JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2 010
XJ red carpet
06 Contents : NOVEMBER/ DECEMBER 2009 – Volume 5, Issue 6
A look into life’s dazzling diversity Published by Paradigm Kamiyama Ambassador 209 18-6 Kamiyama-cho, Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0047, Japan Tel 03 5478 7941 Fax 03 5478 7942 E-mail email@example.com Publisher Vickie Paradise Green Editor-in-Chief Simon Farrell Editor David Umeda Creative Director Richard Grehan Art Director Akiko Mineshima Editorial Researcher Francesca Penazzi Advertising Sales Eileen Chang, Sarit Huys, Helene Jacquet, Leai Kubotsuka
Delivered Inside: • Wall Street Journal Asia (Tokyo)
Placed in the Following Exclusive Locations: • Apartments 33 • Oakwood Serviced Apartments • Bureau Shinagawa Residences • Mori Residences • Frasers Place Howff Shinjuku • Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so • Hilton Tokyo • Roppongi Hills Club • Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan • Yokohama Country & Athletic Club • Tokyo American Club • The British School in Tokyo
Shanghai First 06
Forward Leap 20
by Nicole Fall
By Ivan Murzikov
The PuLi Hotel and Spa, recently opened in the heart of the city, aims for women to find the destination more enticing.
Jaguar continues to charge into the future with its bold and powerful new flagship, the XJ.
The Eames Chair: A very modern icon 13
staying slim 22
by Catherine Shaw
To keep weight off requires a change in state of mind, not just diet.
It is the 100th anniversary of the birth of industrial designer Charles Eames who, with his wife Ray, reigned supreme as the most famous of America’s house and furniture designers. Dining
The Credit Crunch Lunch 15 By Catherine Shaw Some of the best deals in town for lunch offer significant discounts off your favorite dinner dishes.
By Catherine Shaw
ARTS and CULTURE
Psychosomatic Art 25 by Justin McCurry Yayoi Kusama’s 50,000 paintings, prints, drawings and installations not only help define the world-acclaimed artist, but are at the heart of her therapy.
Here’s looking at you 18
by John Boyd
from the editor’s desk 03
The latest 3D displays for home entertainment centers, larger OLED TVs, and nifty new technologies and products from telecoms and mobile phone makers deliver some of the fascinating stories emanating from this year’s CEATEC.
choice choices 04 XXX. XXX. XXX. XXX.
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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
around the corner A recent addition to the Shanghai skyline is making sure travelers— especially women—enjoy a world-class experience, according to Nicole Fall. The PuLi Hotel and Spa is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, and its Anantara Spa delivers a treatment menu inspired by the healing properties of tea. Back in Tokyo, residents as much as visitors are looking for the best deals during lunchtime without sacrificing quality. Check out the picks by Catherine Shaw that can be found as high up as the 45th floor. Such temptations, however, require finding ways to keep the weight off, so Catherine shares her tips, which include a Web site that makes you literally accountable. The fascination with design is intensified when the artist takes on iconic proportions. Inspiration to generations of artists around the world, the prolific 80-year-old Yayoi Kusama, interviewed by Justin McCurry, sets aside hours to paint each day in a studio located around the corner to her psychiatric hospital. The Matsumoto City Museum of Art in Nagano Prefecture is running a special exhibition titled “The Place For My Soul.” While being American legends in furniture design, the life and times of Charles and Ray Eames help
define the enduring popularity—and availability—of their more than 50-year-old Eames Lounge Chair in Japan, as discovered by Catherine Shaw. The Frankfurt Motor Show was visited by Ivan Murzikov, and what caught his eye—and fancy—was the new Jaguar XJ, which makes its debut in Japan next March. Ivan provides a first-hand look and feel of what he considers the British carmaker’s return to the forefront. John Boyd took in CEATEC Japan in Chiba, which put on a show of the latest—and future—technologies, with displays taking a prominent position.
David Umeda Senior Editor email@example.com
PAL International School
Cradle Class (6mths-1.5yrs) Rockin‛ Horse Class (1.5-2.5yrs) Trike Class (2.5-3.5yrs) Bike Class (3.5-4.5yrs) Unicycle Class (K4, K5)
Hot School Lunch Available!
Regular Classes 8:30-1:30 (Cradle & Rockin‛ Horse) 8:30-1:45 (Trike) 8:30-2:00 (Bike & Unicycle) Afternoon Classes 1:30-5:00
Come and try our free trial lesson!
Tel 03-5770-8166 3-8-18 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku
Fax 03-5770-8167 Tokyo, Japan 106-0031
firstname.lastname@example.org Kaleidoscope / 3
anything from anywhere. ... Well, almost anywhere. FBC has recently started a new service that will help ship your goods to Japan directly to you, regardless of where you’ve purchased them or who you’ve purchased them from—at a great price! With U.S. Postal Service sea mail being discontinued and normal air shipping prices being quite high, FBC’s new service has taken off. Sure, you could continue to ask your relatives back home to receive and send those items to you ... or you could use FBC’s new “Anything From Anywhere” service to take advantage of low shipping rates, no import or Customs hassle, and delivery directly to you! FBC leverages its warehouse in L.A. along with superdiscounted freight rates to get things to people in just a few days. They have been sending hundreds of shipments for people all across Japan and the news is spreading fast. Whether you’re buying from Drugstore.com, Walmart.com, or Victoria’s Secret ... or maybe you need to ship an appliance or even whole rooms of furniture, let FBC do the work for you! For more info, check their website: www.fbcusa.com/remail/
for the record Crown Records Management, a division of Crown Worldwide Group, specializes in the management and storage of business information—including cartons, files, documents, magnetic and digital media. Records management is more than storing records. It’s about reducing the risk of misplacing critical information— and about giving clients prompt access and control. All documentation and business information has a lifecycle. Crown Records Management offers assistance and provides a range of services to assist at any point of this lifecycle. Crown Worldwide Group operates from over 250 locations in 52 countries, providing governments, corporations, diplomats and private customers with global mobility, transportation of household goods and fine arts, departure and destination services, business information storage, high-value warehousing, freight forwarding and third-party logistics. Established in 1965, in Yokohama, the Crown Worldwide Group is a privately held company with global headquarters in Hong Kong. www.crownrms.com/japan
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delizioso We are uncompromisingly devoted to recreating and bringing you Southern Italy, from the fresh homemade pasta made daily to the mozzarella and other delights flown in from Italy, all served with warmth by our friendly staff. Excellent hospitality and exquisite presentations of vegetables and seafood, the perfect wine and the ideal ambience – Elio’s in the place.
