Archive for September, 2012

September 6, 2012

Tokyo Fashion and Kimoken: Vintage and Independent Styles in Koenji

Tokyo Fashion and Kimoken: Vintage and Independent Styles in Koenji

Kanako Itamae and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Images of fashion in Tokyo conjures up exquisite luxury fashion in Ginza to the unique fashion scene of Harajuku and the various fashion trends which enlighten this amazing part of Tokyo. Refined and elegant fashion can be found throughout many parts of this buzzing city and clearly the fashion districts of Aoyama, Ginza, Ebisu and Omotesando spring to mind quickly. Likewise Daikanyama, Ikebukuro, Jiyugaoka, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Yurakucho and many other districts are awash with amazing brands. However, like all powerful fashion cities in the world you also have a vibrant vintage scene and this notably applies to Koenji and other districts like Shimokitazawa.

Shibuya 109, Laforet Harajuku and Marui One are famous department stores for fashion in Tokyo. Recently, Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku (Omohara) opened up for business and this new vibrant shopping plaza will enhance Omotesando Hills which is blessed with amazing boutiques throughout the entire shopping mall. However, Koenji is a million miles away from these iconic stores and recent developments which are altering the fashion landscape in places like Harajuku, Omotesando and Shibuya.

One amazing expert who knows about the vibrant vintage fashion scene and other aspects of Koenji is Kimoken (Kenta Kimoto). Kimoken (http://kimoken.exblog.jp/) is an individual who adores fashion and understands the importance of creativity, individualism and the need to discover the “real self.” Therefore, he is constantly updating his websites in order to show “real fashion” connected with the independent vibes of Koenji.

Kimoken (http://blog.livedoor.jp/kimoken/) provides “real street images” whereby the viewer can really understand the unique fashion angles of this part of Tokyo. He also recommends Lactose Intoler-Art (http://lactoseintolerart.tumblr.com/) which is a very interesting website to visit. Obviously, with Kimoken highlighting this creative website then you know immediately that it will have many unique angles.

In a past article about Kimoken by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “The reason why Koenji appeals to Kimoken so much is based on the vintage scene, individualism, creativity, fresh designers, the fusion of the past with the vibrancy of youth, the special feel of the place, acceptance of diversity, and because you have no boundaries. Therefore, if you want to visit a fashion district with a unique vibe then Koenji is a must place to visit. Also, the Kita-Kore building in this district is gaining in awareness because of the fashion buzz inside.

A partial list of fashion companies to visit in Koenji applies to the Mad Tea Party, Spank!, Safari, Yuri, Kiki, Jinjer, dai-dai, Chiruru, Peep Cheep, Zool, Yakusoku, Kuro Benz, Bernet, Sokkyou, Hoy-Hoy Station, Now Or Never, UK Extra, Re’all, Hikari, Mouse, , Vivid, Cord, and Pheb. This is only a partial list. Therefore, it is important to take your time in Koenji in order to seek out other companies which enrich this unique fashion district.

The beauty of the fashion scene in Tokyo is that it is so diverse. Also, individuals are literally spoilt for choice because you have so many vibrant districts to visit. Likewise, the contrasting reality of Aoyama and Koenji are a million miles apart. After all, Koenji highlights the raw edge of Tokyo fashion compared with Aoyama which focuses on the crème de la crème of fashion. Despite this, it is this collective diversity which really makes Tokyo tick and for vintage lovers and people who adore independent fashion vibes, then Koenji provides this.

The powerful favorite phrase of Kimoken also works perfectly with Koenji. He states that he loves the phraseWara e ba wara e. Ware ga nasu koto ha ware nomi zo shiru” (If you want to laugh at me, then do it. What I do is known only by myself). This extremely poignant comment says much about the real vibes of Koenji. After all, in Koenji it is clear that for fashion lovers who flock to this part of Tokyo, that the fashion angle is a way of life. Therefore, the favorite phrase of Kimoken fits in perfectly with the vintage and independent angle of this fashion district.

ALL  IMAGES BELONG TO KIMOKEN 

https://twitter.com/kimoken1979 – Follow Kimoken on twitter 

http://kimoken.exblog.jp/ Kimoken (fashion images and news)

http://blog.livedoor.jp/kimoken/ Kimoken (fashion images and news)

http://www.pheb.jp/ and Pheb

http://bernet.shop-pro.jp/ Bernet

http://chiruru.net/ Chiruru

http://ameblo.jp/cord1006/ Cord

http://daidaikoenji.blog56.fc2.com/ dai-dai

http://hoyhoy.shop-pro.jp/ Hoy-Hoy Station

http://ameblo.jp/greenlight-shoes/ Jinjer

http://kiki-kiki.ocnk.net/ Kiki

http://yaplog.jp/clobenz/ Kuro Benz

http://ameblo.jp/madteaparty-kouenji/ Mad Tea Party

http://ameblo.jp/mikamithemouse Mouse

http://usedclothingnowornever.blogspot.com/ Now Or Never

http://www.peepcheep.com/ Peep Cheep

http://ameblo.jp/realstep2/ Re’all

http://e-safari.co.jp/ Safari

http://www.sokkyou.net/ Sokkyou

http://spankworld.jp/ Spank!

http://uk-extra.com/ UK Extra

http://www.vivid-web.jp/ Vivid

http://www.e-yuri.jp/Page/TOP Yuri

http://zool.jp/ Zool

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

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September 6, 2012

Tokyo to decline by more than half by 2100: truth or scaremongering?

