOUJOU” and then was shot in the arm with an industrial stapler by some Chinese guys. Another friend was hit on his head with a hatchet. They are outsiders who do not know their nationality. They can cut people with their sword. Then I took care of the BOUSOUZOKU named “ZENNTOURENGOU”. I was a member of the red gang. I wiped out most members of the blue gang whenever I saw them all over Tokyo. I was brought up in this environment my whole life, so these things are a part of who I am. Currently, there are few troubles, there is peace. We do not face such things if we are professional in this kind of scene. F151: Tell us about Tokyo. M: Tokyo is a battlefield in my life. I think that it is totally different from the place where people imagine. Generally speaking, people imagine Tokyo as a gorgeous place filled with glaring neon signs, but for me, here is just a battlefield where Yakuza hangs out. I’ve got the skill to protect myself and survive in that battle field. I do not totally care what others say about me, even if that means I am a bad and scary person to them. This is what I am. If not, there is no meaning for me to live in this world. I can tell you more interesting stories if you stop the tape recorder....


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e x

p o l i c e

c h i e f

s a t o h

interview dexta pamphile photo courtesy of mr. satoh

Frank151: Could you give us a brief history of yourself? Satoh: I worked as a policeman for 35 years. I’ve retired from that now and live as a normal man. I have a different job. F151: Could you tell us what you know about the Yakuza? S: There wasn’t a police system in Japan after the war, so the Yakuza

looked after the people and the towns. Back then, Yakuza only fought with other Yakuza, they didn’t bother the katagi (workers, citizens), and they most certainly didn’t sell drugs. The economy is in bad condition right now, so the Yakuza probably take money from the katagi because they have to dedicate more money to the elders.


The police are much more eager nowadays, so it’s not a good life for the Yakuza anymore. The system is collapsing. That’s why they’re underground now. The smart ones who know how to make money are now making their way up in the Yakuza world, for example, the ones who own money lending businesses or have some kind of side business. You used to be able to tell a Yakuza by his looks, but not any more. I think the modern Yakuza will do anything for money, and you don’t necessarily have to break the law to act like a criminal, so the police can’t do anything. The Yakuza always think of something new to do; they change their form of crime according to the times. It’s like a game of tag. F151: What do you think about the crimes going on in Japan? S: The punishments in Japan are too soft. I think it’s only fair that you die if you kill someone. Also in Japan, a person cannot be convicted of a crime with only their confession, even if they say “I did it”. There has to be some information or evidence that proves their guilt. Large crimes, involving corporations, politicians, or government employees, take years to gather enough information and evidence before someone can be arrested. The trials take ten to twenty years; that’s too long. But the citizens want immediate reaction to the minor crimes like theft or physical assault, so the police need to be able to react immediately. The rate of crimes committed by foreigners in Japan has also been increasing recently as we see more of them in-

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volved in activities such as prostitution and drug dealing. So from now on, we need immediate reaction, immediate execution. The policemen themselves need to become stronger, physically. Although there is the case that they are sometimes too busy to undergo enough training. F151: Mr. Satoh, from your point of view, how do you think Japanese society has changed from the past to present? S: This can be said of the whole society, but everything has become too systematic. For example, in the case of companies, there used to be men who were powerful and manly, but now there are too many corporate type men who do not have individuality, are too stressed, and lack flexibility. Strange enough, parents, school teachers, and policemen lack dignity, they’re not scary anymore. The world is in chaos because no one is frightening to the kids. Also, the rich always win nowadays. Justice does not always prevail. That’s a frightening feature of the modern world. F151: What did Shibuya used to be like? S: Shibuya used to be local. It’s changed a lot in the past fifteen years. Shibuya used to be a town for grownups. It had class. The arcades are crying now because they’re full of kids. It has also become boring. Shibuya relies too much on youth culture. Kids reach out for money without knowing how dangerous it is. All the kids really need to do is study. They become adults before going through the basics. This is probably due to the influence of the media. Also, Shibuya used