Elio’s Christmas Menu Fresh ricotta cheese, eggplant and pepper sauce pâté, on hand-made bread crouton Seafood salad Mediterranean-style, on couscous and fresh vegetables Fresh Porcini mushrooms in chickpeas soup Traditional “agnolotti” hand-made pasta in truffle Red ruby risotto (with fresh Japanese strawberries) Fresh lobster from Sea of Japan, extra-virgin oil and lemon Japanese cheek beef in Barolo red wine sauce Elio’s “Panettone,” traditional hand-made Christmas cake
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Shanghai First Women travelers can seek comfort and health in style. By Nicole Fall Photos courtesy The PuLi Hotel and Spa
ew Tokyoites look to China as a vacation destination. As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, we associate China and its powerhouse cities, Shanghai and Beijing, as places to do business, not relax. After all, we have Phuket and Bali in the region if we need some R&R. However, this perception could change with the launch of Shanghai’s first urban resort hotel concept, The PuLi Hotel and Spa. Opened September 4, The PuLi brings a touch of grace and distinction to a city mainly full of hotel chains that focus on the typical business traveler and his—for it’s usually men who are catered to—business needs.
Almost a month before The PuLi opened its rooms to the public, the Anantara Spa was made available, firmly cementing the hotel’s reputation as a women-friendly spot. The “Hunt the Hairdryer” game—familiar to most women who stay in a new hotel room, only to be rewarded with a piece of equipment stuck to the wall that had its heyday back in 1980—has been consigned to the annals of bad hotel experiences forever. The Anantara draws on China’s healing past, and combines the best of Thailand and India’s ancient therapies. An extensive treatment menu is inspired by the renowned healing properties of tea—the centuries-old beverage that has always been important
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to Chinese culture. Signature treatments draw from the detoxifying powers of Green Tea, the balancing and anti-ageing force of White Tea, the health-giving properties of Chrysanthemum Tea or the beautifying properties of Rose Tea. Three-hour treatments offering complete indulgence with the relaxing and restorative effects of scrubs, wraps and massages include the Green Tea Purification and White Tea Moisturizer treatments. For those feeling flush, Anantara’s Caviar Luxe Facial is the ultimate facial indulgence, using 100% caviar and pearl extracts. Forget faux beach resort interior accents, the décor of the Anantara Spa is contemporary in feel—with the use of wood and glass, combined with muted tones and ambient lighting. Its five treatment suites are luxuriously appointed with steam and shower rooms, and are perfect for individuals or couples to indulge together in spa pampering. In 1930, Shanghai was a bustling city with an international population of 70,000. Its wealth was apparent and cosmopolitan nightlife worldrenowned. It seems fitting that The PuLi has chosen, although for different reasons, the logo of a phoenix and the phoenix tree. While The PuLi’s developers focus on the phoenix connotations to exclusivity, Shanghai itself has come back from the ashes. After decades in the wilderness—by global standards—Shanghai is out of the desert and tentatively finding a footing as a world-class city. While it’s arguably easier to shop at Singapore’s compact city malls or find locally made knick-knacks in Bali, Shanghai offers a balanced mix of department stores, international brands of the like you would find in other Asian cities, and lively street markets—but all without the crowds you would encounter in Shibuya, for example. China may have the world’s biggest population, but the streets feel calm. It’s also a relatively safe place, an appealing aspect when considering a mini-break. “The phoenix is peregrine by nature, typically traveling in pursuit of a specific nesting place, the phoenix tree. We hope our target group of likeminded guests will come to Shanghai, just to find their own comfort at The PuLi,” says General Manager Martijn van der Valk. The name PuLi is inspired by uncarved jade, a stone that is held in high esteem by many Chinese, in a similar fashion that diamonds are a girl’s best-friend in the West. “We want The PuLi to be truly an inscrutable gem. Just as jade has healing properties and is one of the most precious stones in the world, we want The PuLi to be an oasis of refreshment for our guests from their busy schedule,” says Martijn.
The PuLi’s 32m Long Bar offers one of Shanghai’s “longest” wine and champagne selections by the glass.
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Meanwhile, its 120-seat Jing’An restaurant takes a fun approach to dining.
