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Issue #2 | 2015

Welcome to the second issue of Love Japan Magazine! The team has been working hard over the past few months to bring you another creative and colourful magazine jam packed full of Japan related features. Our cover girl is the multi-talented La Carmina; author, travel blogger and Japan fan; head on over to page 18 to read our exclusive interview with her. We’re also delighted to bring you interviews with ‘Sushi and Beyond’ author Michael Booth, NHK TV presenter and singer/ songwriter May-J, Japan travel photographer Jeremy Hoare, and Tofu Cute; one of the UK’s favourite stockists of all things cute and Japanese. Take a look around Gunkanjima, Japan’s abandoned island, which has recently been named a UNESCO World Heritage site, and find out more about Japan’s famous capsule hotels in our I-Pod article. If you’ve ever been intrigued by manga, and all its sub genres, we make it easy for you to find out more, with a ‘beginner’s guide’ on page 10. Foodies are catered for with delicious sake cocktail and food pairing recipes from Museum of Sake, and a banana pancake recipe with a Japanese twist from the Japan Centre. Art and design fans are treated to Japan inspired illustration and design from Tiffany Atkin and Andrew Joyce, and our very own designer Emma introduces you to her Japanese travel photo book ‘Five Thousand Miles’. You can also take a look at what the Love Japan team have been up to at Japan inspired events around Europe, from Japan Day in Germany to Hyper Japan, the UK’s biggest J-Culture event. All this, and much more, covering food, fashion, travel, lifestyle and art. We bring you 84 pages of Japan inspired features, written by fans, for fans of Japan. Enjoy :)

Emily, Editor

Editor Emily Faulder Sub Editor Ross Lovell Editorial Design Emma Prew

Contributors: Andrew Joyce, Anna Greenhous, Christopher Walden, Chung Hee Jee Photographer, Ella Goodwin, Freedom Chevalier, Georgina Holt, Heather Fyfe, Jeremy Hoare, Jordy Meow, Justine Sherratt, Laura Hilton-Smith, La Carmina, Michael Booth, Monika Daniel, Natsuki Kikuya, Peter Sidell, Rachel Heneghan, Rachel Hunt, Saoirse Clohessy, Sharlene Mousfar, Soleil Redwood, The Japan Centre, Tiffany Atkin, TL Radcliffe, Tofu Cute, Yutaka With thanks to:, Hyper Japan, Japan Expo, London Anime and Gaming Con, NHK World Cover photo: Model and styling: La Carmina. Photographer: Joey Wong. Hair: Stephanie Hoy of Stratosphere Salon in Vancouver. BC Shot on location in Iceland, during a nature tour with Salty Tours. All content is copyright protected and cannot be copied without permission

Issue #2 | 2015


LIFESTYLE P04–07 I-Pod P08–09 Sushi and Beyond P10–13 A  Beginner’s Guide to Manga P14–15 May-J P16–17 T  he Philosophical Charm of Japanese Language


P18–21 La Carmina

La Carmina

TRAVEL P22–25 Gunkanjima P26–29 1  0 Reasons To Love… Kyoto P30–31 Ritsurin-Koen P32–35 Five Thousand Miles P36–39 Kyoto: City of Dreams


P40–41 S  eafood & Salmon Fishing in Hokkaido


FOOD P42–45 Japan Centre & Banana Pancakes with Azuki P46–47 A Beginner’s Guide to Sake P48–51 S  ake Cocktails & Food Pairing with the Museum of Sake



P52–53 G  o Japanese with a Fabulously Light Fish Dish

Japan Centre & Banana Pancakes with Azuki

THE ARTS P54–57 Tiffany Atkin P58–61 A  ndrew Joyce: Doodles and Stuff

Tiffany Atkin


International Harajuku Fashion Day


Japan Day, Düsseldorf


FASHION P62–65 International Harajuku Fashion Day P66–69 Japanese ‘Boy Style’ Fashion P70–73 Tofu Cute

EVENTS & MORE P74–75 Hyper Japan, London P76–77 Japan Expo, Paris P78–79 L  ondon Anime and Gaming Con P80–81 Japan Day, Düsseldorf P82–83 #Japanspiration P84




images of the hotel Nine Hours. Š Nacasa & Partners


I-Pod Freedom Chevalier has enjoyed over twenty years success as an award-winning stage performer and a pop/country vocalist. Since retiring from live performance in the mid-nineties, she has worked continually in various written mediums. Captivated by the images of tea houses in Kyoto that her father would bring back from his visits, what started as a way to keep his memory alive after his death has become a genuine love of a culture that has loved her back.


ou’ve bought your tickets and made a list of what to pack. But, where will you stay? Accommodations in Japan are varied and can range from £360 for one luxurious 5-star night at the Park Hyatt Tokyo (remember Lost In Translation?), to Osaka’s (in)famous Diamond Hotel, often referred to as the “cheapest room in Japan” at £4.50 per night. But you want something different, something unique, something exclusive to the archipelago: the capsule hotel. The capsule, or pod hotel (カプセルホテル), can be an inexpensive (between £10 and £25 per night) way to rest up from the day’s adventures AND a brilliant tale to tell your friends. Capsule hotels predominantly consist of several floors. Each floor houses a slew of casket shaped rectangular pods resting side-by-side, stacked two capsules high. Inside you get a mattress, TV, and a lock box for valuables. Some have Wi-Fi and built in computer ports. Initially designed to accommodate hard-working salarymen who missed the last train home, they have evolved into a unique cultural experience.

How it works Upon arrival, remove your shoes. You’ll be given slippers to wear, a yukata (robe), and your key. Some places provide a wristband to identify you as a paid patron. Off you trundle along a corridor of double decker pods to locate your “room”. While the majority of capsule hotels are men only, those that cater to women designate separate “women only” floor(s) for safety and comfort. You’ll change out of your travelling clothes for the night in one of the dressing rooms, and wash in the shower room (some have a sento or onsen). Tired and clean you’re ready to snuggle into your 2m x 1m x 1.25m roost for a well-deserved rest. Onsite vending machines offer the opportunity to purchase toothbrushes, shirts, ties, underwear… and food.

While the thought of a pod conjures up images of outer space transport for many, the capsules are more Earth-Like than you may imagine, feeling more like a summer camp experience than stasis chamber. Inside the capsule you have access to individual control over your unit’s lights, television channels, porn (that’s the big red button that costs an extra ¥400), and radio. They have an alarm clock so you don’t oversleep, but many hotels utilize an announcement system to remind clients that it’s time to get up and start moving. That’s when you hand back your yukata, wristband, and settle your account.


Now that you know what to expect, where do you find them? Well you’re lucky – they dot the landscape of the entire country, primarily city centres.

The Capsule Inn, Osaka. (Men only. £16/night.) Nostalgic? Love history? Stay at the very first capsule hotel built in Japan! The brainchild of architect Kisho Kurokawa, father of capsule architecture. The Capsule Inn opened for business in 1979.

Nine Hours, Kyoto & Narita Airport. (Men/Women. £21/night.) Named for the average time spent at a hotel: Shower (1 hour) + Sleep (7 hours) + Getting Dressed (1 hour) = Nine Hours. Completely different from that of the traditional capsule hotels, Nine Hours is geared toward those who travel within the city, and foreign travellers – like us. This 9-storey luxury hotel offers guest locker key, towel, and loungewear upon check-in. Each cosy module includes an Air Cyclone mattress, and a particular favourite: the Tamanohada shampoo!

Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel, Tokyo. (Men/Women. £42/night.) “Cheap, Clean” and offers “Good Access”. They have public bath and sauna, and a “relaxing” lounge with Wi-Fi. They are directly connected to JR/Tokyo Metro Shinjuku station, offer laundry service, and even an onsite restaurant (try the Fried Onion Rings!)


Whichever you choose, you’ll be in for the sleep dreams are made of; just one more reason to Love Japan.



SUSHI AND BEYOND Food and travel writer Michael Booth gives us the low-down on his award winning book Sushi and Beyond: What the Japanese Know About Cooking. Now airing on Japanese TV Station NHK World as an anime series, as well as being adapted for manga, Sushi and Beyond is a best-seller in Japan, and plots Michael’s journey through the country, on a culinary adventure with his family. 1) How did the idea for Sushi and Beyond come about? It came about after I had spent a year training to be a chef in Paris (for a book, Sacré Cordon Bleu, which came out in 2006). I had been eating lots of cheese, fatty foods, butter and so on, and had put on a few kilos. I was introduced to a book, Japanese Food: A Simple Art, by Shizuo Tsuji, which though 20 years old, described an incredibly modern, healthy way of eating. I wanted to learn more about what was a really alien cuisine – with totally different techniques and ingredients. Also, basically, I wanted to return to Japan because I just loved it so much. 2) Why do you think it’s been such a hit, especially in Japan? It is very strange that the book has been so successful in Japan, one of the most surreal experiences of my career. I am told there is actually a lot of research in the book with which many Japanese people were unfamiliar. Also, much to my surprise, Japanese readers seem to like my sense of humour. Generally, the Japanese are always interested to hear what outsiders think of them: I think that must be a throwback to the centuries of isolation.


3) Your trip lasted around a hundred days. Did sampling the delights of Japanese cuisine for that length of time have a lasting effect on your diet and attitude to food? Yes. I incorporate Japanese ingredients into my cooking – miso, soy, sake, mirin, and dashi. I try to eat more vegetables and seafood, cook things less, and use less fat and dairy. It’s not like I only eat Japanese food though. I am lucky in that my work has taken me around the world, so I take things from lots of different countries when I cook. 4) Sushi and Beyond has now been made into an anime that’s being aired on NHK World. Can you tell us a bit more about it? Have you got any plans for a general release? We really want to watch it… It is a 24 part series, which blends stories from the book (with a little artistic license from the amazing animator, Rarecho), along with interesting insights into Japanese cuisine, and some documentary elements. It is running in Japanese on NHK1 and in English on NHK World.

5) Has the Japanese love for manga and anime rubbed off on you at all? It’s starting to, yes. I love the Oishinbo series of food manga. Once you accept the conventions, they are really enjoyable. I recently visited the Manga Museum in Kyoto, and had a tour with the curator, which was really fascinating – especially figuring out the origins of the form. Up until the 1950s, for instance, the Japanese equivalent of Punch and Judy shows were (mostly) performed by monks in parks, who would tell stories with pictures.



7) There’s plenty to love about Japanese culture. If you could apply any aspects of it to the UK, what would they be?

I’d really like to return to Okinawa, and to spend more time in Kyushu and Shikoku. It’d be great to go back to Hokkaido too.

Social cohesion, trust, respect for each other, low crime, attention to detail, dedication to craft, appreciation of the seasons. I could go on…

10) Do you have any other Japanese themed projects in the pipeline?

8) How do you feel about the quality of Japanese cuisine in the UK?

6) You’ve had so many weird and wonderful Japanese dining experiences already, but are there any you’re still yet to try? There are a few specific restaurants I would like to try – the kind of ones where you need to know someone to get in – but more generally, I just really enjoy travelling to new places and trying regional foods.

Fairly atrocious. Particularly once you leave central London. Koya in Soho is pretty great, though. We’ve had a mini ramen boom, now I am waiting for okonomiyaki to catch on. 9) What places are on your hit list for your next trip to Japan? I was in Japan last month, actually. I visited the newly restored Himeji Castle, Kobe, and Kanazawa – the latter was new for me, and really a jewel of a city. It’s very rich in culture and now only a couple of hours from Tokyo by shinkanzen.

