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CONTENTSINTRODUCTION03MANGA, ANIME and GAMES04CONTEMPORARY GN14TECHNOLOGY15CONTRIBUTORSA General Introduction to Manga, Anime and Games:Megumi Onouchi (Media Content Producer)Manga: Tomohiko Murakami (Manga Critic)Anime: Mayumi Ekuni-Valler (Editor)Games: Daichi Baba (Computer Game Writer)Art: Yumi Yamaguchi (Art Producer)Fashion: Eriko Minamitani (Fashion Journalist)Food: Chieko Hirano (Food Journalist)Literature: Hiroharu Ayame (Professor, Japanese Language andLiterature, Notre Dame Seishin University)Architecture: Hiroyuki Suzuki (Professor, History of Architecture,University of Tokyo)Design: Masafumi Fukagawa (Curator, Kawasaki City Museum)Technology: Kazuma Yamane (Non-fiction Writer)Adviser to the project: Yasuki Hamano (Professor, GraduateSchool of Frontier Sciences, University of Tokyo)Published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), JapanEdited by the Embassy of Japan in the United KingdomThe views expressed in the articles are those of thecontributors, and are not necessarily a reflection of theviews of the Japanese Government. MOFA 2007Printed in the UK

All over the world, people have been focusing theirattention on contemporary Japanese culture. Sincethe 1990s there has been a burst of creativeenergy in the fields of manga, anime, gaming, art,architecture, design, literature, food and fashion.This has now blossomed into a Japanese contemporaryculture whose influence reverberates around theglobe and which fascinates so many people,particularly from amongst the younger generation.After the collapse of the “bubble economy”,Japan underwent a period of economic recessionthroughout the 1990s. However, in the world ofpopular culture, there was a constant flow ofenormously varied and striking images and worksfrom a group of Japanese creative artists. Thiscultural activity developed a dynamic of its ownwhich enveloped not only the creators but also theconsumers, and now, even at this very moment,is being given more overseas exposure. Thisphenomenon of recent years, which is in sharpcontrast to the former exotic images of Japan as theland of Mt. Fuji, geisha and kabuki, is stimulatingthe formation of a new image of Japanese culture.But let us look more closely at the historicalbackground that gave rise to the perception amongyoung people of contemporary Japanese cultureas “cool”. The truth is that subcultures have oftenarisen during the significant periods in Japanesehistory. As they matured, they went on to form acomplex multi-layered culture. For instance, thetea ceremony became fashionable in the AzuchiMomoyama period (1568-1600), while ukiyo-eprints were popular in the Edo period (1600-1867).These tangible and intangible cultural treasureswere stored up as assets which, through beingpassed on to subsequent generations, haveblossomed again in contemporary culture.So what are the elements that constitutecontemporary Japanese culture? Japan certainlyabsorbed culture from mainland Asia in ancientand mediaeval times. In modern times Japanabsorbed culture from the West, and in thepost-WWII era particularly from the USA. Butwe see our contemporary culture not only asabsorbing elements from other cultures butalso as interpreting them from a uniqueperspective, then re-shaping them into a newstyle and fusing them with something completelydifferent. It is a culture in which the old and thenew co-exist, one that appeals to the generalpopulation and that anyone can enjoy.And what about the character of the peoplewho give form to Japanese culture? We werebrought up surrounded by beautiful natural sceneryand landscapes and from olden times have honed asharp appreciation of beauty. We approach thecreation of objects with a love for their beauty and,with a long tradition of diligence and dedication, goabout the task of creation with an uncompromisingstance: while striving for simplicity and theeradication of the superfluous, we do not neglectattention to the tiniest detail. At the root of thisapproach lies a spirit of harmony which is evident inour philosophy of co-existence with nature.It is impossible to fully convey here the magicof contemporary Japanese culture, which draws ona creative tradition with unbroken links to the past.However, we offer this brochure in the hope thatit will enable people from other parts of the worldto gain a greater understanding and appreciation ofJapanese contemporary culture.Photo credits from left: Hiroshi Ueda JAXA/ISAS Fashion Strategy Forum,HISUI 2007 s/s collection LOUIS VUITTON/JIMMY COHRSSEN Photo by HidetoyoSasaki From right: Kyoto Kitcho LOUIS VUITTON/JIMMY COHRSSEN03