The rooms live up to the hotel’s hype, and the PuLi guest experience marks a departure from the expected generic style of luxury usually associated with conventional collections of foremost hotels. With 26 floors, 209 rooms and 20 suites—with room sizes ranging from 45m2 to 130m2—a list of features in each room will keep the tech-savvy happy in addition to those who just relish a few home comforts. There are flat-screen LCD television sets, Bose wave music systems and MP3 docking ports, GSM portable phones with dual SIM card slots and city-wide coverage, DVD players, espresso machines, complimentary wired and wireless broadband Internet access. Comfort continues with the finest 300-thread-count linen of imported cotton yarn with sateen finish, and ultra-shield foam mattress contouring each bed for individual comfort that ensure a good night’s rest. Throw in a gym and other facilities, and The PuLi has everything a good break deserves. In terms of location, The PuLi is centrally located between NanJing West Road and YanAn Road, at the heart of Shanghai’s business, shopping, sightseeing and entertainment district. Its views take in the greenery of Jing’an Park, and the hotel is conveniently connected by a skybridge to the new multi-use development, Park Place, which features luxury retailing and dining. If you can’t be bothered to leave the hotel while nestled in this urban retreat, fear not. The PuLi’s 32m Long Bar offers one of Shanghai’s “longest” wine and champagne selections by the glass. Meanwhile, its 120-seat Jing’An restaurant takes a fun approach to dining. Headed up by Dane Clouston, a New Zealander trained in Melbourne, Dane’s creations reflect his travels and passion for food as he takes on classics with a twist. Home comforts—from a 1970s-style prawn cocktail to Dane’s take on traditional fish and chips—cater to a light, delicious and soothing midday meal. One kickoff dining promotion featured meat pies, a British and Australasian food staple that is not usually found on the menus of posh hotels. With a flight time of just three hours to Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport from, yes, Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, and four flights departing daily, Shanghai is in closer reach than ever. Nicole Fall is a freelance writer based in Tokyo.
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Great teachers and kids A school that aims for the best Past, present, future
International School of the Sacred Heart ISSH is a Catholic school for girls, offering an interesting learning experience based on the educational goals of the Society of the Sacred Heart. The overall focus of the school is the development of the whole person, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, social and physical.
Yokohama International School is an independent, co-ed day school for children ages 3-18. Established in 1924, the school offers a rich cultural mix, exciting learning environment and excellent academic program. We also emphasize the social and emotional development of our students and offer an extensive range of co- and extra-curricular activities. A genuinely friendly atmosphere and sense of community are YIS hallmarks.
258 Yamate-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama 231-0862 JAPAN T. 045.622.0084 F. 045.621.0379 email@example.com www.yis.ac.jp
・ 550 students ・ K3, K4 and K5 (girls and boys) ・ International Curriculum ・ Australia, Canada, Japan, UK and US College preparation and guidance
・Students from 50 nationalities ・Grade 1-12 (girls) ・ESL Program ・100% of students are accepted into universities worldwide
www.issh.ac.jp 4-3-1 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0012 Tel: 03-3400-3951 Fax: 03-3400-3496 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Education Special SEction
Genuinely Global the unique qualities and innate curiosity to learn in each child that will serve them for a lifetime of discovery. Schools also cooperate in developing intramural and inter-school fine arts and extracurricular programs for the junior high and high school children. The convenience of location belies how, once inside the school, your children are removed from the cacophony and hectic adult pace of a major global economic city. That said, the resources, textbooks, learning materials, computers and AV equipment are in tune with global criteria. The school chart is representative of the choices available during your family’s stay overseas. Each welcomes campus visitations by appointment, and the processing of applications upholds the highest ethical standards.
The term “international” has been bantered about for some time now. When looking into the international schools in Japan, however, you grasp not only the true implications, but also the future, of globalization. There are credentialed faculty, accredited curricula, healthy teacher:student ratios, functional and aesthetically pleasing facilities and grounds, secure campuses, engaging community activities, enrichment programs benefiting parents, and more. Most importantly, the student body is representative of countries from around the world, not to mention a single classroom where the number of nationalities represented comes close to the total enrolled in the class. There is a sustained effort by globally experienced teachers to develop the whole person, not just the academics, and to nurture
SCHOOL LIST School & Contact
Aoba-Japan International School
U.S.-style curriculum, High School Diploma
School buses, train
International, U.S., UK
Hibiya Line, Hiroo Station, Exit #3
Based around the Japanese Curriculum.
Preschool, Kindergarten, etc.
Montessori, PYP, IB
School buses, public transportation
pre-K – 12
late Aug - midJune
Suginami Campus: 2-10-7 Miyamae, Suginami-ku, Tokyo 168-0081; Meguro Campus: 2-10-34 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0042 Suginami T: 03-3332-6865 Meguro T: 03-3463-9873
International School of the Sacred Heart
4-3-1 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0012 T: 03-3400-3951 F: 03-3400-3496 email@example.com www.issh.ac.jp
Makuhari International School 3-2-9 Wakaba Mihama-ku, Chiba City 261-0014 Tel: 043-296-0277 Fax: 043-296-0186 firstname.lastname@example.org www.mis.or.jp
PAL International School 3-8-18 Nishiazabu Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0031 Tel: 03-5770-8166 Fax: 03-5770-8167 email@example.com www.pal-school.com
Seisen International School 1-12-15 Yoga, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 158-0097 T: 03-3704-2661 F: 03-3701-1033 firstname.lastname@example.org www.seisen.com
Yokohama International School 258 Yamate-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama 231-0862 T: 045-622-0084 F: 045-621-0379 email@example.com www.yis.ac.jp
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The Eames Chair: A very modern icon Endurance is a rarity, but cherished for more than half a century defines a classic. By Catherine Shaw
he word “icon” is so overused that it is more likely to conjure up the tiny image found on the screen of your computer or the very latest mobile telephone, rather than a significant cultural symbol. Yet, when it comes to modern furniture, there is still no other word that best describes the Eames Lounge Chair created more than 50 years ago by the leading American design partnership of Charles and Ray Eames. The sumptuous black-leather cushioned chair and matching plump leather footstool—framed in molded plywood—was a radical departure from the Eameses’ already famous, mass-produced, low-cost furniture that embraced a simple modern aesthetic. “It was complex. It was high-tech ... It was different from anything we had seen before,” explains Jack Lenor Larsen, a textile designer and longtime friend of the Eameses. “It was,
before the mention of the word, ergonomic. It was contoured to the body—that is, comfortable. Mothers nursed their children in it. Grandfathers watched television in it. It related to lifestyle more than any rules of modernity.” In fact, the chair was not so much a departure from form, but an evolution—decades of research by the Eameses to find the most creative ergonomic shape to cradle a body. It also took engineering know-how to ensure that the form was robust enough to withstand a lifetime of use. The idea of creating a uniquely comfortable but luxurious “club chair” first originated when a close friend of the Eameses, Oscar-winning American film director Billy Wilder, mentioned that he “would really appreciate an ultra, ultra-comfortable modern lounge chair.”
