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Japan’s number one English language magazine



PLUS: What to Do in Jimbocho, Why You Should Switch to Charcoal Soap, and Fall Foliage Travel Tips

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8 AREA GUIDE: JIMBOCHO Still a literary haven, this neighborhood is also a mecca for snowboarders, musicians, and foodies.

19 FRESH FROM FASHION WEEK Six rising stars that caught our attention at Tokyo Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2017.

22 FIVE TOKYO CREATIVES TO WATCH 10 STYLE November is the month for choosing coats and boots, and we’ve found just what you need. 12 BEAUTY Why should you switch to charcoal soap? This Japanese beauty secret is oh-so-good for your skin – plus, it just looks super hip. 14 TRENDS As if showing you around Jimbocho wasn’t enough, we’ve also rounded up some unique bookstores for die-hard paper sniffers.

As we look forward to Design Festa, we celebrate our city’s up-and-coming talents.

26 WHERE DO ALL THE BALLERINAS GO? Japan is producing more world-class ballerinas than ever, but why are they all leaving?

34 TORMENTED TALENTS We investigate the dark side of Japan’s entertainment industry.

guide CULTURE ROUNDUP 39 THE ART WORLD Travel through time, trot alongside Japan’s native horse breeds, and gaze at ceramics.

42 AGENDA Street dance in Shibuya, an underground mystery hunt, and a world of ramen flavors.



We chat to Shinji Nakaba about his “modern vanitas” jewelry designs.

Four spectacular spots for autumn splendor, and where to stay overnight.



How one American photographer was inspired by the grace of bonsai trees.

A Jin Akanashi concert, National Day celebrations, and the Miss Supranational Pageant.




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NOV EMBER 2016 Publisher

ENGAWA Co., Ltd.


Takanobu Ushiyama

Executive Producers

Asi Rinestine Naoya Takahashi

Editor in Chief Senior Editor

Annemarie Luck Alec Jordan

Art Director Features Writer Contributors

Sales Director Sales Executives

Media Strategist Media Consultant Media Relations Media Producers

Liam Ramshaw Matthew Hernon Vivian Morelli Luca Eandi Bill Hersey Dorothee Erle Bunny Bissoux Takaaki Murai Hirofumi Ohuchi Kahori Terakawa Nobu (Nick) Nakazawa Yu Suzuki Mandy Lynn Mary Rudow Junko Shimaya Yumi Idomoto Claudia Sun

EST. Corky Alexander, 1970 Published monthly at JPR Sendagaya Building 8F 4-23-5 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0051 (03) 6863-3096 / (03) 5413-3050 (fax) To subscribe to the Tokyo Weekender, please call (03) 6863-3096 or email: For ad sales inquiries, please call (03) 6863-3096 or email: 広告に関するお問い合わせ先 電話:(03)6863-3096 メール Opinions expressed by Weekender contributors are not necessarily those of the publisher

Published by ENGAWA Co., Ltd.

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@bapawn: So, Annemarie, I understand that you saw a lot of Tokyo Fashion Week this year? @mizrama: Yes, quite a bit. You know, Tokyo is still lagging behind other fashion weeks in terms of big names, but on the flipside, this makes it a good place to discover new talent. One of these being the brand on our cover, Leonard Wong. His show was a real performance. @bapawn: What was it that impressed you about the show? @mizrama: You could just tell he’s already thinking big. His show opened with this futuristic performance by AyaBambi, the Japanese dance couple who’ve been causing a bit of a sensation lately themselves. I think Wong is quite an ideal intro to this month’s ode to creativity. @bapawn: I like that he shows both sides of that creative energy – he certainly isn’t afraid to go dark,



and that certainly works well for us. Although we have a few stories this month that show the positive aspects of the creative life, we aren’t afraid to walk amidst the shadows. @mizrama: Absolutely, I think it’s essential to walk in the shadows sometimes. Not only because it can feed creativity – as jewelry designer Shinji Nakaba expressed [page 29] – but because it also allows one to appreciate the lightness of being. I think artists of all kinds are continuously having to balance dark and light. @bapawn: That visual balance was something that fascinated me about Stephen Voss’s bonsai photographs [page 30], but it also makes me think about your charcoal soap [page 12]. How does it balance the dark and the light? @mizrama: Ah, quite literally – turns out this “sooty” ingredient is another Japanese secret to brighter skin. Black is the new black, and not just in fashion.



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WH AT ’ S O N O U R RA DA R TH I S MONTH . . . Create your very own unique cocktail at Andaz Tokyo, rediscover your love of reading (books), and find out why black soap is better.

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O H C O B M I J N I E M I T BOOK AND UA LS T C E L RED TEL C U LT U FOR IN S N T E I V ” HA ORS TOW N L HON E R A RY K L T I I O T L O S B A HO ’S “ ONCE O K YO IMBOC T J , S S A R G ndi LA uca Ea ERVIN SCHO S s by L h Y p a B r tog AG E nd pho ords a HERIT W

STRUM AND DRUM Nearby Ochanomizu may be known as Tokyo’s nucleus for musical instrument stores, but quite a few shops bleed over into the Jimbocho area as well. Kurosawa Music on Yasukuni-dori is one of the biggest dealers of new, used and vintage musical gear in Japan, and the wall of Gibson Les Pauls that greets you at the door of their Jimbocho store lets you know they mean business. There’s also a host of smaller shops specializing in woodwind and brass instruments, violins, vintage synthesizers and keyboards. As an added bonus, the area is home to several music instruction schools as well as practice spaces for the budding rock star waiting to be unleashed.

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Centrally located between several universities, including Meiji, Nihon and Senshu, Jimbocho is home to over 150 bookstores, most of which deal in used texts. National chain Sanseido has its flagship store here, which spreads over several floors. Toyodo is another popular spot, offering new books and a comfortable place to open a laptop and work while people-watching out the large windows. Isseido, founded in 1903, has survived earthquakes, fires and WWII bombings, so it has more than earned its enviable collection of vintage prints and rare books. Bohemian’s Guild offers an impressive selection of art books, while Nanyodo is the go-to for design and architecture books. Charming Magnif Zinebocho sells vintage American fashion magazines and Western pulp.

HIT THE SLOPES There’s not a single notable hill in Jimbocho, so it’s sort of ironic that it has the highest concentration of ski and snowboard stores in Tokyo, with something like 35 shops dealing in winter sports gear. But stiff competition translates to good deals, and there’s really no better place to go if you’re looking for a board or the latest in snow apparel tech. Some of the most recommended stores include Victoria, which has several locations specializing in wardrobe and gear, Himaraya for its wide selection of brands, and Nippin for its knowledgeable staff. Most of the stores also carry last season’s lines, if you’re looking to save some money and don’t mind being silently mocked by snobs on the slopes.

LOSING A STAR Jimbocho’s food scene was dealt a blow when it was announced that Michelin Star-holding restaurant Den will close on November 27 and relocate to Gaienmae. Zaiyu Hasegawa’s much-lauded establishment offers an incredibly intricate and playful menu and it will be sorely missed. However, there’s still some time left to book a reservation before it makes the move, and luckily there are other culinary gems in Jimbocho. For curry, hit up Kitchen Nankai, Kyoeido or Bondy. Tonkotsu fans love the fatty broth and thick noodles at Ramen Jiro, while Maruka has some of the best Kagawa-style udon around. Finally, Suito Pozu has been slinging gyoza since before WWII and there’s a good reason they’ve stuck around that long.

GET IT PERCOLATING For coffee sipping while book browsing, Toyodo’s Paper Press Café pours refills on their ¥200 cup, so you can settle in for a good long while. Otherwise, Jimbocho hosts many more traditional cafés. Saboru looks like a fancy treehouse, and in addition to tasty coffee drinks, they serve breakfast until 11am. Kanda Brazil is a classic neighborhood café that is still roasting strong. Milonga Nueva has been around since the 50s and spins a wide selection of Argentinian tango records. Glitch is definitely the hippest and newest coffee house, with its bright interior, wooden counters and flavorful in-house-roasted pour-overs. If tea is more your speed, Tea House Takano was one of the first shops in Tokyo to import English black teas.

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CHLOÉ ANKLE BOOTS Now that you’ve stored the sandals away, it’s time to say hello to winterappropriate footwear. Chloé is back with a new spin on its iconic and best-selling Susanna boots, and this pair combines not one but two of this season’s trends: opulent velvet and saturated jewel tones. The merlot-hued boots are embellished with gold studs and buckled straps, and they come with a low heel, meaning they’re comfortable enough for walking all around the city and navigating the subway system.


THEORY COAT Save the puffy, down-filled jackets for outdoor activities and particularly cold days, and instead wrap yourself in this luxurious coat, made of brushed wool and cashmere. The design is a twist on the classic trench coat, complete with epaulette shoulders, storm flaps and a waistcinching belt. The brushed wool adds softness, and the light grey color makes it easy to match with most of your wardrobe.

VALENTINO SWEATER With November bringing colder weather, it’s finally time to layer up, and this cozy sweater will do the job. The hunt for the perfect sweater can be a difficult one, but it’s worth investing in natural fibers like wool or cashmere for comfort and long-lasting quality. This number from Valentino blends wool and mohair for a soft, fluffy feel. We like the beige (almost blush) hue of this piece, combined with metallic stripes for a fun touch. The ribbed trims give it a more fitted silhouette; pair it with jeans for a daily look that is both elegant and snug.

TOM FORD BLAZER A little trivia: this O’Connor slim fit blazer was actually designed specifically for Daniel Craig in his role as James Bond, and you can see different variations in the most recent installment, “Spectre.” If the James Bond aspect of this signature Tom Ford creation isn’t enough incentive to buy it, perhaps the fine cashmere finish and the luxurious silk lining the sleeves will convince you. The price tag may be on the hefty side, but we promise you the compliments will almost make up for it.

NIKE SNEAKERS Thanks to the “athleisure” trend, sneakers are now acceptable to wear on a daily basis and are no longer solely reserved for sports. We like this lightweight pair of Air Zoom sneakes from Nike, with a simple dégradé color scheme. Zoom Air units are placed in the heel and forefoot for a responsive step, and the mesh uppers provide ventilation. Pair them with your running clothes for a brisk jog, or wear them with fitted jeans and a shirt for your daily activities.