Tokyo to decline by more than half by 2100: truth or scaremongering?

Kanako Itamae, Pierre Leblanc and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Once more depressing figures released indicate the demise of Tokyo and Japan by 2100 whereby the population will be beyond recognition of what it is today. This is the stark warning according to another dramatic survey which can only see a static and moribund Japan which refuses to implement real social policies.

One interesting aspect of the survey which is negated is the reality of “a secular society” being over reliant on modernity, materialism, abortion and other aspects of the “new world.” It is clear that Japan does face major problems related to the birth rate and this latest survey relates to this. At the same time issues related to communication issues, hikikomori (social withdrawal), suicide and other areas of a social meltdown needs to be focused on.

Of course, issues related to long working hours, high cost of child rearing, new modern approaches to life and other complex factors; are all tearing apart at the declining birth rate in this country. Sadly, the Japanese government appears reluctant to help people who desire to have more than one or two children but who feel burdened to do so because of the financial hardship that this entails.

According to this bleak survey which was taken by seven academics and a number of bureaucrats, the population of Tokyo will decline to 7.13 million in 2100 from the current mark of over 13 million people. This is indeed dramatic because Tokyo and other major cities like Osaka and Nagoya are the backbone of this nation. Unlike many rural areas which are already suffering from declining populations.

Also, this will not be the end of the hollowing out because in 2100 it is predicted that the over 65 age group will account for roughly 45 per cent of the total population of Tokyo. This would indicate an even more severe crisis long after 2100 which would see the continuing demise of Tokyo and Japan itself.

According to alarming figures released by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the overall decline of the population of Japan will be massive by 2100. Currently the population in 2012 is just over 127 million. However, according to the above institute this figure will decline rapidly to 49.59 million by 2100 based on current trends.

Despite this, it is difficult to believe that future governments will not do anything in order to alter the current birth rate crisis. Also, tinkering with immigration would help greatly in the short-term while refocusing on ways to help families afford to have more children. At the same time internal social movements may respond to the current declining population because the strains on the economy will be enormous if something isn’t done to alter the current situation.

In the past Japan was written off in many areas but despite this it is clear that this nation is helping the international community in many ways. This notably applies to helping the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, economic aid to developing nations and assisting the European Union during the current economic crisis.

If any nation can find a way to solve the many complex issues it faces, then Japan is a nation which can reinvent itself quickly. Therefore, while the current analysis applies to the reality of today, it doesn’t mean that the same reality will apply in the future.

http://moderntokyotimes.com

September 6, 2012

Japanese ukiyo-e art and modern ladies in traditional dress

Japanese ukiyo-e art and modern ladies in traditional dress

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Ukiyo-e art in Japan focused on many themes during its “golden period” in the Edo period and carried on into the Meiji era. The world of Japan comes alive visually within many areas of ukiyo-e art because of the subjects covered. It matters not if this art applied to the rich cultural aspects of Japan or the floating world which was truly dramatic.

Sometimes in modern Tokyo and throughout Japan you will see ladies in traditional Japanese clothes during special occasions. When this happens it is often like “looking into a mirror of ukiyo-e” and seeing “a ghost from the past” but which is truly part of the modern world.

This in itself highlights the richness of ukiyo-e in the field of showing traditional ladies in their splendid best. It is also evidence that while Japan is ultra modern, the old world remains powerful even if within “mirages” of the original meaning. Either way, if based on tradition or “mirages,” it is still a noteworthy connection with the past.

Ogata Gekko produced many stunning images of elegant ladies posing in tradition dress. Of course, countless other amazing ukiyo-e artists also focused on the same theme. Therefore, the richness of ukiyo-e art depicts many images of art related to women and this applies to high culture, erotic art (shunga), beautiful ladies (bijinga), ghosts and other themes.

In an earlier article by myself which was published in Modern Tokyo Times I state that “The real power in these images, I believe, applies to simplicity and how space, time, cultural richness and modern Japanese women were being portrayed. Indeed, the ideal image in a sense can still be seen in modern Japan when ladies dress in traditional styles. This can be seen clearly because a lot of thought, high quality materials, color schemes and other important areas are connecting with the images which Ogata Gekko is showing.”