to be too scary for kids to approach. Kinshi-Cho and Kabuki-Cho used to be full of Yakuza, and the students did not even dare to approach it. F151: What do you think about modern Japan? S: In America and Europe there is the Christian culture. The Islamic world has the Muslim culture, but Japan is a diversified culture, and to that extent it is quite obscure. The Japanese language itself is abundant with expressions so the distinction between “Yes” and “No” is quite vague and in many cases a response can be taken either way. I don’t necessarily agree with religion, but it is important to have respect. We live in a peaceful time, but we don’t have spiritual support. There is nobody out there who can say out loud what is good and what is bad. That’s why cult religions are so popular nowadays. There are no leaders out there, no more men like Uesugi Yozan (legendary statesmen) or Tanaka Syouzou (former President), or Ninomiya Sontoku (Shintoist philosopher). There is always a leader associated with an era, but now Ishihara Shintaro (Mayor of Tokyo) is about the only one there is. A lot of politicians are not exactly politicians, but more political businessmen. That’s why there’s a lot of wasting of resources, like constructing roads where no one would use them. Too many politicians only do whatever is self beneficial. Politicians are the representatives of the country, so they need to be more responsible. They also suck up to other countries so

much that other Asian countries look down upon them. Japan is the only victim of the atomic bomb. The selfdefense army of Japan is in fact an army. The vagueness allows so much hypocrisy to spread. The society is a great contradiction, so we have to organize it. F151: What do you think about modern kids? S: There used to be such a thing called a “student movement”. Kids used to react purely to the crisises of the nation, they had positive energy back then, but there is so much temptation now, and it’s much more fun to just hang around with your girlfriend or friends. There are so many different ways to use energy, and people have become more selfish in the way they use it. Those irresponsible people happen to despise solitude and grow into groups. They don’t associate with the crisis because they think they have nothing to do with it. There is no danger in walking around at two or three in the morning anymore, and there are even girls getting drunk and sleeping on the streets. I wish the kids would have more ambition and spread out into the world instead of becoming the big fish in the little pond of Japan. F151: Is there anything else you would like to say? S: Men should be more manly, women more feminine. I still workout myself. I worry about the future of Japan because I love my country.


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t h e

h i g h

l i f e

words & photos frank lee

If you ever get a chance to get out to Tokyo you have to check out the so called “model lounges”. Model lounges are super hush-hush clubs where the crowd is young and the energy is completely fucking wild. While most of the international visitors are asleep, the model bars are just getting started. You would be wasting your time even stepping foot through the door before 3:00 am, and these clubs are known to regularly stay open until 6 or 7 pm, some are even open around the clock for the extra energetic. Yeah, you’ve heard of Bungalo 8 in NYC and Penthouse in London but this place is so on the low that we can’t even tell you the name or general location, they’re just in Tokyo, trust me you’ll know if your lucky enough to stumble upon it. The owners prefer to keep these places on the down low

as the bar is 90% women the remaining 10% are powerful Japanese men, foreign ambassadors, celebrities, and international playboys dropping major yen. In fact the beautiful thing is that male customers spend so much money the majority of the girls drink for free compliments of their gracious hosts. New York DJ’s are regularly flown into Tokyo staying for months at a time. Guys like Mel Debarge, Anthony Vitale, Sinatra, Gian Carlo, and the man who fortuitously discovered this hidden treasure DJ Sal Morale have all graced the decks at one of these secret society type clubs. The combination of a barely legal European model scene and New York DJs has allowed this scene to lucratively flourish while still staying so exclusive that most people are unaware of this magical nightlife paradise.