Sushi and Beyond is coming out in manga form this summer. My Paris food memoir, Sacré Cordon Bleu, is coming out in Japanese, as is my latest book, The Almost Nearly Perfect People. Animated series Sushi and Beyond is on NHK WORLD Sundays at 5:10pm and 9:10pm (BST) tv/sushi NHK WORLD TV is available on Sky, Freesat, Virgin Media, TV Player and the NHK WORLD TV app. For more details: tv/howto

Images © NHK World



A Beginner’s Guide to Manga Chris is a freelance writer who enjoys spending all his savings on trips to Japan. When he’s not wishing he was still hunting for goodies in Akihabara, he’s posting on Twitter @EuricaeriS.


hen people bring up manga in conversation outside of Japan, it’s typically in reference to Japanese-produced comics, but that’s just a small part of it. Manga in Japan encompasses cartoons as a whole, from the manga we’ve come to know and love here in the West, to animation and newspaper doodles. The term has been around since the late 18th century, simply meaning “whimsical drawings”. But the drawings found in Eshinbun Nipponchi, Japan’s first manga magazine, are considerably different to what we’ve come to expect today. In fact, they share more similarities with early American comics than they do with their present-day counterparts. You’d therefore be forgiven for thinking that manga in its current form has been around for a long time, but it originated in post-war Japan, in the latter half of the 1940s. There are conflicting reports about how it all started, but the common consensus is that it stemmed from the US military bringing comic books into the country, eventually causing Japanese artists to start creating their own interpretations. Manga remained niche in this transitional period, though it only took a few stars to generate a renewed public interest in the medium. Osamu Tezuka is often referred to as “the father of manga”, due to the new styles and techniques he brought to the table. The popularity of his works remains high even now, years after his death, and he continues to influence manga authors and animators alike. Both Black Jack, the story of a talented surgeon who operates illegally, and Astro Boy, the nuclear-powered robot, have proven to be successful and even iconic overseas, but this is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Tezuka’s works. The “Japanese Walt Disney” is another of his nicknames, and it’s certainly fitting.


It wouldn’t be until the 1980s that manga would start to trickle out of Japan and into the hands of the Western audiences, complete with localisations. In early releases, publishers would mirror pages of manga so that they could be read from left to right, the same way you would read a typical Western comic book. This proved to be a controversial decision, and it was stopped because of the fan reaction to it, as well as the additional work it involved. Nowadays, most volumes of manga carry a simple warning for first-time readers at the ‘front’, providing directions on how to read the book right to left. Fortunately for us, manga is now so widespread that most bookstores carry a selection of different titles. There are literally hundreds of stories to choose from, so if you want to start reading, why not pick by theme? Here is a rundown of the most popular genres:

GENRES Shounen The most common genre of manga is shounen, meaning ‘boy’, and is named after its target audience. Common themes include school-based settings, supernatural powers and intense fight scenes, but even manga featuring male-led romance and harem scenarios are classified as shounen. A good percentage of manga that ends up localised are part of this genre, though the typical themes and topics that appear in shounen manga are enjoyed by all genders. One Piece and Naruto are two famous examples of this genre, and are a great starting point for newcomers. If you want to try something a bit more obscure, give Hunter x Hunter a try.

Shoujo Shoujo is also an incredibly popular genre. Meaning ‘girl’, it’s no surprise that it’s enjoyed by a lot of young Japanese girls. As with shounen, the shoujo genre is enjoyed by all ages and genders, and there are certainly many western readers who can’t typically notice the difference between the two. For example, Sailor Moon is considered a shoujo manga, but it’s reasonably similar to fight-centric shounen titles, only with a mostly female cast. Cardcaptor Sakura is another good example of this fighting formula, just mixed with romance and a focus on fashion. Love stories with female protagonists, such as Kimi ni Todoke, also fall into this category. If you’re looking for something new, give Love So Life a read.

Slice of life


This genre tends to be used as a catch-all for stories that do not have a goal or progression. For example, while Naruto is always chasing an evil character, there’s nothing like that in a manga like Sunshine Sketch. Instead, we see what they get up to as they go about their daily lives; a slice of their life, if you will. Yotsuba&!, a story about a young girl and her mischievous adventures, is a popular manga in this genre with plenty of humour, making it a perfect place to start. Natsume’s Book of Friends is another slice of life, but is more subdued and fantastical, focusing on a boy who can communicate with spirits.

It would be impossible to talk about manga for kids without mentioning Doraemon, the ever-popular robot cat from the future. At 45 volumes of manga it hardly dents Kochikame’s ridiculous record of 194 and counting, but Doraemon’s success has been proven with well over 2,000 episodes of anime. For something more familiar, there are numerous Pokémon related manga series, with many of them being based around particular Pokémon video games. If neither of these pique your interest, you can’t go wrong with Tezuka’s Astro Boy.




If you’re not familiar with horror-themed manga, it might be quite hard to imagine what that might be like. When reading a novel, it’s often your own imagination that ends up scaring you, as the words in the book are merely a guide for you to follow. In film, there are techniques such as jump scares that exist to catch you out. You don’t have that in manga, but horror manga is particularly good at tension building, and sometimes the fear of what’s lurking on the other side of the page is all it takes to spook you. Parasyte is a good place to start if you’re already a fan of shounen, but if you want something purely horror, look no further than Junji Ito’s works. Uzumaki and Gyo are particularly good at keeping you up at night.

The sports genre is relatively self-explanatory, but it’s worth noting that not every title will go for accuracy. A soccer title like Inazuma Eleven is aimed at kids and features special powers and super moves, where as Giant Killing is aiming for an older target audience and features a more realistic representation of the sport. There are literally hundreds of different sports manga to choose from, so it’s worth starting with one that’s based on a sport you like. There’s also a plethora of manga on Japan’s favourite sports, especially baseball, where you can pick from series like Major, One Outs, and Cross Game. For something different, why not try something a little more niche, like Mahjong or Go? Akagi and Hikaru no Go are good for those! Mecha You need only look at the 1:1 scale Gundam statue in Odaiba to see that Japan loves its giant robots, and manga certainly sees its fair share of them too. While any manga with a robot focus will be put in the mecha category, the majority of these are human-piloted, giant-sized and spacefaring. Tetsujin 28-gō was the original mecha manga, and is responsible for kickstarting interest in the genre. Mazinger Z proved to be one of the early successes, and popularised concepts such as shouting attack names and the infamous ‘rocket punch’. The Gundam series is famous even outside of Japan, and while the anime was what kicked off the franchise, its popularity has resulted in plenty of manga for you to get your hands on. Yuri/Yaoi This genre focuses on romantic and sexual relationships between same-sex couples. Yuri, or ‘Girl’s Love’, are terms used when the focus is on a female relationship, and yaoi, or ‘Boy’s Love’, is used when the couple is male. Yaoi is extremely popular in Japan and in the markets receiving localisations, while yuri remains more niche. While they both have dedicated magazines in Japan and see moderate mainstream success, the genres thrive in the dōjinshi market, as artists tend to create and explore romances between characters from other popular works. Junjo Romantica is a good place to start if you’re new to yaoi. If you’d prefer to read a yuri manga, give Maria-sama ga Miteru a go.




This is a collection of manga chapters, previously released in a serialised magazine. In the west, we refer to these as volumes.

On occasion, images from an anime will be used to create manga. This results in full-colour manga, a rarity given that serialised manga is drawn in black and white. Animanga is a term more commonly used in Japan than it is in the West.


Light Novel

This refers to a common manga format, where scenes are formed out of four panels and are read from top to bottom. These are typically used in comedies, but can be seen occasionally in slice of life and children’s manga.

While not actually manga, they are often found in manga sections in bookshops due to their manga-style covers and page illustrations. These are short stories akin to novellas, and are often serialised chapter by chapter in dedicated light-novel magazines. These are also sold in volumes, with most stories spanning multiple books.


Dōjinshi This is a blanket term for works that are self-published. This is commonly applied to manga, but can also describe anime, music, toys and more. Dōjinshi are typically works based on existing properties, similar to fan-fiction, so while you may find familiar characters and settings in this market, they are often created by fans and not by the franchise owners.

Seinen/Josei These terms literally mean ‘man’ and ‘woman’, and are used to describe manga targeted at older readers that wouldn’t fall into the shounen/shoujo genres. These tend to have adult themes, and use kanji without furigana, which kids would normally need if they are unfamiliar with some kanji.



MAY-J Multilingual Pop & R&B singer May-J rose to fame at a young age with the release of several highly successful singles and albums.



t the age of just 17, May-J released her debut mini album, and her next two albums set her on the road to stardom, with both reaching top 10 spots in the ‘Oricon’ music charts. In 2008 May-J added TV presenter to her list of talents, when she became host of NHK World’s all-English Japanese music show ‘J-Melo’, which is broadcast in 150 countries and regions worldwide. Just last year, May-J recorded the end credits of ‘Let It Go’ for the Japanese release of Disney’s animated film, ‘Frozen’! With a jam packed schedule, both at home and abroad, we were delighted to have the chance to catch up with May-J at London’s biggest Japanese cultural event ‘Hyper Japan’, where she spent the weekend meeting fans and performing on the main stage. 1) Hi May J, it was lovely to meet you at Hyper Japan recently! What else did you get up to whilst in the UK? I’m back in Japan now but I had a great time in London, using my first Oyster card to travel around and see the city. I particularly enjoyed visiting Camden to explore and do some shopping!

2) Did you always know that you wanted to be a singer? How did you make your ‘big break’ onto the music scene?

6) How did you get into TV presenting for NHK World, and what’s your favourite part of the job?

I was born and raised in Japan, but I attended both Japanese and American schools so I have a lot of friends from different countries and I’ve encountered many different cultures. I’d like to think that this helps me to write and sing songs that communicate with people around the world.

In 2008, the producer of J-Melo got in touch with me and asked me to co-host NHK’s weekly music program with Shanti. I became the main host in 2010 and it’s been a fantastic experience. I’ve got to meet lots of different artists and musicians!

3) Which singers or bands do you think have had the most influence on you and why?

7) You’ve travelled a lot, so do you have any particular favourite cities, either inside or outside of Japan, and what makes them special for you?

Christina Aguilera, whose songs I loved singing from a young age – especially her ‘Reflection’ for Disney’s ‘Mulan’. Christina’s got such a strong beautiful voice but she’s a great dancer and songwriter too.

I loved Turkey and Dubai! Both cities had a great atmosphere and the people there were incredibly friendly. I also met lots of fans who were extremely passionate about Japanese music!

4) Can you tell us a bit about your new single ‘Sparkle’?

8) When you’re not working, what do you like to do to relax?

’Sparkle’ is the theme song for Disney’s Nintendo 3DS game called ‘Magic Castle – My happy life 2’. It’s a song about how if you can dream it, you can always make it come true and because I wrote the lyrics it’s very personal to me. 5) Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you’d love to collaborate with in the future? Ken Hirai! I’d love to do a duet with him!