The world of Ogata Gekko witnessed many changes because of the onset of modernity but if he was to come back today, then he would witness glimpses of the old world. Likewise, Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815) excelled in the area of bijinga because of his amazing details and intricacies.

Torii Kiyonaga is one of the many amazing artists who belonged to the Torii school of art. He emphasized many aspects of women and traditional dress. This applies to high culture, stratification, sexuality, morality, natural elegance, shunga, bijinga and other areas. The art of Torii Kiyonaga is widely appreciated and when viewing his art related to bijinga and seeing a modern lady in traditional dress in Japan, it is easy to connect both together.

Torii Kiyonaga also highlighted exquisite color schemes and amazing embroidery. This aspect of his art would fit in naturally within elegant boutiques in modern day Japan. The special detail and attention given by this amazing artist meant that he depicted elegant and refined ladies, who look extremely beautiful. Therefore, during special occasions in modern day Japan you can see aspects of the world of ukiyo-e artists in relation to traditional Japanese dress.

In places like the Meiji shrine in Harajuku and sophisticated parts of Japan which focus on tradition like Kyoto, Nara, Nikko and many other parts of this fascinating nation. You can peer into the world of ukiyo-e artists, areas of bijinga and ladies in traditional dress. The ghosts of the past therefore remain within “a living tradition” which comes alive during special occasions, or in specific parts of Japan where high culture and tradition remains strong.

 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com  

September 6, 2012

Remembering the fashion sector after the tragic tsunami which killed over 19,000 people

Remembering the fashion sector after the tragic tsunami which killed over 19,000 people 

Michel Lebon, Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The events of March 11, 2011, in Japan will forever be etched into the memory of this nation because of the utter devastation that followed. Over 19,000 people perished because of the tsunami which followed the 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Therefore, this event is now embedded within the psyche of Japan and this applies to both the trauma and the response to such devastation.

Internationally, countless nations supported Japan and likewise individuals, charities, organizations and various sectors gave generously to help the people who were hit the hardest. The fashion industry within Japan and outside of this country also supported the people of Tohoku. Likewise, the nuclear shadow meant that many people in the surrounding areas were also worried about this aspect. Given this reality, local fashion companies in Tokyo and other cities provided not only material support but also emotional support.

In Tokyo for example you had the Mighty Harajuku Project which was the brainchild of Sebastian Masuda (6% DOKIDOKI). While internationally powerful fashion houses responded to the tsunami in many different ways in order to support the people of Japan.

Often the fashion industry is portrayed to be “one dimensional” but clearly this sector is far from “one dimensional.” On the contrary, many within the fashion sector responded with care and sincerity. Giorgio Armani, and many other famous people within the fashion sector, showed the “heart of fashion” to the people of Japan.

Indeed, the deep shock of the tsunami and the enormous loss of life encouraged Giorgio Armani to show his deep respect of Japan. He did this during the Paris Fashion Week show in July of last year. During this major fashion event Giorgio Armani incorporated aspects of Japanese culture within his adorable designs.

In an earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “Funds being donated by Armani are much appreciated and the same applies to other famous fashion designers who have done so much to support the people of Japan. Often people only see a single dimension towards fashion and this applies to enhancing beauty.”

“Armani’s exclusive haute couture collection (Fall/Winter 2011-2012) during the Paris Fashion Week highlighted the rich heritage of Japan.  His amazing designs focused on dresses being based on the kimono-style, elegant floral prints on exquisite silk, kanzashi, elements of geisha, and other unique images of Japanese symbols were fused within the stunning Armani collection.”

It may appear that fashion and the tsunami are a million miles apart and in terms of what happened on this tragic day, then this is true. However, in other areas both events came together because fashion helped many people during the psychological stress process and lack of confidence related to the nuclear crisis. Therefore, fashion for many people was “therapeutic” and a way of fighting back against so much trauma and despondency.

Financially, then all economic support was welcomed because many communities were devastated by the brutal tsunami. Alongside the financial aspect was a feeling that other people all over the world truly cared about the plight of people who had been hit the hardest. Once more this helped in the area of psychology.

In the past Japan had been a place for famous international brands to “make hay” and since this tragic event the fashion sector is once more buzzing in this country. In this sense, many international fashion companies and individuals were highlighting their deep appreciation related to past and current connections which remain strong. Giorgio Armani commented that he had been “profoundly moved by the tragic events” related to March 11, 2011.

Giorgio Armani’s fashion show titled the Hommage au Japon meant that his entire fashion collection highlighted the natural beauty of Japanese culture within amazing styles. This genuine warmth was appreciated deeply within the fashion sector in Japan and among lay people who adore the fashion sector. Like usual, the collection highlighted the panache of the individual who created such a stunning fashion display.