SUUNTO WATCH Founded by championship orienteer Tuomas Vohlonen in 1936, Suunto continues to craft premium timepieces over 80 years later. Suunto watches are known for being robust, accurate and innovative, and are designed to optimize athletic performance. If you’re keen on a sports watch that isn’t too “sporty” looking, this model may be it. It combines bronze-colored steel and a leather wristband, and it is waterproof for up to depths of 100m. The watch even comes with an explorer’s notebook, so you can record your intrepid adventures.






T H E S TORY After spending several years producing advertising materials for car manufacturers, Kennichi Kato left the rat race to spend a year traveling the world. When he returned he rented a small space in Shimokitazawa and built his bookstore/ café by hand. Kiryuusha opened in 2007. W H Y W E LOVE IT It’s a tiny bookstore/café/meeting space that fits into a 12-square-meter room. It’s the kind of place that could probably only exist in Japan, and it’s absolutely perfect for Shimokitazawa. If you’re interested in alternative lifestyles or just want to take a short trip out of the ordinary, this is the place. Finally, it’s the name: in Japanese, it’s “hut where the spirit flows.” Dig it?

W H AT TO B U Y We were tempted by “The Anarchist’s Cookbook,” but just sitting down to a cup of hot chai and listening to an event planning meeting by an association of local business owners was a pleasant enough way to while away an evening. Iida Heights, 5-29-17 Daizawa, Setagaya-ku.

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INFINITY BOOKS T HE STORY Dominic Ward (Nick for short) co-owned the much-loved Caravan Books in Ikebukuro for many years. After closing that shop down, he was selling a great deal of his stock online, but felt the quixotic call of opening a store for used books in English (there’s also a small stock of texts in Spanish, German, and a few other languages) once again. W HY WE LOVE I T If the sheer fact that it’s one of the only bookstores of its kind in Tokyo weren’t enough, the regular music events series that Infinity runs is also something to cheer about. Finally, if you’ve been going into “Game of Thrones” withdrawal, Nick’s Yorkshire accent will have you briefly back in Westeros over the course of a chat. W HAT TO BU Y Everything on stock, from Japanese textbooks to fiction – literary or mildly trashy – but Nick says that the New Age/spirituality books are some the store’s best sellers. Could it be that the gaijin experience awakens a hunger to seek life’s deeper meaning? Komakata Heights, 1-2-4 Azumabashi, Sumida-ku.


SHELF T HE STORY Shelf opened in 1994, and its mix of English language photo collections – everything from zine-like publications and art journals to hefty monographs and limited printings – draws art lovers both foreign and domestic.

T H E S TORY Founded in 1927 by Moichi Tanabe, Kinokuniya’s first book store was opened in Shinjuku. Although the building burnt down during an air raid in 1945, it reopened a few months later and expanded with more shops around the country. Today, it’s the largest bookstore chain in Japan, and also boasts nearly 30 stores overseas. In August 2016, the Shinjuku South branch underwent a renovation, reopening with a sole focus on foreign language books. Now called Books Kinokuniya Tokyo, it takes up the entire sixth floor of the building, boasting more than 100,000 publications, the largest foreign books selection in the chain.

W HY WE LOVE I T It’s the kind of place where you can easily find the hours slipping away as you page through books of photographers you may have known, or never heard of. It’s just around the corner from the Watarium Museum of Contemporary Art, so it can serve as a pleasant appetizer – or dessert – for a weekend afternoon’s aesthetic session.

W H Y W E LOVE T H E M While there are several bookstores in Tokyo where you can buy English books, Books Kinokuniya Tokyo offers more variety by catering to French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Chinese readers. They cover multiple genres, so fans of manga, sci-fi, art, and other niche areas can happily spend hours browsing the shelves here. And it goes without saying that all the latest fiction and nonfiction are on offer, as are educational materials, magazines, and children’s books. Plus, they have free Wi-Fi.

W HAT TO BU Y We were intrigued by

W H AT TO B U Y The world is your

Ryuichi Ishikawa’s “okinawan portraits 2012-2016,” which reveal another side of life on Japan’s southernmost islands, and we found ourselves smitten by the tomboyish muse who lounged on the pages of Valerie Phillips’ “Sara Superhero.” Izumi Building, 3-7-4 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku.

oyster, but to enjoy a 20% discount, go for the staff-recommended “book of the month.” 6F South Building, Takashimaya Times Square, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku.

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ow, we’re not suggesting you fish out some leftover coal from last night’s barbecue and slap it on your face as a skincare regime. Rather, we’re talking about binchotan, or activated charcoal, which has been used in Japan since the Edo period for both cooking and cleansing, and has recently begun attracting attention in the global beauty world for its excellent ability to trap and draw out impurities. Most of the best quality binchotan, also known as white charcoal, is made from branches of ubame oak trees in Kishu, Wakayama Prefecture. Skilled artisans burn the wood in kilns at low temperatures for an extended period of time before upping the temperature to around 1,000 degrees Celsius so that it glows white hot. It’s then rapidly cooled and smothered with ash. The result is an extremely pure carbon that contains numerous tiny pores, which allows it to absorb chemicals and toxins, making it ideal for purifying air and water, whitening teeth, and detoxifying skin – it’s particularly helpful for those suffering from dry skin, acne, or redness. So how do you incorporate this sooty ingredient into your cleansing routine? Luckily, there’s no need to make a DIY carbon face mask as plenty of beauty brands have begun launching charcoal-based face cleansers, masks, and soaps. To get you off to an easy start, we’ve rounded up three natural binchotan soap bars, perfect for those long, restorative winter baths.

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1. MEOW MEOW TWEET’S TEA TREE EUCALYPTUS BAR SOAP It comes in hand-wrapped, whimsically illustrated packaging, and it’s made with charcoal for detoxifying, cocoa butter for a youthful complexion, ground oats to soothe and mildly exfoliate, and tea tree and eucalyptus oils to combat skin blemishes – what more could you ask of a bar of soap? Available in Japan for ¥2,100 at For more info call George & Oliver Company on 03-3505-7853.

3 MORE NATURAL SOAPS Not into charcoal? Try these bars instead

KHMER RABBIT The Japan-born, Cambodia-based founder of this beautiful brand makes these natural soaps with honey – which he collects from hives himself! The soaps are organic and moisturizing, and if you can get your hands on a “whipping net,” you’ll be amazed at how much foam they produce. Available from ¥3,780 at, and from Rooms Ji-Ba at Shibuya Hikarie between November 14 and December 25.

2. PELICAN HINOKI DEITANSEKI SOAP SOAP & PAPER FACTORY’S STAR-MADE COLLECTION This New York brand makes all its soaps the old-fashioned way: by hand. Their Star-made Collection features three pure, vegan soaps in three varieties – Bouquet, Camellia, and Violet – all made with shea butter, olive oil, and coconut oil. Available in Japan for ¥1,800 from For more info call George & Oliver Company on 03-3505-7853.

Made by Pelican, this charcoalbased soap is a bestseller in Japan. When you unwrap it, the first thing you’ll notice is its pleasant hinoki (cypress pine) scent. Hinoki is known for its relaxing effects and for alleviating skin problems such as minor irritations, rashes and cuts. The soap also contains bentonite clay, which leaves skin smoother and brighter. ¥756 from,

3. RIKUMO BINCHOTAN FACIAL SOAP ECOSTORE These creamy, gentle, mineral-based soaps by Ecostore come in a range of delicious “flavors,” our favorites being coconut, vanilla, and lemongrass. As the label says, they’re made with “no nasty chemicals.” Available for ¥313 from or at the Ecostore shop: 2F Atre Ebisunishi, 1-6 Ebisuminami, Shibuya-ku.

Although based in the US, this brand has Japanese roots and sells a range of charcoal products made from Kishu-sourced binchotan. Their facial soap is moisturizing and detoxifying, has antibacterial properties, and helps to reduce acne and redness. About ¥3,200 from

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CHRISTMAS DINNER WITH A DIFFERENCE Want to celebrate Christmas in style this year? Head to Andaz Tavern for their Christmas Gala Dinner, and enjoy a course menu of gourmet dishes featuring Japan’s seasonal ingredients, such as Hokkaido venison and foie gras crème brûlée. The dinner is available from December 22 to 25 (with two seatings at 5:30pm and 8:30pm from December 23 to 25), and costs from ¥18,000 to ¥25,000, with wine pairings available from ¥6,000 to ¥8,000. Each guest receives a complimentary welcome glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne.



BE YOUR OWN BARTENDER Now, this doesn’t mean that you’ll literally be mixing your own drinks at Andaz Tokyo’s Rooftop Bar – why would you want to do that, anyway, when the resident bartender is award-winning Ryuichi Saito? Rather, this special offer invites you to choose the base of your cocktail from a list of over 20 ingredients, including spirits, fruits, and teas, and Saito and co. will whip up an original drink just for you. The “Be Your Own Bartender” offer costs ¥1,850, and is available from November 1 to December 31 at Rooftop Bar.

MIX THINGS UP If you simply can’t choose between all the different ingredients on offer for your own unique drink, then turn your attention to Rooftop Bar’s Festive Cocktails, which have been crafted by the hotel’s mixologists. We recommend the hot mojito tea cocktail (¥1,800). Available from December 1-31 at Rooftop Bar.

LET THEM EAT (CHRISTMAS) CAKE Whether you’re catering your own Christmas lunch for friends and family, or you’re looking for that perfect corporate gift to send out to clients, Andaz Tokyo’s Pastry Shop has an inspiring lineup of playful pastries, sweets and cakes to choose from. Pastry Chef Okazaki has worked his magic once again, putting a flavor twist on his signature eclairs, and creating a range of exquisitely decorated Christmas cakes and hampers. Cakes range from ¥3,000 to ¥5,500 (excluding consumption tax) and reservations will be accepted from November 1 (store pick-up between December 19-25), while a selection of eclairs and hampers will be on sale at Pastry Shop from November 21 to December 25. For more information, visit or call 03 6830 7765. 1 6 | N OVEM B ER 2 0 1 6 | TOKYO W E E K E ND E R

CONTACT Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills 1-23-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo. For reservations, call 03 6830 7739 or email

2016, Mineral pigments, dyed mud pigments, metallic foil, sumi ink, Japanese paper, Each piece 18×14cm

Wataru Miyagacho / Temperature Samples

Saturday 5th November - Sunday 20th November, 2016 Opening Hours: 12:00 - 19:00 | Closed: Mondays Opening Reception: Friday November 4th from 18:00 onwards

「Cast-off skin of jewelry」Stone powder clay, beads, mineral pigments, 25 x 25 x 4cm

Door to Door Pickup Service 24 Hour Staff Supervision One daycare visit available Open 365 Days No Cages

Haruhi Inaba / Cast-off skin of jewelry

Saturday 26th November - Sunday 11th December, 2016 Opening Hours: 12:00 - 19:00 | Closed: Mondays Opening Reception: Friday November 25th from 18:00 onwards

National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies To Shibuya

1F 1-8-18 Akatsutsumi, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 156-0044 Tel: 03-3327-1003 I Fax: 03-3327-7407 | E:


Roppongi Dori

Nishi-Azabu Intersection

Roppongi Hills Mori Art Museum

Hiroo Station


Nogisaka Station

The National Art Center, Tokyo

Roppongi Station

Gaien East St.

