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Issue #1 Spring 2015

Editor Emily Faulder Sub Editor Ross Lovell Designer Soleil Redwood Branding and editorial design Emma Prew Contributors Ella Goodwin Laura Hilton-Smith Georgie Holt Justine Sherratt Yutaka Tom Eccles Ross Lovell Rachel Heneghan Matthew Rowe Sharlene Mousfar Peter Sidell Ana Prundaru Saoirse Clohessy Renae-Lucas Hall Heather Pritchard Lera Mimizu Joanne Ng Bonnie Chung / Miso Tasty With thanks to: Sutton PR The Dairy Art Gallery Japan Travel The Japanese Shop Sushinoms Sous Chef The Tea Makers of London Gifts of the Orient Cover Image by Tom Eccles All content is copyright protected and cannot be copied without permission

Issue #1 Spring 2015

We did it! Issue #1 of Love Japan magazine has been released, and I’m so excited to share it with you. The idea started off as a daydream whilst drinking Japanese tea and reading one of my favourite fashion magazines. Japanese culture is one of my greatest passions in life, and I started to wonder whether I could publish my own magazine, combining the aesthetics of independent British magazines with Japanese themed content, focusing on lifestyle, travel, art, fashion and food. Within a day I had created a website, Instagram and Twitter accounts and was advertising for contributors. We’ve had a great response, and am so happy that we now have contributors from the UK, USA and Japan. Everyone who has been involved with our first issue has one thing in common; a love for Japan and it’s culture. I wanted to make Love Japan Magazine a place for fans to share their own unique insights into Japan, and how they have been inspired by this wonderful country to be creative; take photos, create artwork, travel, cook, and write. From street photography to travel articles, interviews to delicious recipes, Issue #1 is packed full of Japan inspired articles, and hopefully there will be something for everyone in here. A huge thank you goes to all of our contributors. We’ll be releasing Issue #2 later in the year, and we want to get the next edition into print as well, so do keep connected with us on social media and join us on this fantastic journey. Emily, Editor


LIFESTYLE P6–9 Springtime in Japan P10–13 Sakura in the USA: A guide to cherry blossom festivals in the States P14–15 Sakura Shopping Guide P16–17 Teaching in Japan: Life as a JET


P18–21 Coin Operated Convenience: Japan’s glorious vending machines

Coin Operated Convenience

TRAVEL P22–25 10 Reasons to Love Tokyo P26–29 The Oki Islands: Destination Unknown? P30–31 Travel Snapshot: Osore-Zan P32–35 Iga Ueno (Ninja Town)


Enchanted The Oki Islands: Destination Unknown?

FOOD P36–37 Magical Matcha P38–39 How to Make a Matcha Latte




Enchanted How to Make a Matcha Latte

P40–43 Raw Matcha Cheesecake Recipe P44–45 Recipes from Yutaka P46–49 Interview with Bonnie Chung of Miso Tasty

THE ARTS P50–51 Yoshitomo Nara Comes to the UK P52–53 Ana Prundaru Street Photography P54–57 Interview with Renae-Lucas Hall, Author of Japanese fiction P58–59 Artist Snapshot: Ella Goodwin P60–63 Laura Hilton-Smith: Japanese inspired Illustration

Yoshitomo Nara Comes to the UK


‘Enchanted’ by Saoirse Clohessy


Japanese Events Calendar


FASHION P64 & 66 Japanese fashion Photography by Saoirse Clohessy P65 Beginners Guide to Lolita Fashion P67–68 Interview with Street Fashion Europe P69–75 ‘La Vie en Rose’ Japanese fashion event in Paris

EVENTS P76–79 What’s On? Japanese Events Calendar P80 Contributors Contacts P81 Get Involved P82 Our Haiku Competition Winner


Photograph by Sharlene Mousfar



Springtime in Japan With spring finally coming into blossom, Jez Willard of The Japanese Shop shares his experiences of the sights, sounds and tastes that define this season of renewal in Japan.


s a frequent traveller to Japan, I’m often asked, which is the best time of year to visit. My usual response? “Follow the cherry blossom forecasts”. During the festival known as hanami, thousands of revellers descend upon the parks and gardens to celebrate the emergence of sakura (cherry blossom), and in my opinion, few festivals encapsulate such a wealth of traditional Japanese customs whilst remaining so relevant to the younger generation. Being a traditionally spiritual and nature-loving culture heavily influenced by Buddhist ideology, it is perhaps unsurprising that flower symbolism is so deeply rooted in the Japanese way of life. In the case of hanami, its spiritual significance stems from the transient life cycle of the cherry tree, whose blossom can only be seen for around two weeks of the year. Forecasts are given in the weeks leading up to hanami, predicting the days during which the cherry trees are likely to blossom in different prefectures to help people prepare for the festivities. This often involves producing a vast array of seasonal picnic food, including ongiri (rice balls), grilled and fried meat, fish and vegetables, and a selection of colourful side dishes. For those who don’t fancy the hassle of preparing a portable feast, many shops and fast food restaurants supply special hanami-themed food around this time of year. This often takes the form of bento (compartmentalised lunch boxes) filled with colourful, seasonal treats, such as sakuramochi (pink rice balls flavoured with the leaves of the cherry tree).

During the festival, people flock to parks and gardens to party, listen to music and share their picnics with family and friends. A lively atmosphere takes hold as the feast gets underway, and, following a few hearty swigs of sake, the celebrations take rather a noisy turn once night begins to fall. Many prefectures of Japan hold their own special customs in conjunction with hanami. In Matsue, Shimane, decorative lanterns are hung on the trees, whilst Tsuyama, Okayama holds traditional Japanese tea ceremonies and musical performances, creating a dizzying display of colour, sound and light. The institution of hanami might be very much alive, but there are some who teasingly refer to it using the proverb “dumplings rather than flowers”; an elaborate excuse to eat, drink and be merry. Whatever the motives behind it, hanami is an unforgettable experience that I believe everyone should experience at least once in their lives.

The Japanese Shop sells a huge variety of Japanese gifts, including chopsticks, tableware, dolls, fans, origami paper and lots more.


Springtime in Kyoto: Philosopher’s Path


Sakura themed treats


Washington Monument



Sakura in the US Cherry blossom season isn’t just a big deal in Japan. New Yorker, and Japan fan Sharlene Mousfar gives us the lowdown on some of the USA’s biggest and best sakura festivals..


henever spring rolls around, I can’t help but think it’s sakura time. Sakura is the Japanese word for cherry blossom, and Japanese sakura have been so widely distributed that they’re now all over the world. China, South Korea, Europe and the United States all have hundreds, if not thousands of sakura that bloom from March to May. To celebrate the transience of the flowers, many Japanese practice ‘hanami’ – the centuries-old custom of viewing and picnicking under the blooming trees. But it’s not only the Japanese who do this – many across the United States do as well. The largest of these celebrations is in the U.S. capital of Washington D.C. where Japan gave a gift of over 1800 cherry blossom trees in 1912.

Parade and extremely popular Sakura Matsuri. The matsuri has vendors for everything imaginable, from food & snacks to kokeshi and other cute Japanese goods. The highlight of every sakura season for me are the Tamagawa University Taiko Drummers & Dance Troupe. Taiko are massive drums and taiko performances consist of technical rhythm, form, stick grip, clothing, and instrumentation – and these students from Japan bring down the house every single year. Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

It’s by no means the only celebration along the East Coast however. There are matsuris (or festivals) in many cities and I’ll take you through the biggest ones:

Next up is Philly, where they have events going on all over the month of April. There is a Cherry Blossom 5K run, and Sakura Sunday in beautiful Fairmount Park, where their trees are located. Tamagawa Taiko drummers usually make an appearance, as well as at my favourite independent performance space, The Painted Bride Art Center.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington D.C.

Bloomfest, Essex County Brook Branch Park, Belleville, NJ

The sakura trees in D.C. are usually the first to blossom in early April, depending on the weather that year. The majority of the trees surround the Tidal Basin with plenty of photo-taking opportunities. The city also has events spanning the entire month culminating in the Cherry Blossom

As we make our way up the coast, the next stop is… New Jersey. It was certainly a surprise to learn that Brook Branch Park actually has more sakura than Washington D.C; 2,000 more trees to be exact. They were a gift given in 1927 by the Bamberger and Mrs. Felix Fuld family. Bloomfest has a day

full of events including a 10K run, Japanese cultural demonstrations, children’s activities, live music, a crafter’s marketplace, and delicious food. Hanami and Sakura Matsuri, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Brooklyn, NY Our final stop is my fair city of New York. The largest borough, Brooklyn, is where the Botanical Garden hosts an annual hanami and matsuri weekend in late April/ early May. Families, cosplayers and taiko fans will find plenty of ways to celebrate traditional and contemporary Japanese culture in full view of the sakura along the Cherry Esplanade. From Taiko drumming, kabuki dancing, and sword fighting demonstrations, to a cosplay fashion show, tea ceremonies, and manga drawing lessons, there is something for everyone. Wherever you are in the world, I bet you’ll find sakura hidden somewhere. Enjoy their passing beauty in March, April or May, and if there’s a matsuri in your town, pack a picnic and enjoy a taste of Japanese culture! You can catch up with more of Shar’s musings and beautiful photography over on her blog at


Sakura Matsuri, Washington DC

Fairmount Park, Philadelphia


Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, NYC. All photographs by Sharlene Mousfar.


