Archive for October, 2011

October 29, 2011

Tokyo and Osaka fashion: Lolita fashion and different styles

Tokyo and Osaka fashion: Lolita fashion and different styles

Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Lolita fashion began to sprout up in Japan in the late 1970s to early 1980s and over time you have had many offshoots within the “Lolita fashion style.” The clothing image and aesthetics relate to France and the United Kingdom within the realm of all the positives of the Rococo and Victorian periods. Irrespective if the vibe of today hides the real reality of the Victorian period and Rococo period, the role of fashion is to transcend this and to create an image of cuteness, positivity and pure class.

Since the early period which evolved around a small number of individuals this fashion style continues to develop and grow. Therefore, despite this fashion style being relatively obscure in the initial period and being extremely minor in the field of everyday fashion in Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, and other cities, this style is increasingly popular worldwide. Also, you have special areas in Tokyo, Osaka, and other major cities in Japan which cater and are influenced by Lolita fashion.

Lolita fashion unlike kawaii culture, the punk period, and various other trends, is relatively constrained within certain boundaries. However, despite this you have various styles within the Lolita fashion style. Also, like all fashion trends, it is clear that the natural beauty of many Lolita outfits is being utilized by other fashion styles when it comes to creativity.

Kansai was the initial bedrock of Lolita fashion in Japan but in time areas and companies would adopt this style in parts of Tokyo. Early boutiques which began this movement many decades ago applies to Milk and Pretty (known as Angelic Pretty in time), Pink House, The Stars Shine Bright, and Metamorphose temps de fille.

In time music groups who liked the Lolita image would help this fashion status and Lolita went from obscure shops and a small client base to major powerful stores today in Japan. Most notable, would be Marui One in Shinjuku where you will find beautiful boutiques selling Lolita fashion, kawaii fashion, and other trends emanating from Japan.

Despite the name Lolita having sexual connotations in Western culture this fashion scene is not about looking sexy. Lolita is about elegance and cuteness and sometimes you may see images of Lolita style fashion with ladies in long boots and so forth, but this is outside of the Lolita image and style. Therefore, Lolita on the whole expresses the beauty of the fashion designs and cuteness of both the design and the individual (some Lolita styles are not based on this) who feels special in elegant clothes.

Just like other fashion trends some people will just love the special feel of wearing sophisticated clothes and looking different. However, for others, they will also like the lifestyle associated with Lolita and this applies to philosophy and living in a world based on beauty and other aspects of this movement.

Of special appeal to both writers of this article is Classic Lolita because unlike Sweet Lolita and other areas of this fashion, Classic Lolita suits a wider age group and connects more strongly with aspects of Victorian fashion. This applies to floral patterns and looking classy rather than being focused on cuteness and bold colors.

In contrast to Classic Lolita you have Sweet Lolita which certainly suits the younger generation because this style is based on more expressive styles and is more “child-like” in the positive sense. Therefore, outfits relating to Sweet Lolita are very popular in the colors pink, white, and powder blue. Also, light make-up and a natural approach suits the style of clothing and often you will see hairstyles with lovely bouncy curls and stylish pony tails.

Kuro Lolita (Black Lolita) is a fascinating style based on the co-ordinates of black and the style of this fashion looks very elegant. Also, if an individual is new to Lolita fashion then Kuro Lolita is a great starter because this style isn’t so complex. Despite this, the Kuro Lolita and the Classic Lolita look are extremely classy and both styles suit the images of the Victorian period.

Most intriguing from a Japanese cultural point of view is Wa Lolita because this fuses the culture where Lolita fashion took off. Therefore, you have a fusion of Lolita with the styles of yukata and kimono outfits and when this style works it really looks exquisite and graceful.

Also, just like the special fabrics used for a lovely kimono you also have flower prints with great detail and other aspects of the kimono and yukata style. Kanzashi hairclip styles based on flowers also works beautifully and creates a lovely Japanese style within the Lolita fashion range.

Overall, Lolita fashion keeps on evolving and for the puritans it isn’t all positive because Ero Lolita and Cosplay Lolita are going in the wrong direction and have little to do with the real fashion image. Other styles of Lolita apply to Gothic, Casual, Country, Shiro, Hime, Punk, Kodona, Aristocrat, Sailor, and several others.

The website Lolita Fashion is very good for information about the different styles. Also, the Lolita Fashion website shows many beautiful images and if you prefer other styles of Lolita than mentioned in this article, then please check the images and information from this website.

Lolita is very varied and the elegant nature of the vast majority of these different styles means that many fashion designers will borrow from the creativity of Lolita fashion.

October 29, 2011

K-pop in Japan: BoA and her new song Milestone set to hit the heights

K-pop in Japan: BoA and her new song Milestone set to hit the heights

Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

BoA will release a lovely track called “Milestone” and her fans will be so happy to hear her lovely voice and this powerful track should do really well. K-pop artists are now in vogue but for artists like BoA and Kan Mi Youn they hit the heights at a very young age and continue to impress by their changing styles and sheer quality.

“Milestone” will be released in Japan on December 7 and BoA will certainly hog the headlines because of her rich following.  The track itself is very emotional and the melody is pleasing on the ear. Also, like always her voice blesses the richness of the lyrics and the lovely melody.

Boa Kwon (Kwon Boa) adopted the name BoA and despite her young years this lady is multi-talented and truly international. The Beat of Angel (BoA) is just that with her angelic voice and classy style.