Athletic Dog Club co., Ltd.

Gaien West St.


Aoyama Cemetary

〒 106-0031 Tokyo, Minato-ku, Nishi-Azabu

2-12-4 Ogura building 3F

Te l : 0 3 - 6 4 1 9 - 7 2 2 9 We b : w w w. n a n a t a s u . j p (Japanese) | (English)

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erhaps you’re away from home this festive season, but you’d still like to bring a little Christmas cheer to your year end. Or perhaps you live in Tokyo, but your apartment is a tad too small to hold a New Year’s Eve party for more than a handful of guests. These are just two of the myriad reasons why you might want to consider renting out an event and kitchen space for a December get together. Luckily, HOTEL the M INNSOMNIA akasaka has come up with the ideal solution: they’ve created an entertainment space inside the hotel that combines a state-of-the-art kitchen complete with dining area, and it’s available for rent by both guests and the public. The “Kitchen Drinker,” as the space is quirkily named, features a luxurious customdesigned kitchen by German brand Bulthaup, which is renowned for its innovative designs, expert craftsmanship, and cutting-edge manufacturing. Open cabinets line the back wall, and a large wooden and chrome kitchen island takes centerstage, providing a focal point for cooking and socializing. You can opt for an open-plan buffet-style setting, or seat up to eight guests around the dining table.

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Don’t have time to plan and cook the meal yourself? No problem. You are welcome to order food delivery to the hotel, or arrange for professional catering – in fact, Weekender recently hosted our very own party here, with tasty platters prepared by Ultimate Catering ( Whether you want something a little more formal or you’d prefer the event to be a casual beer and pizza evening, it’s completely up to you to design your perfect party. As the evening draws to a close, don’t forget that the hotel boasts a 24-hour café on the first floor, which serves speciality coffee by Kyoto brand Unir. Round off your meal by ordering after-dinner coffee for your guests, and a fresh pot will be delivered to your door. (As an added bonus, guests at the hotel are entitled to drink as many cups of coffee from Unir as they’d like – for free.) Not ready for the night to end? “The hotel that never sleeps” just so happens to be located in the center of Akasaka, which is one of Tokyo’s liveliest and most culturally rich neighborhoods, so you’ll only need to take a short walk to find your next party.

RENT THE “KITCHEN DRINKER” ROOM For non-guests, the space costs ¥29,000 (including tax and service fee) per four hours. For guests at the hotel, it’s half price.



Planning a short stay in Tokyo this festive season and want to host the perfect party? HOTEL the M INNSOMNIA akasaka is offering guests a special offer that combines accommodation with rental of the “Kitchen Drinker.” If you’re with a group of eight people, for example, you can book four twin guest rooms and host a four-hour, self-catered event in the “Kitchen Drinker” space for a total of ¥105,000 per night. If you require catering, the hotel will arrange this for you through Ultimate Catering, with the minimum cost being ¥50,000 (includes sushi bar, 12 dishes, all drinks, and décor; dessert or cheese fondue can be requested at an additional price). Additional guests can be added at an extra charge, and other packages are offered for parties of different numbers. Please note that this offer can only be used Monday to Friday. For more information, visit www.m-innsomnia or call 03 3568 3456.

A N O D E TO C R E ATI V I TY As November begins, Tokyo Fashion Week has just ended, Tokyo Design Week has just started, and Design Festa is coming up. So it’s a fitting month to pay homage to the creatives bringing inspiration to and from Japan.

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CARL JAN CRUZ Originally from the Philippines, Carl Jan Cruz describes his label, which he founded during his final year at London College of Fashion in 2015, as a “visual autobiography” that references significant moments in his life. This inner dialogue translates into an intriguing collection that conveys a bittersweet nostalgic feeling, while still being new and fashion forward. Each design is planned in detail – “designing and taking it apart and reforming it rigorously on repeat” – until that sleeve has just the right comfortable feeling and that fabric feels just like that garment from the past, with the aim of creating clothes with which the wearer can connect. This was the designer’s first showing at Fashion Week, with his introductory collection for Spring/Summer 2017 based on the theme “Pause” (as in pause for introspection). A truly thought-through and emotional collection, it featured deconstructed denim, asymmetrical cuts and splashes of vibrant color. (Photos by Din Eugenio)

LEONARD WONG China-born Leonard Wong – whose designs features on this issue’s cover – moved to Tokyo in 2010 to pursue his dream of studying at Bunka Fashion College. He graduated three years later not only with an honors degree in his pocket but also as a winner of the Tokyo New Designer Fashion Grand Prix award. Wong’s futuristic designs have been featured in Another magazine’s fashion and dance video project “Movement,” where his clothes were worn by dance duo AyaBambi. This video also served as the inspiration for his Tokyo Fashion Week show, which was one of the most exciting runway experiences we had this season. It opened with a short film projected onto a cubical screen, which then lifted to reveal AyaBambi, who performed a dramatic sci-fi-esque sequence. The designs featured geometric cutting in black, white, and red, with contrasting materials providing a balance of elegance and strength.

FROM TOKYO TO NEW YORK These young designers debuted their ranges on the Tokyo runway as part of the Asia Fashion Collection, and won the coveted honor of showing at New York Fashion Week.

DAIRIKU OKAMOTO FOR DAIRIKU Dairiku Okamoto’s designs clearly have an American influence, and at times it seemed as though the models might have stepped right out of the movie “Taxi Driver” – and we mean this in a good way. Especially exciting were the 70s-style knitted tracksuits.

MEI TAKEUCHI FOR BEHIND For her Behind collection, designer Mei Takeuchi drew inspiration from time spent in New York. The heavy-on-black streetwear was brightened with prints in white and orange. Some of these edgy styles could easily pass as unisex clothing.

LOOP LOOP Established in 2014 by Hong Kong-born designer Polly Ho, this brand is based on the fundamentals in knitting textiles. Ho graduated from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, before studying further at the University of Central England and then working for Misa Harada Millinery in London. With Loom Loop, she has won several awards including the “Hong Kong Best” title in the 2016 HKDA Global Design Awards, and presented at New York Fashion Week in February 2016. Besides using intricate knitting techniques, the collection also features luxurious Canton silk, a traditional fabric that requires a high degree of craftsmanship. Ho’s Spring/ Summer 2017 range is inspired by the Chinese legend “Madam White Snake,” and features graphic representations of snakes, butterflies and Chinese knots. Our favorite item? Those magnificent open-toe boots with bright green floral print.

YUNOSUKE YAMADA AND STELLA HUANG FOR R.Y/S.H This designer duo’s runway looks were dominated by beautiful coats in all forms, from trench to oversized to short-sleeved. Eye-catching circle motifs recurred in the monochrome or two-toned looks.


“I want to create slightly surreal, silly art that makes people who are under pressure or stress feel like ‘well ... what will be, will be.’ I want them to feel relaxed, physically and psychologically. I’ve realized having a relaxed mind is important.” In Okame’s vibrant playful illustrations there are multiple worlds where humans, animals and creatures mix together in a variety of absurd situations. Her works are funny, accessible and astute, perfectly suited to adorn all kinds of goods from stationery to T-shirts. After three years working as a web designer, she went freelance in 2009 and has designed goods for various companies in addition to producing numerous illustrations for websites, magazines, flyers and so on. Recently her emoji stamps for the LINE messaging application became a popular trend as her unique sense of humor and charming loose-style drawings seem to hit a chord with almost everyone. Despite having had a baby this year, Okame shows no signs of slowing down and hopes to continue her activities, producing new goods, participating in events, and no doubt continuing to quirk smiles on many more faces.


WHERE TO SEE IT IN TOKYO Small goods are available at Design Studio Tora no Koya (, and T-shirt designs can be bought from Arton in Shibuya ( Also, don’t miss the chance to visit her booth (No.A-84/85) at Design Festa 44.

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Words by Bunny Bissoux

LEE KAN KYO ARTIST Left, from top: Vibrant illustrations by Okame (pictured middle). Below, from top: Lee Kan Kyo’s conceptual work and Instagram series “juice box selfie.”

“I want to send my thoughts out there to you!”

Lee Kan Kyo was born in Taiwan but has been living in Japan for almost a decade. Working across many mediums, he is difficult to pigeonhole, as he continues to evolve, touching on everything from illustration and design to conceptual and video art. Regardless of form, it is always striking, colorful and packed with energy. His work has a strong graphic quality yet still holds a powerful depth as he explores ideas and concepts of mass production and consumerism, often through repetitive processes, having previously produced work looking at idol culture and supermarket advertising. Since graduating from the master’s program at Tokyo Zokei University, he has been consistently active in the Tokyo art scene through exhibitions and art fairs, winning the Grand Prix prize in the 10th “1_WALL” Graphics Exhibition in 2014. In recent years he has garnered attention and a steady following with his unique Instagram account chronicling his daily “juice box selfie,” which he later made into a set of playing cards.

WHERE TO SEE HIS WORK ONLINE, Instagram: @lee_kan_kyo #juiceboxselfie

WHERE TO SEE IT IN TOKYO Check his website and social media for current and upcoming events and exhibitions. His goods, including the must-have “juice box selfie” playing cards, are available from Shinjuku Ophthalmologist Gallery (www.gankagarou. com) and Utrecht in Harajuku ( Visitors are also welcome at his new studio in Kodaira, west Tokyo.