I like to watch movies, listen to music, cook at home, and just relax in the park! 9) What are your plans for the next year? I’d like to work on more shows and hopefully travel more. I’d also love to do a world tour someday! May J presents J-MELO on NHK WORLD every Sunday at 16:10 BST

image © Emily Faulder



The Philosophical Charm of Japanese Language Titania Radcliffe fell in love with Japan as a teenager and dreams of one day calling Japan her home. After completing an MA in Philosophy, Titania’s main focus is now on writing; blending her love of travel and culture with her interest in philosophy and sociology.



friend recently introduced me to the Japanese concept of ‘mono no aware’. It’s a term that refers to ‘the pathos of things’, the gentle wistfulness at transience, and the awareness of the sadness of existence. The aesthetic fragility encapsulated by sakura is a perfect visual example of what this phrase really represents. Upon reading these words I realised how linguistically elegant Japanese is in its ability to convey beautiful yet complex aspects of the human experience in such small phrases. English is of course known for its descriptively rich content; Shakespeare can be credited with much of the poetic and descriptive content available to us today. And yet despite this we seem to have a habit of making things incredibly convoluted. We have no skill in summing up our most fundamental experiences in just one or two short words. This is where Japan really seems to flourish linguistically; the more I investigate, the more beauty I find hidden away within a language that is often neglected in the Western world. I would suggest that we are doing ourselves a disservice by failing to learn Japanese; it has much to offer us in terms of how we convey the intimate complexities of human life and how they relate to our own individual, inner experience. We may even come to see our world and ourselves in a whole new light just by being able to express ourselves in Japanese. There has been much research in recent years suggesting that the language we speak directly influences our view of the world and our experience within it. Just by our inability to express something, we may be missing out on the very core of what it is to be human and exist within the beauty found on Earth. For example, when did you last notice a stunning gleam of last light on a river’s surface at dusk? Do we even notice the beauty contained in the glow of a river in the darkness? If we spoke Japanese we would be able to see and refer to this as ‘kawaakari’. We could also refer to the ‘fuubutsushi’; and talk of those scents and memories that evoke in us memories and anticipation of a particular season. It seems unsurprising to me that a country with such dramatic changes in seasons and infamous symbols of change such as the sakura has words that describe such specific processes.

However I do wonder whether it also means that the Japanese have a much deeper understanding of and connection to these natural events. If we were able to refer to the ‘komorebi’ would we notice more often the peaceful beauty contained in sunlight as it filters through the leaves of trees? And when we have all of these experiences if we could converse about the ‘yugen’, the awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words, would this give a feeling of a much deeper spiritual or natural connection to the world? I think ‘yugen’ has to be the most soulful word that I now know of; nothing available to me in English can ever convey what that one small word manages to encapsulate in such simplistic terms. I don’t mean that we are unable to express ourselves to a satisfactory level in English; our language is of course one of the most expressive and expansive languages in existence. But somehow Japan has managed to inject complex aesthetic philosophies directly into its linguistic core. With just one word I can convey more about the simultaneous beauty and painfulness contained within the human condition than I could in a whole evening’s conversation in English. How might we grow and develop if we were able to wander down Philosopher’s Walk in Kyoto and talk in Japanese to our dearest friends and see our world and ourselves in an entirely new Japanese light? Life is nuanced, complex and transitory. Japan has the ability to reflect this in its linguistic structure to really encapsulate what it is to be human. In my opinion we would all benefit from adding some Japanese words to our vocabulary and experience this first hand.






La Carmina La Carmina is an alternative fashion, travel and culture blogger, international TV host (Food Network, National Geographic, Discovery), author of 3 books, and travel journalist for Business Insider, CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel and AOL / Huffington Post. Love Japan’s Editor Emily caught up with La Carmina to find out a bit more about her adventures in Japan. 1) You’ve recently been out in Japan doing some promotion for Odigo Japan (a Japanese travel planning website). It looks like you had a lot of fun, can you tell us a bit more about the trip and what you got up to? I’ve been teaming up with Odigo (, a start-up that helps English-speakers plan awesome trips to Japan. Readers tell me it can be hard to figure out Japanese addresses, and how to get around – especially if you are a first time visitor. With Odigo, it’s easy to plan a trip that’s tailored to your interests – whether it’s sushi or Sailor Moon. Anyone can contribute travel tips and build upon previous journeys, which makes it interactive. I’ve been consulting for Odigo, sharing my favourite Tokyo spots, and recently did a travel film and hosted the launch party. We’re excited to see it continue to grow.

2) It must be a pretty awesome job to have the opportunity to travel and write for a living. How did you get into travel journalism? What are the best bits, and what do you find most challenging? It all happened organically – I never sought out travel writing as a career, but it turned out to be a perfect fit. I loved connecting with readers through my blog, and sharing my passion for Japanese travel, fashion and pop culture. Gradually, the site got more readers and led to opportunities I never thought possible, including writing books, hosting TV shows (like Oddities, Bizarre Foods, Taboo), and travelling worldwide. Editors were interested in my writing, since the travel coverage is quite different from the norm (I’d report on things like fetish parties, body modifications and kawaii restaurants). They began hiring me to write and do videos for different publications. Now I contribute regularly to Sunday Times, Hong Kong Express, Yahoo Travel, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and more.

3) You’ve probably lost count of the times you’ve been to Japan, but are there any particular Japan travel memories that stand out for you? I have the fondest memories of being on Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. I wrote a book called “Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo,” and it led to me becoming his co-host and guide, for the Japan episode. While the cameras rolled, Andrew and I played “takoyaki roulette” with monsters, and got served cakes by waiters dressed as schoolboys. This episode ended up being one of most talkedabout in the series. Andrew’s genuine curiosity and respect for cultures worldwide, no matter how strange, inspired me to pursue what I do today. My appearance on Bizarre Foods also opened the floodgates to a number of opportunities, including presenting and producing jobs with more travel TV shows.


4) We love your book ‘Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants’, a guide to some of the cute and crazy places to drink and dine in Tokyo. What are some of your favourite bars and restaurants to hang out in? My friends and I are obsessed with Kagaya, a ridiculous izakaya (Japanese home-style pub) that is possibly the most bizarre theme restaurant in Tokyo. The dining experience is packed with surprises: the beer wobbles when you pick it up, and there’s a dancing dragon toy that greets you in the bathroom. When Kagaya’s owner is ready to serve you, he ducks into a closet and emerges dressed up as a frog, or an octopus! There are posts and videos about my experiences here – they’ll make you laugh. And for a taste of Tokyo’s wild fashion and subcultures, Decadence Bar is the place to be. A typical night at Decabar involves pole-dancing drag queens and a domination show by a mistress, surrounded by dancing, rainbow-haired cyber kids. Located above Christon Cafe Shinjuku (a campy church-themed restaurant), Tokyo Decadence bar also serves food to fit the club night’s theme.

“I’m lucky that opportunities bring me to Tokyo at least 2–4 times a year.” 20

5) You’re a big advocate of alternative Japanese fashion, where do you get your inspiration from fashion wise, and where do you enjoy shopping in Japan? Are there any Japanese icons, fashion or otherwise who inspire you? In Tokyo, my friends and I always visit Closet Child, the second-hand store that carries alternative Japanese labels like h.NAOTO, Putumayo, Alice Auaa. I also love to browse the young, alternative department stores: Shibuya 109, MaruiOne, LaForet, Lumine. I don’t really look up to any fashion icons, but love the elegant Gothic Lolita styling of Mana (Malice Mizer), Versailles, Kaya and other Visual Kei rockers.  6) Can you tell us a bit about your Japanese alt / trend consulting business, La Carmina & The Pirates? Over time, more producers found me through my TV appearances, videos, blog or books. I kept getting offers to host and arrange TV episodes: Oddities, Taboo, World’s Weirdest Restaurants, and more. Since there was so much demand, I started a company, La Carmina and the Pirates ( pirates), with my business partner, Naomi Rubin. To date, we’ve organized shows for Food Network, French TV, German TV, NHK Japan, CNN, Norway TV, Discovery, National Geographic Taboo, and many others. We did four different TV shows about “bagelheads”, the saline drip procedure that makes it look as if you have a bagel on your forehead!

7) You’ve had lots of appearances on Japanese TV, including co-hosting the Tokyo episode of Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World and appearing on NHK Kawaii TV. What were the highlights for you, and have you got any more Japanese TV appearances planned? It was a lot of fun to buy a giant moose head on Discovery Channel’s Oddities, take cameras to Goth parties for CNN, and be served by Japanese maids at Akihabara cafés. I am constantly doing different TV appearances. I just filmed a feature for FashionOne TV in Japan, which will air soon. I’m also the guide for a new German Pro7 TV show called Offline, and the Hong Kong episode will be released this summer. There’s more on the way, which I can’t reveal yet – you’ll have to stay tuned to my site for updates! 8) Do you have any plans to go back to Japan soon? If you could plan your dream trip, which places would you visit? I’m lucky that opportunities (usually for TV hosting) bring me to Tokyo at least 2–4 times a year. I’ll probably be back in the late spring or early summer for more shoots. I’d like to see other parts of Japan – I still haven’t gone to Okinawa or Hokkaido. The Gotokuji temple, which has a hundred cat statues, is also on my list.



GUNKANJIMA: Japan’s Abandoned Island

images © Jordy Meow


Jordy Meow is an urban explorer who photographs the weird and the wonderful. He has captured many interesting sights with his camera and was kind enough to share some stunning images with us of Japan’s abandoned island, Hashima (or Gunkanjima as it’s now more widely known).


ike most countries Japan has experienced a great many changes over the years. When they occur suddenly it can mean places are forgotten, left to turn to ruin. The Japanese call these abandoned areas ‘haikyo’, and they are dotted all around the country’s landscape. One of the more eye-catching examples of a haikyo, is Hashima, an uninhabited man-made island off the coast of Nagasaki. Most call it by its nickname, Gunkanjima (meaning Battleship Island), and that title is well earned; its high concrete walls and buildings giving it the appearance of a mighty aircraft carrier. However, being left to fend for itself against the harshness of the ocean for many years led to parts of the outer shell crumbling, while tsunamis and typhoons have reduced many of its buildings to rubble.

Gunkanjima was opened in 1887 as a coal mining facility, a prime spot to harvest the fuel that would feed the early era of industrialisation in Japan. Mitsubishi took over the operation in 1890 and built multi-storey housing, a school, and a host of other facilities so workers and their families could live on the island. The community grew rapidly, resulting in it becoming the most densely populated place on Earth. Due to its modest size, space at ground level was severely limited, so accommodation was built upwards, mostly either side of one long staircase. The only way on or off the island was via boat, and regular trips were available to residents who wanted to visit the mainland. Boats were also crucial to the food and water supply as Gunkanjima was not connected to any water system, and was unable to support the growth of plants and crops. This left the island and its people at the mercy of the weather, extreme conditions often cutting them off for days.


Despite the constraints that living in isolation brings, the community spirit was strong. Job security and homes were all that most required, and on Gunkanjima both were guaranteed. This was until the 1960s, when petroleum overtook coal as the fuel of choice. Mines all over Japan closed and in 1974 Gunkanjima suffered the same fate. Jobs on the mainland were scarce so residents fled as quickly as they could; many so desperate to find work they left their belongings behind. For 35 years no one set foot on Gunkanjima. Over 3 long decades of neglect the once imperious island fell apart.

Eventually a minor restoration operation began, and in 2009 Gunkanjima was reopened, albeit only partially, and now for a price tourists can explore a small section on a guided tour and take in the rest of the sights from a distance through telescopes. A lucky few (Jordy included) have managed to obtain Government permission to explore the rest of the island, allowing them to see everything this incredible structure has to offer. However, it’s not just tourists who appreciate Gunkanjima’s unusual appearance; it has caught the eye of many in the media as well. James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, became fascinated with a picture of the island, which resulted in it being the inspiration for villain Raoul Silva’s lair in the film Skyfall.

Gunkanjima has also been featured in documentaries, films, music videos, and was the main setting for the live action adaptation of popular manga and anime, Attack on Titan. Gunkanjima’s increased exposure led to great demand for it to be protected, to avoid it being forgotten once more, and after 7 years of waiting it was formally approved as a UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2015. Being just a short boat trip from Nagasaki makes Gunkanjima a perfect day out for those who wish to take in one of the more unusual sights Japan has to offer. But don’t take our word for it, go see for yourselves!