Overall, many within the international fashion sector showed their love of Japan by providing many different types of support. This applies to economic support, psychological factors, a collective feeling of humanity, showing the people of Japan that they weren’t alone during this tragic period and in other vital areas.

 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

September 6, 2012

Japan tourism and Koyasan in Wakayama: Kukai, stunning scenery and Shingon Buddhism

Japan tourism and Koyasan in Wakayama: Kukai, stunning scenery and Shingon Buddhism

Olivier LeCourt and  Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Wakayama prefecture in Japan is blessed with stunning scenery throughout this adorable part of Japan. Equally important is the power of history, religion and culture in Wakayama because you have many national and regional treasures which beckon tourists and religious pilgrims alike to this lovely prefecture. In Koyasan you can feel the richness of Shingon Buddhism and the power of nature alongside stunning architecture. Therefore, it is easy to understand why Kukai picked this amazing place and it is nice to know that Koyasan is “a living Buddhism.”

Internationally, Kyoto is seen to be the cradle of high culture in Japan but actually this really belongs to Nara. After all, high culture was already flourishing before the power of Kyoto began because of the impact of Nara. Koyasan, just like Nara and Kyoto, is located in the Kansai region. Also, it is factual that Nara and Kyoto are much larger in terms of size and places to visit than Koyasan. However, the remoteness of Koyasan means that tourists and pilgrims flock to this stunning part of Wakayama. Given this reality, it is clear that Koyasan can’t be underestimated because of the power of Kukai and the richness of this exquisite part of Japan.

Zen Buddhism is internationally famous but in Koyasan it is the richness of Shingon Buddhism which thrives. It matters not if people are religious or not because when you visit Koyasan you can feel something special inside. This is because of the power of architecture, Buddhist temples, simplicity, “a living Buddhism” and the stunning views of nature which blesses Mount Koya in all directions.

The environment of Koyasan is extremely rich because of the layout and the abundance of temples to visit. Also, the main graveyard is extremely mysterious and many leading historical figures are buried in Koyasan. Another nice aspect is the environment whereby tradition alongside the yearning of normal tourists and religious pilgrims naturally flows.

Visual images of the Buddha mixed with the uniqueness of Shingon Buddhism is a real treat on the eye. This applies to the architecture and artistic aspects of everything that encompasses each amazing temple. Japanese gardens are equally famous and clearly the Buddhist concept of time and space can be felt deeply. The flow is so natural that lay people can feel the power and majesty of a faith which seeks a unique path along a complex road in this world.

In the world of monotheism the one God shows many sides and clearly you have various different sects. Likewise, in Buddhism you also have many different sects and in a sense religion is a mirror to what humanity is irrespective if good, mundane or where dark forces reign. Yet in Koyasan it appears that God’s Eden may exist because faith, philosophy, simplicity and nature come together.

In my earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times about beautiful Koyasan it was stated that “The non-religious may believe that God is an illusion and this may be so; however, in places like Koyasan you can feel “a magical atmosphere.” The “old world” survives within “modernity” but preserves its rich culture and maintains a rare spirituality.”

“Kukai (774-835) who became known as Kobo Daishi established the first monastery in the ninth century on mount Koya (Koya-san).  The Shingon sect had a different thought pattern within the many schools of Buddhism and Kukai believed that enlightenment could be attained in one lifetime.”

“Kukai was a searcher and he visited China and during his stay he studied Esoteric Buddhism.  Initially, he prayed for peace and prosperity because he could not find inner-peace within city life, therefore, he searched for a place where he could meditate and become even more spiritual.” 

“When Kukai saw the stunning nature of Koyasan it was clear to him that he had found the place which he desired.  The mountains meant that he was cut off from everyday city life in this period and the sublime beauty of nature added to the mysterious feel of Koyasan.”

The lovely aspect about Koyasan is that Shingon Buddhism in this amazing place is “a living Buddhism” whereby the rich traditions continue to flourish. Buddhists and non-Buddhists will adore this lovely part of Wakayama prefecture because Mount Koya is extremely beautiful. Therefore, the vibrancy of culture, architecture and religion all pull naturally together.

It is clear that when Kukai searched long and hard to find a special place to spread his teachings, that he made the right choice. The remoteness of Koyasan during his lifetime must have provided great insights into this world. Of course, according to legend Kukai is still wondering around Koyasan after being transformed into an eternal Samadhi whereby he is waiting for the next Buddha Maitreya to appear.