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“My work is based on the vision I have of reality in the world around us – all kinds of living things mixing and coexisting within an environment ... It is not for anyone but at the same time it is for everyone.” Akari’s soft sculptures and textile work are an explosion of incredible colors blending together across abstract landscapes of shape and texture in an exploration of “humans as living things.” After receiving the Graduation Excellence Award for her costume piece in the textiles major at Musashino Art University, Akari has gone on to hold several solo exhibitions of her non-wearable works in addition to collaborations with the fashion world. Her process often begins with hand-dyeing cloth, sewing it and then stuffing it to make 3D forms resembling flesh, skin and the natural exteriors of animals. As a teenager immersed in the Harajuku fashion scene, she envisioned clothing as a human skin and saw this as a way to express intentions, realities and desires. Seeing Akari’s work stirs the senses and connects to something beneath the surface – much like the body, it is impressive as much because of the impact of the complete work as the detail of each small section.

WHERE TO SEE HER WORK ONLINE, Instagram: @uragamia, Twitter: @akari_ug

WHERE TO SEE IT IN TOKYO When not part of feature exhibitions, her work can be found at Diego gallery in Omotesando ( Recently, Akari embarked on an extended trip to London, but we can expect big and beautiful things when she returns to Tokyo.


“My work plays heavily on personal nostalgia that awkwardly tugs at the heart ... I hope to encourage people to look a bit inward and not only embrace those awkward insecurities from their past a little more lightheartedly, but also to channel it as a means of self expression.” Hailing from a small town in Oklahoma, USA, Brandon Reierson moved to Tokyo about four years ago. Working under the name Lactose Intoler-Art (a reference to Brandon’s own lactose intolerance), he transforms his quirky illustrations into wearable garments and accessories. Inspired by 90s cartoons, video games and Japanese street fashion, Lactose Intoler-Art designs mix fresh, futuristic qualities with throwback nostalgia. Without focusing on one specific target market, Brandon hopes that the people who wear his brand will mix it with their own individual style, a wish that is certainly coming true in melting pot fashion hotspots like Harajuku, Koenji and Shimokitazawa. These unique designs with chaotic all-over prints and clashing embellishments are waves ahead of generic streetwear and hold their own in a fantasy world of cartoon chic.

WHERE TO SEE HIS WORK ONLINE, Instagram: @lactoseintolerart, Twitter: @intolerart

WHERE TO SEE IT IN TOKYO Lactose Intoler-Art is sold at Hayatochiri in Koenji ( Brandon frequently holds pop-up shops and exhibitions (previously selling pieces at LaForet and Parco) so be sure to check his social media to find out where the next event will be. 2 4 | N OVEM B ER 2 0 1 6 | TOKYO W E E K E ND E R

Below, top and middle: Lactose Intoler-Art by Brandon Reierson. Bottom: Nanae Kawahara’s dreamy imagery.


“People can see my works are colorful with shiny stars and some kawaii things, like animals and girls. On the other hand, I would like to explain they also have dark side, like gothic things, depression, slight suspense and monsters...”

Endearing illustrations with recurring imagery of dreams, dogs and abstract patterns are conveyed in a unique muted palette through Nanae’s soft but captivating style. After graduating from the graphic design course at Tama Art University, and relocating to the UK to study a master’s degree in illustration, she returned to Japan in 2012. Having worked on various projects with fashion brands and music companies, she continues to exhibit regularly whilst selling a plethora of goods in select stores across the city. Her love of music and dogs are directly apparent in her work, while she also draws on personal experiences, memories and thoughts about life and death for inspiration. Nanae’s work overflows with dreamy imagery, both light and dark, but ultimately it conveys a warm feeling of optimism and cheer.

WHERE TO SEE HER WORK ONLINE, Twitter/Instagram: @nanaekawahara

WHERE TO SEE IT IN TOKYO Nanae will be participating in the group show “Dog 100%” at Luck (part of Earth+ Gallery, from November 5-20, where of course she’ll be selling pup-related items and art work. Regular stockists include Dot Fav in Akihabara ( and Taco Che bookstore (, a hidden goldmine tucked away inside Nakano Broadway.

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Where Do All the Ballerinas Go? Words by Matthew Hernon

Akane Takada

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THE WORLD’S THEIR STAGE How Takada and Hirano have worked their way to the top

Ryoichi Hirano


Japan is producing more world-class ballerinas than ever before, yet is losing most of them to countries like Russia, England and France. We caught up with Ryoichi Hirano and Akane Takada, two of Japan’s most successful dancers on the international stage, to learn more about why there’s little incentive for aspiring professionals to remain here


or Ryoichi Hirano and Akane Takada, the dream was always to perform at the London Royal Ballet; a feat achieved by both during their teens. The male and female pair has been mesmerizing audiences for quite a few seasons already, and this summer became the first Japanese dancers in more than two decades to be elevated to principals at the prestigious company. The highest rank attainable for a ballerina, it’s a position currently held by a number of Japanese dancers around the world including Misa Kuranaga (Boston Ballet), Ako Kondo (Australian Ballet) and

2014 Benois de la Danse winner Mariko Kida (Royal Swedish Ballet). The success of these dancers has helped raise the profile of ballet in Japan and will no doubt encourage younger generations to take lessons in even greater numbers. On the downside, Japan continues to lose its most talented ballerinas to foreign establishments. It’s a trend that Ryoichi Hirano believes will continue into the foreseeable future. “The life of a ballerina is not easy anywhere, but I think it’s particularly tough in Japan,” he tells Weekender from the Royal Opera House in Convent Garden, London. “You have many dancers making huge sacrifices to appear in shows not knowing whether they’re going to get paid. They don’t receive any protection as there are no regulations or unions in place. The fact is ballet dancing is seen more as a hobby and not classed as a real job. In the UK we’re treated as professionals who work under labor laws. Here at the Royal Ballet we’re properly looked after with masseurs, body experts, sports scientists, and so on. I know every company cannot be at that level, but right now the gap’s too big.” “It’s a shame because there are lots of good things happening in Japanese ballet at the moment. Its popularity is increasing, schools are thriving and the success of so many dancers overseas shows the teaching methods are working. The problem is that there’s no central company binding everything together.” The hope was that the National Ballet

Tokyo-born dancer Akane Takada started ballet at the age of three, and by the time she reached elementary school, she had already decided her goal in life: To perform at the Royal Ballet like her idol Miyako Yoshida. “She was just so precise in her movements, it was amazing to watch.” Takada did more than just watch. She spent hours at the Hiromi Takahashi Ballet Studio perfecting moves she’d seen on VCR. At 15 she moved to Russia to join the renowned Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Two years later she won the Audience Choice Award at the Prix de Lausanne and received a scholarship from the London Royal Ballet. Takada quickly worked her way up the ladder, winning successive promotions to first artist then soloist. A knee injury halted her progress for two seasons, but she came back strongly, becoming first soloist in 2014. This summer she reached the pinnacle of her profession when it was announced that she was to be elevated to principal.

RYOICHI HIRANO For Ryoichi Hirano, the dream started at his mother’s ballet school in Osaka more than three decades ago. “My brother Keiichi had already joined and I was always turning up swinging from the rails, imitating other students,” he says. “It made sense to start taking classes.” Hirano didn’t have any specific heroes growing up, stating that he “just wanted to take the best bits from different dancers” he saw to try and “create something unique.” In 2001 he showed the world what he was capable of by winning a gold medal at the Prix de Lausanne, and he was drafted in by the Royal Ballet soon after. The elegant dancer gradually progressed through the ranks, becoming first soloist in 2012. Four years later at the age of 32 he achieved his ultimate ambition when he was named a principal dancer. T OKYO WE E KE N DE R | NOV E M BE R 2 0 1 6 | 2 7

of Japan would become that company. Since opening in 1987, however, it’s struggled with funding. Financial aid is provided in the form of government subsidies, but it’s nothing like the kind of support European establishments receive. With almost all ballet companies operating at a loss, they rely on sponsorship in order to survive. A lack of money in Japan means dancers are usually paid on a commission basis, so if sales are bad they might not receive anything at all. The situation is much more secure for Londonbased dancer Akane Takada. “British ballet is seen as being more than a form of art; from a cultural perspective it’s viewed as something that’s very important,” she says. “In Japan it’s different. Fans are fanatical and people will comment about how amazing the dances look, but it’ll probably never enjoy the kind of status that something like kabuki receives because it simply doesn’t have the history. That makes it more difficult to attract investors. It also has a reputation as a posh form of entertainment for elite members of society who all dress immaculately. In England you have customers coming in jeans and T-shirts all the time.” One man trying to change that image is Tetsuya “Teddy” Kumakawa. Japan’s most famous ballerina, he was the last


dancer from this country, before Takada and Hirano, to be elevated to a principal at the Royal Ballet back in 1993 (Miyako Yoshida became a principal two years later, however, she was recruited, not promoted). In 1998, Kumakawa made the surprising and controversial decision to quit the famed British company in order to set up a Japanese organization called K-Ballet. He brought five leading dancers with him, but it was undoubtedly his own reputation that helped secure sponsorship deals with a number of big corporations including

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the TV station TBS. Because of these partnerships, K-Ballet has been able to tour the country extensively, produce numerous shows overseas, and pay monthly wages to dancers ranging from the rank of principal to first artist. “Ballet has become more mainstream in Japan and that’s mainly down to Teddy’s influence,” says Hirano. “He has appeared on many TV shows and that helps to attract new fans in an instant. His company has had a massive impact and is part of the reason why Akane and I have received so much interest from the media.” This summer, Hirano and Takada were given a heroes’ welcome when they toured the country with the Royal Ballet, and were afforded some time to speak with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The hope now is that their success, and the accomplishments of many other Japanese dancers overseas, will encourage the government and local businesses to invest more heavily in ballet. “That’d be nice,” says Hirano. “When I was young I dreamed of dancing for the Royal Ballet in England. Hopefully in the future kids will have similar dreams about performing at a Japanese company. I think we’re a long way from being at that level yet, but as I mentioned there’s a lot to be positive about. If we can find that central stick to bind everything together then the future would look even brighter.”