04Top right, Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy) ; Above, Sen to Chihirono Kamikakushi (Spirited Away) and Ghost in the Shell: StandAlone Complex (TV series). Bottom right, AKIRAA worldwide movementManga for everyoneNowadays, the term “manga” is used worldwide torefer to Japanese cartoons, as distinct from Americancomics or French bandes dessinées. Likewise, theterm “anime” refers to Japan-produced animationas opposed to Disney cartoons or animationproduced elsewhere. The 1990s saw the Japaneseanimated films AKIRA and Ghost in the Shell becomepopular among young people in North America,Europe and Asia, but it was also a period duringwhich children and young people began to perceiveJapanese pop culture as “cool”. In 2003, SpiritedAway, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, won an AcademyAward for best animated feature film. Moreover,Pokémon, the animated TV programme immenselypopular among children, was shown in over 68countries around the world, further enhancing itsappeal. In consequence, the Pokémon market grew to3 trillion yen in size (about US 250 billion), ofwhich 2 trillion yen was from overseas sales.The Japanese manufacturer Nintendo becamea byword for home game machines, whileshipments of the PlayStation and PS2, madeby Sony Computer Entertainment, reached100 million units each. Japanese pop culture,which includes manga, anime and games, andthe market for them, clearly has the power totranscend national borders, languages andreligious differences.The foundations of modern Japanese manga andanime were first laid in 1959, with thesimultaneous publication of such comics for youngpeople as Shukan Shōnen Magajin (Boys’ Weekly)and Shukan Shōnen Sandē (Boys’ Sunday Weekly),and then in 1963 with the commencement of TVbroadcasting of productions such as the animatedseries Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy) by the cartoonistOsamu Tezuka and Tetsujin 28-go (Gigantor),which was based on an original script by cartoonistMitsuteru Yokoyama. Since then, the intimaterelationship between manga and anime hascontinued, and even today over 60% of theanimated cartoons produced are based on manga,with the cartoonists, manga publishers, animationproduction companies and the TV stations all incommercial partnership. 1987 Akira Committee Shirow Masamune-Production I.G/KODANSHA 2001 Nibariki - GNDDTM TEZUKA PRODUCTIONSA GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO

Dragon BallManga-related publishing of various kindscurrently accounts for roughly 40% of the totalJapanese publishing market. Manga are frequentlyused as original scripts not only for anime but alsonovels and TV dramas, and they often form thenucleus of media content. Since the 19th century,European and American satirical magazines, withtheir simple humour, and action films have beenamong the influences on manga. However, Osamu In the animation market, creations such as SpaceBattleship Yamato and Mobile Suit Gundamappeared in the 1970s and evolved into a varietyof forms, from TV animation to film, music andcharacter-based products. This then led to theestablishment of a market for toys given away as“freebies” with candy and plastic versions offavourite characters. Then in 1983, with thecoming to market of the first home game machines,games themselves started to generate their ownmanga, anime, card game and character-productspin-offs in a kind of media cross-fertilisation. GAINAX,khara/Project Eva.Media cross-fertilisationNeon Genesis Evangelion directed by Hideaki AnnoTezuka, who made his debut in 1946, launched a(by Rumikostyle identifiable as modern Japanese. He drewTakahashi), in whichcomplex stories that hinted at Disney animation,the protagonistHollywood movies and Russian literature, in which changes sex onthe characters suffer and feel anger, and whichcontact with water,sometimes end in tragedy, thereby transformingrefers to confusionmanga from simple entertainment into aabout gender. In thethematically and artistically expressive medium.cyberpunk scienceFrom the ’60s to the ’70s, manga magazinesfiction AKIRA (bysaw explosive growth in the market, becomingKatsuhiro Otomo)another mass medium, with issue circulationsand in Monsterrunning into the millions. The themes they tackled(by Naoki Urasawa),tracked the troubles of youth as the postwara psychologicalMonsterbaby boomers were growing up, and throughsuspense series setthis interaction a varied genre came into beingin Germany after theto respond to the wide variety of readers’ tastes,collapse of the Berlin Wall, straight entertainmentranging from mysteries, fantasies,co-exists with an artistic essence. In