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“Some chairs look good, some chairs look comfortable, some chairs are comfortable. Charles and Ray’s Lounge Chair scores in all three ways.” Intrigued by the challenge to create a unique gift for their friend, the design duo came up with 13 versions early on until the Eameses, renowned perfectionists, eventually agreed on the final elegant form. This same design has remained in continuous production by Herman Miller Furniture Company since 1956, although today it is produced in Santos Palisander veneer—a sustainable rosewood very similar to the original wood—but identical in every other respect. A cream leather version, very popular in design-conscious Japan, is now available. But what makes a chair able to sustain over five decades of worldwide reverence, while lifestyles and home interiors have changed so dramatically? Besides, it was not the first “designer” chair of its time. Marcel Breuer’s Wassily chair and Alvar Aalto’s Springleaf chair had already become much-coveted classics, and comfortable modern chairs were widely available at a lower cost. Interestingly, the Eames Lounge Chair is not considered iconic because of the materials used or its unusual form. Molded plywood, for example, had been in production for decades by the time of the launch, and the design world had become much more focused on fiberglass or plastic materials, along with more simple design forms. The Eameses’ creation, in comparison, defied the norm with a design that was modern, but not too much so. Art historian Martin Eidelberg makes a similar take. Interviewed for The Eames Lounge Chair: An Icon of Modern Design published to mark the 50th anniversary of its design, he
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argues that the chair probably became a Modernist benchmark because of its “unabashed combination of modernity and traditionalism.” Certainly if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Eames Lounge Chair has captured the imagination of many. The design has been much copied, yet connoisseurs are quick to point out the superior quality of the original, not to mention the brisk trade in vintage Eames Lounge Chairs that retain their intrinsic value despite years of wear and tear. Perhaps the Eames Lounge Chair’s popularity has something to do with our subliminal association of it with good taste. The chair appears everywhere—from glossy advertisements for designer apartments to the Dennis the Menace cartoon column (Dennis’ long-suffering father has one). For 11 seasons, the Eames Lounge Chair quietly sat in the background of Frasier, the popular TV comedy sitcom about a Seattle radio psychiatrist who lived in a modern elegant apartment and surrounded himself with the very best in interior design. At the conclusion of the series, Frasier’s father, who had spent years happily sitting in his own dilapidated armchair (which ousted the Eames from a prominent position in the designer sittingroom), finally tries out the Eames Lounge Chair and remarks with surprise: “Mmm, well, this is pretty comfortable, I would have been OK with this!” In the end, it was, perhaps, not a revolutionary design that won the Eames Lounge Chair a place in design history, but rather a combination of all that is important to people— whether they lived during the 1960s or in 2009. Author, editor, architect and exhibition curator Stanley Abercrombie summed it up perfectly when he said: “Some chairs look good, some chairs look comfortable, some chairs are comfortable. Charles and Ray’s Lounge Chair scores in all three ways. And if you add a dry martini and some good music—some Mabel Mercer or Renata Tebaldi—it’s pretty near to heaven.” In Japan, please go to www.gregorylyon.com
Catherine Shaw is a freelance writer based in Tokyo.
the credit crunch lunch Japan may be in the midst of a global economic recession, but when it comes to dining out, the news is still good for lovers of fine food. By Catherine Shaw
avvy gourmands have discovered that a tighter budget doesn’t mean avoiding their favorite luxury restaurants. Instead, many have turned to lunch as the best way to maintain their passion for fine dining whilst “tightening their belts.” Even Tokyo’s upmarket restaurants are reviewing their lunch menus to help ease the pain of rising prices and lighter wallets. The result: Michelin-starred food at less than half the price for the same dishes served just a few hours later. The perfect case in point is The Peninsula Tokyo’s über glamorous Peter, 24F (03-6270-2763; www.peninsula.com), where a “Year of Giving” promotion means a gourmet three-course lunch menu (¥2,009 a head; ¥2,400 from mid-November). The food is modern international, the views over the Imperial Palace gardens from the floor-to-ceiling windows predictably fabulous, and service smooth and professional. The choices on Peter’s main courses include either fresh fish or meat, along with tea or coffee. Some lunchtime favorites are hot burdockapple velouté with foie gras custard, cider réduction and Sesame Brioche Dust. Equally good value is available at The Peninsula Tokyo’s Michelin-starred Hei Fung Terrace, 2F (03-6270-2738), with a four-item Cantonese dim sum lunch menu (¥2,800) that comes with fried rice and dessert. The word is already out so early booking is essential.
