Archive for May, 2011

May 29, 2011

Japanese Fashion: buzzing with spirit and energy in Tokyo

Japanese Fashion: buzzing with spirit and energy in Tokyo

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

6%DOKIDOKI highlight the sheer vibrancy of Tokyo fashion

Japanese street fashion is extremely diverse and no single style could ever corner the market and within areas of Tokyo and Osaka, and other major cities, you will have areas which appeal to certain styles. Japan is also a huge market for exquisite global fashion and major companies vie alongside Japanese companies and individual outlets for a slice of the huge market.

The beauty of Tokyo is that different areas contrast greatly and you have noticeable changes within fashion styles. Therefore, you will find greater individualism in Harajuku and Shibuya and both areas have a youthful image and are powerhouses. 

This contrasts greatly with Ginza and other fashionable areas like Ebisu and Aoyama which cater for young adults and all age ranges, with the emphasis being high income earners or people with wealth. Ginza is awash with international brands and Japanese brands where the focus is on elegance, sophistication and extreme quality.

Obviously the price mechanism caters for the rich.  However, being Japan, then many Japanese ladies and men who may have less disposable income, will also save in order to buy luxury brands.

Harajuku and Shibuya are not just about youthful fashion because both areas connect with Omotesando and within each area the mixture of fashion is amazing.  Therefore, you can visit independent companies like 6%DOKIDOKI in Harajuku and within a short distance you will find international and famous Japanese brands.

The fusion of fashion companies and the noticeable change within districts or within a short distance; increases the spice and the creativity of fashion in Tokyo.

This all adds to the high energy of fashion in Tokyo and the spirit of companies like 6%DOKIDOKI and Macaronic are a blessing.  Therefore, designers like Sebastian Masuda (6%DOKIDOKI) and Takashi Aoki (Macaronic) have no boundaries and instead their creativity and passion can be felt within the products that they provide.

Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto provided a strong image for Japanese fashion and their energy was noticeable in the 1980s and onwards.  However, the nature of fashion in Tokyo and throughout Japan is changeable and no single designer can express the exuberant fashion which is part and parcel of major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Instead, the real beauty of Japanese fashion is the collective because Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, Sebastian Masuda, Takashi Aoki, Junya Watanabe, Tsumori Chisato, Yoshie Itabashi, Chiharu Kikuchi, and many others; collectively add their own individual style and thinking.

It matters not if one fashion designer is hugely famous or not because fashion is not static and different fashion styles will cater for different markets.  Also, the raw energy of designers like Sebastian Masuda and Takashi Aoki merge their free thinking within the unique style of Harajuku.

Sebastian Masuda – 6%DOKIDOKI

6%DOKIDOKI is international in thinking and this company relates strongly with their clients in Harajuku and throughout the world.  The color schemes and designs of 6%DOKIDOKI and Macaronic sums up the creative nature of both companies. 

Fashion also means many things. This applies to a sense of belonging within certain fashion trends, mainstream, individualism, street credibility amongst the hip-hop inspired youth, and so forth.

Irrespective if your favorite fashion company is Comme des Garçons, A Bathing Ape, Uniqlo, 6%DOKIDOKI, SmackyGlam, Candy Stipper, Macaronic, or a multitude of other companies; the importance is that however large or small; or irrespective of stature or design style; each and every company enhances the spirit of Tokyo and Japanese fashion.

If fashion is high on your agenda then Tokyo and Osaka cater for fashion in abundance and the streets of Harajuku in Tokyo and Namba in Osaka are buzzing because of creativity and difference. 

The stunning color schemes of SmackyGlam and 6%DOKIDOKI are a million miles apart and this applies to thinking and client base.  However, the thinking behind the designs is done with utmost care and imagination and this vibrancy and difference is leading to such energy in Tokyo.

6%DOKIDOKI and the Mighty Harajuku Project

Japan is a Mecca for fashion and Tokyo is awash with creativity and style. The same also applies to Osaka which is also very energetic and this certainly applies to places like Namba.  Therefore, this sector will remain vibrant because of the diverse nature of Tokyo and Osaka and it is this diversity which is making the fashion scene tick.

http://www.dokidoki6.com/

http://www.smackyglam.com/

http://candystripper.net/

http://www.macaronic.jp/

http://tokyofashion.com/

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

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May 27, 2011

Tokyo: Shiseido The Ginza is where cosmetics and décor melts into a pure beauty experience

Tokyo: Shiseido The Ginza is where cosmetics and décor melts into a pure beauty experience

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

Ginza is located in a very refined and exquisite part of Tokyo and Shiseido The Ginza blends into its environment perfectly.  The total beauty facility is not only based on the highest of beauty products but the style of the entire store is based on panache and an environment which focuses on pure luxury.

Shiseido is a company with a very rich history and this can be seen by the store in Ginza because each of the three floors is based on a new experience whereby shoppers can engage themselves amongst the sophistication which is on offer.  Of course, this sophistication is matched by the quality of the products on offer and by staff who represent the finest of qualities which befit Shiseido.

Tokyo ladies and women who are visiting Tokyo will not find a finer place to shop around and enjoy the fabulous layout of each floor.  This applies to product sampling areas, beauty parlors, a photo studio and state of the art technology whereby customers can interact and make the most of their visit to Shiseido The Ginza.

On the second floor you will find highly trained staff who will listen to your needs and who will cater for your desires or any questions that you may have.  The first floor is where you will find quality product after quality product and the usage of technology is a wonder to behold. 