Meet the Fairy Skull Maker Interview by Dorothee Erle

Shinji Nakaba’s detailed “fairy skulls,” beautifully carved from tiny pearls, recently made waves online (and at the Oscars earlier this year). We tracked him down to learn more about his work and inspiration


he Kanagawa-born artist always aspired to create something unique, and in his early twenties he tried everything from dressmaking to hairstyling to try and fulfill this desire. But when Shinji Nakaba was introduced to jewelry making in 1974, he finally found his medium. The self-taught designer and self-proclaimed rebel has since created a manifold collection of jewelry made from a range of materials such as aluminum, gold and even plastic bottles. His main focus is on revolutionizing glyptic art, the ancient tradition of engraving. And, as with the pearl skulls, his pieces often reflect a kind of modern vanitas, portraying the dark beauty that lies in decay.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE JEWELRY AS YOUR MEDIUM OF ART? Simply put, I can do it the best. It’s not that I am set on jewelry. It just met my capabilities. My mother ran a dressmaking shop, so I would see many beautifully dressed women all the time. I remember dreaming of being a fashion designer, an artist, and so on. But paintings and carvings don’t sell for too much. In the end, it was after I had experienced them all that I came to feel this way.

something comes from what I feel is innovative, and what I can’t help myself from being over-curious about. It might be self-centered to think that there must be others in this enormous world who would want the same things as me. But extreme egoism might just be the way to contribute to something or someone.

YOUR DESIGNS INCLUDE SKULLS, SNAKES AND BODY PARTS. WHAT IS YOUR FASCINATION WITH THE DARK AND OBSCURE? Many say that contemporary art is hard to understand when you don’t have prior input, but considering my work, you could say that anyone – with or without the input – can understand it. I also just find it interesting. Carving body parts is intriguing; it’s challenging to bring out the texture and curves of the skin. Figurative sculpture has lost popularity in the age of modernism, but I feel like there’s still a spark left for it. It’s very motivating to see people enjoying my skull designs, when they actually weren’t fond of skulls before.



I do have special feelings for the pearl skulls. I’ve always liked using baroque pearls [pearls that aren’t perfectly round, but a little crooked], but I was never able to successfully carve them. Everyone involved in working with pearls believed it couldn’t be done. But then I tried carving one specific type and managed to carve to the center without anything peeling off. I look back and I find it incredible that I’m carving people’s faces or skulls from pearls. The moment you think you’ve mastered art is the end. Shinji Nakaba’s pieces can be purchased online at and at the shop House @ Mikirihassin (5-42-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku).

YOU WORK WITH EVERYTHING FROM TRASH CANS TO PRECIOUS PEARLS. TELL US MORE. In the 90s, I started using trash, metal, and aluminum for jewelry; I started to realize a fresh kind of beauty could only be created by using materials equally, regardless of value. You can create so much beauty with things that are thought to be useless. I’m always thinking that I might be the last person in the world to see something like this. I feel quite excited by the thought.

WHEN DESIGNING, DO YOU ONLY HAVE THE PIECE IN MIND OR DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON TOO? It’s not a matter of imagining the piece or the person; my motivation for creating

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Portraits of Slow Growth We speak with an American photographer who found inspiration in the art and skill of Japanese bonsai masters, whose botanical creations can be found in Washington DC’s National Bonsai and Penjing Museum Words by Alec Jordan


nce a work of art has been created and put out into the world, that is usually that: you’re unlikely to find a sculptor who would return to one of their pieces once it had been installed, and as much as they might want to, no writer is going to walk into a bookstore to make amendments to copies of their novel that might be sitting on the shelf. But, when it comes to the art of bonsai, a piece is never really finished. It can take years of pruning and guiding branches to achieve the shape that a bonsai master might want. Then, in the years that follow, the tree must be carefully attended so that it maintains its shape, size, and health. It’s a process that never ends: the artisans who “train” the trees continue to work on them for decades, and it is not unusual for bonsai pieces to outlive those who first helped bring them into being. Bonsai is a manifestation, writ small, of the aesthetic and spiritual qualities that Japan holds most dear: attention to detail, patience, and an appreciation for nature, and given the extraordinary amount of work that goes into each of the pieces, when they are given as gifts, it is a great honor – and a considerable responsibility. In 1976, the government of Japan presented the US with 53 bonsai in honor of the country’s bicentennial. From this initial gift, the Museum expanded its collection, adding bonsai made from trees native to the US as well as examples of penjing, Photos courtesy of Stephen Voss

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The trees absolutely have personalities and sometimes can be just as challenging as people in trying to bring them out Sargent Juniper, in training since 1905 T OKYO WE E KE N DE R | NOV E M BE R 2 0 1 6 | 3 1

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Crape Myrtle, in training since 2010

the horticultural art that was developed in China and preceded bonsai by a few centuries. Now, Washington DC’s National Bonsai and Penjing Museum is one of the country’s most celebrated collections. As well as serving as examples of soft diplomacy – reminders of ties that connect nations even during times of strain – these miniature trees are sources of aesthetic inspiration to everyday visitors who drop by the Museum. One of those people was Stephen Voss. Now a professional photographer whose lens is trained on politicians and other figures who shape business and global policy (, Voss was first drawn to the bonsai as a university student 17 years ago. “From my first glimpse of the trees all those years ago, I knew implicitly that there was something to be learned from them, from their endurance and quiet dignity.” Over the years Voss kept returning to the Museum, but he didn’t decide to connect his professional life as a photographer to his personal appreciation of the bonsai until last year, when he began a project that brought the two worlds together. Over nearly a year, he would photograph each tree at the Museum, but at a leisurely pace that he would never have with the politicians and businesspeople he often shot. It was a painstaking process, and it didn’t always work out, Voss explains. “I would choose a single tree and spend hours immersed in it, trying to make a visual record of the spirit of the tree. Sometimes I would find an image, sometimes not.” As he examined the bonsai and penjing pieces, he found similarities to the portraiture that he did professionally: “The trees absolutely have personalities and sometimes can be just as challenging as people in trying to bring them out. The emotional resonance of different trees is so varied – some feel heavy and dramatic, while others are lightweight and carefree.” At first, Voss intended for the photos to be a part of his personal portfolio, but after receiving a lot of positive feedback about the images, he decided to share

Chinese Elm, training date unknown

Miyajima White Pine, in training since 1625. This tree survived the bombing of Hiroshima, and was given to the US by bonsai master Masaru Yamaki

Bald Cypress, in training since 1972


Japanese Black Pine, training date unknown. As Voss points out, the curves of the bonsai bear a resemblance to a map of Japan.

the pictures with the public. Halfway through his project, he shared his photos with the chief curator of the Museum, Jack Sustic, who put him in touch with two other American bonsai masters, Michael Hagedorn and Ryan Neil. A Kickstarter campaign followed, and with the backing of 222 donors from around the world, “In Training” was published. While there are plenty of pictures that show an entire tree in full frame, many provide the experience you might have while walking through the Museum yourself: examining small details of a tree, gazing around the gallery, or even looking down at the mark left by a bonsai pot that has been temporarily removed. Much like the meditative

For more information about “In Training,” visit You can also purchase a copy on Amazon:

approach that Voss took in capturing the images, paging through “In Training” is an exercise in contemplation – and respect. “When I’m standing before a tree, I often think of the many bonsai masters who have tended to it and trained it. For an older tree, there are many generations of people who have worked on a tree and I’m humbled to think of this idea, that they made this their life’s work only to pass it along to someone else after they were gone. “If I am able to share anything of my time around the bonsai, it is their grace in the passage of time, their peace and the invitation they extend to include oneself in the natural order of things.” T OKYO WE E KE N DE R | NOV E M BE R 2 0 1 6 | 3 3

Tormented Talents Words by Matthew Hernon

To be a star in Japan, finding a talent agency – and signing away your freedom – may be the only way to reach your dreams. Is it a price worth paying?


or many it can be too tempting an offer to turn down: Sign with a talent agency and you could be on the front cover of “Vogue,” perform live in front of thousands, or possibly feature in bigbudget movies. The appeal is obvious, yet behind the glitz and glamor things aren’t always as they seem, especially here in Japan. The entertainment industry in this country has a dark underbelly, which you hear about in rumors of power harassment, sexual assault and other criminal activities. Celebrities are rarely given freedom to express themselves and in many cases are effectively seen as the property of agencies, with no power or control over their careers. Voicing an opinion can also be problematic. For popular actor Takumi Saitoh, it’s one of the most frustrating aspects of his profession. “If you say something too controversial you might get your manager in trouble so that’s something to avoid,” he recently told Weekender. “It’s hard. There are lots of issues I’d like to write about for my blog, but I know there’s a limit to what I can say. I’ve spoken to actors in America who have the freedom to criticize, protest and speak about elections.

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We’re not able to do that.” It’s because of these restrictions that actor Yusuke Iseya has chosen to manage himself. He runs a multi-faceted business that focuses on sustainable development called The Rebirth Project; however, he believes that wouldn’t be possible if a company were running his affairs. “In Hollywood actors pay fees to their agents, and then have a degree of freedom,” Iseya told us in 2013. “Here management agencies have the control and feel like they’re the ones who ‘created’ these stars. Most celebrities receive salaries and consequently must do whatever they’re told. Many get fame from a young age because of their looks, but then when they reach their 40s or 50s they have no identity as everything’s been done for them. It means they can’t freely take part in charity activities like, say Angelina (Jolie) does in America. It’s different for me as I’m my own boss.” Being an established name in the industry certainly helps. For up-and-coming artists things aren’t so straightforward. Twenty-six-year-old actress Nanami is currently going it alone and has managed to find semi-regular work in various theater productions and musicals while also playing key roles in movies such as “Outer Man” and “Hold my Hand.”

