From Culture

Looking at the world through others eyes

BCTION: Reviving Tokyo’s Dead Space

Last weekend I was lucky enough to catch the final day of the most exciting exhibition I’ve seen in a long while. Titled BCTION, over 70 young artists came together to fill nine floors of an old office building in Kojimachi (麹町), scheduled for demolition, with a dizzying array of art installations. Read more

Shimokitazawa Awa Odori Festival

One of the main things I’ve come to love about living in Tokyo is the plethora of traditional festivals which take place in the streets of local neighbourhood throughout the year. The summer months are particularly active and back in August during the Obon festival (お盆) I attended the wonderful Awa Odori (阿波踊り) dance festival held in Shimokitazawa (下北沢). Read more

Murakami’s Tokyo: Part 1 — Beginnings

Even at a time like this, the street is bright enough and filled with people coming and going—people with places to go and people with no place to go; people with a purpose and people with no purpose; people trying to hold time back and people trying to urge it forward.

After Dark

Haruki Murakami is often described as one of the world’s greatest living novelists and has been compared with the likes of J.D. Salinger (he even translated The Catcher in the Rye into Japanese). His depictions of the loneliness and isolation of modern Japanese life ingratiated him with the country’s youth who often struggle to assert their individuality in the face of societal notions of conformity. Read more

Haruki Murakami and the Japanese Mind

Walking home the other evening, a man passed me on a bicycle with a cat riding in the front basket. While this wasn’t terribly unusual, what took me aback was that both he and his cat were wearing matching stripy jumpers and top hats (think Dr. Seuss). Even stranger was the fact that nobody else bat an eyelid. Read more

Everyday Usability in Japan (Part 3)

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series we looked at some of the intriguing aspects of the way people’s everyday lives are affected by design in Japan. Whether the result of a lone designer with a singular focus or a meddling committee with a medley of requirements it’s fascinating to see how other countries have approached the same challenges. Read more