Sakura Shopping Guide

The Tea Makers of London

Sous Chef

We love this cherry blossom themed FLOWTEA® Traveller’s Kit from The Tea Makers of London. Prepare and drink your loose leaf tea on the go, and keep it warm!

Sous Chef’s range of cherry blossom stoneware caught our eye with it’s duck egg blue finish and delicate sakura design.

The kit comes complete with tea tin, double walled glass, stainless steel mug and strainer, all in a practical neoprene carry case for extra protection. A fantastic, gift for tea lovers. The FLOWTEA® glass and TEAEVE® mug can also be purchased separately. Kit: £54.95. Glass flask £19.95. Mug £14.95.

The sake set consists of a ‘tokkuri’ flask and four ‘ochoko’ cups. The sakura range also includes bowls, rice bowls and side dishes, a lovely way to serve seasonal Japanese food at home. Bowl £10. Sake set £35.


Gifts of the Orient

The Japanese Shop

This beautiful cherry blossom tea set comes with a sturdy tea pot and 4 cups. Perfect for sipping your Japanese green tea from, on a balmy Spring afternoon.

The Japanese shop is one of our favourite online stores for authentic Japanese gifts, sourced from Japan.

Spring means sakura flavoured snacks, and Sushinoms stocks one of our all time favourites… sakura matcha KitKats.

Gifts of the Orient offers a wide array of Japanese themed tableware, and we love their low prices and high quality. Tea set £19.99

Alongside these cherry blossom kokeshi dolls, the Japanese Shop also stocks other sakura themed items including tenegui (super absorbent Japanese dish cloths), fans and tableware.


If you’ve not tried Japanese KitKats before, you’re in for a treat… £4.50 per pack of 3 bars.

Left doll £38. Right Doll £22.



Joanne is a former Osaka City JET, whose love affair with Japan started when a friend in university asked to take a beginner’s Japanese course together. Originally from Singapore, Joanne is currently living in Northern Ireland. She is the founder of rotation curation Twitter account @We_Japan, and blogs about Japan and life as an overseas Singaporean at “Bits and Bobs”.


eing an English teacher is probably one of the most common ways in which foreigners can experience working in Japan, with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme among the best known teaching programmes for Japan. So what is it like to teach English in Japan on JET? Joanne shares her experience with us. The Lowdown I spent 2 years as an Osaka City JET, employed by the Osaka City Board of Education. I kept 1 base school throughout my time there, and spent up to 2 terms in 3 other junior high schools. I was also a guest teacher at primary schools and assisted with English summer camps for the city’s high schools with dedicated English programmes.


The Job JETs are essentially assistant teachers and share the classroom with a qualified Japanese teacher of English (JTE). I usually played a supporting role during lessons, stepping in every now and again, although some JETs may lead most of the lesson. I’ve team-taught with more than 10 JTEs, all of whom planned the lessons while I sourced activities to facilitate the class. Some JETs do undertake most of the lesson planning however, and in fact a common phrase when speaking of JET is that “every situation is different’. As well as sourcing activities, I also did all of the marking, trained students for speech competitions, conducted oral conversation tests, ran my base school’s English Club sessions and prepared the occasional presentation about other countries and their cultures.

“When you teach in a several schools with so many students, interesting encounters happen when you least expect them.” My Schools According to the JTEs, my base senior high school was ‘average’, while my junior high schools ranged from ‘not so good’ to ‘above average’. A common theme within the schools was that classes comprised of students with a range of abilities and interests. Catering to such a mixed group was probably the most challenging aspect of my time as a JET. Tools of the Trade Having a bundle of energy and enthusiasm is probably the most important trick in the bag; being ‘genki’ (lively) and fun are sure fire ways to keep students awake and interested.

The Dark Side

The Surprising

At times I wished I was allowed to contribute more to lesson preparation, as I’ve watched classes unfold and thought, “It’d been great if we’d done this or that instead”.

Before JET, I’d never imagined teaching to a class where half the students are sound asleep. Neither had I expected to see teenagers whip out their cosmetics pouch and touch up their makeup amidst a lesson. Nor had I thought I’d bump into a flat-haired student in the morning, only to encounter him in class that afternoon with a Dragonball’s Goku-style updo. Never in my dreams have I envisioned a 7-year old girl gazing up and telling me that I’m pretty in front of all her classmates!

Also, for two terms I read the same textbook dialogue to seven different classes in two schools. Needless to say, I knew the conversations by heart and was too familiar with the textbook’s characters. The Bright Spots While dealing with hormonal teenagers can be challenging, the wonder that students can have towards new things is remarkable. One of my favourite tricks was to pass around a plastic S$2 (¥175) note from home and challenge students to rip it in half. The students’ expressions and reactions of amazement when they realise it’s an impossible task were priceless! Although grading students’ work can be a frustrating exercise, their writings have also made my day. One of my junior high school students surprised me by her mature insight into the nature of love with this poem: I love you more than anybody else My feelings may change But until then I love you

When you teach in a several schools with so many students, interesting encounters happen when you least expect them. Final Thoughts Teaching English as a JET in Japan is certainly an experience. While being a JET requires passion and interest to be sustainable, my time on the programme has been enriching and yielded many memories. I would definitely encourage anyone hoping to experience living and working in Japan to give the programme a shot, and I’m sure many would agree!

Follow Joanne on Twitter: @we_japan, and her blog at:

As Osaka is big on comedy, hamming it up was also very effective. With two of my classes which I was fortunate enough to co-teach with another JET, in typical Osakan manzai style, I played the ‘tsukkomi’ (straight man) while he acted the ‘boke’ (funny man) – and the students were never more engaged in their lessons.


Illustration by Laura Hilton-Smith



Coin Operated Convenience Meet Matthew Rowe, author, blogger and teacher of English in Japan. He didn’t think he’d be in Japan that long, but now he’s working, owning pets, got married and had a baby, and been in Japan for six years.


apan. Many people think they know this place. From anime and manga to movies and crazy TV shows, every form of media presents an aspect of the country that seems intriguing if not bizarre. So when many people come here, they are surprised at how normal life can be. Everyone still has regular jobs. They ride trains to work, not Pokémon. They eat meals in front of the TV, instead of hunting down food on the wild fields of Monster Hunter land. It’s normal, in its own way. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some differences though. There are changes, which to the western style of life might seem small at first glance, but make a big difference if you live here for long enough. In this series of articles I’m going to look at such things. Starting with the beloved vending machine. Alright, most of us have heard the rumours. The bizarre, extreme story of Japan’s vending machine being that you can buy panties from them. While this is true – I’ve witnessed them myself – they are very few and far between. What is common is your regular, everyday drinks machine. The jidohanbaiki may sound like a mini form of transportation used to hit people in Judo, yet you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s not a “judo hand bike key” at all. Let’s look at the kanji characters’ meanings. Respectively, it’s ‘oneself, move, marketing, sell, machine instrument’. It’s a selling machine that you operate yourself.

Who said Japanese was hard to understand? “So, what’s the big deal?” you are asking yourself. Vending machines are in most countries, true, but in Japan they are everywhere. In London, they say you are never more than ten feet from a rat. In Japan, you are rarely more than ten feet from a vending machine. They are out in the open, so numerous you’d think that an alien race was invading the earth and moving openly by disguising themselves as vending machines. They aren’t. I don’t think… Japanese vending machines also sell cold drinks and hot drinks in the same machine. How on Earth do they do it? Hey, hey, hey, it’s magic! Remember what Arthur C. Clarke said “any technology significantly advanced is indistinguishable from magic”. I’m paraphrasing, but in other words, it’s really just uncommon technology – uncommon in the west, anyway.

and sometimes not even that. No, I’m not encouraging stealing. Although the coin operated vending machine is by far the most numerous, there are now some machines that accept a touch of your debit card or credit card. It sounds so great, everywhere should do it right? Well, unfortunately, it hasn’t taken off in places in the west mainly due to vandalism. Notice how most vending machines in the west are secure inside of buildings? Yeah, that’s because people don’t have as much respect and self control as the Japanese. I’ve even seen vending machines in the middle of rice fields, miles out of town. It happens, but you know what doesn’t happen? Vandalism.

Imagine you are walking down the road, any road, it starts snowing and you really wish you had a hot drink even though there is no convenience store around (also a rare thing in Japan). Never fear! You can go to the nearest vending machine to get a hot coffee or a hot lemon. In summer, you’re sweating after a jog through the park – as I’ve been told some people who hate sofas do – you can get a refreshingly cool sports drink in a moment. All you need is money,


Photograph by Jon Kennard

“I’ve even seen vending machines in the middle of rice fields.”


he vending machines also come paired with recycle bins for the cans. So, assuming you want to stand around while you drink your nectar of the Shinto gods, you have a place to put the can when you are finished. Most people walk around though. It’s the only type of bin you’ll see in public in Japan. So if you do go for a walk, you’ll end up having to take the can home… Or will you?

This might sound ridiculous but when you think about it, it allows for more compact and efficient packing of the product inside the machine. Where it may go from there, who knows. They will probably start talking and they might even have arms to open your cans and bottles for you. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Remember how the vending machines are everywhere? Well, I’m sure when you finish your drink there will be another bin right by you. Genius!