Eventually, though, in order to get parts she really covets she knows she’ll probably have to sign with an agency. “I’ve spoken to people about the possibility of continuing to manage myself, but the response is always the same: You’ll need to work with an office if you want to get to the next level,” she says. “I signed for an agency after returning from LA (where she studied acting for four years), and at the first meeting with my representative I spoke about my hopes, which were quite ambitious. He looked at me as if I were talking nonsense and said ‘it’s impossible.’ I know it’s important to stay grounded, but that was really demoralizing to hear. “I quickly realized that many agencies have a path set out for you and anyone who steps away from that, even just a little bit, is frowned upon. You’re not allowed to be proactive and find your own auditions or turn down what’s offered. They set the agenda and you have to follow.” In the Japanese music industry the restrictions are known to be even more severe. At a Tokyo Bridal Festival in 2010 Tomomi Itano – a popular singer at the time with the all-female group AKB48 – revealed that she wasn’t allowed to look for a boyfriend as it went against company policy. Three years later fellow member Minami Minegishi was forced to make a public apology after pictures of her leaving her partner’s apartment were published in a tabloid newspaper. As an act of contrition she shaved her head in a video viewed by millions on YouTube (

Takumi Saitoh (photo: ©Mika Ninagawa)

The no dating rule doesn’t just apply to idols from AKB48. In 2014 Miho Yuki and Sena Miura were fired from the group Aoyama Saint Hachamecha High School because they were going out with fans. A lawsuit for over ¥8.2 million was filed as a result. Another unnamed agency sought an amount of ¥9.9 million in damages from a client because the (also unnamed) star was in a relationship with a fan. Judge Katsuya Hara dismissed the claim, however, stating, “the enrichment of one’s life that comes from association with the opposite sex is covered under the right of self-determination ... prohibiting such associations is going too far.” Not all judges feel the same, though. Last year Tokyo District Court Judge Aki-

moto Kojima ordered a former idol to pay ¥650,000 to her ex-company because she had an illicit liaison with a member of the public. “In order to secure the financial support of male fans, a clause prohibiting relationships was necessary,” he said. The fact is celebrities are more marketable when they’re single. A day after actor and singer Masaharu Fukuyama announced his marriage to actress Kazue Fukiishi, the stock price of his company, Amuse, fell by 8.3%, roughly a four billion yen loss in just 24 hours. This kind of situation is a major concern for all talent agencies including the country’s most powerful organization, Johnny & Associates. The famed corporation, which represents only male artists, doesn’t ban its members from dating, but it clearly keeps a degree of control over who they can and can’t see and what age they should think about settling down. Last year Arashi’s Satoshi Ohno was forced to apologize to fans when rumors that he had a live-in girlfriend surfaced. He denied it and promised to never see her again, keeping up the façade that he’s young, free and available. Unsurprisingly, marriage is also

Minami Minegishi’s tearful apology drew millions of hits on YouTube Yusuke Iseya turns to face the camera

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IT WAS AS BIG AS THE JIMMY SAVILLE SEXUAL ABUSE CASE, YET NOT ONE WORD WAS WRITTEN head of the organization that looks after stars like Sumire, Kiki Sukezane and Junichi Ishida, told us she only had the interests of her clients at heart. “At this office we look for the kind of jobs our artists want to do then leave it up to them to decide,” she said. “Of course we’ll offer advice, but we certainly won’t demand that they take this or turn that down. It’s important they have no regrets.” It’s the kind of comment you’d expect to hear from every talent agency, yet far too many continue to treat their clients like pieces of meat. Of course this won’t stop people signing for them as these companies provide a gateway to a world of fame and fortune. It’s a world Nanami would like to be part of; however, she’s not prepared to sacrifice her own freedom and integrity in order to get there. “Being without an agency is probably hindering my chances of getting auditions right now, but I can’t afford to rush in and sign with the first one that makes me an offer,” she says. “I understand why people do; it’s very tempting. For me, though, the conditions have to be right so I’m doing lots of research. If you’re going to join a company you need to know its background fully before you join, otherwise you could end up ruing your decision for the rest of your career.”

Ikumi Yoshimatsu (photo: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)


discouraged. According to the weekly magazine “Shukan Bunshun,” when an idol from Johnny’s announces he wants to tie the knot, his manager will arrange a meeting to show him statistics on how much his popularity will decline if he goes through with it. Many subsequently change their minds. For head honcho Johnny Kitagawa it’s all about maintaining power. While his clients may be seen as superstars in the eyes of their followers, within the company they’re simply employees working under tight restrictions. They’ve no rights to their music and therefore receive no royalties. They’re not allowed to receive gifts from fans and are banned from engaging with them on SNS. This tight rein of control also stretches to the press. Criticism is not tolerated and could lose media outlets access to the agency’s biggest names. It’s a price most aren’t prepared to pay. One of the few exceptions is “Shukan Bunshun.” In 1999, the weekly magazine published a 10-part series accusing Kitagawa of sexually abusing young boys who’d previously worked for him. The story was based on the accounts of 12 minors, including one 12-year-old, who all spoke on condition of anonymity. Similar allegations had previously been made by former idols Junya Hiramoto and the late Koji Kita (Four Leaves). The music mogul denied everything and decided to sue the magazine for defamation of character on eight counts. The lower court ruled in his favor on four, ordering “Bunshun” to pay him ¥8.8 million. The high court then reversed the decision relating to the sexual exploitation of adolescents, reducing the penalty to ¥1.2 million. Kitagawa managed to avoid a criminal investigation as the statute of limitations had passed; however, it was a significant victory

for “Bunshun” and an exposé as big as the 2012 Jimmy Saville sexual abuse scandal in the UK. You’d have expected it to have been on the front page of every newspaper in the country, yet not one word was written or spoken about it by the Japanese media. Turning a blind eye to the iniquitous goings-on of a talent agency is all too common in Japan. In 2013 the former Miss International, Ikumi Yoshimatsu, spoke to both domestic and international reporters about the actions of a top executive at the high-profile agency K-Dash, alleging that he’d harassed, threatened and stalked her after she’d refused to join the company due to concerns over their links with the yakuza. The story was widely covered by the foreign press, but once again ignored by journalists here. Disillusioned by the way she was treated, Yoshimatsu decided to move to America. “Starting work in the US was like emerging out of the dark ages into the light,” the 29-year-old recently told Weekender. “You have retirement funds, health cover and actors’ unions protecting workers’ rights. Clients have various agents representing them in different areas like theater and TV. These agents work on a commission basis and are regulated by laws. It allows for complete autonomy and self-control of your own career. You can make a change should you feel one member’s not representing you well enough. “In Japan, once a shady agency with ties to organized crime declares ‘ownership’ over an individual, either with or without a proper contract, nobody else in the small Japanese entertainment industry will work with that person out of fear of what may be ‘attached’ to them. For women here, stories of forced prostitution in order to work regularly echo throughout society. Then when a ‘talent’ outlives their usefulness they’re often thrown out with no money, no retirement package and no benefits of any kind.” Whilst very critical of the Japanese system in general, Yoshimatsu was keen not to paint everyone with the same brush, stating that were “some great agencies in Japan doing a good job of representing their clients.” Sky Corporation claims to be one of those agencies. Fumiko Honma,

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“Muromachi Resonance” (original for 2016 solo show invitation), 2016, Pencil, pen, watercolor on paper, 28.8 x 19.2 cm, © YAMAGUCHI Akira, Courtesy Mizuma Art Gallery

TA KE A NE W V I E W Autumn will come and go before you know it, so we’ve put together a collection of parties, festivals, concerts, and gallery exhibitions to help you make the most of November – inside or out.

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Shopping Mall (detail), 2015, oil, sumi (Japanese ink) on canvas, 130 x 324cm, ©YAMAGUCHI Akira, Courtesy Mizuma Art Gallery


YA M AG U C H I A K I RA – “ MU ROMAC H I R E SON AN CE ” Yamaguchi Akira’s paintings simply must be seen in person: his massive canvases depict wide-ranging scenes, filled with intricate details and figures from a variety of time periods; the overall effect is both mesmerizing and heavily anachronistic. Yamaguchi is becoming an increasingly well-known figure on the Japanese art scene, but the rest of the world has yet to discover this singular talent. Now’s the chance, as he’s showing at Mizuma Art Gallery for the first time in six years. Mizuma Art Gallery Until December 17


OU R PIC K O F T H E C I T Y’S B ES T EXHI B I T I ONS Compiled by Alec Jordan and Bunny Bissoux

AS TON ISH IN G M E IJ I C E RAM ICS! T H E WORKS OF M IYAGAWA KÔZAN Held at the temple that lies in the shadow of Tokyo Tower, this exhibition features the unique pottery of the pioneering artist Miyagawa Kozan. Takaukibori (or high relief) pieces are what the artist became known for, both in Japan and overseas – he even won awards at the Philadelphia Exposition of 1876 for his exquisitely crafted ceramic pieces that are decorated with sculptures of plants and animals. Zojoji Treasures Gallery Until December 25 takara/event

Vase with Cat Motif, Photo: Royal Collection Trust / ©Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

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Barrel-type lantern cloisonne style: pigeon on a cherry tree, Photo: Royal Collection Trust / ©Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

Yinka Shonibare MBE, Addio del Passato, 2011 Courtesy the artist and James Cohan Gallery, New York


BODY/PLAY/POLITICS What makes a body beautiful or ugly, and how do we make these judgments? “BODY/ PLAY/POLITICS” presents a selection of contemporary works of art that explore the notion of “the body,” physically, spiritually, individually and collectively. This sometimes poetic, sometimes humorous exhibition provokes visitors to consider the assumptions and expectations we make about bodies, such as skin color, ethnicity and gender, in societies all around the world. Yokohama Museum of Art Until December 14

IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA Directed by Josef E. Köpplinger, the adaptation of this comic opera composed by Giochino Rossini is set in 1960s Seville, during the Franco regime. (Nov 27-Dec 10)

​Yonaguni, Head shot 2015​, ©​​​Charlotte Dumas

CINDERELLA Featuring a score by the great Sergei Prokofiev and choreography by Sir Frederic Ashton, this staging of the perennial favorite is performed by the National Ballet of Japan. (Dec 17-25)

STAY – C H A RLOTTE D U MAS The Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas spent two years traveling the length and breadth of Japan, taking pictures of the country’s eight native horse breeds. Her large-format images capture the character of these noble, sensitive animals and the relationships with the land where they live and the humans they coexist with. As Gallery 916 explains, these are “portraits that burn into the soul because when she is looking at the horses, they are looking back.” Gallery 916 Until December 25

LA BOHÈME Composed by Giacomo Puccini, this beloved opera tells the beautiful, sad tale of four friends who live in a garret in Paris. Directed by Jun Aguni. (Nov 17-30) For schedule details and ticket information, visit

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AGENDA: THE WEEKENDER ROUNDUP OF WHAT’S HAPPENING IN NOVEMBER 1 NOV 1-13 THOMAS RUFF RETROSPECTIVE The first retrospective of the renowned photographer to be exhibited in Japan. Highlights include his recent series “Nudes” and “Jpeg.” Where: The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo How much: ¥1,600 More info:

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2 NOV 11 AKASAKA TORI NO ICHI This annual fair has been going since the Edo period, and includes plenty of traditional festivities. Don’t forget to wish for good luck and prosperity. Where: Otori Shrine and Chokokuji Temple in Akasaka How much: Free More info:

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SAMEHEADS POP-UP JAPAN The eccentric art institution makes its way from Berlin to Tokyo, giving you the chance to browse selected collections straight from the Sameheads showroom. Where: Dog, Harajuku How much: Free entry More info:

SHAUN THE SHEEP FARM CAFE WITH SUNDAY BRUNCH Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Aardman Animations by munching Shaun the Sheep-themed treats at popular café Sunday Brunch. Where: Parco Kichijoji How much: Around ¥800-¥1,600 More info:


3 NOV 1-6 ROB JUDGES: “WORD HAS IT” Canadian native Rob Judges’ latest exhibition explores words as objects in a unique series of modular paintings on square wood panels. Where: UltraSuperNew Gallery How much: Free More info:

7 NOV 1-30 YUKINORI YANAGI – WANDERING POSITION Winner of the Venice Biennale Aperto, Yukinori Yanagi is known for his humorous and powerful art. This exhibition covers his 30-year career. Where: BankART Studio NYK How much: ¥1,200 More info:

4 NOV 12-13 KAGURAZAKA STREET O-EDO TOUR Experience Japanese performing arts in Kagurazaka, an area that was once home to samurai and later became known for its traditional culture and instruments. Where: Around Kagurazaka How much: Free More info:

8 NOV 19-20 SHIBUYA STREET DANCE WEEK Billing itself as “the largest scale celebration of street dance,” this event includes several showcase performances and an all-day dance battle. Where: Around Shibuya Station How much: Free More info:


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9 NOV 1-6 TOKYO RAMEN SHOW Celebrate the beloved national noodle dish by trying out different specialities from across Japan, as well as exclusive dishes served only at this event. Where: Komazawa Olympic Park How much: Free entry, ramen ¥850 per bowl More info:

11 NOV 1-30 TOKYO UNDERGROUND MYSTERIES This game will test your problem-solving skills, and your knowledge of the Tokyo Metro. Buy your game kit at Ueno Station, and then start sleuthing. Where: Starts at Ueno Station How much: ¥2,160 More info:

10 NOV 1-30 DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS EXHIBITION The Ueno Royal Museum features 52 masterpieces from the acclaimed Detroit museum’s collection, including work by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso, Cezanne, and more. Where: Ueno Royal Museum How much: ¥1,600 More info:

12 NOV 1-13 ROB KIDNEY POPUP EXHIBITION “TRICKS 4 SNACKS” British-born Rob Kidney’s art has a wide appeal with its vibrant colors, and charming content. This event features original work and goods. Where: Stranger, Daizawa How much: Free More info:


Fall Fling Words by Natalie Jacobsen

Break up the monotony of those work weeks and take advantage of these hot spots we’ve pinned during peak “koyo” (changing foliage) times. Want to stay overnight? Then check out our recommended ryokans, too


IBARAKI FALLS baraki lies a bit north of the neon epicenter: a Shinkansen from Ueno Station will get you there in just under 30 minutes for ¥5,000. The stunning Fukuroda Falls is a must for this autumn’s to-visit list. Situated in Ibaraki’s claim to fame, Hananuki Valley, the shape-shifting falls cascade through a valley of low hanging, brightly hued foliage throughout autumn. The boardwalks and criss-crossing bridges provide ample viewing and alternating perspectives of the falls and treetops. Some evenings, the park staff illuminates the falls in brilliant colors to create images and rainbow effects. A lesser-known koyo viewing spot, Hanazono Valley is home to lower-set, wide waterfalls and spectacular fall foliage. There are a large number of quiet temples and shrines in the area, adorned in reds and browns, blending into the seasonal color palette.

WHERE TO STAY Nearby these falls is the famed Daigo community that harbors several luxury hot springs. The Omoide 4 4 | N OVEM B ER 2 0 1 6 | TOKYO W E E K E ND E R

Roman-kan onsen ( is a monolithic ryokan that offers beautiful indoor (private) and outdoor (communal) hot springs to relax in. The views of the river and adjoining park make it a worthwhile visit. If you are looking to stay longer, Tsukuba Grand Hotel ( offers pleasant accommodation and an outdoor onsen (rotemburo) with particularly lovely views. The rotemburo is open all hours, so guests can marvel at the glittering cities at night, or watch the fog roll in during sunrise, high up the mountain slope.

CHIBA KOYO Tokyo’s neighbor Chiba has plenty more to offer the traveler than just Disneyland churros and Narita Airport, and fall is a perfect time to embrace all of the region’s treasures. For more adventurous types, Lake Kameyama is the ultimate destination. With boating, canoeing, and hiking options in the vicinity, the vast lakebed is a dream for the athletically active or the active photographer. Quaint bridges, solitary temple arches, and the occasional cavern provide much to do for families and independent explorers.


And the koyo? About 20 minutes from Otaki Station, visitors clamor to see stunning panoramas of foliage in Tsutsumori Momiji Valley (literally: Valley of Fall-Colored Forests). The region includes old Otaki town, a “natural village,” the 100m long Awamata Falls and picturesque footbridges, Momiji Road (a 10km driving course through rows and rows of maple trees), and plays home to the Yoro Valley Fall Leaves Festival on November 23.


Kamikochi is one of those idyllic locations that travel brochures flaunt, promising breathtaking hikes and colors. The truth? The area truly lives up to those images. Surrounded by the skyline of the Japa-

WHERE TO STAY Due to the vastness and limited transportation, it is recommended to choose a side of the park to visit and stay in. What are the differences between them? The southern valley is home to Taisho Pond, and avid hiking fans often stay in that area for the research trails and access to Mt. Yakedake. Two spa inns, Nakanoyu ( and Sakamaki Onsen (, will accommodate your every need, even helping with equipment rentals throughout the year. The northern side of Kamikochi features breathtaking Myojin Pond and Bridge, and the impressive Japanese Alps and Hotaka Mountain range begin close to here. Stay at the aptly named Kamikochi Imperial Hotel (, which offers guests the option to stay in their hotel or in a private cabin – both have indoor and outdoor onsen, so the relaxation never stops.


We have two suggestions. First is Taiyo no Sato Bettei Umi to Mori (, an upscale luxury ryokan with private onsen options. Between the unobstructed sunrise views over the ocean, fusion Western and Japanese-styled rooms, and gourmet lobster dinners, it’s no surprise the rooms are constantly in high demand. A second option is the more affordable, but just as beautiful, Kamogawa Hotel ( It has outdoor patios in the back gardens, and gazebos with strings of lights hanging over onsen; guests will find a mini paradise off the Chiba coastline, while being not too far from the parks and fall sights.


nese Alps, Kamikochi can be reached by bus from Shinjuku Station. A mere two hours from the city, and you’ll be in the heart of “virgin” forests, and roaming one of the country’s beloved national parks. The area explodes in natural colors like fireworks during late fall. With the genuine peace and quiet and the relatively small crowds, you can truly escape and connect with nature, however brief the visit.



f course, it’s possible to savor the fall foliage and escape the frantic pace of Tokyo without actually going beyond the city limits. An hour trip from the city center to the Tama area offers prime koyo viewing spots, and plenty else to do there. A short walk from Hatonosu Station on the JR Ome Line, Hatonosu (Dove’s Nest) Valley can be admired from a suspension bridge that looks out over the gorge some 40 meters below. A stunning sight any time of the year, it truly comes into its own in November, when the changing leaves turn the valley into a riot of colors. Take the JR Ome Line to its terminus, Okutama Station, and you can stroll around the Hikawa Keikoku, a river valley that shows off its finest hues in autumn. The area can best be explored via a four-kilometer walkway that goes from Okutama Station, alongside the Nippara and Tama Rivers, and past Mt. Atago. After a bit of foliage viewing in the chilly air, a soak in an onsen is the perfect way to warm up and the Moegi no Yu onsen, which is fed by a source of alkali waters that is believed to be the oldest in all of Japan. If you’d like to make a weekend of it, the Arasawaya Ryokan offers plenty of rustic charm, delicious meals, and the opportunity to hear folktales told by traditional forest storyteller Hiroji Arasawa. Aside from the fall foliage sights, those with an interest in traditional crafts can try their hand at indigo dyeing at Kosoen, a workshop that has been keeping this colorful tradition, which dates back well into the Edo period, going. You can browse the selection of handmade pieces, or take part in a mini-lesson and tie-dye a handkerchief or a light scarf. Finally, for the beer lovers, there’s no missing Beer Cafe Vertere. Just a few paces away from Okutama Station, a few pints of their home-brewed beer and their rotating selection of guest taps, as well as an assortment of pubstyle dishes, will have you riding the rails back home with a smile on your face. The Tama Promotion Project: Kosoen: Canyons Okutama: canyons-okutama Moegi no Yu Onsen: Arasawaya Ryokan: Beer Café Vertere:

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Bill with a few of the lovely ladies from the Miss Supranational Pageant at the New Sanno Hotel


s I often write, Tokyo has to be one of the most interesting, busy, exciting and safe cities on this old planet. I do hope you love this city (and country) as much as I do. As often happens, I found Silver Week full of so many interesting happenings it was impossible to get to everything I really wanted to do. My schedule caught up with me as well and I had to miss two events I really wanted to go to in Odaiba. The first was Sri Lanka’s always fun, always interesting annual festival. The second was the Japan Association of Travel Agents’ annual travel fair. It was another one of those times I wished I had a clone. I did get to some really worthwhile musical events. One was a concert by young Japanese pop star/composer Jin Akanishi. I’ve known Jin for a long time, but never knew what a super talent he was. The Tokyo International Forum’s largest auditorium – A – was completely filled with his fans, and his show, where he sang many of his compositions, accompanied with great staging, fun fashion, and so much energy was a couple hours of really good entertainment. He’s gone through some difficult times, but worked hard and has really come out on top where he belongs – our congratulations. Another thing I’m sorry I missed was one of the performances of the Shaolin Monks at Bunkamura. I heard from friends that it was well worth seeing. It’s October 15 and I’m working on the column at one of Shibuya Segafredo’s outdoor tables. The weather’s beautiful, and people-watching is fun. By the time you read this, Halloween will have come and gone, but almost every day I see people dressed in fashions that could well pass as Halloween costumes. It’s amazing how Western things get so popular in Japan. I guess it’s all in good marketing. Checked out the 4 6 | N OVEM B ER 2 0 1 6 | TOKYO W E E K E ND E R

nearby Don Quixote, and the selection of hundreds – I’m not exaggerating – of costumes, masks and Halloween decorations take up most of the first floor. I hope you and your kids visited National Azabu Supermarket before Halloween for their party. The parking lot, store and especially the second floor were really well decorated for the now very popular day. It was also nice having Hungarian actor and singer Mate Kamaras back in town. Kyodo Tokyo often brings him to Japan and he’s quite well known here. This time, he was here as a special guest in two shows – the “Cinema Musical Concert” and “Musical Songs and Pop Galore.” The last few years, I’ve helped Kyodo’s Shoko set up fan club parties for Mate at Midtown’s luxurious lounge. He really knows how to make the ladies laugh. He even had a few aggressive stalkers that he needed the police to help him out with!