Therefore, Tokyo ladies and visiting ladies can experiment with digital cosmetic mirrors which are fully interactive and once the barcode is entered of the product which took the eye of the customer; then this will show the person how it will look once it is matched with the customers face.  This enables the individual to utilize all the various colors which are on offer and the image also shows the look from different angles and this is pure luxury mixed with convenience and style.

Counselors are on standby in order to help people with their skin types or other related areas of care and this all adds to the experience of each individual feeling special.  Added to this, estheticians are available and with all the knowledge that they have learnt from the Shiseido Academy of Beauty & Fashion; then the customer is bound to get the highest quality of care and attention.

The third floor is the finishing touch because the exquisite notch just increased even further and customers now have counseling rooms which cater for the individual and this applies to premium Shiseido products.  The booths which are designed for private usage all adds to the whole experience for the customer and the third floor is based on a luxury décor format alongside quality technology which shows the ethics and care of Shiseido.

If Tokyo ladies and visiting women to Tokyo love cosmetics and beauty products; then Shiseido The Ginza is a place to visit and because of the rich history of Shiseido then the quality on offer is of the finest.

Shiseido is always based on innovation and this is matched with exquisite products of pure quality and a visit to the Shiseido The Ginza is clear evidence that this company understands not only state of the art innovation; but, they understand the needs of modern ladies and their staff clearly care about each individual who visits.

http://stg.shiseido.co.jp/  – SHISEIDO THE GINZA

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com  

Image from http://nyabs.exblog.jp/14773731/

May 26, 2011

Does Fukushima show a split in philosophy between Asia and Europe?

Does Fukushima show a split in philosophy between Asia and Europe?

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

The March 11 earthquake in Japan led to tens of thousands of people being killed and clearly the overwhelming majority of people died because of the tsunami.  However, it is the nuclear energy issue which is still raging in Europe which appears to be of much greater importance despite nobody dying from radiation.

It is also factual that the long term effects of radiation will not be known until the future because cancer

clusters may or may not appear?  Therefore, it is the unknown threat and the invisible nature of radiation which is the main cause of concern.

However, the response to the Fukushima radiation crisis is varied and while nations like Switzerland have announced that they will phase out their nuclear energy; other nations like China, India, and South Korea will continue to move forward and develop more nuclear power plants.

Therefore, is the Fukushima crisis about a split in philosophy between a pragmatic Asia and an over sensitive Europe?  Of course, not all of Europe can be labeled together and nations like the Russian Federation will have a stronger mindset but in countries like Germany and Switzerland, to name a few, then clearly the fear of nuclear meltdown is causing major ripples.

In my article called Nuclear crisis in Japan but Uranium price to rebound on news from China and India; I highlight the fact that China and India will continue to develop nuclear energy.  The same applies to South Korea because like China and India it is clear that the government in Seoul believes that nuclear energy is a must. Also, unlike fossil fuels then this energy is also environmentally friendly and all the above named nations believe that a diverse energy policy is essential in order to meet huge electricity demands.

I commented in my article that “Daily images of the stricken Daiichi nuclear plant alongside massive scaremongering meant that national governments which had future plans in the pipeline were coming under the microscope.” 

“However, despite this, and uranium being just below 9 per cent down this year, it appears that the worse may be over for the price of uranium.  This applies to China and India who will continue to forge ahead with their respective nuclear power projects.”

Indeed, according to Bloomberg and other sources, it is reported that nuclear energy will grow by roughly 46 per cent by 2020 amongst the leading five nations which use nuclear energy.” 

Therefore, why are Switzerland, Germany, and other nations in Europe, responding so differently?  After all, even in Japan it would appear that nuclear energy will remain to be a powerful source of energy even if the current Japanese government introduces greater safety measures or focuses on alternative sources of energy.

Maybe the main difference is that environmentalists and the mass media are more motivated by green issues in Europe and they had a long term agenda whereby they could exploit an issue like Fukushima?  Yes, radiation is a serious issue and clearly nations like Japan is hindered because of its earthquake and tsunami fault-line; which means that nuclear power stations are exposed to the ravages of nature from time to time.

However, while Switzerland does have the occasional earthquake; it is clear that China faces a greater threat and the same applies to other nations in Asia which will forge ahead with their nuclear power policies.

Therefore, the current split between Asia and Europe would appear to be based on political motives, the role of the green movement, the mass media which clearly over-hyped the crisis in Europe, and other factors.  Also, maybe some European nations have become overtly self-centered?

After all, I find it rather strange for people to be marching about the nuclear issue when thousands of people are still missing in Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi.  It is also noticeable that the demonstrations in Japan have mainly been tame or often based on economic factors when applied to local farmers and so forth in Fukushima.

The democratic factor could have been raised if it only applied to China but clearly India and South Korea are democratic nations. Also, Japan is democratic despite the frequency of political leaders to resign. Therefore, maybe it is all down to different philosophical thinking between Asia and Europe?

After all, political paternalism is much stronger in Asia and while you have major differences within different nations or within the same nation based on culture, religion, ethnicity, thought patterns, development stages, and so forth; it would appear that individualism and other factors within Europe are different on the whole.

Added to this, the green lobby is very potent in Europe and the mass media also showed the enormous gap in thinking between many nations. 

What is clear is that major nations in Asia are forging ahead with nuclear power but in parts of Europe the opposite is happening and a lot of soul searching is going on.

Therefore, why is the gap between parts of Asia and Europe so huge when it comes to nuclear energy?