You can follow Matt’s exploits online at :

So what does this all mean for the future? Well vending machines aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they are getting bigger. They are evolving. Like most technology, especially in Japan, they find better ways to serve humans. We are already starting to see digital vending machines that display HD images of drinks available.


Photographs clockwise from top left by Emma Prew, Emily Faulder, Emily Faulder, Matthew Rowe


10 Reasons To Love…

Tokyo Gastronomy Tokyo is a food lovers paradise. Visit Tsujiki fish market for some of the best sushi you’ll ever taste. Aside from the fantastic sushi and sashimi, there are a huge variety of other delicious treats waiting for you in Tokyo. From large bowls of steaming ‘ramen’ noodles to sizzling yakitori (meat skewers:, to ‘green tea ice cream and ‘dorayaki’ ; sweet pancakes with varied fillings. Japanese ‘konbini’ (convenience stores) are a treasure trove of cheap and tasty snacks and souvenirs.


Towering skyscrapers rub shoulders with ancient shrines in Japan’s gloriously diverse capital. Love Japan’s Emily Faulder shares her Tokyo Top 10 with us.

Parks and Shrines


Tokyo is known for it’s towering skyscrapers and neon lights, so It may surprise you that dotted around Tokyo are a number of beautiful, tranquil parks and shrines. The large red ‘Tori’ gates at the entrance of these shrines are like portals to another dimension. One minute you’re surrounded by noise and people, and the next, you take a turn down a side street and find yourself wandering around a little haven of peace in an otherwise hectic city.

‘Kawaii’ ‘Kawaii’ is the Japanese word for cute, and although you’ll encounter cute characters wherever you travel in Japan, in Tokyo, cuteness is a way of life. Kawaii is big business, and cuteness sells, so expect to see cutesy characters adorning everything from food packaging, to adverts and clothing. Cuteness is embraced by all, not just young girls. In fact I once saw a salary man (Japanese business man) on the train with a collection of cute and colourful phone charms weighting down his iPhone.

After Dark If you want to experience the city at it’s most exhilarating and chaotic, head to the popular area of Shinjuku after dark. Here you’ll find nightclubs, karaoke parlours and countless bars and restaurants. You can also experience the ‘Golden Gai’ district’ Rub shoulders with salary men in tiny independently run bars, and drink Japanese whisky into the early hours. It’s fun, and people are friendly (ignore the guide books telling you otherwise.)


Cat Cafés Cat cafés are springing up in Europe now, but nowhere has as many as Tokyo. If you fancy a furry friend to keep you company whilst you drink your tea, then Tokyo is the place to go. Cat cafés far outnumber any other types of animal café, but if you are so inclined then dining with dogs, bunnies, owls, goats and even monkeys is possible in Tokyo.

Gaming If you’re after entertainment of the gaming kind, then Tokyo will be your idea of heaven. ‘Pachinko Parlours’ containing the Japanese equivalent of fruit machines, are noisy and bright. Arcades are seemingly on every corner and filled with groups of young people trying to win toys from UFO catchers and dancing to the beat of cutesy J-pop on the ever popular dance machines. If retro gaming is more your thing then Akihabara has shops full of retro games and gaming systems.

Fashion If it’s alternative Japanese fashion you’re after, then head to Harajuku. The main shopping hub is Takeshita Dori, a street lined with alternative and colourful J-Fashion, accessory and gift shops. Shibuya is another great place to shop, with Shibuya -109, a multi-floored shopping mall, being a magnet for the young and fashionable. Tokyo’s vast and plentiful selection of department stores are great places to shop.


Theme Restaurants Fancy being served by a pirate, dining in a prison cell, or being entertained by dancing robots whilst you dine? Some of Tokyo’s dining experiences are truly off the wall. From a cutesy Alice in Wonderland experience to a disturbing meal served in test tubes and syringes, there is definitely something for everyone in Tokyo. Although not cheap, the food is usually great, and these are experiences you’re not going to get anywhere else in the world.

Tokyo Bay Tokyo Bay, also known as Odaiba, is connected to the mainland by the Rainbow Bridge, and is a great place to go if you’re after a slightly more relaxing, holiday resort vibe. Large luxury hotels line the shores, and from here you can take boat trips to other areas of Tokyo. Shopping (of course), dining, and the large entertainment complexes are the main attractions here. Rounding off your trip in Odaiba after a hectic week of sightseeing is a great way to wind down before going home.

Side-Trips One of the benefits of a trip to Tokyo is that it’s so easy to do side trips to other places of interest. Visitors to Japan can take advantage of the economical rail pass, which gives you access to Japan’s super efficient and high speed rail service via the bullet train, or ‘shinkansen’. Popular places to visit for the day include Kyoto, Japan’s former capital and home to some beautiful parks and shrines and Hakone; where you can get spectacular views of Mount Fuji.



The Oki Islands: Destination Unknown? Hailing from Leeds, UK, Tom Eccles has had a fascination with Japan from an early age, after visiting his brother teaching English in Yamanashi. Interested in all things creative, Tom enjoys photography, travel, and copious amounts of coffee while working as a graphic designer for his own printing business.



first visited Japan in 2003, as a bleary-eyed eleven year-old blinded by the pace, brightness and culture of a place so different from anything I had ever experienced. Twelve years later, as I sit in the back of a taxi heading into downtown Tokyo, I realise that little has changed – the city is a complex hive of activity, surrounding visitors with unfamiliar sounds, bright neon lights and endless winding backstreets. It is not only awe-inspiring but also incredibly disorientating; if you want to lose yourself, this is the place. The hustle and bustle of Tokyo however was only a whistle-stop on this trip. Our main destination: the Oki Islands. If you’ve never heard of Oki, you are in good company – I lost count of the number of times I was met with a blank stare upon revealing my plans. Japanese people I spoke with had rarely heard of the islands – often confusing Oki with Okinawa. Even Google seemed to know little of this mysterious destination. Oki consists of four islands, roughly fifty miles north of Matsue: Dōgo (the largest and most populous), Nakanoshima, Nishinoshima and Chiburijima. I travelled with my brother, Mat, who runs the US branch of Inside Japan Tours – and our tour took us across all four islands.

Saigo Port, where we spend our first night, is an idyllic, traditional fishing town. Our guide whisks us through the attractions of Dōgo – the dramatic coastline, ancient shrines and an interesting history. Apparently, two exemperors were exiled to Dōgo: Emperor Go-Toba in the thirteenth century, and Emperor Go-Diago in the fourteenth. Our second day begins with a round of Bull Sumo (Tōgyū). Rumoured to have been introduced to the islands by the aforementioned Emperor Go-Toba, this ancient tradition is (thankfully) radically different to Spanish bullfighting. Much like human Sumo, the two bulls push against each other in an attempt to gain ground, while two handlers or ‘coaches’ prevent them from harming each other. From Dōgo, we cross over to Nakanoshima and enjoy a local delicacy for lunch: Oki Beef. Despite the local origin, there is actually only one restaurant in the whole of Oki where you can eat Oki Beef – the rest gets shipped off to the mainland, famed for its high quality. After some brief sightseeing, we are dropped off at our accommodation for the night: a delightful little Minshuku called Tajimaya.

We arrive by plane on Dōgo Island, only a forty-minute flight from Osaka Itami. It is immediately apparent that Oki could not be any further removed from the giant metropolis of Tokyo – the luscious green rural landscape reminds more of Yorkshire than it does of Japan. We need not worry about navigation: each island only really has one main road, and more often than not it goes in a circle.



espite not speaking English, our host could not be more welcoming – and we are served a huge dinner made entirely from local, fresh ingredients. As I don’t eat fish (I know, not eating fish in Japan – the horror!) I receive specially cooked chicken, which I am assured was slaughtered earlier in the back garden. Dinner is accompanied by a traditional musical performance from the owner, even featuring a guest appearance from her mother – in costume, naturally.

Our final stop is the forth, and smallest island – Chiburijima. Our guides here spoke no English, but nevertheless, whisked us from beautiful viewpoints to the stunning ‘red cliffs’ – what I would imagine to be a geologists dream. I should probably mention that the Oki Islands are volcanic in origin – and the three smaller islands form a caldera, likely created due to a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. The resulting geological features are simply astonishing.

After a beautiful scenic bike ride along the coast in the morning we take the ferry over to our third island, Nishinoshima, and set out for what became a highlight of the whole trip – sunset sea kayaking. Nishinoshima is the most scenic and picturesque of the islands, and there was no better way to enjoy this than from a kayak in the middle of a calm, secluded bay. After exploring some small, very tight caves and navigating through rocky waters, we float and watch as the sun goes down, producing a gorgeous backdrop to the spectacular coast.

If you want to experience something truly different, and completely off the beaten track, Oki is the place. The people, as you find across much of Japan, could not have been more friendly and helpful. The scenery was stunning, and it was an opportunity to see a genuine, fascinating community that is simply not on the tourist map for much of the world. I have to thank Nicola from the Nishinoshima Tourism Association, who planned our itinerary and guided us around Nishinoshima, along with Haruki-san, Chelsea, Sameera and other locals who helped us along the way.