CEREMONY LUNCH AT RITZ CARLTON Thanks to Ceremony president Tsukasa Shiga, who I’ve known for over 30 years, I’ve been his guest along with some really interesting people, like lawyer Timothy Langley, Rotary Club’s international director Hiro Kobayashi, and plenty more at many of our city’s most prestigious hotels’ beautiful Japanese restaurants. All of the hotels really go all out to make their meals not only delicious but real works of art. The food and company were both great at the Ritz Carlton’s Hinokizaka Restaurant. The many-course meal was awesome, the service by Ayako (who lived in Australia for several years) and Eri was great, and the view was spectacular. It couldn’t have been nicer. It was also nice talking with Shiga and Kobayashi-san.

PERUVIAN NATIONAL DAY + FOOD FESTIVAL 1. Pakistan Amb. Farukh Amil, Kumiko Meric, Kosova Amb. Designate Leon Malazo, Turkish Amb. Bϋlent Meric 2. Outgoing Romanian Amb. Radu Serban, his wife Maria 3. Mrs. Hamada, Israeli Amb. Ruth Kahanoff, popular politician Kazuyuki Hamada 4. The hosting couple, Peruvian Amb. Elard Escala, his wife Cristina 5. Dewi and her new alpaca friends – she loves animals




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MOROCCAN NATIONAL DAY RECEPTION 6. Popular politican Kenji Kosaka, Hisanaga & Takako Shimazu, Mrs. Kosaka 7. Moroccan Amb. Samir Arrour, Panama Amb. Ritter N. Diaz, his wife, Ayana 8. Kyoko Spector, Mika Mori, Utako Arrour, Maki Yamamoto 9. Japan’s famous chef, Yukio Hattori, Japan Aerospace’s Midori Nishiura 10. Hadogawa Country Club Pres. Arinori Yamagata, Sho and Mary Katayama (Aston-Martin)






11. Steven Haynes, Yuki Sonoda, Rina Matsuda, Yuika Tsutsumi, Risa Nagashima 12. Masashi Sato, Yukako Ono, Makoto Hayashi 13. Actor/model Hide Kusakari, Risa, dermatologist Yoshiaki Horie (James), Masashi Sato, Yukako Ono, Makoto Hayashi

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NATIONAL AZABU ANNUAL BARBECUE 1. Dutch clown/actor Rene Boseman, brothers Hugo and Victor 2. Trevor and Nina Webster 3. Komatsu Dept. Stores Nobuko Komatsu, her son Kei, and National Azabu’s Nakamura-san 4. Ian Muir, Mexican Counsellor/Chief of Mission Armando Arriaga, his wife Serok and daughter Antonia 5. Tohokushinsha President/CEO Tetsu Uemura, History Channel’s Asia Ireton, National Bussan Division Director Mitsuo Nagakura 6. Healthy Tokyo’s Yasuko, David, and Mike & Miki Bobrove





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7. Andrea Dominguez, Monica Riquetti (Uruguay), Dominican Republic Amb. Hector Dominguez, Uruguay Amb. Eduardo Bouzout Vignoli 8. Peruvian Amb. Elard Escola, Patrice Gobat, Lebanese charge d’affairs Abir Taha Audi, Iman Younels, Madeline Umewaka 9. The hosting couple, Armenian Amb. and Mrs. Pogosyan, Secretary of the Japan-Armenian Parliamentary Friendship League, Shunichi Suzuki 10. Nairian (Armenian Natural Cosmetics), Promo Team Mako, Miyuki and Clair 11. Kyoko, Natalia, the Pogosyans’ son Tigran, and Mako 12. Zambian Ambassador Mdiyoi Mutiti, Patrice

ESCALAS’ PERU NATIONAL DAY/FOOD FESTIVAL With the growing popularity of Peruvian food here in Japan, I easily understand why Peruvian Ambassador Elard Escala and his wife Cristina had a food festival at their Peruvian 195th Independence Day celebration. It was wall-to-wall people at their modern-designed embassy for the event – a “Pisco of Honor” & “Oishii Peru” evening. Guests enjoyed petting and having their photos taken with two really cute young alpacas. Cristina, always fashionable, wore a Peruvian scenery print kimono, which looked beautiful. The large party venue in the embassy had booths that featured 19 Peruvian food specialities, eight different drinks and four desserts. It was a totally enjoyable evening in every way. And if you haven’t had Peruvian food, you should visit “Aldo Peruvian Food & Bar” in Kita Aoyama. Telephone 03-6427-7223.

A HAPPY REUNION It was great having several European friends back in Japan for a couple of weeks. These included Swiss/Polish medical student Michel Bielecki, his mother Ela, who was a top model in Europe for several years, his Italian Swiss university friend Patrice Gobat, and their San Francisco-based nuclear engineer friend Michael Merrill. Ela brought me lots of Swiss cheese and a dozen loaves of my favorite “mountain bread.” The international group are real party people, and enjoy club-hopping all around the world. They all love Japan, but I was surprised to hear that club life in London, Paris, Rome and New York is way ahead of what’s happening here in Tokyo. After pretty much running the Lex (Lexington Queen, New Lex) for about 35 years and checking out the scene recently, I can understand what they’re saying. More on this later. Ela showed me some photos of a really colorful and chic kimono she wore in Kyoto. She told me it took two hours to put on the 28 pieces for the pictures. It was time well spent: she looked marvelous.

ARROURS’ MOROCCO NATIONAL DAY RECEPTION Moroccan Ambassador Samir Arrour has been a good friend since I first met him many years ago when he was counsellor and deputy chief at the embassy here seven years ago. He came back as Ambassador, and he and his wife Utako are a very popular couple. Their reception at the Okura to celebrate the 17th anniversary of the enthronement of H. M. King Mohammed VI as well as Morocco’s 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Morocco was a laid back and enjoyable evening for the many guests there. I enjoyed talking with popular Diet member Kenji Kosaka. His late and great father – a famous Minister of Foreign Affairs – was the man who first introduced me to H. M. King Mohammed VI when he visited Japan as the crown prince.

STEVE HAYNES & PAULA JOHNSONS SANNO BRUNCH It was a very special group of very special people at Steve and Paula’s Sunday brunch at the New Sanno Hotel. The guests, as you can see by the photos, were mostly the contestants and judges for Steven’s Miss Supranational Pageant. The event’s winner was Risa Nagashima and Steve will take her to Warsaw in December for the international final. We certainly wish her all the best. If you’ve been to the Sanno’s legendary Sunday champagne brunch you know what a feast it is. I was surprised at how

much the all slim beauty contestants ate and enjoyed it all. Including champagne and caviar, it’s all just ¥3,000. Find a friend who has US Military privileges and try it. Satisfaction guaranteed. When I asked one of the guests – super dermatologist Yoshiaki “James” Horie, who has modern clinics in Ebisu and China – if he could drop me off at the Grand Hyatt, he said “No problem.” I was really surprised when he made a call to his uniformed driver who drove me there in James’s beautiful new black Rolls-Royce. That was a treat and it really impressed my friends who work at the Grand Hyatt when I arrived.

NATIONAL AZABU’S BARBECUE Close to 400 people got together in the parking lot of National Azabu Supermarket for their annual barbecue. In addition to all they could eat (steak, lamb, health food, and of course, paella), the late afternoon guests had the chance to see friends and meet many interesting people for the first time. Many food and health outlets had booths there, and they all kept busy. These included the store’s new fast delivery service honestbee, the healthy Tokyo Bento parlor, and the Tokyo American Club. There was also some great live music and a variety of children’s games. The store’s hard-working and always helpful staff really made the event an enjoyable one, where many of the guests came early and stayed late. Our congratulations on the success of it all.

POGOSYAN’S ARMENIAN NATIONAL DAY It was wall-to-wall people at Armenian Ambassador Grant Pogosyan and his wife Natalia’s reception at the Okura Hotel to celebrate their country’s 25th independence anniversary. It was a full house that night with a lot of friends and other interesting people. The party started with short welcome speeches by Ambassador Pogosyan and Parliament member Shunichi Suzuki, who’s head of the Japan-Armenia Parliamentary Friendship League. I took Patrice Gobat, a Swiss/ Italian university student who was visiting here from Switzerland. He’s a super cool guy, and made many friends that evening. These, of course included the three Japanese models who were promoting the Armenian cosmetic line called Nairian. The Armenian food was excellent and the ambience warm. Our congratulations on a great celebration.

TO DO It’s hard to believe the way time flies. Christmas is just around the corner. We all like to work ahead, and the International Ladies Benevolent Society (ILBS) is holding their Annual Christmas Bazaar early this year on Sunday, November 20, from 11am to 2:30pm at the Tokyo American Club. Entrance tickets and raffle tickets are just ¥500. There are some great raffle prizes and all proceeds go to several worthwhile causes – hopefully we’ll see you there. I, Hilton Tokyo, and the Weekender will hold our annual party for Japanese orphans on December 6. If you are interested in helping, contact me on 090-3200-6767 or Momoko Gonohe at the Hilton on 03-3344-5111. The kids are fantastic and we guarantee you and your child will have a great afternoon. By the way, a big thanks to the many of you who sent me clothes – especially shoes for kids in the Philippines.


A happy reunion – Swiss university student Michel Bielecki, Patrice Gobat, their friend Mike Merrill and Bill – at Hiroo Segafredo

Rotary Club’s Hiro Kobayashi, Tsukasa Shiga, and the Ritz Carlton’s restaurant’s staff, Eri and Ayako at Hinokizaka Restaurant

Michel Bielecki’s mother Ela, decked out in her 28-piece kimono

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Tokyo Weekender - November 2016  

In this months issue... The Light & dark of Creativity - Rising Stars from Fashion Week, Design Festa, and More - Capturing the Art of Bonsa...

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