BoA was discovered by SM Entertainment and like always they nurtured the extremely beautiful young lady with an adorable voice. After her debut album ID; Peace B was released in South Korea she ventured into the Japanese market in 2002 with her debut album Listen To My Heart.

The international nature of BoA led her to debut in America in 2008 with the single “Eat You Up” and this hip track suited the American market. The video style was clearly designed for the market in hand and this was followed in 2009 by her first English language album titled BoA. However, in Japan the growing power of K-pop in mega-cites like Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, and throughout Japan, means that the new track “Milestone” should reach the heights because it is one of her best tracks and BoA’s history in Japan is deep.

The Japanese music market was clearly a great boost to her early career because the album Valenti in 2003 sold more than 1.2 million copies in the second largest music market in the world. Her next album in Japan called Love & Honesty in 2004 did well but not like the album Valenti. However, BoA’s compilation album in 2005 called Best of Soul did very well and more than one million copies were sold.

The changing nature of BoA and the complexity of different music markets meant that between 2004 and 2005 the number of albums sold from new material had gone down in South Korea. Also, her venture into China was mixed but BoA was still very young and with no settled style then a tad of uncertainty was confusing some of her original fans.

It must be remembered that Boa Kwon was born on November 5 in 1986 and in many other music markets, for example in the United Kingdom, it is rare to have someone so young who enters so many challenging markets.  Any misfortune of sales, despite still being good, should go down to the people who guided her because not only was BoA entering challenging and diverse markets but the changing nature of her style was creating teething problems.

In many ways her sixth album in Japan called The Face in 2008 saw a new confident BoA because now she was taking control over the music she performed. Therefore, with her rich and diverse background before this period the final pieces of the “real” BoA began to emerge.

However, the one weak spot was that by not focusing on one main market, then her sales and fan base was confused. Again, this would not have happened with a major British and Japanese singer/group because they would have a firm base. Therefore, in 2010 her album called Identity suffered in Japan because sales were weak compared with the startling success of Valenti in 2003.

Clearly, her move to America had mixed results and BoA was overstretched when it came to maintaining a firm base in America, Japan and South Korea respectively. Therefore, you had a highly talented K-pop artist who had matured into a stunning young lady and who was blessed with a lovely voice, however, something was amiss.

After all, BoA couldn’t match her early success in Japan despite the BoA of 2010 being vastly superior to her early period. Yet 2010 did show that her fans in South Korea remained loyal because her album Hurricane Venus did well.

BoA is a fantastic singer and continues to grow and her new single which will be released on December 7 in Japan is one of her best. Therefore, the new single “Milestone” should hit the heights because the lovely melody is backed by her exquisite voice.

“Milestone” is a million miles away from “Eat You Up” but her new single shows the exquisite talent of BoA.  Therefore, many Tokyoites and music lovers throughout Japan should certainly add this new track to their chart once it is released. 

In truth, “Milestone” shows the real class of BoA and only her challenging schedule is preventing this stunning lady from reaching her true potential. BoA and new track “Milestone” BoA and “Eat You Up”

October 26, 2011

Tokyo fashion: exquisite fashion districts and diversity of boutiques

Tokyo fashion: exquisite fashion districts and diversity of boutiques

Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Fashion in Tokyo is simply dynamic and the creative buzz you can feel in this ultra-modern city is unbelievable. All major capital cities and famous cities will have famous fashion districts and London, Milan, New York, Paris, and Rome run of the tongue when thinking about fashion. However, the diversity of fashion in Tokyo and the numerous fashion districts is what makes this city tick when it comes to exquisite boutiques.

Famous international fashion streets with huge reputations based on sublime fashion applies to Fifth Avenue (New York), Avenue Montaigne (Paris), Bond Street (London), Via Montenapoleone (Milan), Bahnhofstrasse (Zurich), P.C. Hooftstraat (Amsterdam), Stroget (Copenhagen), Rodeo Drive (Los. Angeles) and Calle Serrano (Madrid). 

At the same time you have fantastic fashion in other major cities in Japan and Osaka is extremely trendy. This notably applies to the exquisite boutiques in Umeda and in Namba you have a lovely mix of high fashion and independent fashion. Meanwhile Kobe is extremely trendy and you have a lovely buzz in this city.

However, what makes Tokyo so special is the sheer size of fashion and the amount of districts you have in this fabulous city which caters for different trends and styles. Therefore, you are spoilt for choice because you have extremely sophisticated districts like Aoyama, Ginza, Harajuku, Omotesando, Roppongi Hills, and Yurakucho. Alternatively, you have a mixture of sophisticated fashion, independent boutiques and the buzzing nature of Ikebukuro, Shibuya, and Shinjuku and elegant areas like Ebisu.


International wise you will have a wide mix of famous fashion districts which appeal to individuals. However, without a shadow of a doubt Aoyama, Ginza, Harajuku, Omotesando, Shibuya and Shinjuku will be the most famous internationally but it is the collective which really makes fashion so special and unique in Tokyo.

Therefore, you have smaller suburbs which are brimming with elegant boutiques and their own styles. This applies to Daikanyama, Kichijoji, Jiyugaoka, Nakano, Shimo Kitazawa, Naka Meguro and other trendy places which provide a different ambience and vibe. These smaller districts provide a special feel because the sheer number of fashion areas in Tokyo is amazing. Also, you have other famous areas in Tokyo like Ueno and Odaiba which are fantastic for fashion and tourism is also a major theme in both places for very different reasons.