The next morning, we return (this time on foot) for a quick hike along the Kuniga Coast – featuring dramatic vistas, coastal rock formations, and semi-wild horses. Semi, as they are fed by a local farmer. Our final activity on Nishinoshima would be a visit to the remarkable Takuhi Shrine, accompanied by the trendiest priest I have ever met. Thousands of years old, this breathtaking shrine is built into the mountain rock, perched up high on Mt. Takuhi. Despite the remoteness, the priest is keen to point out that he has had WiFi installed – this is Japan, after all! On our walk up to the shrine, we encounter a Mamushi – apparently the most venomous snake in Japan – slithering by the side of the path.


You can view more of Tom’s creative work on his website:

All Photographs by Tom Eccles



Osore-Zan Peter Sidell has been living in Japan since 2003. He writes and edits for Japan Travel. Here he shares his experience of visiting Osore-zan on the The Shimokita Peninsula, in North Eastern Honshu.

All Photographs by Peter Sidell



sore-zan is a truly unique place, where the Japanese spiritual tradition meets nature at its most restless. The name translates roughly as ‘Fear Mountain’, and it’s easy to see where that came from: it’s an extinct volcano still seething with sulphur and steam, staining the rocks and ground yellow, and making the air literally malodorous.

There are serene statues everywhere, watching over colourful pinwheels and offerings to the souls of departed children who are said to gather here. You’ll also see little piles of rocks, built up by the children while they wait, then pushed over in the night by demons. Like most visitors, I added stones to one or two of the piles, helping to free a soul that little bit more quickly.

It’s not all so bleak, as there’s also a Buddhist temple, where it’s possible to stay the night. It’s surrounded by lush green forest, and plants and flowers sprout everywhere from the fertile volcanic soil, while behind the temple the expanse of rocky, stained terrain gives onto a sparkling crater lake.

To read more about Osore-zan and see more of Peter’s images, visit http://en.japantravel. com/vziew/osore-zan. Japan Travel provides information for visitors to Japan on every aspect of the country.



Iga Ueno


Our Sub-Editor and Japan enthusiast Ross Lovell travelled around Southern Japan last year. Top of his list of places to visit was Iga Ueno, otherwise known as ‘Ninja Town’.

he Ninja. Renowned in popular culture as masters of elusiveness, one with the shadows. But sitting proudly halfway between Osaka and Nagoya is the little known, Iga Ueno, ’Ninja Town’.


During the feudal period it was home to a leading Ninjitsu training school, the birth place of the Iga-ryu style of Ninjitsu. Today, you will find a Ninja themed café, merchandise galore, and all manner of Ninja related oddities.


here are a host of tourist attractions in the city, the most popular being the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum. Here you can take in the thrill of a show chock full of exciting weapons demonstrations, all performed by experts who deftly mix humour in with their impressive stunts. Once the show is over you can actually hold the Ninja’s favoured combat weapon, the light but deadly, katana. If you want to get your hands on more weaponry you can take aim at a target out back and throw shuriken for a price. If your skills are anything like mine you will have even more respect for the freakish accuracy of the performers and the Ninja they portray. The Ninja are known for tricks and cunning and their homes were no exception. Part of the experience sees you enter a replica Ninja hideout, where you’re shown the secret compartments and trap doors they used to conceal important items and evade intruders. Rounding off the day in a more traditional way is the museum itself. Here you can find information on how the Ninja lived their daily lives and the extreme training methods they committed themselves to. You can also view real disguises that allowed them stay undetected, and try out some of the tools they used to gain entry to even the toughest stronghold.

“Once the show is over you can actually hold the Ninja’s favourite combat weapon, the light, but deadly, katana.”



stones throw from the museum is a place the Ninja once infiltrated, Iga Ueno Castle. Built in 1585, it is famed for having the highest walls of any castle in Japan, so their exploit was no mean feat. In 1612, the castle’s central tower was destroyed by high winds. It was reconstructed from wood in 1935, and now contains artefacts from it’s past, including weapons and armour used in battle that show the authentic marks of war. Despite the potentially fatal disadvantage, warriors of the time would go to war in elaborate and often heavy headdresses, all to proudly display their family crest and the honour they felt in carrying them.

This page: Iga Ueno Castle. Opposite page: Hasei-Den Shrine


“Falling sick on a journey, my dream goes wandering, over a field of dried grass”


his was the last recorded work of master poet, Matsuo Basho, widely regarded as the greatest exponent of the haiku. Born in Ueno in 1644, the city contains many links to it’s favourite son. There is the Basho Memorial Museum, where you can view some of his collected works, beautifully presented in their original form.

Close by is the Haisei-den, a shrine whose very structure was inspired by the shape of Basho and the clothes he wore. It was built to commemorate the 300th anniversary of his birth. A short stroll away is Basho’s birthplace and ancestral home, which was restored to it’s former glory following a disastrous earthquake that hit in 1854. Here devotees can gain a glimpse into the poet’s early life and a see the very spot where he penned his first haiku. Iga Ueno is a vibrant place, rich in history. The attractions are all situated in or near Ueno Castle Park, which makes them easily viewable in a day, and the friendly staff cater well to non Japanese speakers. Whether you are looking for thrills and intrigue or a peaceful roam into tranquillity, with the variety on offer you’re sure to find it.

Photographs by Emily Faulder



Illustration by Laura Hilton-Smith

Magical Matcha


Lera Mimizu, a tea enthusiast and lover of Matcha, runs T-Lovers, offering tea tasting tours around London. Here she gives us an insight into what makes Matcha so special.


o what is matcha, and what makes it so magical? It’s a Japanese green tea that’s been micromilled into powder, with it’s origins firmly routed in ancient Japanese tea ceremonies. These tea ceremonies are still practiced today, and the serving and drinking of matcha is considered a spiritual discipline. Matcha is usually produced from the youngest, most tender Spring tea leaves, which are shaded for approximately one month before harvesting. This means they are packed full of chlorophyll and the amino acid L-theanine, which makes them greener and higher in anti-oxidants than the average green tea. Matcha is both energising and relaxing. When you drink high quality matcha, you probably won’t experience feelings of anxiety, or sharp drops in energy levels, which you might have if drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks. Amazing isn’t it. In a recent article published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, matcha is compared to other popular ‘Super Foods’ containing high anti-oxidant properties, and it comes out on top!

Traditionally, Matcha is served with hot water, and during a Japanese tea ceremony, ‘wagashi’ (Japanese sweets) are served alongside the tea, to compliment the flavour of the matcha, which can be bitter for those not accustomed to it. Matcha is growing in popularity in the West, and cafés and restaurants are now serving matcha drinks, cakes and other treats. Milk can be added, to create a latte, either hot or iced, and it can also be used in cookery and baking to give a beautiful green hue, and delicious flavour, as delicate or as strong as you would like it. If you can’t locate any Japanese wagashi, then why not try drinking matcha alongside dark chocolate. Not only does it contain similar anti-oxidant properties, the sweetness of the chocolate will compliment the taste of the matcha perfectly.

To learn more about Lera, her company T-Lovers, and to book a place on one of her guided tours, visit her website at

Photograph by Emily Faulder

Iced matcha latte from Starbucks Japan


e t t a ha L


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One of Love Japan’s favourite Instagrammers, Justine, aka @TokyoPony caught our eye with her delicious range of healthy, home prepared food, many inspired by Japanese cooking. Here’s her step by step guide to making a matcha latte. Enjoy!

What You’ll Need:

Step by Step Guide:

A sieve (for the matcha)

First, heat your milk, on the stove or in the microwave

Milk frother (these can be bought very cheaply online, you don’t need a fancy one) Half a heaped teaspoon of matcha Milk of choice Sweetener of choice (Justine recommends maple syrup We suggest that you enjoy your matcha latte with a nice wagashi (Japanese sweet) to compliment it’s flavour.

Sift your matcha powder into a cup (this will ensure that you don’t get lumps when you make the matcha paste) Add a little milk or hot water to your matcha and stir to make a paste Add your sweetener Froth your heated milk and pour into the cup with the matcha paste

You can follow Justine’s food updates on


Photograph by Justine Sherratt



Raw Matcha Cheesecake 40

Food blogger Georgie Holt whips us up a delicious raw matcha cheesecake. We say it’s a cheesecake, but it’s actually suitable for vegans, as this healthy alternative to the calorie laden cheesecake contains no dairy products, and only raw, natural ingredients! We used a generous two heaped tablespoons of matcha here to get the vivid green colour and strong flavour but you can use as little or as much as you want. Start with a teaspoon, taste, and then add more as required.

Ingredients and Method For the base: 115g walnuts nuts (soak overnight) 115g cashew nuts (also soak overnight) 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder 8 medium sized dates ¼ tablespoon salt For the filling:

After you’ve soaked your cashews overnight (for about 8 hours) you’ll need to rinse and drain them Combine all of the ingredients for the base in a blender, until it starts to stick together. Press into your shallow tin. Make sure it’s been greased so that it’s easy to remove once set.

145g cashew nuts (soaked overnight) juice of 1 lemon 10 tablespoons of melted coconut oil 1 tablespoon matcha zest of one lemon pinch of salt

Heat the coconut oil gently and then add the agave syrup. Mix together.

A 7 inch shallow tin (greased)

Smooth the filling over the base, and then place in the fridge for 8–10 hours.

Put all of the filling ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Add matcha little by little and taste as you go along until it’s just as you like it!


Follow Georgie’s food blog ‘Food Upon Travels’ at


Photographs by Emily Faulder



Yutaka We’ve teamed up with Yutaka, the leading Japanese range in 16 countries across the globe to bring you a delicious sushi recipe.