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Forty Five, Tokyo Midtown 45F
ver in Aoyama, super-stylish Two Rooms, 5F (03-3498-0002; www.tworooms.jp), is the preferred lunch destination for business executives and ladies-who-lunch. The outdoor terrace has a small infinity pool, and offers panoramic views over Omotesando. Four different set menus are available. The Pasta (¥1,850) features Italian buffalo bocinccini and big cherry tomatoes followed by forest mushroom and bacon linguine pasta. The Beef (¥2,950), a favorite of carnivores, starts with Kinkai red tuna tartare and chopped green olive tapenade, and goes on chargrill prime Australian beef rib eye and fried squashed Inca potatoes with cornichon verjuice sauce. Feeling Two Rooms in Aoyama befittingly completes an elegant lunch with flush? Upgrade to a 250g Miyazaki Wagyu sirloin and the price such delectable desserts as chocolate tart. remains a reasonable ¥5,750, including tea or coffee (the same sirloin costs ¥7,000 à la carte). If dining indoors, the counter is recommended for observing dynamo Chef Matthew Crabbe at work. A choice of great-value deals is also available at the Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo in Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi (dining reservations: 0120-798-688, toll-free), where every Monday is Ladies’ Day at the Hinokizaka and Forty Five restaurants, both on the 45F. Bring three gourmand female friends to enjoy extensive set menus (¥4,500 and ¥4,900, respectively), or The Dessert Buffet (¥3,400 for three). Each weekday, Forty Five also offers its Chef ’s Table Buffet Lunch (¥4,500), an excellent value considering it includes a generous selection of leaf and marinated salads, vegetables, onsen (hot springs) egg, and soup of the day for the first course. Select a main course from the restaurant’s Signature Dish menu featuring the Forty Five burger, truffle and mushroom penne, crab risotto, seared Hata fish, roasted chicken and minute steak. The dessert buffet is equally impressive. Afterwards, blow the budget to stock up on Forty Five’s mouthwatering handmade chocolates to enjoy at home. In the leafy suburbs of Shoto, in Shibuya, one of Tokyo’s most exclusive restaurants offers those with a little more cash an authentic French dining experience. Chez Matsuo (03-34850566; www.chez-matsuo.co.jp), as famous for its classic fare as for being able to name The Royal Prince and Princess Masako among its guests, dishes up high-gloss proficiency. The lunch set menu includes two hors d’oeuvres, soup, fish, sorbet, a meat
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dish and dessert of the day, along with coffee. Admittedly at ¥8,000 it is not as reasonably priced as others, but it remains an excellent value when you consider dinner starts from ¥16,000. Another intimate dining establishment is Chez Tomo (035789-7731; www.chez-tomo.com) in Shirokane, a solid favorite with many Michelin fans because of Chef Tomoji Ichikawa’s fuss-free dining, exceptional organic seasonal fare, and very reasonable prices. The four-course menu starts with a choice of appetizers, followed by an array of flavor-packed seasonal vegetables. Main course is a choice of beautifully presented fish or meat, and the ¥2,890 price tag per person includes dessert and tea or coffee. All served in a chic yet friendly environment. On a sunny day, dine al fresco on Chez Tomo’s outdoor terrace. A personal favorite for a quick but delicious lunch is L’Atelier de Robuchon (03-5424-1347; wwwjoel-robuchon.com) in Roppongi Hills complex. One may dine en masse at a “bar” instead of Robuchon’s usual crisp white linen-covered tables, yet the attention to detail, quality of presentation and flavors are all pure Robuchon. In fact, when the maestro is in the kitchen, the food tastes exactly the same as when he is not—the ultimate test of a “named” restaurant and evidence of a well-trained staff. Lunch set menus start from ¥2,950. Take special note of the tomato gazpacho with croûtons and fresh almonds, or Robuchon’s signature truffled mashed potatoes—the latter alone is worth a Michelin star. If multi-Michelin star dining is your thing, L’Osier (03-35716050; www.shiseido.co.jp) is hard to beat. The three-starred Ginza restaurant offers “neo-classic” French cuisine (classic French cooking technique with a modern twist). Three lunch set menus are available, ranging from ¥6,800 for hors d’oeuvre or soup, a main dish and dessert, followed by petits fours, to ¥11,000 for hors d’oeuvre, soup, two main dishes, dessert and petits fours. It’s an excellent value, considering the attentive smooth service and a dinner menu that starts from ¥19,000 for a four-course meal. The soup (soupe de petits pois a la menthe poivree, flan de bonite sechee) at ¥4,800 is the least expensive item on the à la carte menu, while main courses average out at around ¥10,000 each. The décor is suitably stylish, blending what the owners call “Japonism-influenced art deco and modernism.” The current reinvention of lunch appears to be a win-win situation for everyone, from diners to busy restaurants—and, most definitely, to one’s digestion.
The Beef is one of the four different set menus to savor at Two Rooms.
Catherine Shaw is a freelance writer based in Tokyo.
Hinokizaka, Tokyo Midtown 45F
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here’s look in Technology on the horizon Words & photos by John Boyd
The most recent grand show for all things digital, the annual CEATEC Japan, took place this past October in Chiba. Among the standout technologies were a singing robot, 3D TVs and far-out phones for the future. Readers finally ready to splurge on a large flat-screen TV or upgrade an ageing home theater unit might want to hold off until next year, as Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp. say they will be introducing 3D-enabled televisions. Both global manufacturers, along with Sharp Corp. and Hitachi Ltd., demonstrated their technologies using 3D movie and video clips. Sony is placing importance on the technology to enhance home entertainment, believing that 3D is clearly on its way to the mass market. Besides 3D-enabled standard TVs, Sony also demonstrated 3D video game technology and recorded 3D sports scenes that had been shot live. To enjoy the new TVs requires that you wear shutter glasses employing electronic blinds that alternatively open and block each lens rapidly in time with the refresh rate of the screen’s image. This creates two slightly different images, which the brain combines to produce the 3D effect. Therein, however, lies the challenge for the technology. Will consumers be disposed to wear the glasses and shell out a premium for the sensation? Much will depend on not just how good the 3D media is, but also how comfortable the viewing experience turns out to be. Judging from the CEATEC demonstrations, while the quality of the 3D images are excellent, the comfort side of the experience still needs tweaking if consumers are going to delight in 3D for long periods of viewing time. Earlier in May, as a way to help it come up with innovative designs for future mobile phones, Fujitsu ran a design contest open to the public. The nine winning designs from 2,000 entries were chosen and put on display at CEATEC, including the overall winner from Jin-gwon Go, a student at Keimyung University in Daegu, South Korea, who picked up ¥2 million for his efforts. Go’s gesture phone uses a graphical user interface that interprets hand gestures and the way the phone is handled to change the phone’s functions—for instance, from a phone to a camera. Among the other winning concept models to receive an award was the curiosity-grabbing circle phone, a design employing a round 3-in (7.62cm), icon-laden touch-screen LCD and retractable phone unit.