 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

May 25, 2011

Tough streets of Manchester to the sex trade of Tokyo and the vagueness of law

Tough streets of Manchester to the sex trade of Tokyo and the vagueness of law

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

Manchester – innovation and criminality

Manchester is located in north-west England and this vibrant city is where the Industrial Revolution came alive and Manchester was deemed the first modern industrial city in the world.  At its height the city claimed many notable firsts and this applies to the site of the first railway station in the world; where scientists first split the atom; the development of the first programmable computer; and where the first Trade Union Congress took place.

Not only this, Manchester was internationalist in outlook and Marxism and free trade were theories that run through the veins of the city despite the competing thought patterns of both theories.  Friedrich Engels spent much of his life in Manchester and the surrounding region and Karl Marx visited.  

Alternatively, the Manchester School was focused on economics from the angle of limited government and anti imperialistic in nature.  The Manchester School focused on free trade and laissez faire and the 19th century witnessed many revolutionary changes.

The majority of the 20th century would witness the decline of Manchester but by the end of this century the phoenix was gradually rising from the ashes.  Despite this, the city will never reach the heights of the middle 18th century to the late 19th century but a new spirit began to emerge in the last few decades of the 20th century. 

Yet just like the era of power Manchester was always blighted by areas of poverty and today social deprivation and powerful subcultures have emerged.  Therefore, gangs have fought over the drug trade and other areas of crime in Manchester. 

This notably applies to Cheetham Hill (I went to school in Cheetham Hill), Longsight, Moss Side and Salford gangs.  In recent times new ethnic gangs have moved in and Pakistani gangs have a clear advantage because of the links to heroin in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

Gangs in Moss Side came from the Afro-Caribbean community or were mixed blood but Salford gangs were mainly white.  However, ethnicity was not an issue but protecting areas was and in Salford famous families were also instrumental and the set up was different.

Crime statistics in Manchester are well above the national average and areas like Ardwick, Ancoats, Benchill, Collyhurst, Harpurhey, Moston, Wythenshawe, and others; all have social deprivation issues alongside the areas of high gang activity which have already been mentioned.

Tokyo and the sex trade

Therefore, when I moved to Tokyo it was a welcome change to reside in a city which was free from high crime rates.  Of course the Japanese yakuza is based in many areas of Tokyo and you have Chinese gangs and others but overall the gang culture is structured.

Also, other factors behind crime or criminality in Manchester appear to be missing in Tokyo and most violence in Manchester takes place outside gang issues.  Petty violence and random attacks is the real cause for concern and the same applies to muggings or people breaking into your property. 

Tokyo was a million miles away in this area and despite having several cultural mishaps during my first stay in Tokyo I soon adapted to the changed environment. 

I remember walking around Harajuku and Shinjuku at night and not batting an eyelid about worrying about crime and being attacked.  I watched in amazement when so many young adults could go home at night without any fears and the same applied to when people accidently walked into each other.

Yes, you have pockets of deprivation in Tokyo and this applies to parts of Minami Senju, Sanya, and other areas; however, crime figures in Tokyo are very low and the fear of being mugged or a random attack of violence does not enter the radar.

However, one area which is different is the sex trade because the sex trade is very big in Tokyo and the choices available are vast.  More worrying, you have places where young girls, some aged 15, and I dare say sometimes younger; enter places whereby Japanese men watch them getting changed or they flash their panties and so forth.

The one reality of Tokyo is that amongst the neon lights and highly developed areas you have a budding sex trade which caters for chican (groping), normal prostitution, and a plethora of other options which are all connected to the sex trade.

In Manchester the sex trade also exists but not to the extent of Tokyo and the perverse nature of elements of the sex trade in Tokyo would not be tolerated in Manchester or throughout the United Kingdom in general because of legal factors.

Indeed, the sex trade in Manchester is often linked with drug addiction and it is a dangerous game to play.  I often walked home along Cheetham Hill Road at night and you have a red-light area close to the city centre and along this road until the shopping areas starts in full.

Ladies of the night in Cheetham Hill are involved in a dangerous trade and pimps control them.  This form of prostitution will exist to an extent in Tokyo but this is the main way in Manchester and ladies will be picked up and paid in cars and this clearly leaves them vulnerable and in danger.

This does not apply to Tokyo because the sex trade can be found in many parts of Tokyo and it is set amongst high quality buildings, wealthy areas and located within shopping districts and entertainment areas. 

In my article called Tokyo and the booming sex trade: the mirage of reality; I comment that It is reported that the sex trade generates $15 billion dollars a year in Japan but it is not just the enormous money that it generates which is astonishing; it is the diversity on offer.  This applies to brothels which come under so many different names and this applies to image rooms, soaplands, pink salons, delivery health, and a vast number of names and services are provided.”

“Therefore, you can easily visit a fake train carriage and grope ladies in your “chikan heaven” or you can buy used panties at vending machines or visit a place and pick married women and so much more.”

Also, it is clear that young females are in demand and once more Tokyo caters for young girls who range from being around 15 or a little younger and they will be paid to sit or talk amongst themselves while flashing their panties to the paying adult males.

This type of vice would not be tolerated in Manchester but the nature of Tokyo, and Japan, appears to be “anything goes” providing the money is not visibly being given for sexual favors openly. 

Anti-prostitution laws are vague in Japan and the same applies to the sex trade because while distribution of child pornography is a criminal offence the same does not apply to watching videos of children being abused in the comfort of your own home. 