Therefore, if you are looking for a special break then Koyasan should come to the top of your must places to visit. Without a shadow of a doubt this mystical place is extremely charming and the cultural and religious angle completes a perfect break for people who appreciate the finer things in life.

http://www.shukubo.jp/eng /  (stunning Koyasan)

http://www.koyasan.org/          (Information about Koyasn)

http://www.visiblemantra.org/kukai.html  Kukai and information

http://ww2.coastal.edu/rgreen/  Kukai and information

 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

September 6, 2012

Japanese art and Utagawa Yoshitaki: Oni Demon and the dreaded Catfish (Namazu)

Japanese art and Utagawa Yoshitaki: Oni Demon and the dreaded Catfish (Namazu)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Utagawa Yoshitaki (1841-1899) produced several stunning pieces of art related to the oni demon. In the main image in this article called the Oni Demon and Catfish you have two very powerful forces at play. Therefore, the individual in this image faces the wrath of the giant catfish and the clutches of the powerful oni which is intent on collecting souls to take to the pits of hell.

In Japanese folklore the powerful writhing of a giant catfish (namazu) was bad news based on mythology. Thenamazu is a harbinger of devastation when breaking free from the god Kashima.

Therefore, when the namazu escapes from the clutches of Kashima terrible devastating forces are unleashed. These brutal forces apply to potent earthquakes and tsunamis which kill untold numbers. In the world of ukiyo-e the namazu and oni were popular subjects to focus on when highlighting Japanese folklore in the Edo and Meiji periods of history. After all, the oni and namazu are great storytellers and the reality that Japan is blighted by tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons and other potent natural forces; means that in the old world of mystery it did appear that demonic forces were at play.

The role of the oni in the folklore of Japan is very potent because when the gates of hell are opened then the power of this demon comes into play for people who have done “dark deeds” in this world. Japanese artists in the Edo period clearly highlight the oni and the same applies to Japanese literature and kabuki. Therefore, Yoshitaki in his art piece titled Oni Demon and Catfish is putting the person in the scene in a terrible dilemma.

Toshidama Gallery comments about this image that “This print tells a complex narrative. The figure on the left holds a giant gourd – this was known to be one of the few magical ways to quell the much feared catfish which in the print is lying compliantly underneath. The legends of Japan say that earthquakes and tsunamis are caused by the writhing of a giant catfish (namazu) under Fuji. There were popular prints of the quelling of the catfish (Namazu-e) which appeared after natural disasters such as the Ansei earthquake of 1855.”

In this stunning image by Yoshitaki it is clear that the namazu appears unconcerned by the individuals attempt to quell the power it holds according to Japanese folklore. The oni on the other hand looks angry and powerful. It could just be that the namazu knows that the oni is too much for this brave individual who is trying to stop calamity from happening. Therefore, an almost like smirk face persists on the namazu and it could be that theoni is impatient because he wants to collect souls to take to the pits of hell.

Of course, an image by itself is always open to major interpretation but sometimes singular images can be more potent because of this fact. According to some individuals the catfish actually does behave strangely before natural disasters. This fact means that the god Kashima must be alert at all times according to Japanese folklore but sadly the namazu can’t be contained indefinitely because just like the oni, the namazu is extremely cunning.

https://twitter.com/Toshidama  TOSHIDAMA GALLERY 

Please visit http://toshidama.wordpress.com for more articles and information. 

Please visit http://toshidama-japanese-prints.com/  –   On our site you will see a wonderful selection of Japanese woodblock prints for sale. Ukiyo-e (the Japanese name for woodblock prints of the 18th and 19th centuries) are beautiful, collectible and a sound financial investment.

http://www.toshidama-japanese-prints.com/item_428/Yoshitaki-Oni-Demon-and-Catfish.htm

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

September 6, 2012

Tokyo fashion in Ikebukuro: the buzz of Ikebukuro fashion and Miu Miu

Tokyo fashion in Ikebukuro: the buzz of Ikebukuro fashion and Miu Miu

Sarah Deschamps, Kanako Itamae and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Ikebukuro is awash with fashion and in the last few years this part of Tokyo is re-inventing itself when it comes to stylish boutiques. Therefore, the opening of Miu Miu in the famous Seibu Department Store in late 2011 is mere confirmation that powerful boutiques view Ikebukuro in such a favorable light. This trend continues in 2012 and clearly this district is on “the fashion map” within Tokyo because of the buzzing fashion scene on both the east and west side.

It must be remembered that Ikebukuro train station is the second busiest in Japan and every week millions of people pass through this part of Tokyo. When this is added to the fact that Japanese people like convenience when it comes to shopping, then not surprisingly the fashion dimension within or around Ikebukuro train station is enormous. This reality means that the fashion area is a huge hub and Ikebukuro is also the gateway for people in Saitama prefecture.

Seibu Department Store and Tobu Department Store have a very rich history and both mega-companies, alongside Lumine, Marui, and Parco, are collectively creating a huge fashion district in Ikebukuro. Also, Esola is a lovely place for ladies fashion and you have scrumptious restaurants to eat.

In Esola you have exquisite boutiques which include Actuel, Amphi, Barbie Store, Beardsley Gallardagalante, Blue Bell Market, DouDou, Elleva, FRAMeWORK, Free’s Mart, Jolly Boutique, Muriel & Mercuria, Nuit et Jour Spick and Span, Opaque Clip, Royal Flash, and Turno Jeana.