Vegetarian ‘Inside Out’ Uramaki Sushi Create a healthy and filling lunch with this simple recipe for vegetarian uramaki sushi (inside out rolls). Perfect for people on the go, these delicious morsels can be rolled up and packed into a bento box for a sophisticated grown-up lunch. And what’s more, the recipe can be adapted to include any leftovers taking up space in the fridge!

Ingredients Serves: 4 (Makes 4 rolls) Preparation Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 10 minutes You’ll need: 300g Yutaka Premium Sushi Rice 60ml rice vinegar 2 tbsp. caster sugar 1 tsp. salt 2 sheets nori (dried seaweed sheets), cut in half ¼ cucumber, cut into thin sticks ¼ red pepper, cut into thin sticks ½ avocado, cut into strips 20g white roasted sesame seeds 20g black roasted sesame seeds To serve with: 10g wasabi paste 60ml soy sauce


Method 1 Wash the rice in a strainer under running water and leave to drain. Add the rice and 390ml of water in a heavy saucepan, place the lid on and bring it to the boil. Simmer for 10 mins, remove from the heat and leave for 10 mins to steam. 2 Make the sushi vinegar by mixing the rice vinegar, sugar and salt and pour over the rice, cutting the rice sideways gently so that the rice grains aren’t broken. Leave to cool down. 3 Cover a bamboo mat with cling film to stop the sushi rice sticking to the surface and place the nori along the edge of the mat nearest to you. 4 Wet your hand, take an apple sized handful of sushi rice on the nori, spread evenly until the nori is completely covered and press down firmly.

Per serving 400 cals 9.9g fat 2g sat fat 10g sugar 4g salt

5 Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over the sushi rice, then turn the nori and rice over carefully so the nori is facing upwards and the rice is facing the mat. 6 Place three of your favourite fillings in a line, 2cm from the edge of the nori. Hold the bamboo mat and nori with rice and start rolling from the edge nearest the filling, pressing the rice down with the bamboo mat as you go. 1 Cut the rolls into 8 pieces for each roll and pack the sushi into a bento box.


When cutting the roll into pieces, wipe off a knife with a wet towel. It helps to cut the roll cleanly!

% GDA 20 14 10 11 67

Recipe created by Atsuko Ikeda, of Atsuko’s Cookery School in 2014

The exciting range includes sauces, sushi ingredients, soups, rice, noodles and “easy to use” meal kits – allowing the ardent foodie to create healthy, flavoursome and attractive Japanese cuisine at home. For more info, please visit Yutaka’s website at



Miso Tasty

Love Japan speaks to pioneering chef and food blogger Bonnie Chung, owner of Miso Tasty, a company who brings you chef quality, take-home miso. Hi Bonnie, can you tell us a little about the history of Miso Tasty, and how the company was developed?

Miso has a whole host of fantastic health benefits, can you tell us a bit about these?

I’ve always loved miso and have cooked a lot with it, but I was consistently unimpressed with the poor quality and MSG-laden instant miso soups available in the UK. So, rather than wait for a company to create a better one, I set about creating it myself. I was determined to make natural, restaurant-quality and super tasty miso for the UK market. After three years of research and a trip to Japan, Miso Tasty was born. We launched in March 2014 with our online store, and have been growing since then; we are stocked in all Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Wholefoods Market stores.

I consider miso to be an ancient superfood. It has been enjoyed throughout Asia for centuries, and the Japanese enjoy miso soup as part of their daily diet. It is highly nutritious, packed full of antioxidants, vitamins B2 and K, and minerals such as copper and manganese. As it is made of soy beans, it’s also very high in protein, which is what makes it so filling, and also a great protein source for vegetarians and vegans. As a fermented food, miso contains essential amino acids, which help the digestion and settle the stomach. What’s more, Miso Tasty soups are very low calorie, and, enjoyed regularly, will boost your immune system and keep you fit and healthy.

You source your miso from the Japanese Alps, how did you discover the miso in this region and why is it your miso of choice? I spent 3 years searching for the right miso supplier. We finally settled on an area of Japan renowned for its miso making, the Shincho region at the foot of the Central Japanese Alps. Our miso is made here in small batches by artisans using snowmelt from the Alps. This source was the only place in the world with the know-how and experience to help create the flavours I wanted for Miso Tasty.


With all these great health benefits, miso has been hailed as an ancient remedy for the common cold, as well as perhaps, the even more common hangover. A cup of miso soup when you are not feeling 100%, will revive you like no other hot snack. You currently offer Classic Shiro and Spicy Aka Miso pastes. Apart from the addition of spice, what are the main differences? Our Classic Miso Soup is made of a miso paste that has been fermented for 6 months, and is therefore made of a white miso base. This gives it a lighter, more delicate flavour, akin to the miso soup you’d get in a quality Japanese restaurant.

In contrast, our Spicy Aka miso soup is made from a red miso paste base, which has been fermented for 12 months, giving it a deeper, stronger flavour. As you say, we’ve also added Japanese sancho and shichimi peppers to give this miso soup a gentle, peppery heat, which grows with every sip. Your miso pastes also come with vegetable garnishes and kelp powder containing umami, can you explain a little about what this is? Umami is often referred to by foodies as the ‘5th taste’ after sweet, sour, bitter and salty. It is often described as a ‘savoury, pleasant’ taste: the taste that makes us love and crave miso soup! Technically, ingredients that are full of umami are high in glutamates. Fermented foods, such as miso, are naturally high in glutamates. We decided to give our miso soups an extra boost of umami by adding mineral-rich, and vegan friendly, kelp granules to our miso soup to make them even tastier! Interestingly, kelp has the highest level of glutamate found in any vegetable and our miso soup recipes would not be the same without it.

Miso Tasty Online Box

You often post delicious looking recipes containing miso, do you invent these yourself? Our recipes are created both by myself and my super creative team at Miso Tasty. We all love miso so we are constantly experimenting with it at Miso Tasty HQ! It’s so versatile and can be used in such a range of dishes. Our Miso Tasty soups make a great base for a quick lunch or supper – one of our favourite tricks for the best office lunch! At the moment the team are enjoying our miso soup with rice noodles, mushrooms, spinach and grilled chicken for a satisfying, healthy and warming meal that’s ready in 5 minutes! The future looks exciting for Miso Tasty, have you got plans to release any other varieties of Miso? What else have you got planned for 2015? We have so many plans on the horizon at Miso Tasty. We are playing with a range of cooking ingredients as well as some more tasty miso soup flavours. There are 1000s of different types of miso from different regions of Japan, with many different fermentation methods. We feel that we are just at the tip of the iceberg with developing and sharing our miso creations with the world, so we are really excited about this.



iso Tasty soups are naturally high in protein, despite being a vegan product. They contain all the essential amino acids to help your digestion, they are a great source of vitamin K and B2, and also of copper and manganese.

Miso Tasty have an amazing Superfood Miso Soup recipe to share with you, which combines their spicy miso soup with other healthy ingredients, for a tasty, and super filling meal – no more sick days!

What’s more, enjoying miso soup regularly will act as daily protection against the effects of urbanisation – the binding agent zybicolin in miso is effective in detoxifying and eliminating elements that are taken into the body through the unavoidable industrial pollution, radioactivity and artificial chemicals in the soil and food system.

Miso Tasty soups can be bought online at and various shopping outlets including Sainsbury’s, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.

Superfood Miso Soup 1 Spicy Aka miso soup a handful of broccoli florets 1 cupful of quinoa 1 red chilli Few kale leaves Handful alfalfa sprouts


1 Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions. 2 Steam the broccoli for 5 minutes until softer, but still bright green. 3 Shred the kale leaves and finely slice the red chilli. 4 Make up the miso soup as per packet instructions. 5 Add the cooked quinoa to the soup, drop in the broccoli and kale, and sprinkle the chilli and alfalfa sprouts on top!



Yoshitomo Nara At the Dairy Art Centre, London

Editor, Emily took a trip to the fantastic Dairy Art Centre gallery in London, which played host to the work of renowned Japanese artist, Yoshitomo Nara.


iving in London is fantastic, as we have access to so many Japanese themed events. Late last year, I was excited to see that Yoshitomo Nara, one of my favourite Japanese artists, was exhibiting at the Dairy Art Centre. ‘Greetings From a Place in My Heart’ was a retrospective of Yoshitomo’s work, spanning 30 years, where huge and imposing sculptures were interspersed with smaller framed illustrations and collages. Nara’s blend of creepy and cute has a far reaching appeal, and I can see echoes of his work in some of my other favourite illustrators such as Roman Dirge and Tara McPherson. Walking around the exhibition I felt like I got a real insight into Nara’s life and influences as an artist.

One room contained illustrations ordered by year, and it was intriguing to see how his style has progressed as the years have gone on, with obvious inspiration coming from the countries he has visited such as Germany and Afghanistan. For fans of cutesy art with a slightly unusual edge, Yoshitomo Nara is an artist that will enthral you. He’s an active Facebooker, and regularly posts in English so one of the best places to view and follow his work and exploits is at: A big thank you to Yoshitomo Nara, Sutton PR, photographer Andy Keate and The Dairy Art Centre for the images.

