Feature Story : Books & Ideas

  • Cool Japan Illustrated

    Japanese beliefs

    Kami, Japan’s indigenous religion and foreign Buddhism never quite fused, but a combination of Buddhist and Taoist elements, and the incorporation of shamanistic features of the indigenous religion remained however inextricably linked all the way to the present day.

  • The rise of edo pop-art

    In the Edo period, a style of woodblock prints called ukiyo-e became a major art form and its techniques were fine tuned to produce colorful prints.

  • A sense of beauty of the feudal lords

    A parvenu Toyotomi Hideyoshi constructed a fabulous portable tea room, covered with gold leaf and lined inside with red gossamer.

  • A dichotomy in Japanese art after the period of isolation

    The introduction of Western cultural values led to a dichotomy in Japanese art, as well as in nearly every other aspect of culture, between traditional values and attempts to duplicate and assimilate a variety of clashing new ideas.

  • The Jōmon pottery, some of the oldest in the world

    The Jōmon pottery were distinguished themselves form contemporaneous any other vessels in the world; an artistic interest of Jōmon Japanese overwhelmed a practical utility.

  • Japan's Unique Food Culture

    Japan has a unique food culture: various good fresh ingredients of sea and mountains, seasonings that adds to the dishes’ tastiness, Japanese sense of taste represented by umami and intense curiosity about savoring variety of foods.

  • National Passion for Foods

    The Japanese perhaps are the world's best connoisseur of food exhibiting great curiosity about gastronomy.

  • Diversity of Japanese Restaurants

    Tokyo is a rare city you can try various kinds of cuisine from all over the world. The diversity is not only found in their origins but also can be seen in menu or in atmosphere - store size and facilities.

  • Adaptation of Foreign Foods

    Japanese have never been conservative about trying unforeknown foods or ingredients but incorporated imported food from across the world, and have historically adapted many to make them their own.

    Food & Drink

    The Japanese perhaps are the world’s best connoisseur of food exhibiting great curiosity about gastronomy.

  • The traditional line drawing technique

    Among Japanese traditional art techniques, line drawing has fundamental impact on today's Manga and Anime. "Drawn only with outlines, Manga who inherits the characteristic of Japanese-style painting made up of lines seem three-dimensional.

  • The creative freedom in Amime & Manga

    "The essence of Japanese Anime is in its taboo-free, in terms of violence, eroticism, and mechanical presentation." Sugiyama Tomoyuki

  • Violence in Amime & Manga

    Violence is another prominent feature of Japanese Manga and Anime. Besides the works whose main theme is violence itself, those for younger target depict violence with no restraint as well.

  • The sexual expression in Amime & Manga

    “In certain contexts, Japanese culture can combine the auras of sexual energy and violence without creating an atmosphere of seedy perversity or provocation.” Roland Kelts

  • Anthropomorphism and Amime & Manga

    Beyond its cool design, in the context of taboo-free expression, mechanical nature in Manga and Anime may take on a meaning of anthropomorphism or animism.

  • Haruki Murakami

    Junior High School Years : 中学時代

    Of his middle-school years, Murakami has written that all he remembers is being beaten by his teachers. He didn't like them and they didn't like him because he wouldn't study.

  • Haruki Murakami

    Family Ties : 親子関係

    Young Haruki would often hear his parents discussing eighth-century poetry or medieval war takes at the dinner table. Haruki said, “Throughout my teens I became hate ‘Japanese literature’ and ‘teachers’.”

  • Haruki Murakami

    The Lost Sea : 失われた海

    In his novels and essays, Murakami expressed his deep emotional attachment to the sea that was close to him throughout his adolescence years.

  • Haruki Murakami

    Books and Music : 本と音楽

    Haruki was permitted to buy books on credit at the local bookstore, as long as he avoided comic books or trashy weekly magazines, and he became a voracious reader.

  • Haruki Murakami

    High School Years : 高校時代

    Haruki would play Mahjongg almost every day, fool around with girls, spend hours in jazz cafés and cinemas, smoke, skip school, read novels during class, and so forth, but his grades were never terrible.

  • Haruki Murakami

    The River :

    "The road by the river had been one of my favorites. I could walk at the same speed as the river. I could feel it breathing. It was alive. The town belonged to the river from the very beginning, and it would always be the way."

cool japan
発掘!かっこいいニッポン

  • What is Cool Japan?
    The keywords, "Cool Japan," are flying all around the world.
    From fashion, anime, games, and food, various cultures that the Japanese take for granted are being accepted as cool and trendy by foreigners.
    "COOL JAPAN Discovering what makes Japan cool," uses the sense of foreigners to the fullest, to dig up and examine the appeal and secrets of these cool cultural aspects.

JAPAN'S GROSS NATIONAL COOL

  • In a 2002 article in Foreign Policy entitled "Japan's Gross National Cool," Douglas McGray wrote of Japan "reinventing superpower" as its cultural influence expanded internationally despite the economic and political problems of the "lost decade."
    Surveying youth culture and the role of manga, anime, fashion, film, consumer electronics, architecture, cuisine, J-pop, and phenomena of cuteness such as Hello Kitty, McGray highlighted Japan's considerable soft power, posing the question of what message the country might project.
    He also argued that Japan's recession may even have boosted its national cool, due to the partial discrediting of erstwhile rigid social hierarchies and big-business career paths.