To keep up with Jordy’s latest exploits and see more of his photos, visit Jordy Meow’s book ‘Abandoned Japan’ is available to buy online from from October 1st. Words by Ross Lovell.



10 Reasons To Love…


Kyoto, Japan’s former capital is a short shinkansen ride from Tokyo, yet it feels like a different world. Life seems to roll at a slower pace here, and a stay in Kyoto will invariably centre around exploring the cities 1600+ temples and shrines. No trip to Japan would be complete without a stay in this magical city.

Temples and Palaces Kyoto is undoubtedly the place to go if you want to experience temples, shrines and palaces. Each with their own unique character, it’s hard to pick a favourite. Arguably one of the most impressive is the Gold Pavilion, or ‘Ginkaku-ji’ glittering with gold leaf, but it’s equally as exciting to stumble across a small shrine off the beaten track.


Fushimi Inari Shrine One of Kyoto’s most impressive shrines, Fushimi Inari is famed for it’s thousands of red torii gates. The shrine is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice and you’ll notice an abundance of fox statues dotted around. Foxes were through to be Inari’s messengers. Fushimi Inari’s torii gates lead you up into the sacred Mount Inari, and you can spend several hours trekking to the very top.

Philosopher ’s Path Named after the philosopher Nishida Kitaro who was said to have strolled along this route between the Gold and Silver pavilions on his way to and from Kyoto University, Philosopher’s Path is a must visit. Stroll from one temple to another, past shops selling handmade wares, and take time to have tea in one of the beautiful riverside cafés. In springtime the route is busier, as the banks are lined with beautiful pink cherry blossom trees.

Kyoto Tower Standing at over 130 metres tall, the views from Kyoto Tower are breathtaking. The tower has a viewing platform where you have a 360 degree view of the city, and climbing the tower at night time offers a different perspective again; experience Kyoto after dark as a sea of black dotted with millions of neon lights. Definitely a site not to be missed, and one of Kyoto’s more modern attractions.


Gion No trip to Kyoto would be complete without venturing into Gion. If you’re lucky you may spot a geisha or maiko (apprentice geisha). Parts of Memoirs of a Geisha were filmed in Gion, and it’s easy to feel as though you’ve stepped back in time; there are no modern high rise buildings here, just row after row of wooden fronted shops and restaurants selling interesting hand-crafted objects and delicious cuisine. Try exploring the area just as dawn is breaking, and enjoy a stroll without the crowds.

Tea Ceremony ‘Chado’ (Japanese tea ceremony) is steeped in culture and tradition, and Kyoto is a wonderful place to experience this. It takes many years to learn the art of the tea ceremony, and your kimono clad server will be an expert in her craft. Etiquette and rules are an important part of the ceremony, but there are tea houses which are more geared towards tourists, where a more relaxed environment can be enjoyed. During the ceremony, you’ll get to experience ‘matcha’, (powdered green tea) made into a paste with water, as well as ‘wagashi’ (traditional Japanese sweet).

Ryokan Ryokan are traditional Japanese guest houses, where you’ll sleep on tatami mats rather than a bed. Some ryokans also offer the opportunity to sample an ‘onsen’ bath where you will bathe naked in the hot waters. Experiencing a delicious 13 course ‘kaiseki ryori’ meal in your room may also be an option. Rather than stay in a westernised hotel this is a really wonderful way to experience Japanese hospitality, culture and cuisine.


Cuisine Across the whole of Japan, food has a seasonal theme, and Kyoto is no exception. Alongside the traditional kaiseki-ryōri meal, there are a wealth of food options in Kyoto. From high end fine dining restaurants to cheerful ‘fast food’ eateries serving affordable and simple Japanese meals, there is something to suit everyone’s tastes, and budgets. In Gion, pop into a coffee shop to experience coffee brewed the traditional way, alongside cream puffs (the Japanese equivalent of the profiterole) and other tasty sweet treats.

Kaiseki-Ryori If you’re staying in a ryokan, then chances are you’ll have the opportunity to sample ‘kaisekiryōri’, a 13 course traditional Japanese meal, often served within your own room, and eaten kneeling down at your kotatsu (low table). A whole host of delicious food will be served to you, and the fun is all in the discovery of new flavours. You’ll be served seasonal food, that will usually follow a set order; starter, main, ‘shokuji’ (rice, miso soup and pickles) and dessert.

Arashiyama Just a short train ride from the centre of Kyoto lies the picturesque town of Arashiyama. Most well known for it’s bamboo forest, and Tenryuji temple, this picture perfect town is also a wonderful place to browse gift shops and enjoy a Japanese tea or matcha ice cream. Beautiful views across the Togetsukyo Bridge can be enjoyed, as well as boat trips along the river. Take a visit to the Monkey Park; it’s a steep climb, but worth it for the views, and the chance to feed the free roaming macaques.



Ritsurin-Koen Peter Sidell has been living in Japan since 2003. He writes and edits for, the largest online resource for inbound tourism to Japan, providing articles written by locally based writers on everything a visitor might need to know.



n the pleasant city of Takamatsu on Shikoku island, Ritsurin-Koen is Japan’s largest traditional garden, and arguably one of the most beautiful. Constructed over a hundred years by three successive feudal lords, it’s designed to provide views that change with the seasons. In winter, the red bridges stand out against the occasional white blanket of snow, while spring and summer see a profusion of colourful flowers, and autumn is ablaze with vivid reds and oranges on the trees. The south garden is built around interconnected miniature lakes, reflecting the carefully tended topiary on the small islands dotted around them.

I saw a couple of punts being poled around slowly, everyone in conical bamboo hats to provide shade from the sun, a scene that likely hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. Now, as then, Ritsurin-Koen is a place to unwind, to take a break from the rigours and rush of daily life, to relax your mind by taking an unhurried stroll around, breathing slowly and deeply as you take in some of Japan’s most exquisite scenery. To read more about Peter’s experience visiting Ritsurin-Koen and to see more images, visit

images © Peter Sidell



Five Thousand Miles Our resident graphic designer, Emma Prew, also happens to be a fan of Japanese art, history and culture. After a recent solo trip to Japan, Emma collated her photos and experiences into a stunning book called ‘Five Thousand Miles’ – the distance (or thereabouts) from her English home to Japan (and also a line in a song that she listened to throughout the trip!). 1) What is it that appeals to you about Japan? I’m not really sure exactly when and why I first became fascinated by Japan. At various points in my early teens I started reading historical fiction set in Edo-era Japan, discovered Ukiyo-e art and watched many Studio Ghibli films. Without realising it, I had become a Japanophile. And somewhere along the way I began dreaming of visiting the so-called ‘land of the rising sun’: The culture, the architecture, the history, the art, the landscape, the general lure of a place so different to what I’m used to. 2) How did you decide where to visit? And what were your top 5 experiences whilst in Japan? I planned my holiday with a lot of help from Inside Japan Tours – which seemed, to me, like a great option for a first time (and lone) traveller to Japan. But I wasn’t on a guided or group tour in the traditional sense, I was on my own for the most part. It was more of a self-guided tour. They tailored my holiday to my specifications, meaning that I stated the kinds of things I wanted to do – more traditional things like seeing temples and castles – and the places I wanted to visit – Matsumoto and Hakone, in particular. They also arranged accommodation for me in those places, as well as transport between them. It took a big weight off my mind and made it a lot less scary being on my own!


STUDIO GHIBLI MUSEUM, TOKYO This museum was quite simply like something straight out of a Ghibli film, inside and out, and it couldn’t have been any more perfect. My favourite part of the museum was a huge collection of sketches and watercolour illustrations of scenes and characters from a variety of Ghibli films. It was simply awe-inspiring.



FOREST OF THE SEVEN LUCKY GODS, TAKAYAMA On my second day in Takayama I visited the Hida Folk Village – an outdoor museum showcasing traditional Japanese life – which in itself was good but what I absolutely loved was what was hidden away next door. The Forest of the Seven Lucky Gods consists of seven huge shinto gods carved from ancient Japanese trees. Incredible.

MATSUMOTO CASTLE, MATSUMOTO I managed to visit a few Japanese castles in my time in Japan but Matsumoto Castle – or the ‘crow castle’ as it is known for its distinct black exterior – was, without a doubt, the best. It is the one castle that I remembered seeing photographs of long before I seriously began planning my first trip to Japan.

NIJO CASTLE, KYOTO I didn’t really know where to begin when I arrived in Kyoto. As the old capital of Japan, there is just so much to see and do. The only thing I knew I definitely wanted to see was Nijo Castle, or rather I wanted to walk on the nightingale floor. (Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn is one of my favourite books, and it was great to find out where the real ‘nightingale floor’ is located).

LAKE ASHI, HAKONE I was quite rushed for time in Hakone – the national park near Mt. Fuji – as it’s a big place and I only really had one afternoon to see everything. I didn’t see everything of course but I did the main things I wanted to. Firstly, taking a ride on the cable car, or ropeway as they call it, up to a Mt. Fuji viewpoint. I did see Fuji but only a slight glimpse of one snowy side and my camera didn’t really capture this at all. Secondly, the pirate ship sightseeing boat on Lake Ashi. Pirate ship. Need I say more?


3) Tell us a bit about your photo book, how long did it take you to put together, and what challenges did you face? Whilst in Japan, I wrote a diary on my phone to record what I had been doing each day and to help me remember all those tiny details. I had always planned on compiling my photographs into a mini-website or series of blog posts, after my trip. (This I managed to share with the world just a few weeks after I returned from Japan.) But when I started writing more and more each day I considered the idea of a physical book. As a graphic designer, and an editorial designer at that, I’ve always appreciated the physicality of a book opposed to something digital – particularly when a lot of the subject matter is photographic. And so, it seemed only right that I compile some of my 4000+ photographs and 10000+ words into a book. The initial design was fairly easy as I had an idea how I wanted it to look and I knew that I wanted it to be a big book – to get the most out of my photographs. But then I had a lot of photographs to go through… Plus a day job – designing books! – which meant I didn’t have a lot of free time to work on the book. It took about 4 months in total, mostly working on Sunday afternoons, to get from a text file and a folder of photos to a beautiful, not to mention weighty, printed travel journal.

Mini matcha KitKat used to show scale – it is a big book!


images and design Š Emma Prew

View the website version of Five Thousand Miles: And a digital version of the book: Also, be sure to check out Inside Japan Tours:



KYOTO: City of Dreams

images © Jeremy Hoare



Jeremy Hoare started his career as a TV cameraman and lighting director, and then moved onto becoming a full-time freelance travel and portrait photographer. His interest in Japan started age 8, when his father brought home a PanAm airline calendar, and he became fascinated with a photo of the Itsukushima torii gate. We were struck by Jeremy’s photos of Kyoto; bursting with colour, they bring the city of to life, and capture it from many angles. 1) Can you tell us a bit about how your love for Kyoto developed, and what makes it so special for you? I first visited Kyoto on my own in 1987, and thought that the culture was wonderful. So it was fate that my partner, Chizuko Kimura also came from there, and together we’ve visited the city many times. Chizuko came to London to learn the Queen’s English in 1991, and we met at a Japan Festival event in Covent Garden. She’s a kimono maker and Urasenke tea master, and is often making or altering kimonos for clients in the UK. We’ve also performed tea ceremonies in many different places in the UK for a wide variety of clients.