All images ©Yoshitomo Nara




View more of Ana’s work on her blog:



ne of the very first outlets for my artistic expression has been photography. Aged five, I started to take pictures of the toys in my room, of my grandparents, stray dogs and playgrounds around my neighbourhood. Upon developing the pictures, I would delve inside hidden worlds, observing the essence and atmosphere of each piece.

All photographs by Ana Prundaru

For me, the most gripping aspect of street photography is to combine each individual’s story into one unique and vivid composition. When I am out and about to take photographs, I am inspired by stories under the surface. For instance, I try to catch compelling facial expressions, which strongly convey a person’s current emotional or physical state. My aim is to grab people’s attention and make them stop for a minute or two, in order to admire the magic in our daily lives. These photographs were taken with my Panasonic Lumix LZ30 while I participated in a summit organized by the German-Japanese Youth Society in Tokyo. Typically, I would attend conferences, meetings and cultural excursions by day and then take my camera and explore the city in the evenings and weekends. Tokyo is such an inspiring place for me, not only because I spent my childhood there, but also because, as an artist, I appreciate its ever-changing mix of innovative music, art, fashion and design.

Ana Prundaru Street Photography 53



Renae Lucas-Hall East meets West in Love Japan’s first ever author interview. We interviewed Australian-born British novelist Renae Lucas-Hall to find out how she turned her dream of being a writer and her passion for Japan into beautiful works of fiction. So tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to write your first Japanese themed novel I’m an Australian-born British novelist and writer and the author of Tokyo Tales: A Collection of Japanese Short Stories and Tokyo Hearts: A Japanese Love Story. I spent many years studying French, Italian and Japanese because I love languages and always wanted to be an interpreter, a teacher or a writer. I graduated from Monash University in Melbourne in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Japanese language and culture. After this, I lived in Tokyo for two years where I taught English, and I’ve continued to work with the Japanese for over two decades. I also completed an Advanced Diploma of Business Marketing at RMIT University in Australia and at the University of Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom. Over the past twenty years, I have enjoyed visiting Japan many times for work or as a tourist. These days, I continue to love reading and writing anything and everything about Japan. I currently live in the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom with my husband. I’ve met so many people who are interested in Japan and the

Japanese culture but they have never had the opportunity to visit this wonderful country. Lots of people tell me they would love to visit Tokyo and other parts of Japan but they are worried about the cultural barriers they might come across. I hope my books will remove these obstacles. I’m always inspired by the readers who get in touch with me and tell me how much they have learnt about Japan after they have read my books and my Cherry Blossom Stories Blog. It’s so nice to see people get really excited about visiting Japan after they have read my stories. Did you face any challenges getting your first book published? The biggest challenge for me was the editing process. Tokyo Hearts: A Japanese Love Story was my first book and I had to read it so many times and rewrite it again and again before I was happy with the word flow and the content. The book was professionally proofread but I’m an absolute perfectionist and I wish I had checked it again after the proofreading and before it went to print because I know there are still a couple of typos in this book. I was a lot stricter about the editing process for Tokyo Tales: A Collection of Japanese Short Stories.

You’ve travelled extensively in Japan over the last 20 years. What would you say were your favourite parts of Japan, and have they influenced your writing? I absolutely loved living in Tokyo. I always feel relaxed and happy when I’m there. This city really does have a pulse and I feel like a child being warmly embraced by its mother whenever I spend time in Japan’s capital. I lived in Tokyo for two years and during this time I met so many different people with varied and interesting characters. I also spent a lot of time exploring Tokyo by foot when I wasn’t working. When I first started living there, I quickly realised you only have to turn a corner in any of Japan’s famous towns, such as Ginza, Shibuya or Harajuku, to see something different that catches your eye. Tokyo really is an incredible hive of beautiful shops, great eateries and amazing people and it has the most wonderful retail and cultural attractions. Tokyo is also a writer’s paradise. I know there is so much to observe in this marvellous city which I can later translate onto a page for readers to enjoy. I’ve been very lucky to visit Japan six times and my husband and I are currently planning another visit in 2016.


You’ve published two novels now. Can you tell us what they are about?

How did you come to work with Japanese illustrator Yoshimi Ohtani?

Tokyo Hearts: A Japanese Love Story is a romance novel set in modern-day Japan, and tells the story of a young university student who has fallen in love with a Japanese girl who is dating her ex-boyfriend from Kyoto. It’s also a coming-of-age story that traces the lives of this couple and their friends as they deal with the ups and downs of growing up in Japan’s famous capital.

I was looking for an illustrator for Tokyo Tales: A Collection of Japanese Short Stories. I noticed Yoshimi Ohtani’s wonderful illustrations on Facebook. I sent her a message straight away and I asked her whether she would be interested in working with me on this book. Yoshimi asked me to contact her agent, Paul Archuleta Whitney at ARTas1. We all agreed to work together almost immediately.

Tokyo Tales: A Collection of Japanese Short Stories with illustrations by Yoshimi Ohtani is a book for people who love short stories full of action, adventure, romance, mystery and suspense. Inside the book, there are fifteen short stories, all of them related to Japan, which include a hellish homestay, ghosts, school bullying, a marriage arrangement and much more. Yoshimi Ohtani’s divine illustrations on the book cover and throughout the book will surely impress the reader and appeal to their imagination. Where do you get your ideas from? Have you based any of your stories on real life events, or are they all purely fictional? I’m very interested in the sociological aspects of life in modern-day Japan. I spend quite a bit of time reading non-fiction that deals with the sociological issues faced by the Japanese people now and in the past. I try to merge these subjects into my writing to make my stories a lot more topical and relevant to my readers. However, when I write my short stories and my novels, I do take certain liberties with my plots and my characters to make them more likeable and engaging. I want them to come across as attractive or even unattractive but irresistible to my readers.


Are there any particular authors who have influenced you? My favourite author is Charles Dickens but I’m also a big fan of George Orwell, John Steinbeck, Jane Austen, John Wyndham and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I have also been influenced by Japanese writers such as Yukio Mishima, Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, Haruki Murakami and Yōko Ogawa. What advice can you give to aspiring readers or writers? Read as much as you can, write every day and never give up. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing? We have a Siberian husky dog and we live in the Cotswolds which is a very beautiful part of England, so I enjoy walking our dog for at least an hour every day, up and down the rolling hills. Of course, I love reading books but I also love to bake and I try to cook something different for dinner every evening. I’m also fascinated by historical homes so I like visiting National Trust houses in different parts of England and I really enjoy travelling so I can’t wait to visit Japan again in 2016.

What can we expect from your next novel? I’m currently working on my next novel called Tokyo Dreams which is the sequel to Tokyo Hearts: A Japanese Love Story. You can expect a surprising twist in the plot and I’ll unlock some interesting and unexpected secrets about some of the main characters from Tokyo Hearts.

You can read more about Renae, her books and her writing at Tokyo Hearts and Tokyo Tales can be purchased from Amazon, Nook, Kobo or iBooks, or ordered from your local bookshop.

“It’s so nice to see people get really excited about visiting Japan after they have read my stories.” 57


Artist Snapshot:

Ella Goodwin The online store Etsy is a treasure trove for handmade creations, and a great place to find inspirational illustrators and artists. Love Japan magazine loves Ella Goodwin, a talented illustrator from the UK, and Japan fan extraordinaire. Katsushika Hokusai’s famous painting ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’, lucky cats (maneki neko) and the foxes of Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto inspired Ella to create these magical pieces. Prints and jewellery can be purchased from her online shop at





Laura Hilton-Smith We caught up with British illustrator Laura Hilton-Smith to find out how Japan has inspired her latest projects; a collection of mini illustrated magazines, and comic strips. Tell me a bit about your series of Japan ‘zines. Where did the concept come from, what was your inspiration, and did you take influence from your previous trips to Japan? ‘Japan Looks Like’ is my first self-published ‘zine and features 16 illustrations of what I think Japan looks like. I tried to choose images and objects that really represent Japan for me and bring back lots of memories of my trips. I also tried to include a good mix of the traditional and the modern as well as familiar and less familiar subjects. One of my favourite pages is called ‘ladies wearing kimono’ because I think that the image of a lady riding the subway in a kimono really sums up Japan’s modern day mix of tradition and modernity. I think it’s also something that surprises people when they visit Japan, I was certainly surprised and delighted to see ladies, and some men, wearing kimono on the train or out shopping when I went there for the first time. I’m also really proud of my ‘hi-tech toilets’ page! It was fun painting a picture of a toilet and I am fascinated by how so many of the toilets over in Japan have loads of functions and settings. The idea for ‘Japan Looks Like’ came from my desire to capture Japan and share it with people.

I love Japan, I love talking about Japan and I love describing it to people who have never been there. I also love to reminisce about the time that I’ve spent there. All this got me thinking about how I could capture the essence of Japan, what makes it different and so fascinating to Japan lovers like me. I came up with the idea of a series of 4 ‘zines of which ‘Japan Looks Like’ is the first. My second project is ‘Japan Tastes Like’ and, just like ‘Japan Looks Like’ , features 16 colour illustrations but this time depicts some of my favourite flavours, foods and drinks from Japan. Some of my favourite pages this time are the KitKat and green tea ones – KitKats are so popular in Japan, something that surprises a lot of people, and I’ve always been fascinated by the variety of flavours you can find. Green tea is also, of course, very popular and I love to see how many products are flavoured with it – everything from chewing gum, cakes and sweets, to noodles and soft drinks. I think green tea must be the national flavour of Japan! Later I’ll work on ‘Japan Smells Like’ and ‘Japan Sounds Like’. I hope that all together they’ll provide an insight in to what Japan is like and provide a bit of nostalgia to anyone that’s experienced it for themselves.