Lumine, meanwhile, is one of the best fashion outlets in Tokyo and the store in Ikebukuro is a major attraction for Tokyo ladies because of lovely boutiques like SmackyGlam (Smacky Glam) and countless others. Also, the restaurant area in Lumine is a great place to relax and unwind.

Therefore, not surprisingly the fabulous boutique Miu Miu decided to open for business in Ikebukuro. While next year American Eagle Outfitters have also selected to open a store in this fashionable part of Tokyo alongside another store in the environment of Harajuku and Omotesando. This bodes well for the future of Ikebukuro because fashion is very dynamic in Tokyo and areas need to maintain their vibrancy.

In a past article by Modern Tokyo Times about fashion in Ikebukuro it was stated about American Eagle Outfitters that The new store will have three floors of fashion in order to attract the fashion conscious and the international aspect is an added dimension.  American Eagle Outfitters have clearly done their homework because Ikebukuro is a thriving fashion district in Tokyo and redevelopment projects are in the pipeline to further enhance the area.”

“Uniqlo also understands the reality of fashion in Ikebukuro because the future potential of this vibrant district is obvious.  Therefore, Uniqlo will expand their presence in Ikebukuro and this applies to occupying two floors in Tobu Department Store.”

Obviously the same applies to Miu Miu who decided to expand their international operations in the Seibu Department Store in Ikebukuro. Also, the store was designed by Roberto Baciocchi and like usual for Miu Miu they focus on classic concepts and futuristic aspects. Therefore, you can have a lovely shopping experience and envisage the creativity of this exquisite company by viewing the stylish layout and theme of the Miu Miu store.

In the last few years Lumine and Esola have altered the fashion landscape of Ikebukuro and complemented Seibu Department Store, Tobu Department Store, Parco, and Marui. Also, the opening of the Fukutoshin Ikebukuro train station created a new fashion hub in Ikebukuro. This applies to delightful fashion boutiques and other shops which have created a lovely underground hub once leaving the main Fukutoshin Ikebukuro train exit.

The recent opening of Miu Miu and the future opening of American Eagle Outfitters in 2012, alongside the expansion of Uniqlo, is maintaining the vibrancy of Ikebukuro. Therefore, while Ikebukuro might not get the same media exposure, the reality on the ground is very different because Seibu Department Store, Tobu Department Store, Lumine, Marui, Parco, Esola, and other fashion outlets, would enhance any fashion district.

Not surprisingly, Miu Miu and other fashion companies are aware of the ongoing changes in Ikebukuro and future projects which will enhance this part of Tokyo. Given everything, the future of this fashion district is rosy and the elegance of the fashion scene is growing because of the quality of so many exquisite boutiques.

http://www.miumiu.com/it/stores

www.smackyglam.com  –  Smacky Glam

http://www.esola-ikebukuro.com/

http://orizzonti.co.jp/category/actuel/

http://www.barbie-stores.com/

http://www.bluebellmarket.net/index.html

http://www.palgroup.co.jp/brands/doudou/

http://www.turnojeana.jp/

http://www.frees-mart.com/index.html

http://m-muriel.jp/index.html

http://www.elleva.jp/

http://www.frame-works.co.jp/index_n.html

http://blog-s.frame-works.co.jp/ Spick and Span official blog

http://www.jolly-boutique.com/

http://www.world.co.jp/opaqueclip/

http://royalflash-jp.com/pc/home.html

www.smackyglam.com  –  Smacky Glam

http://sanyo-i.jp  –  Sanyo i Store (Sanyo Shokai Ltd)

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

September 6, 2012

Japan and North Korea need to go the extra mile in order to lay the path ahead

Japan and North Korea need to go the extra mile in order to lay the path ahead

Ri Kuk-Chol and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Japan and North Korea have had a frosty relationship for far too long and it is hoped that officials from both nations will have laid the foundation stone for genuinely turning the corner. Of course, expectations are not too high because of countless stumbling blocks on both sides. However, if officials from Japan and North Korea can overcome genuine concerns and at least start to “walk together,” even if not in complete unison, then this will be positive.

North Korea must understand that negative relations with Japan only serve the enemies of Pyongyang. Likewise, political leaders in Tokyo have recently witnessed the “nationalist switch” in China and South Korea respectively. Therefore, it is clear in Tokyo that the only “trusted friend” in the region is Taiwan. Yet if the “Chinese economic bandwagon” one day swallows this island economically, then even this solace may be taken away.