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1. Fujitsu circle phone
2. Eyewear bringing clarity to 3D TV
3. Yamaha singing robot cued by Apple iPod touch
ng at you... NTT DoCoMo Corp., Sharp and Olympus Corp. generated much interest with their less than high-tech, but, nevertheless, appealingly designed Touch Wood phone. The prototype handset’s casing is produced from compressed and toughened cypress wood to form an eye-catching design—each phone possessing its own individual natural-wood pattern—that is resistant to water, mildew and insects. And it even smells nice! The wood is supplied from culled trees taken during forest thinning for a reforestation project called More Trees. No word yet when DoCoMo might put the phone on the market. To show off its vocal synthesis software to great effect, Yamaha Corp. used an HRP-4C humanoid robot created by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Tsukuba and dressed it up to look like a well-known Japanese female singer. An attendee among the throngs of gaping visitors was asked to use Apple Inc.’s iPod touch to send the robot a request from six listed songs. The robot acknowledged the sender and request, then proceeded to lip-sync the song, as well as move its head and blink its eyes quite realistically as it sang. In the opinion of one attendee: “Creepy!” Check out a video clip of the robot singing at www. youtube.com/watch?v=LorTKDFIsxc Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. at last year’s CEATEC had demonstrated small robot vehicles that avoided colliding with obstacles when moving by using a laser range-finder and sensor technologies. The concept was inspired by studies on the composition of bee’s eyes to determine what enables the insect to avoid colliding with obstacles across a radius of 300° during flight. At CEATEC 2009, Nissan showed how far its biomimetic research had progressed. In a demonstration, six EPORO robot vehicles—which are designed to travel in a group “mimicking the behavioral patterns of a school of fish in avoiding obstacles and without colliding into one another”—traveled one behind the other around an enclosed circuit. By communicating with each other, they were able to change patterns of movement as needed to avoid a collision. The robots use laser range-finders and short-distance radio communications, while employing a swarming algorithm. The target of the research is to create a safety shield that could conceivably protect future drivers—in both normal and unfavorable driving conditions.
4. Nissan EPORO communicating to avoid collisions
5. Fujitsu contest design winner’s hand gesture-sensitive phone
6. NTT DoCoMo Touch (cypress) Wood phone
John Boyd is a freelance technology writer based in Kawasaki.
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Forward Leap Jaguar continues to charge into the future with its bold and powerful new flagship, the XJ. By Ivan Murzikov Photos courtesy Jaguar Land Rover Japan
Not so long ago, Jaguar found itself in the same position as many once-famous rock bands. It had the name, the legend, and the ageing fan base, but no new tunes. In fact, it kept showing up at festivals playing covers of its own greatest hits. That’s why the S-Type was a modern “reinterpretation” of the Mk2—and why the previous generation XJ looked exactly like the one that went before. You could argue that this type of approach would only lead to the grave. Which is exactly where Jaguar was headed—until a few years ago when it reinvented itself with the stunningly and effortlessly cool XF executive saloon, a car that has not only instantly propelled Jaguar
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into the 21st century, but also into the modern businessman and woman’s minds. The XF is a worldwide smash-hit. A new hit single. But can Jaguar follow it up with another? Well, we’ll soon see, because the iconic British marque recently revealed its new flagship, the XJ. And it is so dramatic that it makes even the XF look like a shrinking violet. Constructed using aerospace-inspired aluminium body technology, the imposing—but also elegant and sleek—XJ boasts a coupe-like roofline as a result of very raked C-pillars, blacked out to create a
floating effect. All XJs, by the way, feature a full panoramic glass roof. At the front is a bigger variant of the new Jaguar grille introduced by the XF, and headlights seemingly lifted straight off the concept car that eventually became the production XF. But it’s the dramatic rear end that turns most heads, and which has split opinion. However, having seen the car in the metal at the Frankfurt Motor Show, I can vouch for the XJ having the kind of presence usually reserved for cars of a segment higher up than the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8, which are all the XJ’s natural rivals. In fact, this Jaguar looks to be from the Bentley class. The interior is similarly jaw-dropping, featuring a bold architectural wood veneer that sweeps forward from the doors to meet at the front of the car, in the middle on top of the facia. This creates the sensation of sitting in a luxury Riva yacht. But there’s nothing olde-worlde about the XJ’s interior, even if the trim is a warm mixture of traditional materials such as wood, leather and aluminium. The car’s instrument display is really quite something radical, featuring virtual displays that change depending on the manner in which the car is driven—for example, when in Sport mode, the rev counter takes pride of place. There’s also a dual-view touch-screen interface on the center hangdown section, and the XJ also gets the rotary gear selector lever that rises elegantly from the center console. The features list is vast, including the likes of twin electric rear blinds and, if you tick the options box, a powerful 1200W Bowers&Wilkins sound system. In fact, in-car entertainment possibilities look very promising, with that dual-view touch-screen system capable of
showing DVD movies or television programs to the front passenger, while part of it still shows navigation info to the driver. Also, XJ offers the latest-generation hard disk-based audio and navigation systems, and superb connectivity through its built-in Media Hub, allowing all kinds of portable devices to be connected and used. For now, a choice of three engines is offered, including the 373 kW, supercharged 5.0-liter V8 from the incredible XFR, a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 with 283 kW and a 3.0-liter twin-turbodiesel that pumps out 500 N.m of torque. All of the engines are mated with a ZF-developed six-speed automatic transmission that drives the rear wheels. That supercharged engine packs a mean punch, by the way, enough to rocket the big XJ to 100 km/h in only 4.9 seconds. And then there is the vast list of safety features. The XJ’s driver and passengers are taken care of by ABS, dynamic stability control, cornering brake control, electronic brake force distribution, electronic traction control, emergency brake assist, engine drag torque control and, for vehicles fitted with adaptive cruise control, also electronic brake pre-fill. The XJ features a system called Trac DSC, which allows more enthusiastic drivers to experience all the power without so many of the safety nets. The Jaguar XJ goes on sale in Japan in March 2010, and looks set to offer a strong alternative to the traditional choices in the luxury car segment. Certainly, more progressive buyers will find its challenging design and high-tech interior hard to resist. One thing is for sure, consider this iconic brand back from the dead.