The seedy side of Tokyo is one issue but when it involves minors then you would think that the police would be pro-active.  However, while the police may want to do more the legal system ties their hands and it is the political leadership and the legal system which is to be blamed for allowing this in Japan.

Sarah Noorbakhsh states that Girls in uniform, some as young as 15, sit sprawled out on the floor of a small room, chatting or reading books. Skirts are rolled high, some have their legs folded up against their chest, and none the girls give much notice to the fact that their colorful panties are on display–to the paying customers in the next room.”

It is clear that the police are having trouble in stopping this because the legal system is so vague and open to many loopholes.  Therefore, the main hope is the breaking of labour laws because child protection laws appear to be ineffectual.

Sarah Noorbakhsh continues by stating that the“Police are attempting to target the clubs to curtail this new expansion into the fuzokuindustry. Club “Yokohama Mambo” was investigated by police last month in an attempt to press child welfare laws against the venue, but because the girls are free to come and go as they please, the law wasn’t applicable. Authorities finally landed upon the Labor Standards Act, as it stipulates youth may not work in places that are hazardous from a hygienic or social welfare standpoint. They hope to investigate similar premises under the same law.”

The seedy side of Tokyo was unknown to my childhood in Manchester because the sex trade and images of young teenagers is potent within Japanese culture and this certainly applies to the booming sex trade of Tokyo.  

This thought pattern did not exist in my native Manchester and while the sex trade exists it is not prominent and based in every major district of Manchester.  However, in Tokyo the sex trade is visible in parts of Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Ueno, and recently it is increasing in Shibuya and you also have other areas outside of the major areas of Tokyo where the sex trade flourishes.

Of course different cultures and laws throughout the world will have different thought patterns and in Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia old men can marry young girls of eight and nine years of age. This also happens in Yemen and other Islamic nations where Sharia Islamic law is powerful.

Despite the violent side of Manchester being a reality I can at least understand this but why men are allowed to watch young girls or you can view child images in your own home without fear; even when the images are extreme; then I can’t fathom why this is allowed. The same applies to Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia allowing old men to marry children and all in the name of Islam.

Elements of the seedy side of Tokyo are meeting a high demand and prostitution and the sex trade is thousands of years old and Tokyo will not be unique.  However, it is a clash of culture to seeing it so prevalent within the culture and the plethora of options is mind boggling to my upbringing in inner-city Manchester.

However, for Tokyoites the violence of inner-city Manchester and drug related issues will also be mind boggling. 

Of course, Manchester is also a great city and you have many areas which make me proud and this applies to past history, the recent music scene and the richness of sport in my hometown.

Similarly, Tokyo is an amazing city which is ultra modern and the fashion scene is amongst the best in the world.  Also, Tokyo is an economic powerhouse and this city is rich in culture. 

Yet the one side that I fail to understand is the seedy nature of this city which caters for groping women on “fantasy trains” or watching young girls showing their panties and so forth.

Sarah Noorbakhsh – “Fuzoku lite: “Aquarium of girls” offers thrills for herbivore men 

http://www.japansubculture.com/2011/05/fuzoku-lite-aquarium-of-girls-offers-thrills-for-herbivore-men/

Please visit http://www.japansubculture.com for more articles.

http://factsanddetails.com/japan.php?itemid=672&catid=19&subcatid=127

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com   

May 24, 2011

Nuclear crisis in Japan but Uranium price to rebound on news from China and India

Nuclear crisis in Japan but Uranium price to rebound on news from China and India

Modern Tokyo Times

Lee Jay Walker

 

The nuclear crisis in Fukushima at the Daiichi nuclear power plant caused major ripples in the nuclear sector.  Many nations outwardly began to question the role of nuclear energy and reliance but with each passing day the cold reality of the importance of nuclear energy is dawning.  Therefore, China and India are to continue with their ambitious plans in this sector.

Immediately after March 11 when the 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan and it became known that the tsunami had not only killed tens of thousands of people, but had also impacted negatively on the Daiichi nuclear power plant; then the price of uranium slumped by 27 per cent.

Daily images of the stricken Daiichi nuclear plant alongside massive scaremongering meant that national governments which had future plans in the pipeline were coming under the microscope. 

However, despite this, and uranium being just below 9 per cent down this year, it appears that the worse may be over for the price of uranium.  This applies to China and India who will continue to forge ahead with their respective nuclear power projects.

Indeed, according to Bloomberg and other sources, it is reported that nuclear energy will grow by roughly 46 per cent by 2020 amongst the leading five nations which use nuclear energy. 

This increase is mainly down to China and India because these two nations, whose economies are growing rapidly and which have huge populations, believe that nuclear energy is the best option.

China’s Nuclear Energy Association in May announced plans to increase nuclear energy by around eight times by 2020.  India’s Atomic Energy Commission, within one day of China’s announcement, stated that India had plans to increase nuclear production by 13 fold and this ambitious plan applies to this target being achieved by 2030.

Therefore, the statements made by China and India means that the price of uranium should not only stabilize but also rebound because the future looks positive for this sector despite many alarm bells.

It is clear that leaders in China believe that future economic growth depends greatly on a diverse energy policy.  Therefore, the only current option is for nuclear energy to be part of this diverse energy policy in order to satisfy the growth of electricity demand.

If future projections are met then nuclear usage in China, India and South Korea will surpass that of America, France, Germany and Japan, when you combine both groups.