The Russian Federation is also a central nation in the geopolitical reality of Northeast Asia and throughout other parts of Asia. After all, political elites in Moscow fully understand the geopolitical importance of Central Asia and developing strong ties with China and India respectively. At the same time the geopolitical importance of Mongolia is fully understood in the Russian Federation. Therefore, Japan should overcome its petty nationalist tendencies towards this major power and seek a solution to the disputed areas, which continue to hinder a powerful friendship based on mutual trust.

Turning back to events covering the talks today between officials from Japan and North Korea, it is obvious that both nations need to “break their respective chains.” The new political leader in North Korea can show the world that he is open to sweeping geopolitical changes alongside supporting genuine economic reforms with the help of China. Given this reality, Kim Jong-un can genuinely try to reach the masses based on the similar motives of Deng Xiaoping in China when he came to power.

The Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, Osamu Fujimura, stated prior to the meeting that “The abduction issue will be included as a matter of course.” Likewise, Koichiro Gemba, Foreign Minister of Japan, spoke in a similar vein when he stated that “We’d like to ask the North Korean side to positively work on pending issues between the two countries including the abduction issue.”

However, despite the seriousness of this issue it is clear that political leaders in Tokyo must move towards a more broad approach. Surely, other more important issues like the nuclear angle, geopolitical concerns, testing military hardware and building economic bridges must outweigh the continuing stumbling blocks. Once other developments move forward then naturally North Korea will be more forthcoming.

Japan must understand that millions of Koreans died defending Korean nationalism from Japanese imperialism and then against American aggression during the Korean War. After the brutal Korean War the United States then supported successive authoritarian governments in South Korea before the onset of democracy in this nation. It is too easy to point the finger at North Korea but the reality is that all nations have their own histories and outside forces led to a siege mentality in Pyongyang – but this siege mentality was not based on whims but on hard facts related to history.

Japan and North Korea need to forgo the historical and political obstacles in order to radically alter the situation. Osamu Fujimura stated that “We have been working based on the principle of settling the unfortunate past and on restoring normal relations.”

The new leader of North Korea showed sincerity by allowing a group of nationals from Japan to reclaim loved ones who died because of the tragic events of World War Two. Sadao Masaki, who is part of this group, commented that “Things have proceeded to a stage that is beyond what we had even hoped for. We are extremely grateful.”

In another article by Modern Tokyo Times about relations between Japan and North Korea, it was stated thatSome analysts are indicating that North Korea is reaching out because of current tensions between Japan and other regional nations based on territorial issues. For example harsh comments have been made by the leader of South Korea towards Japan in recent times. However, this is too cynical because the new leader of North Korea must be judged on what happens during his leadership.”

Analysts in Japan and North Korea are eagerly awaiting the outcome and clearly major powers throughout the region will be watching events closely. It is only hoped that political leaders in Japan and North Korea will move forward by showing sincerity and mutual respect.

 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

September 6, 2012

Japanese Art and Ukiyo-e: Ghost of Koheiji by Konishi Hirosada and Evil Akuba

Japanese Art and Ukiyo-e: Ghost of Koheiji by Konishi Hirosada and Evil Akuba

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The power of the Shinto faith runs deep throughout the fabric of Japanese religion, folklore, culture and other important aspects of society. Buddhism which emanated from outside of Japan would also greatly impact itself within the fabric of society. Modern Japan in major cities may look a million miles away from the richness of Japanese folklore but remnants remain. In the countryside the old world survives much more easily but throughout the veins of Japanese tradition major festivals keep aspects of old Japan alive within major cities even if diluted.

Of course, you will have many living religious places of worship throughout major cities in Japan but the mystery can be felt stronger in the “still night” of the countryside whereby local shrines have so much power. Not surprisingly, with the two dominant faiths having so much richness then ghosts, demons and the underworld played a powerful role in Japanese folklore.

This in turn expressed itself through Japanese art, plays and literature. In the world of ukiyo-e many amazing artists depicted ghosts, demons and the underworld. Also, the power of Japanese culture and the indigenous Shinto faith impacted greatly on Buddhism. This means that many fusions have crossed over between the faiths of Shinto and Buddhism. Indeed, the mystery of the Shinto faith is its openness, diversity, blending naturally within nature and the richness of local traditions which vary from place to place.

Konishi Hirosada (Gosotei Hirosada) produces a stunning image of the ghost of Koheiji (top image in the article) which seeks revenge towards his wife Otowa and her devious lover. Koheiji is brutally tortured and murdered by Otowa with the hands of her lover to blame within many realms. This applies to psychology and a very twisted crime of passion induced by strong emotions between both scheming individuals. The pain of the torture and betrayal was brutally shocking and clearly Koheiji couldn’t enter the next world because his spirit was restless for revenge.