2) Kyoto is synonymous with geisha and shrine spotting. For those on the lookout for photographing both, have you got any tips? Taking photos of maiko and geisha will only happen if you find out where they are. Gion is the most famous area to see them, not only in Kyoto, but the whole of Japan. At around 5:30pm every evening they go to their first appointment. Of course it’s dark in winter at this time, so you might have to use flash. I never do however, as I regard these women as fantasies, so try hard to photograph them as impressionistic dreams rather than stark reality.

Most don’t mind people taking photos, they are well used to it, but some do and will turn away as they pass. Being polite works best and just asking nicely works most times. If you want to thank them in the local Kyoto-ben dialect say, “Okini!”, they will be amazed and may well laugh at hearing it! Shrines and temples are much easier to photograph, as they don’t move! A good way to think of it is as architectural photography with religious overtones. Time of the day is important; that wonderful temple you’ve seen in so many pictures might look awful with the sun behind it. So look at it on Google and find out which way it faces to work out the best time of day to shoot. This is something I used to do on arrival anywhere, but with maps, and postcards in shops. Today it’s much easier. Remember, respect in these places is important; if someone puts their arms up crossed, don’t take a picture. Otherwise, record them as your feelings tell you.


3) If someone had just one day in Kyoto, how could they make the most of it? To do Kyoto justice in just one day is a near impossibility, but better to try than not at all! I would start off at Fushimi Inari Shrine with its hundreds of torii gates (you don’t have time to go far up!). Then get a Keihan (not JR) train from Fushimiinari station to Demachiyanagi station. From there a No. 17 bus takes you to Ginkakuji Temple, where you can walk down the Philosopher’s Path. After, head down to the main road and catch a No. 100 bus to Kiyomizudera Temple.


A walk through the charming backstreets will take you past Kodai-ji Temple and into the back of Yasaka Shrine. You will then be in Gion, and if you time yourself to be there between 5:30–6pm you could see geisha and maiko going to their evening appointments. Finally, go across the Kamogawa River and walk up Pontocho to Sanjo-dori. I would then go for a typical Japanese meal and a beer at the CoCo Curry House in Kawaramachi-dori: a great way to end a very long day!

4) Kyoto has so many wonderful places to visit, but do you have any favourites? One place that epitomises Kyoto is Kinkakuji Temple, in the north west of the city. Then there is Daitokuji Temple, which is a huge complex of sub temples. One of my favourite places in all Kyoto is here, Zuiho-in Temple, which I visit on every trip. There is a raked gravel garden, similar to Ryoanji. But please keep this place to yourself, otherwise the world and his wife will go there! The absence of mass tourism means I’ve often had the place entirely to myself, so it becomes a very tranquil experience; one you don’t want to end.

5) Can you tell us a bit about your photography exhibitions in London and Kyoto? Do you have any future plans to exhibit your work? We have a website, Kyoto Photo Gallery, the idea of which came to me after photographing the Jidai Matsuri one October a few years ago. It has taken time to get to where it is today and we continue to make adjustments. We had two KPG exhibitions in 2014; the first in London, very close to the British Museum, and the second in Kyoto, close to the Heian Shrine torii gate: both places being iconic landmarks. This summer we’ve been part of a group exhibition at the trendy Brick Lane Gallery for two weeks, and a solo show at one of London’s leading professional photo dealers, Calumet, in Euston. Looking further ahead, we will have another exhibition in Kyoto itself in October, and are planning one at Burgh House, Hampstead, in July 2016. 6) On your next trip to Kyoto, what and where do you plan to photograph? Or do you take a more candid approach to taking photos? Having been to Kyoto something like 20–25 times, I tend to go to events, as they happen often and provide scope for new images. Or I just get myself lost by taking a bus to an area I don’t know and wandering around in a haphazard way, it always works for me!



Seafood & Salmon Fishing in Hokkaido

A year ago, Monika ditched her corporate lifestyle in Australia to go and live in Japan’s northernmost island; Hokkaido. She started up a blog to capture her experiences, and here she shares some of her knowledge about one of Hokkaido’s main attractions; seafood and fishing.

Hokkaido is a magnet for seafood lovers. Tourists from all over Japan, and beyond, visit this remote Northern island on a food jaunt, to enjoy what many claim to be the best seafood in the world. The cold seas surrounding Hokkaido’s shores are filled with an abundant supply of nutritious plankton, which serve as an excellent habitat for high quality, and delicious seafood. Hokkaido has many options for seafood lovers. In Sapporo (Hokkaido’s capital) your best option is to head to the restaurants alongside the local fish markets. Nijo Fish Market, and the Sapporo Curb Market are both very close to the city centre, so are easily accessible.

1. Crabs (Kani がに) In Hokkaido, you can go on a crab spree at any of the small restaurants close to the local fish markets, or at seasonal events held at various locations throughout the island during Autumn. You can also make a reservation at the Sapporo Kani-Honke, Sapporo Ekimae Honten and enjoy a delicious crab feast in a more relaxed environment. Hokkaido has 4 types of crabs: • Kegani or horse hair crab (most common in Hokkaido) Best seasons: April to August and November to December. • Tarabagani or king crab (most expensive) Best season: September to January. • Zuwaigani or snow crab (most delicious) Best season: November to March. • Hanasakigani or Hanasaki crab. Best season: August to October.

images © Monika Daniel


4. Sushi and Sashimi (すしーさしみ)

2. Sea Urchin (Uni うに) Uni is one of the top three seafood delicacies in Japan. Out of the hundreds of varieties of sea urchin apparently only six are edible. Uni might not suit everyone’s palate, but if you have not tried it yet, it’s worth being adventurous. When eating it fresh, you can smell the ocean and get a rich taste with a creamy texture. There is nothing better than a fresh uni donburi (sea urchin topped on a bowl of cooked rice with soy sauce). Shakotan (bordering the Ishikari bay in Hokkaido) is said to have the finest quality uni, and is around two hours drive from Sapporo. The restaurant Oshokujidokoro Misaki, run by a family of fishermen is popular among the locals. During the uni season from mid June to August, they have a special limited all uni donburi. To savour this special delicacy, it’s recommended to arrive before 9am. 3. Squid (Ika イカ) Hokkaido squid (ika) are well known in Japan, and Hakodate (otherwise known as ‘Squid City’) is a source of pride for Hokkaido. You can gorge on squid in various forms, however, one of the most interesting (or perhaps creepy) ways to eat it is in the form of odori-don. When the bowl arrives on your table, pour some soy sauce onto the deceased squid, and watch it start ‘dancing’, as the muscles react to the sodium in the soy sauce. There are many restaurants in Hakodate where you can enjoy a dancing squid or squid sashimi. The best place to enjoy squid in Hakodate is at the morning fish market, or if you feel really adventurous then head to Ikka-Tei Tabiji to eat the dancing squid.

Hokkaido’s sushi and sashimi are arguably unbeatable, thanks to the availability of exceptional quality seafood. Otaru is one of the favourite places for all sushi and sashimi addicts in Hokkaido. There are various sushi shops in Otaru, but Ise Sushi and Sawasaikisuisan Kaisenshokudo are the more prominent ones. You can also take a walk around the Sushiya-dori and pop into any of the sushi restaurants in the area. If you would like to enjoy Sushi trains in Sapporo then Hanamaru on the 6th floor at the Stellar Place JR Sapporo Station is a good quality, and budget friendly option, but be prepared to wait as the restaurant is normally very busy throughout the day. 5. Scallops (Hotate ホタテ) Hokkaido scallops are world renowned for their high quality and freshness. They feed on the warm Kuroshio, and the cold Oyashio oceanic currents, which create a unique environment perfect for producing some of the finest scallops in the world. The best season to eat scallops is in Winter from December to February. Delicious yaki (grilled) hotote or scallop sashimi can be enjoyed at any of the local restaurants serving seafood in Hokkaido. 6. Salmon and Salmon Roe (Sake さけ and Ikura いくら) Salmon in Hokkaido tastes incredibly delicious in any form, be it sashimi, grilled, or in the form of local fish dish; Chan Chan Yaki. For a fisherman, apart from a fresh catch of fat salmon, the most prized possession is the salmon roe or red caviar. Ikura don is a common way to relish salmon roe. Hokkaido’s ikura draws high value at the Tokyo Tsukiji market. The best season to enjoy salmon is in autumn, when they return to the rivers in Hokkaido for spawning. It is also a good time for fishing enthusiasts. Salmon fishing can be done at various places in Hokkaido including Shiretoko, which takes around 7–8 hours from Sapporo, and Muroran, located in South Central Hokkaido. Cherry River in Shibetsu town is one of the very few spots in Hokkaido where river fishing of salmon is allowed (with prior permission and monitoring).



JAPAN CENTRE Established in 1976, by Tak Tokumine, the Japan Centre Food Hall is a well-loved institution situated in Central London with a store in Westfield Stratford City. Whilst there have been several changes over the years, Japan Centre has always been passionate about delivering a rich variety of quality Japanese goods to shoppers in the UK and beyond.

Today, Japan Centre incorporates: • A supermarket bursting with authentic Japanese food and drink • A bookstore offering the newest issues of manga, magazines and gifts • The umai deli which serves quality Japanese sushi and hot souzai food made fresh every day • A fishmonger and butcher counter presided over by trained experts slicing fresh cuts the traditional Japanese way • A bakery which produces hand-made and hard to find Japanese baked breads & desserts • A homeware department stocked full of authentic Japanese supplies • where customers can also shop online 24/7


apanese cooking definitely doesn’t have to be complicated, and Japan Centre Online has hundreds of delicious recipes for you to try. All of the recipes come with a step by step guide, full colour photos, and details of all the ingredients used, as well as links to buy them online. You can also purchase the ingredients in either of their two stores, based in Piccadilly and Westfield Stratford City. Here we bring you a 20 minute recipe, combining authentic Japanese ingredients with two kitchen staples; eggs and bananas. Enjoy!


BANANA PANCAKES WITH AZUKI Exceptionally good for you, as well as guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth! These pancakes are made with just two ingredients; bananas and eggs, before being topped off with delicious azuki paste. Azuki are small, normally red beans that are often sweetened and used in a variety of East Asian desserts. As well as being delicious, they are also a great source of iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and folic acid. Enjoy this easy-to-make healthy sweet treat any time!



Ingredients: • 1 large banana

Haguruma Yuzu Citrus Juice, 70g

• 2 eggs

Hamaotome Crushed White Sesame Seeds, 45g

• 60g chunky azuki bean paste

Hashimoto Chunky Sweet Red Bean Paste, 400g

• Optional: yuzu juice and/or white sesame seeds


We Used:

How To Prepare: • Heat up a frying pan over a medium heat. While it is heating up, cut up the banana into a bowl and mash until only some little chunks remain. Add eggs and mix until well combined. Alternatively, add chopped banana and egg into a blender and pulse 2–3 times, or until only some little chunks of banana remain. • Grease the frying pan with a little butter and spoon out enough batter for a 15cm diameter pancake. Cook for 2–3 minutes on each side then remove from pan. Repeat until all batter is used up. • Divide pancakes into 2 plates and spoon half the chunky azuki bean paste on top of each stack.