I was very much inspired by my trips to Japan and the desire to recapture the feeling of being there was a big motivation. Before my most recent trip last year I came up with a tentative list of subjects and ideas and then while I was there I took hundreds of photos, recorded some of the sounds that I heard around me and ate lots, as research of course… The trickiest part was trying to take note of what Japan smelled like! My husband and I would be walking around sightseeing or shopping and I’d ask him ‘What’s that smell? How would you describe it? What do think it is?’ Haha. Luckily he’s used to my eccentricities! How did you get into art and illustration? I’ve loved to draw and make things for as long as I can remember and I studied art and design at college. As an adult I sort of fell out of love with it and tried a few different things like writing and photography but, although those things influence my work, my heart always belonged to drawing. In the past year I’ve really made an effort to take my artwork seriously and hopefully I’m on the path to making a career out of it.


How did your love for Japan start, and what do you like most about Japan and it’s culture? I think my love of Japan started in my childhood when my granddad went there on a business trip and brought me a gorgeous doll in a kimono as a present. Around the same time I had a teacher who regularly went to Japan to stay with a family that she knew and told us all about it in class. She taught us about origami and Japanese customs and I was hooked! I remember checking a huge origami book out of the library and making hundreds of paper animals and flowers. My dad tells a story about how I sat fascinated by an old movie about Japan when I was 1 or 2 years old too but I can’t really tell you too much about that, maybe I loved Japan even at that early age! Later, I was mesmerised by the manga and anime that was becoming popular over here and influencing lots of artists and my fellow students. Later still I read Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden which in turn lead to lots of reading about geisha and the history and traditions of kimono. So when me my husband got married and we were choosing a honeymoon destination Japan seemed like the obvious choice (my husband shares some of my love for Japan too). After that first trip I was in love with Japan and since then we’ve returned 3 more times and are planning another trip. I find it really difficult to define why it is that I love Japan so much even though it’s a question that I’m asked a lot. The simple answer is because it’s Japan! But if I had to choose my favourite aspects I’d say that I love the way Japan effortlessly mixes the old and the new in almost all areas of life, its rich cultural heritage and traditions and of course the delicious food. Melon pan springs instantly to mind.


Also I think Japan seems like a very creative place; you see illustration especially in the form of characters and mascots everywhere and so many people have hobbies that they are incredibly passionate about and skilled at. You only have to visit a branch of Loft or Tokyu Hands to see how popular crafts, art and model making is in Japan. I think that Japan is a place where it really is okay to be a geek too, although you hear the word ‘otaku’ a lot it seems way more acceptable to be really ‘in to’ whatever it is that you’re in to. I think we should embrace that passion a bit more here. Tell us a bit about other projects you’ve been working on, and what the future holds for you Now that ‘Japan Tastes Like’ is finished, I’m planning to finish the rest of the series some time in the near future. I also recently completed my first comic! Just a one pager called ‘Memories of Summer in Japan’ but I’m very proud of it and I’m hoping to do more, longer comic stories in the future. I have lots of ideas waiting for my drawing skills to catch up so I can put them on paper. I’m now moving on to a longer comic story, still Japan inspired of course, but something a little more ambitious. It’s still in the very early stages though. In the mean time I’m hoping to continue selling copies of my ‘zines and one page comic as well as postcards and maybe even badges featuring the images from Japan Looks Like and Japan Tastes Like.

You can view more of Laura’s work at and purchase prints and ’zines at

All illustrations by Laura Hilton-Smith



Image by Saoirse Clohessy


Beginners Guide to Lolita Fashion Rachel Heneghan, a Japanese fashion enthusiast, and admin for her local J-fashion community gives us the lowdown on Lolita fashion, and some handy tips for newcomers to the Lolita scene.


olita fashion, far from being related to the book by Nabokov, is a style based on fashion of the Victorian and Rococo eras; emphasising modesty, innocence and femininity. It has it’s roots in otome and natural-kei styles of the 1970s and 1980s, although it was not until the mid to late ‘90s that lolita emerged as its own distinct style from the Harajuku district of Tokyo. As for the name, there are two main theories. First, that it was chosen because it sounds cute, without knowledge of the book. Second, it was chosen because Lolita is a nickname for Dolores, similar to Dolly and reflects the cute, doll-like nature of the style. Up until the early 21st Century, lolita outfits were a lot simpler in design and colour scheme – it was rare to see outfits with colours outside of black, white, red, pale pink, and pale blue. Floral and tartan patterns were popular, but prints didn’t begin to appear until 2002, and it wasn’t until 2005/2006 that they began to increase in popularity. Typical lolita outfits usually include a knee length dress or skirt, blouse with a peter pan collar, knee length socks, bloomers, Mary Jane style shoes, and petticoats to keep the all-important skirt shape. There are many sub styles of lolita, but the three main lolita sub styles are gothic, sweet, and classic.

Gothic lolita features dark colours. Common motifs include coffins, bats, and religious motifs such as crosses and cathedrals. Popular brands include Moi-meme-Moitie and Alice and the Pirates. Sweet lolita features brighter colours – these can be pastels, or bold primary colours. Popular motifs are candy and bears and are usually in a cuter or more childlike style. Popular brands include Baby the Stars Shine Bright and Angelic Pretty. Classical lolita features neutral colours and floral prints. Recently, longer tea-length dresses and underskirts have become popular. The style is usually more mature and popular brands include Innocent World and Mary Magdalene. While accessing lolita clothes outside Japan can still be difficult, the internet and UK based stockists have made it easier. Dreamy Bows (www.dreamybows. com) is an official UK retailer for Angelic Pretty, and many Japanese stores do ship internationally. Shopping services or forwarding services are two other options. Shopping services are companies or individuals that buy items on your behalf – this can be from a physical store, online store, or even from auction sites. With forwarding services, you are given

a Japanese address that you can send items to after buying directly from websites yourself. Lolita fashion is expensive, particularly Japanese brands. If you’re just starting out, or want to try the fashion before investing a large amount, Japanese budget lolita store Bodyline is a good starting point. For a mid-range budget, there are many indie brands on Chinese website Taobao ( com), and also European-based indie brands such as Lady Sloth ( You might also want to check out Japanese secondhand stores such as Closet Child (www.closetchildonlineshop. com) and auction sites such as Yahoo Auctions Japan (www., as well as international group EGL Comm Sales on LiveJournal (

Rachel blogs Japanese fashion photos at:


Photographs by Saoirse Clohessy at ‘Enchanted’, 2014



Street Fashion Europe Love Japan Magazine was lucky enough to be able to attend ‘La Vie en Rose’, a Japanese fashion event hosted by Street Fashion Europe. We spoke to some of their members to find out a little more about this exciting fashion community. Can you tell us a little about Street Fashion Europe? What are your aims, and how did you start the community? Street Fashion Europe was founded by Kyra who runs the Tea Party Club; which is the UK’s central lolita community. In 2012 the Tea Party Club organised their first big lolita event and invited Juliette et Justine and the Gothic & Lolita Bible; which then saw a surge in exciting large lolita and J-fashion events across Europe, making Europe the most exciting place in the world to be a lolita, outside of Japan! Street Fashion Europe was created to unite European communities and work together to achieve our shared goals. Our principal aims are to create amazing events celebrating Japanese street styles in Europe and create friendship ties with Japan. Last year you organised the ‘Enchanted’ event in London, and this February you held ‘La Vie en Rose’ in Paris. What have been the most exciting aspects of these events for you? Meeting all the international lolitas and Japanese fashion fans.

We have guests from across Europe, the USA, Russia and from even further around the world like Australia and Thailand. It’s magical to be able to create something that unites people like this! Since SFE events and the ones our members organise in their home countries are such big affairs everyone goes all out with their outfits. We love seeing the creativity and style that everyone puts in. What are the biggest challenges you face when organising such large events? It’s impossible to imagine how much time and energy goes into planning these events, it’s almost like a second full-time job. it can be a very time consuming and hard commitment to undertake, especially when the majority of our members are in employment or are studying hard. Each event takes six months to arrange from initial planning to on the day delivery and there’s rarely a day in that time where we’re not working, emailing, creating spreadsheets or on group chat! The language barriers, timezones and distance from each other can be a challenge too but we’re a great team and work well together.

What are the best things about being part of the Lolita community? Definitely forming friendship and sharing love and passion for a common interest. Lolita communities aren’t always “La vie en Rose” (life in pink) but Street Fashion Europe is passionate about continuing to create events where you can catchup with your worldwide friends and forge new friendships with J-fashion fans. Seeing people come together every year for something they passionately enjoy makes everything worth it. Which fashion icons do you look to for inspiration? It’s hard to answer this question since all the members of Street Fashion Europe come from a different background and country and all have their own style! We vary in how long we’ve enjoyed the fashion and the reasons which brought us into it so we are a very eclectic team regarding our fashion icons and inspirations. Despite our different tastes all the guests we have hosted during Street Fashion Europe events are definitely people we respect and consider as an inspiration for us or for the J-fashion community.