Jiyugaoka and Daikanyama are extremely popular and the feel in both places is special because you have so many back streets and the energy can be felt when browsing around. In Jiyugaoka the elegant boutiques, café bars, beauticians, quaint shops, famous cake shops (Dalloyau, Roll Ya Cake and Sweets Forest), restaurants, and other factors, all adds up to a lovely suburb which is blessed with stunning fashion.

In Aoyama and Omotesando you have sophisticated fashion in abundance and both places are chic and stylish. Therefore, you have famous international and Japanese boutiques in both districts which share the same space in trendsetting Tokyo.

In Aoyama you will find sublime boutiques in abundance and this applies to Comme des Garcons, Gucci, Prada, Donna Karan, Loveless, Michael Kors, 10 Corso Como, L’eclaireur, Vivienne Westwood, A Bathing Ape, Jil Sander, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Artisan, Stella McCartney, Cynthia Rowley, Paul Smith, Helmut Lang, Mark Jacobs, Tsumori Chisato, Costume National, Carbane de Zucca, Hanae Mori, Diane Von Furstenberg, Undercover, Design Works, Frapbois, and many others like Deuxieme Classe.

Meanwhile in Omotesando you have famous international and Japanese brands and both Aoyama and Omotesando, just like Ginza and Yurakucho, are exclusive areas for fashion. In Omotesando Hills which is a sublime fashion store you have exquisite companies like Adore, Anterpima, Apartment Department, Betsey Johnson, Black Fleece, Escada Sport, iliann loeb, Kiwa Sylphy, Martinique Le Conte, Milly, Oriental News, Patrizia Pepe Firenze (Incontro), Tour H. creer (Merveille H.), Tiara, Tracy Reese, Yves Saint Laurent, Zara, and other exquisite boutiques.

In another article about Tokyo fashion by Modern Tokyo Times it was commented that “The energy of exquisite fashion and individualistic fashion designers can be felt through the entire area which links Aoyama, Omotesando, Harajuku and Shibuya.  In many ways Omotesando represents all the beauty of this area because it links high quality fashion companies with independent and stylish boutiques and in the backstreets you can find street fashion.”

For the younger generation internationally the buzzing areas of Harajuku and Shibuya are extremely famous, while in Tokyo it is clear that Ikebukuro is buzzing with students, teenagers and people of all age groups. However, Harajuku and Shibuya are internationally famous and these districts throng with the latest trends.

Sebastian Masuda the designer and owner of 6%DOKIDOKI is iconic because of kawaii culture and “chaotic punk.” The younger generation who adore fashion in Barcelona, London, Madrid, Paris, and other famous cities, are fascinated by kawaii culture, Dolly-kei, Visual-kei, Lolita fashion, and other trends which keep on changing the scene in Tokyo.

Therefore, companies like 6%DOKIDOKI, Grimoire, Candy, Macaronic, Metamorphose temps de fille, and many others, are followed avidly by fashion conscious youth and young adults all over the world. At the same time you have iconic stores like Laforet Harajuku and Shibuya 109

In a past article it was stated that “Internationally famous designers like Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto provided a strong image for Japanese fashion and their energy was noticeable in the 1980s and onwards.  Yet younger designers and famous individuals are changing the evolving fashion scene and Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Sebastian Masuda, Rei Kawakubo, Nobu Kitamura, Junya Watanabe, Takashi Aoki, Tsumori Chisato, Yoshie Itabashi, Kuniko Kato, Chiharu Kikuchi, and others, are all maintaining the freshness of fashion in Japan alongside companies like Grimoire and Candy.”

The sheer diversity of fashion districts, boutiques, designers, thinking, and the ongoing trends which come and go, alongside internationally famous and Japanese boutiques is what makes Tokyo fashion so special.

Issey Miyake Yohji Yamamoto, and Rei Kawakubo, did so much to put Japan on the map internationally when it came to fashion. Then other generations have followed with their own thinking and styles and designers like Sebastian Masuda have reached out and maintained the rich vitality of fashion in Japan.

Fashion means many things to different people but at its heart it isn’t about famous individuals despite the limelight being hogged by a selective crowd. The heart of fashion belongs to new vibes, new trends, fresh thinking, relating to the times, and alongside this you will have continuity but freshness within exquisite brands. This collectively, and a host of other factors, is what makes fashion so powerful and full of energy.

Therefore, in Tokyo you will find this energy throughout the city and for fashion writers at Modern Tokyo Times it is the smaller fashion districts like Jiyugaoka, Shimo-Kitazawa, Daikanyama, Kichijoji, Naka-Meguro and other places like Nakano, which creates the uniqueness of Tokyo.

Of course the spark of fashion and Tokyo’s international appeal is based rightly on fantastic fashion districts, which include Aoyama, Ginza, Harajuku, Omotesando, Shibuya, and Shinjuku. However, when all the smaller fashion districts are included with more famous districts within Tokyo like Ikebukuro, Ebisu and Yurakucho; then collectively this is “the icing on top of the cake” and this is why Tokyo is unique when it comes to international fashion.

The contrasting styles between Japanese, North American, and European fashion, comes alive in Tokyo. Alongside this are established companies and new trends and brands which maintain such freshness and vitality. In Tokyo you are literally spoilt for choice when it comes to fashion districts, new styles, exquisite boutiques, independent boutiques and the sheer diversity of this mega-fashion city.

Simply put, Tokyo is “a real pearl” when it comes to fashion. Therefore, international fashion lovers have so many places to visit and multitudes of boutiques and styles to pick from in exquisite and trendy Tokyo. 