Tips and Information: • For a fluffier pancake, add a pinch of two of baking powder to the batter. • Try bringing extra flavour to the batter by adding cinnamon, yuzu or crushed sesame seeds

food prepared by Georgina Holt images © Emily Faulder



A Beginner’s Guide to Sake Anna Greenhous works as a freelance journalist, tasting presenter, educator, and researcher in sake and wine. She spent a year teaching in Japan where she first got into sake researching a drinks column for an ex-pat magazine. Trying premium sake for the first time, she was amazed by the tropical fruit flavours weaned from rice, and has been trying to spread the word since! WHAT IS SAKE? Sake is a traditional Japanese drink made from fermented rice. Commonly mistaken for a spirit, sake is not distilled and is usually only around 14–18% alcohol. Made in a similar way to beer it is confusingly often described as a ‘rice wine’, due to premium sake’s elegant, fruity flavours. SAKE QUALITY In general, the more the rice has been polished down, removing the outer parts which can give off flavours, the better quality the sake. The classes of quality go up as more of these outer parts are removed, from the basic Futsushu and Honjozo, to the more premium styles of Ginjo, and the best: Daiginjo. SAKE HISTORY It’s thought the first sake was made around 2000 years ago, and it has formed an intrinsic part of Japanese culture ever since. Sake is used in marriage ceremonies, for toasts with business partners and colleagues, offered to the Shinto gods at shrines, and drunk at festivals, bars, and homes across the nation. Many sake breweries have been owned by the same family for hundreds of years. The oldest family-owned sake brewery is Sudo Honke, which was reportedly established in 1141AD and is now run by the 55th generation of the Sudo family. Sadly however, as Western drinks such as beer, wine and whisky have become increasingly popular in Japan, sales of sake have declined, resulting in many sake breweries going out of business.




By contrast, outside of Japan, sake sales have been rising quickly, boosted by the trend for sushi and ramen. Increasingly, non-Japanese chefs are also realising how versatile sake is. The Fat Duck led the way more than ten years ago, adding sake to their taster menu, and now trendy London restaurants like The Chiltern Firehouse, Hixter, Kurabuta, and Toasted, have added sake to their drinks menus too, pairing sake with fusion and Western fare.

People often think sake is meant to be served hot, but it can be served at a variety of different temperatures. Just as light, elegant white wines are best served cold, and red wines with their fuller flavours are best served at more of a room temperature, sakes with different flavour profiles are best drunk at different temperatures. Light, elegant, and fruity styles such as Daiginjo and Ginjo are often best served slightly chilled, while those with fuller flavours are often better served warmer.

Sake is also increasingly being used by barmen for cocktails. With an alcoholic volume considerably lower than many spirits used for the base of cocktails, sake lends itself particularly well to the trend for low alcohol cocktails. In Brazil, where there is a large Japanese population, sake is commonly used as a cachaca substitute in a sake based alternative to the caipirinha.

It can be interesting to try one sake, but at various temperatures where different flavours come to the fore. Although how you choose to serve your sake really depends on personal preference, cold sake can be incredibly refreshing in the summer, whilst heated sake is ideal for warming you up during the winter. There are lots of different styles of sake available on the market; from elegant, fruity premium Ginjo and aged nutty, toffee koshu, to delicate sweet/sour sparklers and fruit infused sakes. This wide range means that there’s sake out there to suit everyone, so why not go and discover the perfect one for you?

images © Anna Greenhous




FOOD PAIRING with the Museum of Sake

Natsuki Kikuya, creator of the Museum of Sake, a sake PR and education agency, has shared four mouth watering recipes with us. These sake based cocktails and delicious food pairings show just how diverse sake can be as an ingredient.


atsuki was born into sake; her grandfather was part of a cooperative of sake makers, and she followed in his footsteps, forging a career within the industry. Natsuki was a former sake sommelier at Roka and Zuma restaurants in London, she won the International Wine Challenge (IWC) Sake Communicator Award in 2011, and is a judge for the IWC sake category. In 2013, Natuski launched the Museum of Sake, designed to introduce and promote sake to the European market, and in 2014, she set up the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 3 Award in Sake. The qualification is designed to educate, with topics covering everything from sake’s history and making process, to the trade industry and how to store and serve it. Tasting is also included! For a comprehensive list of recommended places to sample sake, visit the Museum of Sake’s Summer journal online at illustrations © Laura Hilton-Smith





Sake to pair with:

Cream cheese, sliced (1 block)

1 Mix white miso and Mirin well.

White Miso (Shiro-miso) or Saikyo Miso (3 tbsp)

2 Marinate cheese with 1 mixture in plastic bag or sealed container, keep refrigerated.

Range of sake goes well with this dish, aromatic Ginjo style sake in wine glasses when cheese is delicately marinated, and richer Umami-ful Junmai style when cheese is well seasoned on third or further days.

Mirin (2 tbsp) (*If using regular miso or Saikyo miso, use more Mirin to sweeten) Black pepper (optional)

3 Ready to serve in 1–3 days, sprinkle black pepper before serving.

Recommendations: Chilled Horaisen Gin by Sekiya Brewery, Aichi Prefecture in wine glass



Ingredients: Vanilla ice cream (2–3 scoops) Strawberries, washed and cut in quarters (5–6 pieces) Balsamic vinegar (1 tbsp) Honey (2 tsp) Cinnamon (a little) Walnuts, crushed (optional)


Directions: 1 Mix balsamic vinegar, honey and cinnamon in a bowl, mix in strawberries and microwave for one minute. 2 Pour 1 mixture over the ice cream, serve with walnuts on top.

Sake to pair with: Chilled low alcohol and sweet style sparkling sake in a flute glass. Recommendation: Mio Sparkling from Shirakabegura, Sho Chiku Bai, Hyogo Prefecture



Raspberry Nigori Punch

Serves 2–3 people

Serves 2–3 people



250ml Sake (Ginjo type sake preferred)

150ml Nigori sake

100ml Lime Cordial

450ml Sprite

1⁄2 Cucumber, finely sliced

6–7 Raspberries

Soda Water to top up (150ml)

Half lime slices



1 Add the sake and the lime cordial to a 1LT jug, add the ice and cucumber.

1 Muddle raspberries, pour in sake and lime and mix well.

2 Right before serving, top up the jug with soda water and mix it. Serve in a tall glass with ice.

2 Add sprite right before serving. Serve with crushed ice.



e s e n a p Go Ja

with a Fabulously Light Fish Dish

With the recent news that a Japanese diet is the healthiest in the world, Yutaka has created this wonderful recipe for panko fishcakes with edamame puree for a fresh Japanese twist on a classic fish dish.

Baked Panko Fishcake with Edamame Puree

Serves: 8

Preparation Time: 35 minutes Cooking Time: 25–30 minutes

Baked rather than fried with a crunchy topping, this fishcake is low in calories but full of flavour. The addition of protein packed edamame and omega-3 rich fish makes for a delightful dinner that won’t derail the diet.

Ingredients: For the fishcake:

For the edamame puree:

For the topping:

1kg cod fillet, skinned or any kind of white fish is suitable

1 tbsp olive oil

60g Yutaka Panko Breadcrumbs

2 egg whites

1 shallot, chopped

4 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, chopped

20g frozen shelled edamame beans

480g frozen shelled edamame beans

1 lime zest

30g Yutaka Panko Breadcrumbs 2 tsp garlic grated 2 tsp ginger, grated

750ml kombu dashi (kelp stock) or water

2 tsp sugar

10g mint leaves

2 tsp salt

1 lime juice

60ml sake

Sea salt and pepper to season

A handful of herbs (chives, dill, coriander), chopped


Method: • Coat the tin in a thick foil and preheat the oven to 180 degrees/fan. • Dice the cod fillet into small pieces. Put half the amount of cod in a food processor to make a paste. Add the egg white, panko, garlic, ginger, sugar, salt and sake and blend well until smooth. Mix together the paste with the rest of the diced fish and add the chopped herbs. • Spread the fishcake mixture into an 18cm x 18cm baking tin and flatten evenly. Pour two cups of water into a large baking dish and then place the tin in the water to bake in the oven for 25 minutes. • Meanwhile, fry the shallot and garlic for 2 minutes. Add the edamame and stock or water to the pan and bring it to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, and then add the mint leaves and lime juice and season with sea salt and pepper. Puree with a hand blender or a food processor. • For the topping, mix the panko breadcrumbs and olive oil in a small mixing bowl, spread on a baking tray and bake for 5–7 minutes on 150 degrees until golden. • Place the edamame puree on each serving plate and top with the fishcake, sprinkled with the panko topping, edamame beans and lime zest. Per serving 291 cals 12.5g fat 1.8g sat fat 2.3g sugar 1.8g salt

% GDA 15 18 9 3 30

The Yutaka brand was first launched in 1995 and is the leading Japanese range in 16 countries across the globe. 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.

 images © Yutaka



Tiffany Atkin We’re always on the lookout for illustrators that incorporate Japanese themes into their work, and we were lucky enough to discover the work of Tiffany Atkin. Her unique style, vibrant colours and Japanese influence grabbed our attention. We caught up with Tiffany to find out a bit more about why Japan has been such a great influence on her work. “I’m inspired by the cross over of traditional and contemporary design elements, the ‘kawaii’ aesthetic and the lolita subculture/complex. I’m interested in all forms of Japanese design from print to architecture, fashion to frog-shaped roadblock barriers and pastel purple trains. Japan is an endless source of fascination and inspiration for me. I’ve visited Japan many times and spent time living in Tokyo a few years ago. I lived in a fun little place called Shimokitazawa – heaps of cafés, galleries, cool shops, street art, and the cutest houses you ever did see. I use a lot of traditional mediums (eg. ink, watercolour, acrylic paint, gold leaf, washi paper, vintage fabric) to create textures and hand-drawn elements, but most of my work ends up digital eventually. I recently had my first solo exhibition and included a few original hand drawn (non-digital) pieces that were super fun to create and were really well received, so I’ve been doing a lot more of that lately. It really depends on the end purpose as to whether I head to digital or stay ‘analogue’. 

I’ve always loved to draw things. I studied graphic design at university and although illustration wasn’t a big part of that, I began playing with it independently. I remember back when I was working full time for a magazine by day, I’d come home and work on my own illustration projects until the early hours of the morning, get a few hours sleep, then do it all again the next day. Despite blood shot eyes and chronic yawning throughout the day, it began to pay off when the magazine I worked for starting asking me to create editorial illustrations for some of the stories. With a print run of 65,000 copies, that was great exposure for me early on and led to a lot of other opportunities. There have been a few ‘pinch yourself’ moments, but I’d have to say having one of my illustrations selected by ModCloth to feature on tote bags in one of their spring collections was pretty amazing. I’d have to say having a successful debut solo exhibition was a nice one to tick off the list too – it really is a lovely feeling knowing other people like your work enough to take it home and hang it on their walls!”