It must be remembered that fossil fuels was the main concern for nations like America, France and the United Kingdom before the Fukushima crisis.  Therefore, the nuclear option was seen to be positive. After all, greenhouse gas emission worries are focused on fossil fuels and not the atomic sector.

These nations may rue their over sensitivity and it must be remembered that the tsunami killed tens of thousands of people and not nuclear energy.  Indeed, the over-hype of the nuclear crisis often relegated the crisis caused by the tsunami and it makes you wonder where the priority belongs?

China and India will clearly look at what happened at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in order to safeguard and implement policies which will lead to greater security and safety mechanisms.

The vice secretary general of the Nuclear Energy Association in China, Xu Yuming, stated that “Of course, the overall plan won’t be changed. China faces power shortages and we need to change our energy mix. To resolve these issues, we must develop nuclear.”

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

May 23, 2011

Osaka: Namba is great for fashion, entertainment and a real energy exists

Osaka: Namba is great for fashion, entertainment and a real energy exists

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The city of Osaka is very vibrant and in Namba you can feel the energy because this part of Osaka is famous for fashion and entertainment.  Indeed, while Tokyo appears to be more refined and placid the natural energy of Namba, Umeda, and other areas, is a welcome change and both Tokyo and Osaka have a different feel about them.

Recently, Kanebo cosmetic company highlighted the fact that Tokyo ladies use more make up than any other major city in Asia.  However, Kanebo, which did the survey, picked two cities in China but amazingly they only picked one city in Japan and this applies to Tokyo. 

I am sure that Osaka ladies would have something to say about this because if Kanebo can pick Beijing and Shanghai; then why not include Osaka?  After all, Osaka is a very powerful city and the energy and different thought patterns in this city would have complimented the survey by Kanebo cosmetic company.

If you visit Namba you will note how fashionable the ladies are and how vibrant this part of Osaka is.  Namba also changes throughout the day and it is vibrant for 24 hours of the day.

This applies to fashion, entertainment, abundance of restaurants, and you also have a sexual side to Namba in the Dotonbori area at night.  Therefore, Namba is very diverse and changes quickly.

Also, during the day you will see many students outside who are practicing comedy and you can watch and listen to this unique style.  This comedy style is called manzai and Yoshimotokougyo School is famous for this style of comedy.

Namba ladies have their own distinct fashion and style which not only applies to the dress style, but also the different thought pattern and energy which is often missing in parts of Tokyo.

In Namba you have the trendy and fashionable Amerikamura and Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade.  Electronic areas and manga can also be found and Nipponbashi Den Den Town is popular.  Meanwhile, the Dotonbori district is famous for entertainment and the innocence and vibrancy of manzai can be felt alongside trendy fashion areas and the seedier nature at night in parts of Namba.

The waterway system is also a nice place to relax and sit out and you will see many tourist boats on busy days.  This also adds to the genuine buzz of Namba in Osaka and even if you are by yourself then it matters not because if you visit the waterway, where students are practicing manzai, then you feel part and parcel of the environment.

The Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade and adjacent area surrounding this shopping complex is awash with fashion.  True to the nature of Namba, it is also a fusion of trendy boutiques with an independent spirit alongside chain retail stores.

Fashion in this area is really fascinating because of the options which are available.  Therefore, you have the high fashion of expensive department stores and influential designer labels and trendy boutiques.

However, you also have alternative fashion styles and if you venture around then it becomes clear that this area caters for many fashion styles.

In Amerikamura you have a reported 3,000 shops to pick from and the choice is massive and varied.  The youthful nature and buzz of this part of Osaka can be felt and domestic boutiques like Urban Research, Ships, Anna Sui, Stussy, and countless others, can be found in this vibrant fashion area which rivals anything in Tokyo.

In truth, both Tokyo and Osaka are major fashion cities and while Osaka may be overlooked internationally in some quarters; it soon becomes apparent when you visit Osaka that this is a mistake because the “heart of Japan is ticking loudly in Osaka.”

Other notable places to visit are Namba Parks, National Bunraku Theater, Hozenji Yokocho Alley, Kuromon Ichiba Market (Emmeiji Market) and Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum. Also, Dotonbori is clearly a must because of the high energy of this area along the river and this applies to shopping, entertainment and food outlets.

Dotonbori at night and in the early morning is awash with stunning ladies and a different Namba comes alive.

Overall, Namba is fantastic for fashion and raw energy.

This applies to the diverse nature of fashion, the manzai tradition which can be witnessed outside near the waterway system, the lively nature of the Dotonbori entertainment district and you have everything from independent boutiques to high designer labels.

Namba, like Osaka in general, is a vibrant area and “the heart is ticking loudly” and you can feel the raw passion of a city which is dynamic in its own right.

Tokyo and other major cities in Asia, like Beijing, Seoul and Shanghai, may be internationally famous but Osaka is not in the shadow of any of these cities.  On the contrary, Osaka is vibrant and open and this city deserves to be viewed amongst the elites within the global village.

http://www.infomapjapan.com/sight_Namba.phtml  (Info about Namba)

http://www.japaneselifestyle.com.au/travel/osaka_namba.htm

http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/search/detail/shopping_5160.html (Namba Walk info)

http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)

photo from www.flickr.com

May 21, 2011

Tokyo fashion after the earthquake and a long hot summer

Tokyo fashion after the earthquake and a long hot summer

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

The March 11 earthquake which unleashed the tsunami and nuclear crisis in Fukushima certainly hit the economy in northeast Japan, Kanto region, and other surrounding areas.  Companies in other parts of Japan were badly hit because many production lines were based in northeast Japan and blackouts and power shortages created untold problems.