“Customers who buy premium cars, such as the XJ, have a strong point of view. So we offered a diverse choice of options.” Ian Callum, director of design
Staying Slim You lost it, now stay that way. By Catherine Shaw
The only thing harder than losing weight is keeping it off. I should know: 18 months ago I embarked on a healthier way of eating and lost 15kg. But for once, I didn’t celebrate the achievement by devouring a slice of chocolate cake— and have since managed to maintain the ideal weight.
The key difference in my experience is something that researchers have been saying for years: to keep weight off requires a change in state of mind, not just diet. We already know that drastic reduction in food intake is not a good way to lose weight permanently. Discipline lasts for only so long before collapsing, defeated—into an especially enticing crème brûlée. Studies show that most dieters eventually return to their original weight, while the pattern of repeatedly losing and gaining weight has been linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and an altered immune function. According to a recent review at the University of California, Los Angeles covering 31 long-term studies that followed people for between two and five years on a range of diets, the majority regained the entire weight lost. Furthermore, 83% actually gained back more weight than they had lost. Sustaining the lower weight was found to be
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the case in a small minority. The reason for the ineffectiveness was that dieters felt they were merely denying themselves, so, when they came off the diet, fell back to their old eating habits. The conclusion was that the most effective way to maintain weight loss lies in a change to one’s lifestyle—preferably in small, sustainable ways. This remedy tallied with my own experience. I had never referred to, or thought of, my new eating pattern as a “diet.” Other proven tips to a successful diet include not constantly weighing yourself. After all, weight fluctuates, so it’s best to stick to the same scale and then weigh yourself only at the same time of the month. The fit of your clothes, in effect, is a far better barometer of eating discipline. The latest U.S. studies also suggest that keeping a food journal makes a significant difference to keeping your weight under control. Presumably, the embarrassment of having to write, “Ate giant-sized
cheesecake for breakfast” is hard to ignore. A small notebook will suffice, but I personally found the online version at www.fitday. com very convenient. There are calorie counters, graphs depicting weight over time, and a calculator of your BMI (body mass index). Like it or not, physical activity is one of the most important aspects of keeping weight off for the long term. Exercise helps improve your fitness, tone muscles, and keep you feeling positive. Find an exercise that suits you, though—mine is an early morning walk. Try to think of exercise in the same way as cleaning your teeth: a boring but necessary daily evil. Again, record all exercise so you can identify bad trends; for example, are you regaining weight because you are eating the same, but stopped exercising? Try to find a buddy who can give you continued support and be sure to avoid any friends who prefer a “fat friend.” You know who they are: the ones who studiously ignore the fact you’ve gone down three dress sizes and still insist on you being guest of honor at their pasta and chocolate parties. I highly recommend www.pig2twig.co.uk for their humorous, but informative online support network. It’s best to be brutally honest about the habits that made you eat poorly in the first place. If you eat when you feel miserable, for example, find another way to cheer up. Another trick is to get rid of your entire fat wardrobe. (Never keep your fat clothes “just in
case”). There are plenty of charities that gratefully accept men’s or women’s clothing. Often misunderstood, maintaining your weight doesn’t mean you can’t have treats from time to time. While you can’t enjoy half a bottle of Merlot and a box of chocolates every night, I think “controlled indulgences” keep one sane in the long run. Total deprivation, to my way of thinking, is just another path toward desperate overindulgence. I make treats work through the art of strategic rationing; a few squares of really fabulous dark chocolate are a much nicer treat than a large bar of cheap chocolate. If all this advice fails to inspire, there is an alternative. A study in the December 2008 issue of JAMA ( Journal of the American Medical Association) found that people who had financial incentives to lose weight were much more successful at dieting than those who did not. The researchers, two Yale professors, have since created a Web site called StickK.com, where one can sign a personal contract. If you fail in your goals, it costs you money. The site already has over 23,000 users—over half of whom have contracts for losing weight. I may just adapt this incentive to my quest to remain healthy—rewarding myself with an exotic beach holiday in swimwear instead of a voluminous kaftan. Catherine Shaw is a freelance writer based in Tokyo.