Details about Tiffany’s upcoming shows can be found on her website:


all illustrations © Tiffany Atkin

Kyoto Lake


Breakfast Yummy


Mother Usagi




ANDREW JOYCE Doodles and Stuff Andrew Joyce is an illustrator specialising in cityscapes, hand drawn lettering and observational illustration. We first discovered Andrew’s work on Instagram, which seems to be an endless source of discovery for us! We were drawn to his Japanese influence and bold, bright illustrations. “I’ve always been interested in buildings and cities, so when I first arrived in Japan I quickly became fascinated with the crowded streets and seemingly random layout. If you get lost and just walk around the streets then you can always find interesting architecture and unique buildings hidden away. I have many favourites places in Japan, but I enjoy Ueno as it’s the first place I stayed after arriving. Walking across Rainbow Bridge gives you an amazing view of the Tokyo skyline, The top of the Park Hyatt Hotel has a great atmosphere and Nonbei Yokocho in Shibuya is full of tiny little bars that are great to go to with friends. Everything I do is drawn by hand then coloured on the computer. Working with pen and paper, and keeping a sketchbook are important to me. I like how imperfect it is sometimes and that you can get out and work in and around the city and not be cooped up in a studio all day in front of a computer. Being able to do the thing that I love as a job and also be able to do it in a city that I’m fascinated with is a nice achievement for me.  If you’re in Tokyo this September then take a visit to Tokyo Art Book Fair. It’s a three day international ’zine fair with lots of amazing artists, illustrators, and photographers. It’s a great place to meet and chat with people and you can definitely find a lot of great things to buy.”

all illustrations © Andrew Joyce






arajuku is Tokyo’s go to place if you want to experience Japanese fashion and shopping at it’s most colourful and eclectic. The main lure of Harajuku lies in Takeshita Dori (Takeshita Street), which is lined with fashion boutiques, gift shops, and food outlets. It’s here, and in the surrounding shopping streets that you’ll often spot young people dressed in elaborate outfits, mixing and matching designer and high street clothing with vintage and hand made elements. Harajuku is a melting pot of Japan’s most eye catching fashion, with a huge variety of styles and sub styles emerging, and it’s influence stretches across the globe. This year, fashion communities from all over the world set aside a weekend to celebrate Japanese street fashion, with walks and meet-ups taking place globally. Editor Emily attended the London event as photographer, and caught up with one of the organisers, Rachel Hunt, an active member of the UK Japanese fashion community, to find out a bit more.

Harajuku in Tokyo 62



1) What gave you the idea of organising the first London Harajuku event, and who helped to make the dream a reality? I’ve always wanted to go to a Harajuku fashion walk, and have seen photos from walks that happen in Harajuku. My friend Ife and I got talking about the walks they have in Tokyo, and then decided to hold one in London on 26 July, which coincided with the first International Harajuku Fashion weekend. Neither of us have ever held such a large scale event before, and we discovered that we had to get all sorts of permission; from the police, and from the park we wanted to hold the walk in. It took us quite a lot of time to arrange things, and we ended up getting some more help from another friend Steph, but together we worked hard to make this event possible. 2) How did you celebrate the event, and how did it go on the day? We encouraged everyone to dress their best, in their favourite J-style, but sadly it was due to rain all day, and it pretty much did. Some people were put off by the weather, not wanting to ruin outfits, but we still got a great turn out. We did have to change the route of the walk slightly however, so instead of walking through one of London’s largest parks, we walked from Marble Arch to Exhibition Road in Kensington, and sheltered in The Science Museum. We did manage to stop for photos outside The Serpentine when the rain stopped briefly!

After that we split up in to smaller groups to explore London. Despite the rain I think everyone had a really good day, and I hope they have an even better day at the next walk! 3) What’s your personal interest in Japanese fashion? When I first saw sweet lolita style online I fell in love with it, and although it took me a little while to buy my first coord, I knew this was a style I felt comfortable in. After that, I began searching for more Japanese street styles. I adore most of them, but one that stood out for me was fairy kei. Now fairy kei is my favourite style, and I’m obsessed with pastel colours because of it. I also like to wear pop kei which is very similar, but has a little bit more freedom with the colour scheme, so you can get away with wearing denim, for example. I’m also wanting to try out decora; there’s so many amazing J-fashions I want to try! Japanese fashion is a massive inspiration for my shop, Sugar Coated Sprinkles. I make jewellery and sell clothing with my designs on them, and my items are perfect for a number of different J-fashions, as well as Western fashions.

5) Are you planning on holding another London event next year, and what would you change? We are planning on holding another walk, or maybe even two for next year! We’ve created a group called ‘Harajuku Fashion UK’ which is now active on Facebook, where we will be posting details on future events. This year we made the mistake of assuming we would have a nice dry, warm summer, so next time we will plan for the chance of rain, but fingers crossed it will be a lovely day weather wise next time. If you’d like to keep up with developments with both the International and UK events you can follow Harajuku Fashion International Day and Harajuku Fashion UK on Facebook.

4) What sort of Japanese street styles were people wearing? We had a nice mix of people in fairy kei, pop kei, lolita, hime gyaru, visual kei and other fashions inspired by the streets of Harajuku.

images © Emily Faulder



Harajuku in Londo 64



Colour coordinated gothic aristocrat (left) and lolita (right)


images Š Saoirse Clohessy




Rachel blogs about Japanese fashion, music and events, and is an admin for her local J-fashion community. Here she talks about the elegant boy style fashion ‘ouji’, as well as ‘gothic aristocrat’ which can be worn in both masculine and feminine ways.


ver recent years, boy style has been gaining increasing popularity, particularly ouji and aristocrat, which are now commonly seen at lolita events. Whilst in lolita sub-styles are determined by colour schemes and themes of prints, with boy style these are usually defined by “age”. Ouji outfits are modelled on Victorian boy’s fashion, while gothic aristocrat outfits have a more mature look. Ouji, meaning ‘prince’, is often considered the male version of lolita fashion, because it is also inspired by the Victorian and Rococo periods. Outfits often include punk, goth or pirate elements and are usually darker colours, however white is also commonly used. Paler colours such as pink and light blue have started to become popular in recent years, and some have started to call this ‘sweet ouji’. Border prints are rare, although some lolita brands have produced ouji clothes that match a lolita print. For example; Metamorphose’s Secret Library print series uses the same diamond pattern on the trousers and waistcoat that is used on the lolita items in the series.

Many typical ouji outfit components are similar to lolita in length. Short trousers are usually around knee length, the same as lolita dresses and skirts, however they can also be shorter or longer. Socks are also around knee length, and tights are also worn. Many shoe styles work well with ouji, as long as they aren’t too feminine or too casual; rocking horse shoes, boots, and brogues are commonly seen. Many ouji choose to wear hats, such as tricorns and top hats, to complete their outfit. Hair is usually worn shorter, with minimal and more natural make-up to give a youthful boyish appearance. Many lolita shops also carry some ouji items, and popular brands include Alice and the Pirates, Miho Matsuda, and Metamorphose. While most wearers of boy fashion give their hair and make-up a more boyish appearance, dansou take this a step further. Dansou is a term describing anyone female or gender neutral, who uses make-up and often alters posture and stance to appear more masculine, as opposed to just wearing boy style clothes. Dansou is not limited to ouji and aristocrat, and many choose to simply wear casual men’s clothes.


Like lolita, gothic aristocrat began in the mid-late ’90s with popular brands Atelier Boz and Moi Meme Moitie opening in 1995 and 1999 respectively. Both continue to be the most successful gothic aristocrat brands, and therefore often define the fashion as a whole. Gothic aristocrat outfits are more mature in appearance, and are often more androgynous than the feminine lolita or boyish ouji. It mainly features darker colours, though white is also used. Both trousers and skirts are very long, often floor length. Platform shoes and boots are commonly worn to add height and accentuate the long silhouette. Accessories are simpler, and include gothic jewellery, and elegant hats and headdresses, although headwear can be left out for a simpler or more casual look. Hair is generally longer, but some prefer shorter hair, and gothic make-up is very popular. Many gothic lolita brands also carry gothic aristocrat items. As well as Moi Meme Moitie and Atelier Boz, other popular brands include Alice and the Pirates, and Miho Matsuda. It’s much more difficult to find cheaper alternatives for ouji and gothic aristocrat, however suitable items can be found in many lolita shops on Taobao. Second hand lolita shops such as Closet Child, or lolita sales communities such as EGL Comm Sales are also good places to buy cheaper items. As with buying lolita, if stores don’t ship internationally, you’ll need to use a shopping service. If you’re interested in boy style fashion, or want to find out more about the style, you can check out ‘Palace of Princes’ (a group of boy style wearers) on Tumblr. Earlier this year the group had their first convention called ‘Nightfall’ which was mainly focused on boy style, but also covered lolita fashion. The members share information and answer questions, making it a great resource for boy style wearers.


Useful links Alice and the Pirates: Miho Matsuda: Metamorphose: Atelier Boz: Moi Meme Moitie: Closet Child: EGL Comm Sales: Palace of Princes Tumblr Page:

Ouji in paler coloured outfits


e t u C u f To FASHION

With their pop up shop appearing at numerous events around the UK, we first fell in love with Tofu Cute’s range of Japanese accessories, stationery, gifts, and snacks at Hyper Japan, London’s biggest J-culture event. Tofu Cute recently opened their first store in Portsmouth, and we were keen to find out a bit more about the people behind the brand.

images © Tofu Cute




1) We’ve been visiting your pop up shops at Japanese events, and conventions around the UK for years. Can you tell us a bit about yourselves? Firstly, thank you very much for visiting our pop-up shops! We really appreciate everyone who has supported us and continues to support us, from back when we were just a little stall. Some of the Tofu Cute core team started off many years ago with a background in electronic toys and gadgets. It was a very competitive market so we had to specialise, and chose cute and quirky Japanese toys and gadgets. We made our first Japanese contacts this way and gained experience, which helped a lot when we decided to launch Tofu Cute! Our little team grew as we recruited more staff, mainly via conventions and Japanese events, who are all extremely passionate about Japanese culture and cute things. We now have a core team based in Portsmouth, and several other part-time team members who work at the events and conventions. 2) Congratulations on the opening of your new store! We’ve seen photos and it looks amazing. How have your first few months gone, and what sort of Japanese goodies can people get their hands on at the Tofu Cute shop? Thank you very much! We were very excited about the opening of the shop. We have been based in Portsmouth for quite some time, but it’s only recently that we have been able to open our kawaii doors to the public!

Although our Portsmouth shop is smaller space-wise than some of the big pop-up shops we have at events, it’s great to have a permanent base where people can browse our range, and we’ve had a lot of fun introducing local people to the wonders of Japanese snacks and kawaii goods. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of local people we’ve met since opening who are knowledgeable about and interested in Japanese culture! There have been many open-minded people who didn’t really know anything about it before visiting the shop, and lovely people who have travelled a long way to visit us. The shop contains most of the items that you can see on from Japanese sweets, snacks and drinks, to cute gifts and stationery, key chains and plushies. You can also find several brand new items that aren’t available on our website yet, and some rare ones which we only have in very limited quantities, including Alpacasso alpacas. 3) It must have taken an incredible amount of hard work and determination to grow your brand, have you got any advice you can give to others who might want to start up their own business? It has been hard work, and still is, and we would be lying if we said there hadn’t been the occasional sleepless night, particularly leading up to the big events. It helps that there are a lot of people who are really passionate about this sector, including customers and team members – that’s a great motivator when times are tough!

Our advice is to start small, and get out there and talk to people who can guide and advise you, whether that be potential customers or other small business owners. Events and conventions have been a great help to us, as it’s a chance to get feedback face to face. You can then adapt and grow in whichever direction you feel is right. 4) What are some of your favourite products and bestsellers? Our bestsellers in the snacks and drinks categories are Pocky, Popin’ Cookin’ DIY Candy, Japanese KitKats and Ramune soda. Pocky is a famous classic that has been popular for us since the beginning, and we now stock a huge range of flavours which we hope means even the long-time Pocky fans can try something new! Popin’ Cookin’ has become super popular recently with lots of people filming YouTube videos of themselves creating their wild and wacky DIY candy. We have expanded our range of KitKats over the past year, so now we stock a lot of the rare and unusual flavours such as Wasabi and Purple Sweet Potato. People love the novelty factor of Japanese KitKats, plus they’re actually really high quality. We now sell Ramune, the Japanese soda sealed with a glass marble, in 13 different flavours. This is a top seller in the Portsmouth shop, at events, and now online since we finally made it available on the website at the end of last year! In the accessories and gifts categories, our Endless Edamame Popping Soybean Pod key chains are a big favourite. Some people buy more than one so they can collect the different faces!