Of course during the devastating events of March 11 and the following days all emphasis was on the tragic death toll and trying to find people who were covered by the mass of debris. 

The radiation crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant also created panic and many foreign nationals, companies, embassies, and so forth; relocated or left temporarily because of the fear factor and mass uncertainty which was generated by the nuclear issue.

Several months later and the nuclear crisis is still ongoing in Fukushima but at a much lower level because of containment policies. Therefore, the fear factor in Tokyo appears to be over and embassies which were closed have re-opened and normality is returning to most sectors.

Obviously, the situation in northeast Japan remains problematic because while the economic recovery is starting to impact on areas hit the most it will still take a long time to readjust.  Also, certain sectors, like the fisheries, remain to be hit hard and the nuclear issue in Fukushima will continue to hinder this sector and the same applies to areas surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

However, turning back to Tokyo then it is clear that this city is in full swing and the fashion sector is starting to pick up again. 

In late 2010 the economy of Japan was starting to show signs of a recovery and this was maintained in the first few months of 2011.  Therefore, strong sales in December, 2010, were announced at many luxury retailers throughout Tokyo and the fashion sector on a whole was optimistic about a positive 2011.

This was all cut short by the devastating events of March 11 but now optimism is returning to Tokyo and with the long hot summer on its way then a new vibrancy is also picking up. 

Companies like 6%DOKIDOKI took their fashion designs to North America and acted with compassion and care and Sebastian Masuda was the brainchild behind the Mighty Harajuku Project.  Therefore, 6%DOKIDOKI, and other fashion companies which supported the Mighty Harajuku Project; were raising funds for northeast Japan alongside helping local clients and showing an image of positivity despite the despair which was being felt at the time.

Today if you visit buzzing places in Tokyo like Ebisu, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Omotesando, Shinjuku, and other trendy areas, then it is clear that fashion companies are attracting shoppers.

In Lumine in Ikebukuro on the west side you have fantastic displays of elegant and exquisite fashion companies.  Smacky Glam (SmackyGlam) and many other fashion boutiques have an array of luxury products whereby you have high quality fabrics alongside fantastic color schemes and designs.

Department stores which have been in the doldrums for a long time apart from the odd period have also announced strong April sales compared to the slump in March following the events of the March 11 earthquake.  Hankyu-Hanshin announced very positive sales and Daimaru-Matsuzakaya also stated that sales were up by just less than 3 per cent. 

Mitsukoshi-Isetan also stated that sales were slightly up and given the events of March 11 then for Mitsukoshi-Isetan this was remarkable. After all, Mitsukoshi-Isetan is more focused on the Tokyo region than Hankyu-Hanshin which is Kansai based.

However, department stores are still down when compared with results from last year but it is hoped that the summer period will see an upturn and given the events of this year then the figures could have been a lot worse.

Therefore, with the long hot summer on its way the fashion sector in Tokyo may see a rebound of fresh optimism because the doom and gloom of March and early April seems a long time ago. 

It is also hoped that tourists will start to flock to Tokyo and Japan once more because Tokyo is a Mecca for fashion and Osaka is also very vibrant.

The long hot summer is on its way and the feeling of hope and the freshness of new styles will hopefully lead to an upturn in sales.

http://tokyofashion.com/

http://www.dokidoki6.com/  (6%DOKIDOKI)

http://www.smackyglam.com/ (SmackyGlam)

http://www.lumine.ne.jp/ikebukuro/  (Lumine)

http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)

May 20, 2011

Hakone in Kanagawa: A fantastic tourist destination and on the doorstep of Tokyo

Hakone in Kanagawa: A fantastic tourist destination and on the doorstep of Tokyo

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

View of Mount Fuji in Hakone – Modern Tokyo Times image

Hakone in Kanagawa is a special tourist destination because you have so much to see and visit and many people return time and again.  The natural beauty of Hakone is a wonder to behold and this town rests within the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park.

Japanese tourists and international tourists flock to Hakone because of the stunning richness of natural beauty and the many attractions which are on offer.  Hakone provides a plethora of places to visit and you can visit many cultural museums during your stay.

Alternatively, if you just want to connect with nature and enjoy the beautiful landscape then the choice belongs to you.  Of course, people will have their own particular needs and for busy individuals it may even apply to a very short stay and making the most of a luxury onsen after visiting the mountains.

If you reside in Tokyo or you are a tourist to Tokyo; then Hakone is on the doorstep of Tokyo and if you travel by the Odakyu Limited Express “Romancecar” then it takes less than 90 minutes. 

The “Romancecar” is a great way to travel because you can relax in comfort and you have a drinks and food service which caters for your needs.  Also, the Hakone Freepass is a must because it provides great value and you can use it for 7 types of different transport. 

This applies to the Hakone Ropeway, Hakone Tozan Line, and other forms of transport.  Therefore, you can hop on and off different forms of transport and the scenic views from the Hakone Ropeway and Hakone Tozan Line is stunning; the different forms of transport also adds to your holiday because the quaint train journey is pleasurable by itself.

Hakone is home to famous spas and is located in a large historical zone and when you include this to the stunning nature of the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and cultural attractions on offer; then it is clear to see why Hakone is so popular.

 
Stunning park in Hakone – Modern Tokyo Times image

Mount Fuji can be seen in various parts of the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park range and further afield during your journey to the area. 