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i k e b a n

a

interview tiffany ito rauschenbach photos courtesy of sogetsu “Ikebana is a form of sculpture that exists only within a limited time span, transforms from moment to moment, then perishes.” FRANK151: Can you introduce yourself, and give us a little family background? Akane: My name is Akane Teshigahara. I am the 5th generation headmaster and instructor of the Sogetsu Ikebana School. I was born in Tokyo, Japan as the second of three sisters. My father directed movies such as Sunono Onna (Woman Inside the Dunes) and Tanin No Kao (A Stranger’s Face). He later became the third generation

headmaster. My mother, Kobayashi Toshiko, was also in a similar field. She was an actress featured in movies such as Carmen Kokyo Ni Kaeru (Carmen Comes Home). I started practicing Ikebana when I was 5-years-old. My Grandmother Kasumi, who was the second headmaster, instructed a juniors class. Yet as a child, I perceived Ikebana as something to be watched and enjoyed, not performed. F151: For those of us who don’t have a good understanding of Ikebana, could you give a brief explanation?


A: Ikebana is the art of creating three dimensional pieces using plants. The difference between Ikebana and other forms of sculptures is that the materials are “alive”. Ikebana is a form of sculpture that exists only within a limited time span, transforms from moment to moment, then perishes. In the Sogetsu School, there are times when we create pieces exceeding the average or standard size. Yet, no matter how grand or powerful the piece may be, it too will transform, deteriorate, and come to an end. This undeniable fact of all living things, that they are perishable, is the essence of Ikebana. I believe that because of its limited time, Ikebana has the power to touch people’s hearts strongly. From a more historical point of view, it is said that the practice of Ikebana began in the late 14th to early 15th centuries. As business, culture, and economy evolved, it became a more common process. More people became conscious of the notion of “space”. Yet from the Edo period to the Meiji period, Ikebana had turned into a practice of confining plants into a given space, rather than highlighting the plant’s natural form. F151: Can you tell us about your Grandfather? A: My Grandfather, Sofu Teshigahara, doubted this strict form of Ikebana and the restriction of its formats and rules. He believed that the art of Ikebana encompassed infinite possibilities, that it was a three dimensional form of art through which one can freely express his or her self. With this strong belief, my grandfather established the Sogetsu-

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Ryu school of Ikebana in 1927. F151: What does it mean when we talk about “schools”, “ways”, “houses” or “ryugis”? A: They all pretty much mean one thing. We are talking about the different schools and their beliefs and ways of teaching, or should I say styles. There are said to be as many as 700-800 Ryugis. Each has its own unique basic guidelines and carries its own philosophies of what Ikebana should be and how beauty is defined. Those who agree with or are positively influenced by the beliefs of a certain school attend classes demonstrating the embodiment of the teachings, the headmaster, and thus, a ryugi is formed. F151: How do you learn Ikebana? A: It is similar to how an artist practices by sketching or how a singer trains vocally. One must have a basic understanding of their medium of expression. Students will learn the plants’ characteristics, special techniques on how to handle them, along with the specific school’s unique guidelines. In Sogetsu, once one has mastered the basics, we minimize their limitations and encourage them to express themselves freely. Our motto is that the Sogetsu style Ikebana can be performed at anytime, anywhere, and by anybody. We aim for our students to be able to entrust their emotions into the flowers or plants, and to enjoy that process of expression. F151: What are some characteristics specific to Sogetsu? A: First of all, we consider the vases


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or vessels to be an important part of the piece. It is not just a container in which we keep the plants watered, but an element that determines the whole structure and layout, sometimes even becoming the highlight of the piece. Yet, it doesn’t mean we only use expensive or rare vessels. At times, it requires the finding of an unlikely object from one’s surroundings or the combining of a few found objects to create a vessel. It is not the vessel itself that we take pride in, but the act of paying attention to it, and continuously being creative and imaginative with it. Other than the plants and the vessels, there is one more key element that we pay close attention to at Sogetsu. This is space. Without having a full understanding of the location, and a comprehension of the environment, time and space, Ikebana cannot be successfully conducted. The students of Sogetsu are encouraged to be well attuned to their surroundings and the time period which they live in. F151: Approximately how many students do you have? A: There are people that practice Ikebana casually and others that practice it more professionally. I’d say, at a professional level, Sogetsu holds 30,000 students who are licensed and registered throughout Japan, and approximately 1,800 members who are registered overseas. It is hard to say how many practice Ikebana casually. F151: Now that we have a better understanding of this art form, what is