And of course, Alpacasso alpacas from Amuse, the famous Japanese claw grab machine prize company, are so well loved and popular. They come in many sizes from tiny fluffy charms up to giant plushies! And now it’s not just the alpacas – there’s many other characters from Amuse that are picking up popularity, such as the Poteusa Loppy Bunnies, the Tuchineko Cats, Woolly the Sheep and Gomarachi Seal. 5) You also have a sister company called Dreamy Bows. Can you tell us a little bit about the sorts of Japanese fashion and beauty products you stock? Do you have any personal favourite styles and brands? We stock a range of different J-fashion brands including the fairly new and very on-trend KOKOkim (cute Harajuku style), famous lolita brand Angelic Pretty, LISTEN FLAVOR (cute and cool fairy kei / pop kei style), and Chocomint accessories and jewellery. We also stock a wide range of deco false nails, and Japanese cosmetics including a wide range of EYEMAZING false lashes. Excitingly, Bandai UK approached us last year to be exclusive UK stockist for some of the super rare Sailor Moon 20th Anniversary merchandise which includes the beautiful Miracle Romance Powder Compact, Moon Stick Lipstick, Eau de Toilette, eyeliner sets and Sailor Moon compact mirror sets. We also offer off-brand and own-brand bags, accessories, shoes and wigs, which are great for people who want to wear Japanese fashion without the high price tag.


We love KOKOkim’s new 2015 designs at the moment; they’re adorable. And also LISTEN FLAVOR, for their cute, colourful and original t-shirt/sweater designs, at affordable prices. There are a small number of Dreamy Bows items for sale in the Tofu Cute Portsmouth shop, and we are more than willing to take requests from customers to fetch other items from the warehouse at the back, but the best place to see our product range is at the pop-up shops at HYPER JAPAN and London MCM Comic Con. We put a lot of effort into creating a big Japanese fashion pop-up shop experience, complete with pink carpet, cute wallpaper, and a huge range of clothing, cosmetics, jewellery, hair accessories, wigs and shoes! We’ve not been giving the Dreamy Bows website as much attention as we’d like recently due to all the developments with Tofu Cute, but one of our goals is to make a lot more Dreamy Bows items available online soon. 6) What are some of your favourite places to visit in Japan? We’re assuming Harajuku might be in there somewhere… We do love Harajuku indeed, for the dynamic range of different styles, and the iconic little stores like 6%DOKIDOKI! We also love Shibuya 109, which is just painfully trendy with such an amazing range of brands, including KOKOkim. Kiddyland near Harajuku and Yodabashi Camera in Akihabara are awesome, with adorable character goods, electronics and otaku merchandise!

Whenever we visit Japan we have to take a visit to one of the SegaWorld arcades – although we rarely win anything, it’s nice to look at all the cute prizes, and take a purikura or two! For nonshopping experiences, the back streets of Gion in Kyoto by nighttime is the perfect place for geisha / maiko spotting. 7) We’re excited to hear what the future holds for Tofu Cute. What sort of things do you have planned for the year ahead?  Thank you very much! We’re planning to expand the scope of the Portsmouth shop and involve the local community more, by perhaps offering birthday party packages, late-night openings and evening activities such as bento making classes. We will be working together with Bandai UK even more this year, with some exciting product launches in the pipeline.


EVENTS Our Love Japan reporters and photographers have been busy attending Japanese events around Europe over the last couple of months. Here’s a snapshot of what they’ve been getting up to!

Hyper Japan, London, UK Hyper Japan is the UK’s biggest Japanese cultural event, showcasing both the popular and traditional sides of Japan. The event was back in July, this time at the O2 Arena, London, featuring 3 days of fun, with entertainment from martial arts and cookery demonstrations, to music performances and a video games and anime park. Music fans were treated to amazing sets from May-J, the voice of the Japanese version of Disney’s Frozen, and Japanese metal heavy weights, Yoshiki and Toshi from X-Japan. Other artists featured were Eir Aoi, Tokyo Girls, Less than Love, and Lost Ash. Hyper Japan is an event that fully involves its attendees, with chances to cosplay as a guest, or show off your character inspired outfits in the Cosparade, perform your favourite J-pop songs, and flaunt your Japanese inspired styles at the fashion show.  Whether you want to shop til you drop (expect to find everything from beautiful crockery and kimonos to the latest fashion magazines and music) or try the maid café experience, there is something for everyone to get involved with. The next Hyper Japan event takes place at Tobacco Dock, London, 27–29 November 2015. Prepare to dress up.


Kirsten Ria

Less Than Love Live

Kittz (@coskittz)

Katanaya Ichi

words by Soleil Redwood images Š Emily Faulder



Japan Expo, Paris, France This year’s annual Paris Japan Expo took place on the first weekend of July, and with 240,000 people attending in 2014, it was always set to be an unmissable event for Japan enthusiasts. Entertainment and activities focused on music, sports and martial arts, fashion, traditional culture, tourism and a selection of prestigious guests of honour. The expo gives visitors opportunities to meet and interact with the stars through talks, signings and demonstrations. This year honourable guests included Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario), Ken Akamatsu (manga creator of popular series, Love Hina, Negima Magister Negi Magi) and Vamps (Hyde and K.A.Z) who treated fans to an hour long music set. The Japan fashion days showcased the latest trends from brands, and new upcoming designers, including fusion French fashion brand Aoi, with looks inspired by traditional Japan.

Martial arts fans were treated to over 80 hours of demos, covering disciplines such as Ninjutsu, kendô, jûdô, aikidô, karate, shôrinji kenpô and kyûdô as well as choreographed dance routines with swords. There were also opportunities to get involved and learn the basics from experts. Thinking of planning your own trip to Japan? JNTO, the national tourism office, shared experiences from those that studied, lived and worked in the country with conferences, speakers and film screenings. Japan Expo offers you an invaluable in-depth, and interactive experience, from learning about the traditional disciplines of ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arranging), to testing out the latest Japanese video games. If you didn’t get a chance to go this year, be sure to put it in your diary for next year. The event returns on 7–10 July 2016.

Cosplay group


Back On

Mashyuu Kuroimono


Emilène Sens & Yume Nemerya

words by Soleil Redwood images © Chung Hee Jee Photographer




London Anime and Gaming Con, UK London Anime & Gaming Con is a biannual event taking place in February and July each year, focusing on anime, games and cosplay. This summer’s con was held at the Rocket Complex, part of London Metropolitan University, with separate areas dedicated to gaming, workshops and guest talks, stalls with a wide range of merchandise, and a nice big stage for performances, competitions and shows. With a strong emphasis on community spirit, guests are encouraged to join a clan for a bit of friendly competition over the weekend. The winning clan, and winning member is announced at the end of the festivities, with prizes up for grabs. July’s event saw some inspiring cosplayers and outfits, some ferocious game playing (including what I can only describe as the most intense dance off I’ve ever seen on Dance Dance Revolution), some passionate guest speakers, a spot of dancing and some fantastic late night karaoke. The next LAGC will be 5–7 February 2016 and is already shaping up to be a jam packed event, with some big names in cosplay, an indie gaming zone to help support the independent gaming industry, pub quizzes and competitions, as well as the return of the Cosplay World Masters UK Qualifiers.

Liora as Princess Mononoke


Ross Cobbald and Roxy Garnett as Team Rocket

Viet Nguyen as Porco Rosso

words by Heather Fyfe images Š Heather Fyfe

Kyla Salter

Sophie Ramsey as Anna from Frozen



Japan Day, Düsseldorf, Germany When you think of Düsseldorf, the business and financial centre of Germany, do you think of Japan? No? You may want to re-think that as the city is home to over 360 Japanese businesses. To celebrate, the city hosts Europe’s biggest Japanese cultural event, Japan Day, which aims to highlight the traditional and pop cultures of the island nation. Lining the Rhine Embankment, the festival has plenty of things to do; martial arts demonstrations, cosplayers galore, food stalls and a great many booths to buy Japanese goods. The dazzling firework display over the river Rhine is the highlight of the event, but get there early to grab a good spot.

or places to grab some treats. Save the best for last and end your trip with a visit to EKŌ-Haus der Japanischen Kulture. Located in the Niederkassel district, it’s the only Japanese temple of the Jodo Shinshu-in Europe, one of the largest Japanese schools of Buddhism. Featuring traditional Japanese garden architecture as well as a Buddhist temple and event rooms in a traditional Japanese style, you will be in awe and glad you stopped by.

There’s a whole lot more to do if you’re into Japanese culture. Why not explore Düsseldorf’s Japanese quarter; with plenty of great restaurants, shops to pick up a traditional Japanese souvenir,

EKŌ-Haus der Japanischen Kulture

words by Sharlene Mousfar images © Emily Faulder


Japan Day happens every year around the end of spring, so why not stay for a short holiday or weekend break, and explore the city of Düsseldorf as well.



@Tokyopony We’re huge photography fans here at Love Japan Magazine, and Instagram is one of our favourite sources of photographic inspiration. Our new #Japanspiration section showcases some of our favourite Instagrammers. First up is Justine, from the UK, aka @Tokyopony on Instagram. You may recognise Justine from our spring issue, where she shared a delicious matcha latte recipe with us. We’ve been following Justine’s account for a long time now, and we love it. Every day she shares some of her Japan inspired world with us; with a focus predominantly on healthy vegan food with a Japanese twist. Justine’s beautiful set-ups never cease to amaze us; everything is carefully arranged and lovingly photographed. Interspersed with food photos are snapshots of her trips to Japan, and photos of omiyage (Japanese souvenirs) as well as images of her own Japanese garden. “Japan inspires my whole life. I suppose I first became interested in Japan through my love of it’s simple beauty in arts and crafts, such as pottery and painting. I’ve visited Japan three times now, and it was all I expected it would be and more. I’m inspired by how the Japanese people can be so in tune with nature and seasons, even in their big cities. They celebrate the seasons in such a way that it works it’s way into their everyday lives. Japan inspired me to make my own Japanese style garden. As each season arrives a new Japanese plant is in flower; cherry blossom (sakura) for spring, and maples in the autumn. I prepare Japanese inspired vegan food, and this somehow helps me to feel closer to Japan. I post photos of the food I create on Instagram most days, and it’s brought me together with some amazing friends in Japan. We share our lives and the odd food parcel. I hope like me people are touched with everything Japan has to offer. It’s a truly magical and beautiful place steeped in culture and traditions.” You can follow Justine on Instagram @Tokyopony and Love Japan Magazine @LoveJapanMag

images © Justine Sheratt



CONTACTS Andrew Joyce

Michael Booth

Anna Greenhous

Monika Daniel

Christopher Walden

Museum of Sake, Natsuki Kikuya

Chung Hee Jee Photographer

NHK World

Ella Goodwin

Peter Sidell

Emily Faulder

Rachel Heneghan

Emma Prew

Rachel Hunt Facebook: Harajuku Fashion UK

Freedom Chevalier

Ross Lovell

Georgina Holt

Saoirse Clohessy

Heather Fyfe

Sharlene Mousfar

Hyper Japan

Soleil Redwood

Jeremy Hoare

The Japan Centre

Jordy Meow

Tiffany Atkin

Justine Sherratt

TL Radcliffe

La Carmina

Tofu Cute

Laura Hilton-Smith


London Anime and Gaming Con



illustrations Š Ella Goodwin

Love Japan Magazine Issue 2  

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

Love Japan Magazine Issue 2  

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