Lake Ashi (Lake Ashi-no-ko) is very beautiful and if you visit by cable car then you will clearly see Mount Fuji on the way and an abundance of stunning nature in every direction.  Once you have arrived at Lake Ashi then you can enjoy a pleasurable boat trip and go for nice walks and if you buy a Hakone Freepass from the Odakyu train company then you can use the transport systems on offer.

Hakone also provides a plethora of places to visit and if you like museums then you will enjoy your stay to the full.  The main museums apply to the Narukawa Art Museum for modern Japanese paintings; the Hakone Open Air Museum; the Pola Museum of Art; Venetian Glass Museum; Suzuhiro Corp. Kamaboko Museum; Local History Museum; Museum of Saint Exupery and the Little Pince in Hakone; Hakone Old Takaido Road Museum; Hakone Mononofu-no-Sato Art Museum; Hakone Art Museum; Honma Yosegi Museum; and Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History.

Hakone – Modern Tokyo Times image

History also flows throughout the veins of Hakone and in the Tokugawa period all travelers entering or leaving Edo along the Tokaido were stopped and searched by officials belonging to the Tokugawa shogunate. 

If you go back even further in history and to the Heian period then Hakone is famous for the Hakone Gongen.  The Hakone Gongen is a famous Shinto shrine and it is located along the shores of Lake Ashi.

Therefore, Hakone is certainly a great place to visit irrespective if you reside in Japan or you are a tourist to Japan.  Also, given the fact that Tokyo is the most popular tourist destination in Japan then Hakone is less than 90 minutes away if you travel from Shinjuku by the Odakyu “Romancecar.”

I have not mentioned all the places to visit but I will add that the volcanically active Owakudani geysers; Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands; Hakone-jinja shrine and Treasure Museum; Odawara Castle Donjon; and many stunning parks and gardens; are all worth visiting.

All in all, the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and surrounding area is a tourist destination of the highest quality and given the comfort on offer by the Odakyu train company which provides a fantastic service and special Hakone pass; then you can enjoy everything which Hakone provides and at the same time you can travel easily from place to place.

 

http://www.odakyu.jp/english/qtours/hakone_course2.html

http://www.odakyu.jp/english/freepass/hakone_01.html

http://www.hakone.or.jp/english/index.html

http://www.odakyu.jp/english/rc/index.html

http://moderntokyotimes.com

May 19, 2011

Japan continues to play the nationalist card against the Russian Federation

Japan continues to play the nationalist card against the Russian Federation

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

It is sometimes difficult to understand Japan’s stance towards the Russian Federation given the reality that American forces are based in various parts of Japan.  Therefore, why is the nationalist card being turned on and off when it suits?

The Japanese Foreign Minister, Takeaki Matsumoto, was dismayed after the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Sergei Ivanov, visited the Southern Kurils (Northern Territories according to Japan).

Takaeki Matsumoto stated that it “runs counter to Japan’s basic position and hurts the feelings of Japanese people.”

Yukio Edano, Chief Cabinet Secretary, also weighed in by stating that recent visits have “seriously damaged the feelings of our people. I believe Russia will not gain anything from them.”

However, prior to the Meiji Restoration of 1868 neither Okinawa (Ryukyu) or Hokkaido belonged to Japan.  The people of Okinawa have mainly lost their indigenous language and Japanization was rapid.  However, the Ainu people, unlike the Okinawans, completely succumbed to Japanization and you have very little left of Ainu culture and ethnicity.

Therefore, if neither Okinawa, Hokkaido, and the Southern Kurils (Northern Territories), belonged to Japan before the Meiji Restoration of 1868; then how ingrained is Japanese culture to the disputed region and how can Japan claim that they have a natural right to somewhere which was always independent of Japan until recent history?

The same applies to the Russian Federation because neither nation in history has controlled the Southern Kurils (Northern Territories) for long periods of time.

In northern Japan, the Ainu just succumbed to greater numbers of Japanese settlers and in time the number of new settlers completely subdued Ainu culture.

Neither Japan nor the Russian Federation have a legal right to the disputed isles when applied to history because this region was independent and the indigenous people were neither Japanese or Russian.

The Russian Federation came into being after the demise of the Soviet Union but this nation state maintains the same legacy and this applies to events during World War Two.

Therefore, while the Russian Federation may offer parts of the disputed region in the future; it is most unlikely that this will ever apply to Sakhalin because of geopolitical factors and natural resources.

Recently the Russian Federation increased its military power in the Southern Kurils/Northern Territories.  However, this fact is not aimed at Japan because Russia’s main concern is the United States and protecting this strategic region from outside powers.

Pavel Felgenhauer, a journalist, commented in The James Foundation that “Japan is not a first-class priority in Russian politics or strategic planning. The strategic build up in the Kuriles and of the Pacific Fleet capabilities may not be aimed at Japan or China per se, but the US – Russia’s true present number one strategic concern.”

The Russian Federation is blessed with vast resources of gas, oil, and other natural resources and it is abundantly clear that Japan is over reliant on Middle East energy.

During the recent earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis which began on March 11 after the devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake; the Russian Federation made it clear to Japan that they could help to solve the energy crisis that Japan faces.

A face saving deal over less important islets is in Japan’s interest and this is the only offer that the Russian Federation may provide.  However, Sakhalin is too important and the Russian Federation will not hand this region to any nation state because the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev is not the weak and enfeebled nation which existed under Boris Yeltsin.

Japan should stop playing the nationalist card because the Russian Federation could enhance Japan’s national security in the field of energy.  After all, the Russian Federation also pulls many strings in Central Asia.

