Category: Current Japan


July.08

MA-GO-WA-YA-SA-SHI-I

July.08

MA-GO-WA-YA-SA-SHI-I (Grandchildren are kind) This acronym helps speakers of Japanese remember the names of food groups that support a healthy diet. Each of the seven sounds represents a food group, while the total spells out a lovely adage (lauding the kindness of grandchildren). MA refers to mamé (beans), GO refers to goma (sesame… and other…

June.17

Junsai, a summertime delicacy

June.17

JUNSAI (water shield; Brasenia schreberi) grows naturally in lakes, ponds and slow streams in many parts of the world but only Japan and China have a long history of cultivating the plant as a food. The Japanese especially love foods with a tsuru tsuru (slippery, slithery) texture and young, unfurled junsai sprouts covered in a…

Jan.25

‘The Tokyoiter’, a Double Homage by Pen

Jan.25

This collective offers illustrators the chance to represent the Japanese capital by adapting the style of covers from ‘The New Yorker’. With regard to press illustration, the publication that has long been considered an international reference is The New Yorker, founded in 1925. Across the world, graphic designers have since paid homage to the American magazine,…

Sept.14

Slow prosperity: empathy and (small) business by Gianfranco Chicco

Sept.14

On April 14th 2023 I hosted an online session called “Slow prosperity: Empathy and Business” with 6th generation Japanese master craftsman Takahiro Yagi of Kaikado. Kaikado has been making tea caddies – 茶筒, chazutsu – since 1875. The wide-ranging conversation followed some of the topics covered in Taka’s book, “共感と商い” (“Empathy and Business”), published in March 2023, and…

Sept.07

Tomatoes on Japanese ceramic plates taste better by Gianfranco Chicco

Sept.07

Do tomatoes taste better when eaten from a nice Japanese ceramic plate? Objectively, no. But the experience of serving and eating the tomatoes does improve. That is because human experience is not limited just to the physical characteristics of the food but how we interact with it, from the sensorial stimulation to the meaning we…

June.09

Made in Japan: 20th-Century Poster Art by Poster House

June.09

  Japanese poster design reflects the country’s rich visual culture and printmaking  tradition, and was used throughout the 20th century to represent the country to domestic and international audiences. Two world wars in addition to rapid industrialization, urbanization, and the rise of mass media fundamentally transformed modern Japan, and its specific journey as both an…

May.27

The connection between maker and owner by Gianfranco Chicco

May.27

The connection between maker and owner I love product catalogues. When I was a kid I spent hours flipping through the LEGO booklets that my parents would bring back from their trips abroad (LEGO was not widely available in Argentina in the ‘80s). I would check out every detail of the sets featured in those…

Dec.23

Kumejima, the Discreet Island by Pen

Dec.23

Despite being far less visited than the other islands of Okinawa, Kumejima offers natural treasures and invaluable craftsmanship. When travellers think about the island of Okinawa, it’s the eponymous island that comes to mind first, or the traditional Taketomi. Kumejima, however, which covers an area of 59 km2 and has 8000 residents, has its fair share…

Dec.18

‘Ama, the Breath of Women’, a Feminist and Family-Orientated Odyssey by Pen

Dec.18

Through the initiation story of a young city dweller, this graphic novel pays homage to the community of the ‘women of the sea’. Japan in the late 1960s. Nagisa, a young, chaste Tokyoite, meets her aunt Isoé on Hegura Island to escape from her past and family dramas. Far from the frantic pace of life…

Dec.11

An Encounter with the Last Shamans in Japan by Pen

Dec.11

Sociologist Muriel Jolivet’s book offers an analysis combined with a travelogue and interviews with these women with supernatural powers. They are known as the itako, yuta or noro. They are dispersed all over Japan, from the northern island of Hokkaido to tropical Okinawa and the urban environment of Tokyo. These shamans, all of whom are female, possess special powers…