The Toshidama Gallery comments about the print by Konishi Hirosada that “This is a very fine and rare print by the Osaka artists Konishi Hirosada. It depicts the ghost of Kohata Koheiji who, having been tortured and drowned by his unfaithful wife Otowa and her scheming lover, takes revenge upon them from beyond the grave. Koheiji is played by the kabuki actor Arashi Rikaku II. Revenge plays of this sort were hugely popular and often depicted evil women called akuba. This play, A Mysterious Tale of Revenge at Asaka Marsh, was so popular with audiences that a sequel was commissioned.”

Toshidama Gallery further comments that “A strange twist, given the subject of this role, is that the actor portrayed here, Arashi Rikaku II, was the adoptive father of Arashi Rikaku III, himself imprisoned for his part in the poisoning (of) his lover’s mistress. His lover, Yoarashi Okinu, was what audiences would refer to as an akuba. She administered the poison after becoming pregnant by Rikaku. She was eventually arrested in May 1871 and decapitated in 1872.”

Clearly Koheiji was unlucky to have married an akuba lady because these ladies would do anything for the people they love. Extortion and murder, and other acts of betrayal, were part and parcel of being an akubalady. However, the spirit of Koheiji was too strong because he desired vengeance from the underworld and refused to enter either heaven or hell until he fulfilled this.

The power of ghost stories in the Edo and Meiji periods of Japanese history were cherished because of the strong connection of faith and the power of the stories that were portrayed. At the same time amazing ukiyo-e artists could depict the vastness of this world.

 

http://www.toshidama-japanese-prints.com/item_352/Hirosada-Arashi-Rikaku-II-as-the-ghost-of-Koheiji.htm

http://www.toshidama-japanese-prints.com/item_261/Hirosada-The-Ghost-of-Togoros-Wife.htm

http://www.toshidama-japanese-prints.com/item_177/Hirosada-Kasa-Ippon-ashi-One-Legged-Umbrella-Demon.htm

http://www.toshidama-japanese-prints.com/

http://toshidama.wordpress.com/

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

September 6, 2012

Tokyo fashion in Yurakucho: Lumine Department Store

Tokyo fashion in Yurakucho: Lumine Department Store

Michel Lebon, Kanako Itamae and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Tokyo fashion is internationally famous and the Yurakucho fashion angle keeps on growing from strength to strength. This factor is also helping other famous districts nearby and this notably applies to Ginza. Both areas naturally flow together because they share the same dynamic environment whereby the crème de la crème of international and Japanese boutiques can be found.

In recent times H & M and Uniqlo have altered the fashion landscape in Ginza by having places to shop whereby the prices suit all pockets. Despite this, Ginza and Yurakucho are famous for luxury boutiques and amazing department stores which enrich the entire area.

Last year the exquisite Lumine Department Store opened a new venture in Yurakucho and clearly this factor is enticing the younger generation to shop once more in this part of Tokyo. This means that you have ample places to shop in both districts which suit all age groups. Also, because of companies like Uniqlo you now have places to go bargain shopping. Therefore, shoppers are spoilt for choice in Ginza and Yurakucho.

In Ikebukuro the Lumine Department Store enriches the west side of this very trendy part of Tokyo. Likewise, Lumine in Yurakucho is also enriching the fashion scene of this district because of the many amazing boutiques to be found throughout this stylish store.

Timothy Schepis, the owner of Tokyo Fashion Daily, commented about the arrival of Lumine in Yurakucho last year 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.”

A partial list of the many boutiques which are based within the exquisite Lumine Department Store in Yurakucho includes Adam Et Rope, Beaver, Bshop, Bulsara, Choosy Chu, Couture by Rojita, Deuxieme Classe, Diana, Emoda, Freak’s Store, Gallardagalante, Goa, Journal Standard Relume, Laguna Moon, Manhattan Portage, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Martinique Le Conte, Mercuryduo, Mignon et Enchainement, Muji Nano Universe, Odette e Odile United Arrows, Ozoc, Parigot, Peach John The Store, Piche Abahouse, Ron Herman, Royal Party, Salon De La Trinite, Shel’Tter, Shinzone,  Spick And Span, Spick And Span Accessoires, Stunning Lure, Tomorrowland, United Arrows ( Men’s, Ladies, United Arrows Green Label Relaxing, Urban Research Doors, Urban Research&Rosso and Wjkw.

If you adore fashion then clearly Lumine in Yurakucho will appeal to lovers of stylish boutiques. Like always the choice at this exquisite store is also extremely rich because each individual boutique provides a fresh angle to fashion.

 

http://www.lumine.ne.jp/yurakucho/

http://www.fashion-j.com/E/trend/201010.html

http://tokyofashiondaily.blogspot.com/ – TIMOTHY SCHEPIS  (can be followed on Twitter)

http://tokyofashiondaily.blogspot.com/2011/10/coming-soon-yurakucho-lumine.html

http://www.fashion-j.com/E/trend/201010.html (3rd article from the top shows some images of Lumine in Ikebukuro.)

MODERN TOKYO TIMES IMAGES

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