Famous stores  Harajuku Laforet Isetan Keio Department Store  Lumine Shibuya 109  Marui Mylord  Omotesando Hills Shopping Mall  PARCO Takashimaya Where to shop in Aoyama   Information about Shinjuku

Boutiques in Tokyo   (6%DOKIDOKI website)   (Sebastian Masuda)   

Images of fashion in Tokyo   

Past articles   

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October 25, 2011

Tsunami of March 11: elderly deaths extremely high and history ignored

Tsunami of March 11: elderly deaths extremely high and history ignored

James Jomo and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese police released vital information about the devastating tsunami which hit Japan. This applies to how deaths occurred and the age group which suffered the most. Therefore, this information needs to be studied carefully and adequate measures are needed in order to protect the vulnerable.

Of course, no nation knows when and where a natural disaster will strike but fault-lines and vulnerable areas which are prone to natural disasters are known.  Therefore, certain precautions can be taken in order to reduce the death toll when a major earthquake and tsunami strikes.

It is apparent from the findings by the Japanese police that elderly citizens who reside in danger zones need to be helped to a much higher degree. If no action is taken then history will merely repeat itself in the future and issues related to costs must not enter the equation.  Local governments and the central government must work together alongside appropriate agencies in order to protect and help the most vulnerable who reside in danger zones.

The Japanese police confirmed that over 90 per cent of people died from drowning after the violent earthquake unleashed a destructive and deadly tsunami.  This figure was expected because images of the tsunami show the speed and destructiveness of nature. 

One statistic which is of great significance is that the greatest loss of life occurred to people who were aged over 60 years old. People in this bracket group accounted for 65% off all deaths related to the tsunami. Therefore, when the brutal 9.0-magnitude earthquake unleashed the deadly tsunami, it is clear that many elderly were unable to escape for a variety of reasons.

Obviously, most people presumed that drowning would be the main cause of death and that elderly citizens would suffer the most.  However, the report by the Japanese police that the elderly accounted for 65% of all deaths is shocking and extremely high.

In a previous article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “In the future, certain measures could be taken from these findings and this applies to greater attention being given to the most vulnerable.  This could apply to early back-up systems being enhanced; emergency transport located in special areas of high density areas where the elderly reside; zones of housing to be further away from the coastline for elderly residents and people who are disabled.”

“It is important not to become alarmist because the chance of another major tsunami like the March 11 tsunami is remote in Japan in the near future (but not in the distant future).  After all, you do not get many earthquakes with the magnitude of 9 and even when you do get major earthquakes which are high on the scale; then other factors have to come into play and so many other variables, in order for the same destructive accident to happen in the future.”

History proved to be the saving grace for the hamlet called Aneyoshi because they heeded the advice of old stone tablets which warned about past tsunamis. Therefore, the people of Aneyoshi planned the infrastructure of this small hamlet based on past history and because of this they escaped the ravages of the tsunami.

One stone tablet comments that “High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants” and another says “Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis.”

Ancestors knew full well the power of tsunamis and how you need to understand the destructiveness of nature. Therefore, another stone tablet states that “If an earthquake comes, beware of tsunamis.” However, this ancient advice by caring ancestors was ignored by many and the old stone tablets, some which date back to 600 years ago, should have been heeded.

However, it is reported that many Japanese people went back to their homes after the violent earthquake struck.  This decision had tragic repercussions because the tsunami swept many people away who had gone back home to collect their belongings or because they believed that the danger was over.

Yotaru Hatamura is a scholar with great knowledge about the old stone tablets and he also believes that history was ignored.  Yotaru Hatamura comments that “People had this crucial knowledge, but they were busy with their lives and jobs, and many forgot.”

In the past article by Modern Tokyo Times it was also stated that “Turning back to the high rate of elderly people dying because of the tsunami then it is clear that other factors are involved.  This applies to the younger generation being at work and many will have been out of town because of this reason.  Also, a higher number of younger people will have had their own transport and obviously the mobility factor is a clear advantage and some elderly people will have been alone.”

Also, in many villages and towns in northeastern Japan the elderly population is sizeable (the same applies to other areas in the countryside) because many of the younger generation have migrated to big cities in Japan like Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. 

“In the video below this article you can witness the power of the tsunami and during the last minute it becomes apparent that elderly people were caught because of lack of mobility.  Also, you also see a man trying to help a disabled person and the video is harrowing near the end.”

“The last few minutes on this earth for tens of thousands of people was based on fear, shock, and complete disbelief. They could feel and witness the mayhem around them before being engulfed by the tsunami.”

Therefore, it is vital that the data is fully scrutinized in order to introduce genuine safety mechanisms which will enable more people to survive when another potent tsunami strikes Japan.

Video evidence and police statistics show just what went wrong and specialists must study and formulate counter-measures.  The residents of Aneyoshi learnt from history and now it is vital that local governments and the central government learns from the deadly tsunami which hit Japan on March 11.

(This video is harrowing in the last few minutes – but it does show how the elderly and disabled were victims of the tsunami)

October 25, 2011

Tokyo Tourism: Rikugien Garden and Kyu-Furukawa Garden in Komagome

Tokyo Tourism: Rikugien Garden and Kyu-Furukawa Garden in Komagome

Olivier LeCourt and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Tokyo is ultra-modern and because of the sheer size of the population and rich diversity of this superb capital city, you have endless places to visit. However, if you want to feel a more sedate side of Tokyo and enjoy beautiful gardens, then Komagome is a real treat because Rikugien Garden is very beautiful and Kyu-Furukawa Garden is within walking distance.

Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that Komagome is so close to the buzzing districts of Ikebukuro and Ueno. This applies to the slow pace of life which is in stark contrast to the intensity of life in the other two mentioned districts. However, despite the sedate nature of life in Komagome you have splendid places to visit and the area is higly desirable.

Not only this, you have many quaint shops selling pottery, antiques, clothing, and other types of goods. Also, you have beautiful Buddhist temples and a genuine feel of a refined Tokyo where the old culture survives and not only in images. This in itself is a lovely contrast to the mega fashion districts of Tokyo and the commercial heartland.

The gardens in Komagome are very beautiful all year round and both gardens have their own style and unique feel. Rikugien is a stunning garden which is extremely well cared for and away from the main walkway you have areas which are relatively quiet even during a busy day.   

Another added bonus of Rikugien is that you can drink traditional Japanese tea and eat a small Japanese sweet while being surrounded by stunning nature. This is most rewarding because the lovely taste of traditional Japanese tea matches the serenity and stunning views which are provided by this exquisite garden.

During your visit to Rikugien you will notice many gardeners who care deeply about their work and because of their professionalism and focus on detail, the visitor is blessed by the ethical aspects of the garden. This applies to space, time, minimalism and fusing the world of nature within the concepts of Japanese culture and ethics.

The walk around the pond is very therapeutic and uplifting and if you desire to escape and venture into a more wild area of the garden, then the choice is open to you. The contrast of both areas fuses well together and the feeling of serenity is very refreshing.

On leaving Rikugien Garden it is well worth browsing around the small shopping area because Komagome is also a treasure by itself. The shopping district is only small but you will find folk art stores, antiques, traditional Japanese sweets, Japanese dyed garments, ceramics, independent shops and so much more. 

Another stunning garden to visit in the same district is Kyu-Furukawa Garden and despite the rose garden section, this garden is more natural. This applies to the more wild nature of the garden whereby nature often dictates over human interference.

Of course gardeners maintain the garden and have reshaped many aspects but you still have the feeling that nature is more natural in contrast to the ethical aspects of Rikugien. The pond and the garden appear smaller in size compared with Rikugien but the contrasting feel compliments both gardens and you have a nice ambient feel in Kyu-Furukawa.

Josiah Condor (1852-1920) designed the Western-style residence in the garden and this feature creates a distinctive environment. This fine building blends together a nice English and Japanese theme and Kyu-Furukawa gains from the creativity of Josiah Condor.

Irrespective if you are a Tokyoite or a tourist, it is clear that Komagome should be high on your list if you adore gardens and culture.

Please visit the above links for more information about both gardens

October 25, 2011

LinkedIn is now using the Japanese language and a base in Tokyo

LinkedIn is now using the Japanese language and a base in Tokyo

Pierre Leblanc and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

LinkedIn Corp. is hoping to further expand in Asia and after first entering this continent in 2009 by focusing on English speaking areas, this is set to change for Japan because now the service is available in Japanese. The head person of LinkedIn’s operations in Asia is Arvind Rajan and he clearly believes that you have huge potential in Japan despite cultural barriers.

The growth rate at LinkedIn remains buoyant but this company is in no rush to enter new markets. Therefore, the decision was well thought about before deciding to move into Japan and creating a service in Japanese.

Not surprisingly, the office of LinkedIn is based in Tokyo but in all fairness Osaka is also a mega-city and the region which encompasses Kobe, Kyoto and Osaka is a huge economic powerbase.  However, Tokyo was chosen and this follows on from opening a base in Singapore earlier in the year.

In many ways while LinkedIn is hoping for a breakthrough in Japan, the company is also going to utilize the ups and downs of this new venture. Therefore, when further international expansion begins it is believed that much will be learnt from the experience in Japan.

This is debatable because the Japanese market is unique and clearly if everything goes smoothly then it won’t be a problem. However, if things don’t pan-out so well then this may be related to the business thinking, close ties between companies, how individuals feel about being more open with information and Japanese workers, on the whole, stay longer at companies.

Therefore, it will be fascinating to see how LinkedIn does in Japan. After all, Nokia and Motorola found out the hard way that the market in Japan is very complex. Indeed, Apple struggled until the advanced 3DS system turned things around.  Also, Google is still playing catch-up in Japan and it isn’t only in the land of the rising sun because in Taiwan Google is even further behind Yahoo.

Currently the membership of LinkedIn is approximately 120 million and around 20 million members are based in Asia. Obviously, LinkedIn focused on nations like Australia and India because of the English language and this is what makes the new venture so fascinating.

This applies to linguistic issues, knowledge of LinkedIn in Japan amongst internet users, marketing and a host of other factors. Also, will LinkedIn work closely with another Japanese company in a field which will enhance the profile of LinkedIn and open up new doors?  

Arvind Rajan commented that “As we think about the region as a whole, we see tremendous opportunities for growth” and “Our penetration levels in Asia, except for those English-speaking countries, are still relatively low.” He also said that “We know that if we build a successful membership in Japan, we’ll have companies, we’ll have advertisers using LinkedIn.”

This approach is very level-headed and LinkedIn isn’t focused on revenue initially because more important is building up the membership.