Sept. 18 Fri Breakfast (7:30) Cheese toast, 2 slices Cereal, Corn Flakes, 1 cup Low fat (2%) milk, 1 cup Lunch (12:30) Hamburger (3 oz. patty and one bun) Mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Lettuce, 1/4 cup Tomato, 1 slice Onion, 1 slice Milk, whole 2 cups Dinner (20:00) Chicken breast, boneless, skinless Broccoli 2 cups Brown rice 1 cup Kiwi and strawberry slices
Proven 5 Tips to a Successful Diet 1. Stick to the same scale and then weigh yourself only at the same time of the month. 2. The fit of your clothes, in effect, is a far better barometer of eating discipline. 3. Keep a food journal 4. Try to think of exercise in the same way as cleaning your teeth: a boring but necessary daily evil. 5. Find a buddy who can give you continued support and be sure to avoid any friends who prefer a “fat friend.” 6. Never keep your fat clothes just in case
Snack (23:00) Low fat yoghurt Mango 1 cup
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art and Culture
psychosomatic art Her 50,000 paintings, prints, drawings and installations not only help define the world-acclaimed artist, but are at the heart of her therapy. By Justin McCurry Photos courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Yayoi Kusama is one of the most important Japanese artists of modern times. In a career spanning more than half a century, she has created tens of thousands of works and inspired generations of artists, from Andy Warhol to Damien Hirst. Mention of her name conjures powerful images of polka dot balloons and macaroniencrusted shoes, and of an elderly woman with a penchant for fantastically iridescent hairdos and an equally dazzling dress sense. When I approach Kusama at her studio in Tokyo she looks up, and the mien of wide-eyed terror I’d seen on the DVD cover of I Adore Myself, a 2008 documentary about her life and work, melts into a warm smile. Despite her age—she turned 80 in March— Kusama remains a prodigious artist, having built a 50,000-strong
portfolio of paintings, prints, drawings and installations that feed a seemingly unbroken stream of solo and collaborative exhibitions around the world. An exhibition of her work—“Mirrored Years”— is being held through February 2010 to mark the re-opening of the City Gallery in Wellington, New Zealand, while Japan residents can see her special exhibition, titled “The Place For My Soul,” in her hometown at the Matsumoto City Museum of Art in Nagano Prefecture. She still finds time to write poetry and novellas, make films, design clothes and nurture a lucrative line in merchandise: everything from mobile phone handsets to tea towels, all bearing her iconic flower, net and polka dot designs. In October 2006,
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“ The dots kept appearing as hallucinations on trees, everywhere.”
Omnipresent infinity nets
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Kusama became the first Japanese woman to be awarded the Praemium Imperiale, a prestigious prize awarded by the government to internationally recognized artists. It is impossible to discuss Kusama’s work without weighty testimonial to polka dots and their structural antithesis, the omnipresent lined meshed patterns she calls “infinity nets.” They are the result of a complicated psychological state that began when she was a child. Kusama started seeing a psychiatrist at the age of 10 after she was gripped by auditory hallucinations and visions of dots, nets and violet flowers that covered everything she saw. “The dots kept appearing as hallucinations on trees, everywhere,” she says. “I call them my repetitive vision. I still see them. [They] cover the canvas and grow onto the floor, the ceiling, chairs and tables. Then the polka dots move to the body, on to my clothes and into my spirit. It is an obsession.”
Yayoi Kusama’s “repetitive vision”
The obsessive thoughts sprang from a deeply unhappy childhood and ambivalent feelings towards her unloving, but long-suffering, mother. “I experienced serious stress because of the chaotic situation at home. My parents’ constant arguing caused me a great deal of mental instability and, at first, I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I started seeing a psychiatrist, and it was he who first encouraged me to develop as an artist. “Not a single day went by that my mother didn’t regret giving birth to me. I was stuck in the middle of a long-running feud between her and my father, and I felt mentally cornered,” Kusama says. “That’s why I started hallucinating.” Born in 1929, Kusama studied, against her mother’s wishes, at the Kyoto Municipal Schools of Arts and Crafts, but by 1950 had moved on from the study of 19th-century Nihonga—a form
of traditional Japanese painting—to abstract natural forms. In the most fevered, neurotic periods of her twenties, she was producing dozens of paintings a day. In 1957 Kusama left Japan for New York, emboldened to flee her demons and memories of a childhood plagued by physical and mental abuse at the hands of her mother, and having carried on a lengthy correspondence with her hero, the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe. In the U.S., her early work centered on large, abstract monochrome paintings, but it was her infinity net installations that caught the eye of critics and collectors. They were just one part of an infatuation with repetitive motifs spanning several media, united by explosions of polka dots, meshes and phallic protrusions. Kusama’s innate gift for exhibitionism led to outlandish demonstrations against the Vietnam War, often involving nudity in iconic locations that included Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge. She returned to Japan in 1973 amid a chorus of criticism of her stateside antics from the conservative Japanese media— they dubbed her the “sex queen of New York”—and she suffered a deterioration in her mental health. “I was almost scared about seeing all those polka dots, but I came back to Japan and built this place without my parents’ help. I had a hard time,” she says, “but many people were there to help me.” Though her work continued to appear in Japan, it was the international reawakening of interest in her pieces that propelled Kusama back into the public consciousness, culminating in a solo exhibition at the Centre for International Contemporary Arts in New York in 1989 and, four years later, an acclaimed appearance at the Venice Biennale.
“I had to return to Japan because of my illness, but I gradually started creating art again [and] made my international comeback,” she explains. “The world has continued to be surprised by my work ever since.” Kusama has now spent more than 30 years as a voluntary resident of a psychiatric hospital, leaving at around noon each day to complete eight hours of painting at her studio around the corner. The routine of institutionalization gives her life the order she needs to concentrate on her work. Kusama has often said that if it weren’t for art, she would have killed herself long ago. “I only slept two hours last night. When I get tired from making pictures I find it really difficult to go to sleep. But it’s how I get away from my illness and escape the hallucinations. By painting I can escape my mental illness and don’t retreat into myself, which is a symptom of my illness. I call it psychosomatic art.”
So how does she reconcile her psychological problems with the unquestionable vivacity of her art? “I don’t really think about what my emotions are. I don’t plan to make them nice and cheerful,” says Kusama, “but once I start, they just move in that direction. My hands start moving before I can think anything.” Though her survival depends on absolute devotion to work, Kusama says she does not fear the end of life, only the enforced loneliness that would come from inactivity as she waits, in her words, to “sail into the sea of death.” It seems almost inappropriate, then, to ask her if she ever considers retiring. “No. As long as I have the energy I will carry on. I’d like to live 200 or 300 years. I would like to be dipped in art before I die,” she says, “because I want to leave my message to my successors and future generations.” Justin McCurry is the Guardian’s Tokyo correspondent.
“I don’t really think about what my emotions are. I don’t plan to make them nice and cheerful, but once I start, they just move in that direction. My hands start moving before I can think anything.”
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Published on Jan 8, 2010