Ikebana to you, Akane? A: Ikebana to me is an irreplaceable medium of expression. At times it is a portrayal of emotions directed at one person, and at times it is a message directed towards the world. F151: Do you feel any pressure from being an Iemoto (headmaster)? What are your responsibilities? A: As the headmaster, I must manage and guide the school as a whole. It is also my responsibility and duty to pass on the precise teachings of our ryugi to coming generations. Yet, simply abiding by the teaching of Sogetsu and handing down that tradition is not enough. Although the basic teachings are never to change, new ways and forms of expression through Ikebana must constantly be sought. In fact, it is embedded in the Sogetsu teachings that while utilizing the traditional, you must always seek something new. As simple as this may sound, it is very difficult to accomplish and at times I feel pressured. At the same time, when the people of Sogetsu agree with my new vision, come together, and work towards that one goal of a new creation, I feel a strong sense of encouragement and happiness. F151: How do you teach Ikebana? A: Students of all ages take our classes with various goals and intentions. Thus, what we teach also varies. It can be anything from teaching the junior class correct manners, to advising the advanced students on how they can better express themselves. But to be honest with you, once they have reached a certain point and have acquired the skills necessary,


the rest is up to them. There is a limit to how far you can “teach”. For those students, I believe it is my role to simply help them and give them opportunities. F151: This might be an ignorant question, but is there a difference between flower arrangement, florists and the practice of Ikebana? A: Flower arrangement concentrates on form and color while Ikebana includes the element of expression. Ikebana, also known as ka-doh, can be categorized with sa-doh, (the practice of tea ceremony), and koudoh (the practice of incense smelling). These activities all end with the word “doh” which means road, way, or method. It might sound a little exaggerated, but I believe these are not just practices, but a way of being, heightening one’s senses, and connecting with one’s self. F151: In the United States it is a common notion that bigger is better. Does this apply to Ikebana, or do you aim for simplicity? A: Ikebana has been said to be the art of subtraction. You must first find your ideal basic form, and then eliminate excess branches or leaves in order to create beautiful clean lines and spatial relationships. It is not that bigger or more is not acceptable. It is just that often, by simplifying, you can find the hidden beauty that was there to begin with. F151: Now, Ikebana is often thought to be a very feminine practice. Is it common for men to engage in this activity? A: Even in Japan some people

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are still under the impression that Ikebana is reserved for traditional Japanese women in kimonos, sitting properly on the floor, on their folded knees. Ikebana is actually a far more rough and physical activity. Historically, Ikebana began as a male dominated interest. It only became popular among women after the Meiji period when Ikebana was added to the curriculum of bridal training (A tradition from ancient Japanese culture where women studied cooking, sewing, basic household chores, and elegant and feminine activities in order to become the perfect bride.) So the answer would be, although it is not as common today, men are definitely welcome to join. As a matter of fact, forget the stereotypes. We welcome children, elders, males and females. F151: If you could work on any project right now, what would that be? A: I’d like to place a piece in the Japanese Parliament. I believe that they are most in need of peace and tranquility. F151: Last but not least, is there anything that you would like to say to the people who are thinking of starting Ikebana? A: Please forget the stereotypes. Ikebana is not old-fashioned, nor strictly for women. Don’t be scared. An Ikebana that portrays your emotions is one of a kind. Begin by arranging familiar flowers. Find things in your surroundings. You will be opening the door to a free and profound world of Ikebana. Enjoy.


MIKKEL BANG_www.analogclothing.com


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FRANK 23: Far East Conference