Obviously different cultural factors will make it difficult at first with regards to developing the membership. However, LinkedIn is certainly entering a new market with the knowledge of this complexity. Also, because of no added pressure related to generating capital then all the right attention will be focused on weak areas.

October 25, 2011

Harajuku: trendy fashion, Meiji Jingu shrine, Yoyogi Park and Omotesando

Harajuku: trendy fashion, Meiji Jingu shrine, Yoyogi Park and Omotesando

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Harajuku is internationally famous because of fashion and the electrifying buzz of the main street which connects Harajuku and Omotesando. Trendy youngsters flock to the Takeshita-dori and this is what makes Tokyo fashion so special because the main street is so different and this applies to style, age group and the ambient feel. However, the distance between both places is so short and this is why Tokyo fashion is so special.

Harajuku and the area adjacent is not only focused on fashion because the Meiji Jingu shrine is the most opulent and sophisticated in Tokyo.  This stunning shrine is very symbolic and rich in grandeur and you have a lovely garden and many walkways in this spacious area. Also, it is a living shrine but because of the open nature of Shintoism you don’t have the overtly pious nature of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.

Therefore, the Meiji Jingu shrine encompasses all the positives of the indigenous faith of Japan. The entire complex is about nature, prayer, relaxation, beauty in simplicity, space, and connecting with what you deem to be special. It can be a religious experience, a casual visit, a place for tourists to view, a place to escape the stresses of life, a picnic in the garden area and just a fluke visit based on having free time.  However, whichever it may be you won’t have any religious restrictions put on you unlike some other faiths which divide women and men and have restrictions on clothing.

Meiji Jingu and Yoyogi Park are very close and this park also provides a spacious place to relax and enjoy a pleasant walk. Often you will see students rehearsing and relaxing with friends, local people walking their dogs, lovers holding hands, friends relaxing, individuals out for a stroll and many joggers keeping fit. Mixed in this environment will be tourists and Tokyoites from different areas who are out for a casual walk or taking a break from the fashion district and unwinding in nice surroundings.

However, for the lovers of fashion then Harajuku is all about stylish boutiques, the latest trends, daring fashion, and iconic companies like 6%Dokidoki which was created by the fashion designer Sebastian Masuda. Therefore, when leaving the main train station in Harajuku you can enter the world of fashion, Shintoism or escape by relaxing in spacious grounds in either Yoyogi Park or the Meiji Jingu shrine.

The magnet area for trendy teenagers and young adults is the Takeshita-dori which is a very narrow street but packed with vibrancy. Fashion boutiques are in abundance and you have several places to eat and drink but if you like tranquility then this isn’t the place for you. However, if you are new to Harajuku and want to feel the energy of teenage fashion and young adults, then a visit to Takeshita-dori is a must.

Yet true to the nature of the entire area the fashion scene changes rapidly. Therefore, from walking down from the top of the main street from the Harajuku Yamanote train side and all the way to Omotesando which is connected with Harajuku by the same long street, then another fashion world will open.

This applies to famous international and Japanese boutiques and you have so many elegant and exquisite fashion companies to visit. The further you walk down and meet the Omotesando area then virtually every single boutique will be plush, exquisite and extremely sophisticated. Also, the elegant and enchanting Aoyama area is only around the corner.

However, just like the Takeshita-dori area and the main street which connects Harajuku and Omotesando are different worlds of fashion, the same also applies to the back streets of Harajuku and Omotesando. Therefore, it is vital to browse around the backstreets of both areas and the district which you need to walk through in order to reach Shibuya is awash with lovely fashion.

Boutiques in the backstreets cater for different styles and you also have sophisticated companies mixed together with independent boutiques. However, in the back streets you can relax and visit fashion companies which cater for street fashion, kawaii culture, Lolita fashion, and a plethora of styles.  Also, because of the nature of the backstreets then often you will see a new company by chance and this makes the entire area so fascinating.

Ometesando Hills shopping complex is certainly worth a visit because the fashion boutiques inside are stunning and this applies to Japanese and international fashion. A partial list of exquisite boutiques inside Omotesando Hills includes Adore, Anterpima, Apartment Department, Betsey Johnson, Black Fleece, Escada Sport, iliann leob, Kiwa Sylphy, Martinique Le Conte, Milly, Tiara, Oriental News, Patrizia Pepe Firenze (Incontro) Tour H. creer (Merveille H.), Tracy Reese, Yves Saint Laurent, and Zara.

However, please visit the Omotesando Hills website because you have so many other stylish and elegant boutiques in this stunning shopping mall.  Also, the architecture and lighting inside the building creates a lovely feel and you have many other types of stores like Createur Reveal (nail salon), hair make Pas de deux (hair salon), le bois (spa and beauty treatment), M.A.C. (cosmetics), and shu uemura beauty boutique (cosmetics).

Inside Omotesando Hills you also have many places to wine and dine and throughout Harajuku and Omotesando you will find many restaurants, bars, and café shops to enjoy and compliment your visit.

Turning back to the Meiji Jingu shrine this Shinto place of worship reminds you of the real nature of life. Also, the enormous Torii gate is a reminder of your own individual mortality because of its strength and size compared with mere mortals. Also, unlike people who share fleeting moments, this tower of strength will remain.

In this sense, the fashion area and the most grandeur Shinto shrine in Tokyo make perfect sense, with regards to sharing the same environment. This applies to the spiritual nature of people and the power of nature within our world. At the same time, exquisite fashion and new trends is a reminder of vitality, creativity, freedom, joy, escapism, feel good factor, love of fashion and other aspects which will apply to individuals differently.