Our different tastes also help for varied events year on year! Enchanted we only had one lolita guest out of the five from Japan and they have a gothic lolita brand (Atelier Pierrot). This year with Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Triple Fortune and Syrup the mood was much more sweet. Who knows what next year will bring? What advice can you give to newcomers to the Lolita scene? Are there any particular groups that might be useful for people to join, apart from SFE of course. Some of the members of SFE help newcomers in a Facebook group called ‘Lolita Fashion Mentoring’. Anybody can join and ask questions related to the fashion to get advice from a team of experienced lolitas. We also suggest you join the community of the country and city you live in, a list with communities in the countries which are represented by SFE members can be found on our website:

Image by Saoirse Clohessy at ‘Enchanted’, 2014


So, what does the future hold for Street Fashion Europe? Street Fashion Europe is structured so our annual event is held in a different country each year, like a lolita Olympics! Each European country has it’s own distinct culture and history which affects the feeling of each event and makes for a different experience each time. Please look out for more great events from Street Fashion Europe and please keep an eye out on our Facebook page to see what is happening in each of our member groups as lots of countries are planning amazing things this year!

Follow Street Fashion Europe on Facebook at:

Photograph by Emily Faulder, at ‘La Vie en Rose’ 2015

Iana wears Angelic pretty JSK socks, and bow on top hat, Atelier Boz jacket, Alice and the Pirates boots and blouse, Moss Märchen rosary and Peppermint Fox brooch.


Team Chiffon, Carmilla, Marianne and Sophie Claudine wear (from left to right) Juliette et Justine & Victorian Maiden. Juliette et Justine. Juliette et Justine


Photograph by Emily Faulder, at ‘La Vie en Rose’ 2015

Chloe wears dress, headbow and tights by Angelic Pretty, New Look shoes, and Forever 21 blouse.


Photograph by Emily Faulder, at ‘La Vie en Rose’ 2015

Model wears: Summer Tales Boutique


Model wears: Alice and the Pirates

Model wears: Baby, The Stars Shine Bright


Photograph by Emily Faulder, at ‘La Vie en Rose’ 2015

Model wears: Cloudberry Lady



Model wears: Grimoire

Model wears: Juliette & Justine

Model wears: Fidel David

Model wears: Juliette & Justine



Hyper Japan London, UK 10–12 July 2015 and 27–29 November 2015


Japanese Matsuri London, UK TBA


Hyper Japan is the UK’s biggest J-culture event, and this year Londoner’s are spoilt with two events; the Summer festival in July, and the Christmas market in November.

London’s annual Japanese matsuri (festival) returns for 2015. Held in Trafalgar Square, the matsuri is an open-air celebration of Japanese culture, and cuisine.

From traditional Japanese cuisine and martial arts, to fashion shows, performances from Japanese pop stars, and the chance to try out the latest video games, there’s something for everyone.

With a main stage showcasing performance art, martial arts demonstrations, and a whole host of stalls selling delicious Japanese food, this is an event not to be missed.

One of the big pulls of both events is the huge array of Japanese shopping opportunities available.


Check out Love Japan’s list of Japanese themed events, to see if there’s going on in your part of the world during 2015!

The firm date is TBA, but it’s likely to be in September 2015. Keep up to date with developments by checking the Japan Matsuri website.


Brighton Japan Festival Brighton, UK 19 September 2015

Brighton Japan festival is back for the first time in two years, and this year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever before. The beautiful seaside town of Brighton will play host to live performances, food and film events, a matsuri style street festival and a cosplay carnival. This year the festival coincides with the arrival of the Japanese rugby team to Brighton, where they will be taking part in the World Cup.

Experience Japan Dublin, Ireland 12 April 2015


Japan Expo



To celebrate the appearance of the sakura (cherry blossom), Experience Japan will be holding a variety of activities, all set in the beautiful Farmleigh House and Estate, in Phoenix Park. Traditional Japanese Taiko drumming will be on the cards, as well as free stage performances, demonstrations and workshops. Full details will be published in early April in the lead up to the event.

Paris, France 2–5 July 2015




Paris-Nord Villepinte Exhibition Center plays host to the 16th annual Japan Expo, France’ss 4 day Japan extravaganza. Cosplay is one of the main lures of the event; dress up as your favourite character and watch professional cosplayers take to the stage as part of the European Cosplay Gathering. You’ll also have the chance to meet animators, manga artists and video games creators, as well as experience a more traditional side of Japan with demonstrations from martial arts, to traditional dance and tea ceremonies.



Japan Festival


Houston Texas, USA 18–19 April 2015

This year will mark the 22nd Houston based Japan Festival. With a mission to educate attendees about Japanese, and Japanese American culture and traditions. The event offers a diverse range of family friendly activities and entertainment, including Taiko drumming, J-Pop performances, traditional dance in kimono, and fashion parades. Guests will also have the chance to sample delicious Japanese cuisine, watch tea ceremonies and martial arts displays, as well as take part in traditional Japanese games.

Japan Day



Düsseldorf, Germany 30 May 2015


Powell street Festival




Vancouver, Canada 31 July–2 August 2015



Japan Day in Düsseldorf has been in existence since 2002, and with 8200 Japanese citizens living in the city, they are actively involved in shaping the event.

Celebrating Japanese Canadian arts and culture, the Powell Street Festival is a 3 day event held in JapanTown, Vancouver.

Originally designed as a festival to bring Germans and Japanese citizens together, Japan Day is a celebration of Japanese culture, from music, and kimono fittings to calligraphy and samurai demonstrations. The highlight of the event is an impressive fireworks display over the river Rhine, which you can take in on the banks, or on a boat trip.

A jam packed schedule of events is on offer, featuring martial arts, fashion shows, dance, art, and music, as well as food, crafts, and children’s activities.

Cherry Blossom Festivals - USA Head to Page 10 for the lowdown on the USA’s sakura festivals, from New Yorker Sharlene Mousfar

National Cherry Blossom Festival Washington DC, USA 30 March–12 April 2015

Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival San Francisco, USA 11–12 & 18–19 April 2015

Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry Blossom Festival

Philadelphia 6–12 April 2015

Branch Brook Park, NYC 11–12 April 2015

Sakura matsuris celebrate the arrival of Spring, and the beauty and transience of the Japanese cherry blossom


CONTACTS Ana Prundaru

Rachel Heneghan

Bonnie Chung / Miso Tasty

Renae-Lucas Hall

Dairy Art Centre

Ross Lovell

Ella Goodwin

Saoirse Clohessy

Emily Faulder

Sharlene Mousfar

Emma Prew

Soleil Redwood

Georgie Holt

Sous Chef

Gifts of the Orient

Street Fashion Europe


Heather Fyfe


Japan Travel

Sutton PR

Joanne Ng

The Japanese Shop

Justine Sherratt

The Tea Makers of London

Laura Hilton-Smith

Tom Eccles

Lera Mimizu

Yoshitomo Nara

Matthew Rowe


Peter Sidell


GET INVOLVED We’re currently on the look out for people who would like to contribute to our second issue, due for release in the second half of 2015. If any of the following sounds like you, then do get in touch! Illustrators/Artists/Designers who are either Japanese or have a Japanese theme to their work. Writers who would like to share an article they’ve written (this can be anything related to Japan, we’re open to all ideas so run it past us!) Small businesses who have a Japanese theme, this could be for example, a café, a restaurant, an online store or a shop, selling Japanese or Japanese inspired clothing, jewellery, food, sweets, merchandise etc. People who have lived/worked/travelled in Japan, or currently live/work/travel in Japan and would like to share their experiences. Photographers who have a Japanese theme to their work for example, Japanese band, landscape or fashion photography. We’re open to any other suggestions for articles so if we haven’t listed your interest or area of expertise above, we may well still want to feature you, so please do contact us. We’re friendly people and will respond to all queries and submissions, even if we can’t feature you at this point. SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Please send (where possible) links to your work online. Please don’t attach lots of documents or images to emails. If you want to submit an article then please draft an intro and brief outline before sending so we can get an idea of your writing style. We love eye candy, so if you have images to go with your submission then all the better, as most of our features will be image led. If you’ve got any questions at all, please do email us, and we’ll be happy to answer your query:


INFO Next Issue

Leafing through a magazine with a cup of tea and a biscuit (or sencha and wagashi!) is the way we envision our readers enjoying Love Japan Magazine, so our aim is to get the next edition into print. We’ll be showcasing the work of more fantastic illustrators, sharing creative bento from talented food artists, and bringing you a kawaii shopping guide jam packed full of cute and cool Japanese inspired clothing, gifts and accessories. We’ll also have more interviews from inspiring people, and interesting travel and lifestyle features, from capsule hotels to cat cafés. We’ll be attending several European Japanese events over the next couple of months snapping Japanese fashion enthusiasts and cosplayers for our fashion section!

Keep in Touch Subscribe to newsletter updates on our website: Follow us on Facebook: Tweet us: Follow us on Instagram:

Business Enquiries

For all business and advertising enquiries please contact:


Soft pink in colour The ballerinas of Spring Swaying gracefully

Haiku by Hannah Loughran. Photograph by Heather Fyfe


Love Japan Magazine Issue 1  

Welcome to the first issue of Love Japan Magazine! Written by fans, for fans, Love Japan is a celebration of Japanese culture, covering lif...

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