Historical wise; the disputed area does not belong to either nation.

However, events unfolded during World War Two and the Soviet Union was the innocent party when applied to German Nazism and the Allies asked the Soviet Union to go to war with Japan in 1945.

After all, the Soviet Union did not start World War Two.

The Yalta agreement (February 1945), the Potsdam Declaration (July 1945) and the Treaty of San Francisco (September 1951), do, on the whole, support the Soviet Union.

However, the vagueness of which area comes under which geographic region is disputed and the United States had changed its thinking by 1951.  After all, the Soviet Union was a needed ally during World War Two against German Nazism but by 1951 the Cold War had entered the fray.

Yalta had been favorable to the Soviet Union and clearly America and Great Britain had supported the Soviet Union against Japan in this period.

Yalta stipulates that the Soviet Union, the United States of America and Great Britain – have agreed that in two or three months after Germany has surrendered and the war in Europe is terminated, the Soviet Union shall enter into war against Japan on the side of the Allies on condition that: [….] 2. The former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904 shall be restored, viz.: (a) The southern part of Sakhalin as well as the islands adjacent to it shall be returned to the Soviet Union; [….] 3. The Kurile Islands shall be handed over to the Soviet Union.”

The Russian Federation in 2006 under Vladimir Putin did state that Shikotan and the Habomais could be given to Japan on condition that Japan renounces all other disputed areas.

However, Japan refused but with each passing year the Russian Federation is gaining in power and the “economic carrot” that Boris Yeltsin was thinking about no longer applies.

If Japan wants a diverse energy policy and friendly relations in a region of few friends; then leaders in Tokyo would be wise to resolve this dispute and focus on developing relations with the Russian Federation.

http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)

May 18, 2011

Ueno in Tokyo: fashion, culture, and a different environment

Ueno in Tokyo: fashion, culture, and a different environment

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

Ueno is in northern Tokyo and it differs from the exquisite and wealthy nature of Ebisu and Ginza.  Also, the fashion scene is very different when compared to Harajuku and Shibuya.  In truth, Ueno does not feel like modern Tokyo despite many major companies being based in the area.

Ikebukuro, which is the gateway to enter Tokyo from Saitama prefecture is distinctively Tokyo in feeling and atmosphere; but Ueno is a blend of old Tokyo and an energy which can be found in parts of Hong Kong. 

Ueno is also very vibrant and at the same time “on the edge” because you have an abundance of cultural places to visit but this is tinged with many homeless people in and around the main park in Ueno.

It certainly feels like the poorer neighbor of fashionable and trendy Omotesando in Tokyo.  However, this working feel and “on the edge” nature of Ueno adds to the creativity of many small sized retail companies and the street fashion of Ueno is energetic.

The very nature of Ueno means that people often have a strong comment to say about this part of Tokyo, irrespective if positive or negative.  However, Ueno is certainly a must visit for all tourists who will visit Tokyo because it provides its own energy and you have so many cultural places to visit.

My first ever visit to Ueno was an eye opener because I entered a shady area where you had many hostess clubs and women were tottering up and down in very sexy clothing.  This was followed by a visit to one of the many museums and then enjoying a walk in the park which had many beautiful views alongside images of many homeless people.

This fusion can be seen in the fashion of Ueno because despite having high quality fashion stores within the environment of Ueno station.  The real feel is street fashion and women are free from the high octane nature and pressure of Ebisu where wealth is visibly on show; irrespective if the individual is wealthy or not.

The Ameyokocho bazaar is very large and it caters for so many different products and this part of Ueno is certainly distinctive from the usual images of high fashion or powerful department stores which dominate throughout Tokyo.

Marui and other major department stores are now based in Ueno and major redevelopment is in full swing.  Therefore, parts of Ueno may succumb to the usual features of all major areas in Tokyo. However, the Ameyokocho bazaar, small retail companies, and shady parts of Ueno; means that this will add to the diverse nature of Ueno but in the near future it will not be able to destroy the unique atmosphere of this part of Tokyo.

If you love culture then Ueno can provide this in abundance and you have many museums and galleries to visit which are based mainly in the Ueno park area.

Tokyo National Museum boasts the most potent collection of Japanese art in the world and the exhibits on show will please all people who are interested in Japanese art, culture, and history. 

If you are interested in Buddhism then a visit to the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures is a must. In contrast to the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures you have the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art which focuses on contemporary art.

Other popular places to visit include the National Science Museum, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, Shitamachi History Museum, Tosho-gu-Shrine, Iwasaki Family House, Yushima Tenjin, Ueno zoo, and seeing the statue of Saigo Takamori who was a samurai in old Japan who practiced ritual suicide.

Ueno is certainly worth a visit if either you are a tourist to Japan or a Japanese national from outside of Tokyo.  Of course many Tokyoites or people from Chiba or Saitama areas close to Ueno may also revere this part of Tokyo because of its rich diversity.

The street fashion of Ueno is strong despite recent developments which have brought trendy Marui and Arte to Ueno.  Therefore, Ueno now offers a broad array of fashion with more elegant and exquisite brands opening up for business but the street scene of Ueno remains vibrant.

At night the shady areas light up to the throngs of the sexual side of Tokyo and the “on edge” nature of Ueno adds to the vibrancy and energy of this most distinctive part of Tokyo.

http://www.tokyoessentials.com/ueno.html (about Ueno)

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/tokyo/ueno.html  (info about Ueno)

http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)