Harajuku and the surrounding area which encompasses Aoyama, Omotesando Hills and Shibuya is a clear indicator of the richness of Japanese culture and the power of Tokyo. The Meiji Jingu Shinto shrine and fashion districts of Harajuku and Omotesando work perfectly alongside relaxing in Yoyogi Park. This is because each area is a jigsaw piece which collectively creates a special and exclusive environment. Meiji Jingu Shrine Meiji Jingu and other tourist information    (Harajuku fashion)     (personal blog of Sebastian Masuda)    (Please visit this fashion website of 6%Dokidoki)  Omotesando Hills Shopping Mall

Partial list of stores in Omotesando Hills

October 25, 2011

Tokyo Tourism: Tokyo City Keiba is a lovely horse racing course

Tokyo Tourism: Tokyo City Keiba is a lovely horse racing course

Joachim de Villiers and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


Images of tourism in Tokyo applies to exquisite gardens, lovely Buddhist temples, spiritual Shinto shrines, ultra-modernity, electronic town in Akihabara, sublime fashion (Aoyama, Daiganyama, Ebisu, Ginza, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Jiyugaoka, Omotesando, Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Yurakucho), ukiyo-e, kabuki, museums in Ueno, ultra-modern Odaiba, Tokyo Imperial Palace, and so much more. However, sometimes it is nice to unwind in the early evening and sit back and watch the entertainment on offer.  Therefore, Tokyo City Keiba is such a place to enjoy and watch horse racing from afternoon to night racing.

Also, because the meeting is conveniently located and finishes not too late, then the night is still young enough to chill out in many trendy parts of Tokyo. Not only this, you can enjoy a nice meal at restaurants inside Tokyo City Keiba and enjoy the different cultural aspects of racing in Japan.

Horse racing is truly international and this applies to America, Australia, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and other parts of the world like Dubai. This in itself means that Tokyoites, individuals working in Tokyo but residing in other prefectures, and tourists to Tokyo can enjoy a sport which is liked and respected throughout the globe.

It takes approximately 25 minutes from Ginza to reach this lovely course and the floodlights have been done elegantly.  Therefore, the view is very pleasing and this adds to the occasion. Not only this, the cost of entering Tokyo City Keiba is so cheap that it is pointless to mention how much. 

Of course, if you want to sit in more up-market areas then you will have to pay but if you prefer the stands which are open to everybody, it is still fantastic because the view of the entire race is clearly visible to the eye at all times.

In 2003 the L-wing was opened and part of the aim of this was to attract more ladies to horse racing and the indoor gardens, color projections, restaurants, and other factors, all created modernity and a relaxing atmosphere. The L-wing was obviously designed to enhance Tokyo City Keiba for all clients but it was partly aimed at making the race meeting user-friendly for everyone. 

The L-wing and the contrasting light schemes enhance the atmosphere because the lighting change from dusk to “Twinkle” (night racing) is a nice touch. Therefore, it is clear that the owners of this race track are innovative and willing to make modern changes in order to reach new clients. However, all modern changes have flowed nicely because the management desire to keep regulars and attract new people to horse racing.

This approach is based on thinking about the bigger picture and maintaining the power of horse racing in the heart of Tokyo. After all, sport is a very competitive market and Tokyoites and tourists who may visit desire a quality meeting, whereby you can enjoy many aspects of horse racing and other forms of entertainment which is provided.

The Diamond Turn is also a great place to watch horse racing, enjoy tasty food and sit back and enjoy the racing in comfort. Therefore if you want to enjoy the spacious amenities provided by the Diamond Turn you won’t regret.

The stunningly illuminated track and modernity of Tokyo City Keiba makes this a great place to unwind. It is well worth a visit irrespective if you are a Tokyoite, new to Tokyo, work in Tokyo but reside in other prefectures or a tourist to Tokyo.

Horse race meetings ( are held regularly and just check the website provided above which also can be viewed in English.

Twinkle racing is great to watch and a nice way to enjoy the evening. Therefore, if you want to visit a special sporting arena which is spicy and entertaining, Tokyo City Keiba is just the place to unwind and enjoy all the entertainment which is provided.

October 25, 2011

Tokyo fashion: Lumine to open a new store in trendy Yurakucho

Tokyo fashion: Lumine to open a new store in trendy Yurakucho

Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Lumine in Tokyo – MODERN TOKYO TIMES

The retail fashion expert at Tokyo Fashion Daily, Timothy Schepis, who can be viewed at the following website, is highlighting the opening of Lumine in Yurakucho which will be open for business on October 28. Lumine is a very trendy fashion store whereby you have many exquisite boutiques which target young ladies in their 20s and 30s.

In Ikebukuro the Lumine store certainly helped to rejuvenate the west side because the boutiques inside are elegant, stylish, lovely quality, and trendy. Also, Lumine is building on from Marui, H&M and other fashionable stores which have opened up in the same Yurakucho and Ginza neighborhood.

Therefore, the demographic make-up of shoppers in Ginza and Yurakucho is reflected by these recent changes and if anything, it really compliments the entire fashion set up of Ginza and Yurakucho. This applies to extremely up market fashion boutiques which are focused mainly on a slightly older client base and this blend of diverse shoppers is creating a fresh buzz.

Timothy Schepis comments that “…the newly redeveloped Yurakucho location will be the 14th for Lumine in Japan and will be the first not to be part of a railway station. At 22,000sqm Yurakucho Lumine will house up to 100 tenants targeting women in their 20s and 30s which make up Lumine`s core customer. Most of the tenants will be fashion brands including United Arrows with the rest of the tenants; cosmetics brands, household goods and restaurants.”

Timothy Schepis is also highlighting the fact that the new store will “be the first not to be part of a railway station” and this is intriguing because it shows either new thinking or realism? Realism applies to retail space available and the fact that the train station isn’t designed for a trendy store of such high quality.

However, surrounding Yurakucho train station you have many exquisite buildings and fashionable areas. Also, with the fame of Ginza and the fact that Ginza and Yurakucho are connected means that a sizeable hub of fashion keeps on growing and this makes good commercial sense for Lumine.

After all, Marui, H&M, and other stores, have already began to alter the nature of fashion in the area. Therefore, Lumine, which is a fantastic company because it moves with the times, clearly saw an opening and the omens look good despite the negativity of the economy of Japan.

It is also noticeable that United Arrows will be a tenant at Lumine’s new fashion store because this company is doing sound business. Timothy Schepis comments that “United Arrows success stems from their strong product merchandising and ability to understand fashion trends and translate them to strong merchandise and sales.”

It is clear that changes are happening in Yurakucho and the surrounding area and this adds to the beauty of fashion in Tokyo because it never remains static. These fresh ideas and new stores opening is what makes Tokyo fashion so special because companies can’t rest, and if they do, then others will simply take their market away from them or reduce their market share.

Lumine and Hankyu will also be connected and this is a continuation of past policies by Lumine. After all, the trendy Lumine store in Ikebukuro on the west side is also connected with Tobu Department Store.  This fact will be a clear winner for both companies and clearly this is a strong safety mechanism.

The new buzz created by Lumine and other companies will certainly add spice to the entire area because other stores like Printemps Ginza focus on a similar market. This competition will create a fresh dimension and Matsuya Ginza and Mitsukoshi Ginza began their “Ginza Fashion Week” on October 19.

The word is out thanks to Timothy Schepis and other fashion experts who provide essential information about Tokyo and Japanese fashion. – TIMOTHY SCHEPIS  (can be followed on Twitter) (3rd article from the top shows some images of Lumine in Ikebukuro.)


October 18, 2011

Tokyo fashion: Aoyama is refined, chic, elegant, and sophisticated

Tokyo fashion: Aoyama is refined, chic, elegant, and sophisticated  

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Aoyama fashion is famous in Tokyo because you have so many exquisite boutiques in this very exclusive area.  The fashion boutiques are a splendid mixture of American, European, and Japanese fashion, and the various mosaic within European fashion means that you have lovely contrasts and an abundance of choice.

The architecture of some of the shopping malls and major fashion houses also adds to the spice.  This applies to ultra-modern buildings and the occasional touch of classical styles and this rich blend is visually appealing and creates a feeling of sophistication.

Aoyama is part of the rich vein of exquisite fashion which covers this non-stop zone of lovely boutiques. This applies to Aoyama, Harajuku, Omotesando and Shibuya whereby you leave one fashion zone and enter another.  Not only this, the diversity and age groups which each area caters for and the back streets of Harajuku, Omotesando and before entering central Shibuya proper, is amazing.

Therefore, it is very rewarding for people who adore fashion to browse around and soak up the environment and come across new fashion outlets.  The entire fashion zone in the backstreets is awash with creative fashion, riskier boutique styles, street vibes and American influences, independent boutiques and the buzz this creates is truly unique.

In Aoyama you have countless sophisticated boutiques to visit and a partial list includes Comme des Garcons, Gucci, Prada, Donna Karan, Loveless, Michael Kors, 10 Corso Como, L’eclaireur, Vivienne Westwood, A Bathing Ape, Jil Sander, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Artisan, Stella McCartney, Cynthia Rowley, Paul Smith, Helmut Lang, Mark Jacobs, Tsumori Chisato, Costume National, Carbane de Zucca, Hanae Mori, Diane Von Furstenberg, Undercover, Design Works, Frapbois, and many others like Deuxieme Classe.

In a recent article by Modern Tokyo Times the attention was on the elegant Omotesando Hills shopping complex and the quality boutiques and other shops in this exquisite mall. In Aoyama you have trendy and sophisticated stores which include Boutique W, Dress Camp, Flair Aoyama, Loveless and other exclusive shopping stores.

Cibone is another very trendy shopping mall which caters for futuristic furniture, clothing, dinnerware, restaurants, electrical appliances based on innovation, and so much more. The store is a magnet for fashion conscious individuals and the concept is challenging but richly rewarding.

Famous stars also love Aoyama fashion and Comme des Garcons fashion is internationally famous just like countless other fashion companies in Aoyama. The list of famous people who adore Comme des Garcons include Kanye West, Vincent Ng, John Waters, Chloe Sevigny, Mary Kate Olsen, Leila Aldik, Matt Bellamy, Tilda Swinton Justin Bieber, Selma Blair, and many others.

Aoyoma fashion is clearly debonair, sophisticated, international, and chic beyond your wildest dreams. The entire area is uplifting and the architecture and fashion displays are delightful. Therefore, if fashion is in your veins and you want to see sublime Japanese and international fashion, then Aoyama is a district that you must visit to see the latest trends and exquisite fashion styles.


AOYAMA SHOPPING LINKS TO HELP TOKYOITES AND TOURISTS – Map of where the fashions companies are   – Aoyama fashion