fact, there aresports and human drama to history,many manga which appeal to a wide audiencepolitics and economics.and which rival literature and film in theirThe complexity of manga storiesbreadth. Avant-garde manga that appearedis further bolstered by the originalityin the ’60s, as well as the girls’ comics of theof the characters. Dragon Ball (by’70s that mirrored the inner life of girls goingAkira Toriyama), which achievedthrough puberty, drew the attention ofglobal popularity, is a boys’ storycontemporary intellectuals and artists.of personal growth, as successiveIn Japan today, manga is now agenerations seek to gain strength ingeneralised genre with an expressivenessthe world. The key theme is thethat has permeated throughout society.process of growth. Ranma 1/2Ranma 1/2 Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan 2002 Naoki URASAWA, Studio Nuts. First published by Shogakukan Inc. inJapan as "MONSTER".MANGA 1984 by BIRD STUDIO/SHUEISHA Inc. Nintendo Creatures GAME FREAK TV Tokyo ShoPro JR Kikaku PokémonIn the 1980s, adults started to show an interestin manga and anime, which until then had been forchildren, leading to the launch of manga magazinesfor male adults. Similarly, a number of women’smagazines were also launched in the 1970s and1980s, adding to the series of girls’ comics such asMargaret and Shōjo Komikku (Girls’ Comics). Themarket then underwent furthersubdivision into targeted categories,from infants to small children, girls,teenagers, businessmen, youngwomen and housewives, each ofthem being offered a full line-up ofA plastic Pokémoncharactermagazines and products.05

A classic example of this trend would be the Pokémoncharacters painted onto an aircraft fuselage. Visitorsfrom all over the world started flocking to Akihabarain Tokyo to visit this shrine to the Japanese pop culturemarket. The Tokyo International Anime Fair, whichis held there every March, sees 100,000 visitorsannually including overseas business customers.Japanese domestic manga account for 28%of the total number of magazines publishedANIMEGhost in the Shell 1995 Shirow Masamune/KODANSHA BANDAI VISUAL MANGA ENTERTAINMENTIt is impossible to discuss Japanese animewithout mentioning Hayao Miyazaki, KatsuhiroOtomo and Mamoru Oshii. These three were headand shoulders above their contemporaries in the1980s and have been pioneers at the forefront ofthe animation world ever since. Miyazaki, whileadopting the theme of living in harmony withnature, as exemplified by such films as MyNeighbour Totoro (1988) and Princess Mononoke(1997), ultimately appeals to all generationsthrough his use of expressive techniques which06Expanding marketsThe impact of Japanese pop culture on the world isnot confined just to the economy, the industry orthe consumer markets. An even greater influence isexerted on the culture of its fans, the otaku (geeksor nerds, originally a term used to describe youngare replete with all the thrills of an action movie.Otomo’s AKIRA (1987), well-known for its intricatestorylines, not only instigated a revolution in thecontemporary domestic animation world for hiscomplex plots and dynamism but also achievedmassive popularity overseas. And Oshii, whoseGhost in the Shell (the cinema version wasreleased in 1995) had an influence on theWachowski brothers’ film The Matrix, is aone-of-a-kind animator who brings out thepathology and conflict of a human society setin the near future.Japanese anime are produced in largequantities, just as manga are, and for this reasonthere is plenty of scope for varied content and thefreedom to decide what goes in them. Thismeans that many anime strongly reflect thepersonality of the director. The depth of characterof the participants, which is on a par with filmsand TV dramas featuring real actors and actresses,the dramatic quality of the stories and the artisticheights of the screenplay had already begun tosprout shoots in the 1960s, when modern animepeople who stayedindoors reading comics ordevoting their time to non-sporting hobbies), thecomic market organisers and the fans who dress upin the costumes of their favourite characters. Fanspassionate about manga and anime (the otaku )who emerged in the 1970s moved on from aspecialised consumer culture collecting comics,animation software, music software and charactergoods to the formation of a fully-fledgedcommunity. In the manga field, amateur artistsstarted to organise enthusiasts’ buy-and-sell eventson a nationwide scale. The most representative oftechniques were evolving. These traits havecontinued unbroken to the present. Asdemonstrated by anime such as Hokuto no Ken(Fist of the North Star, TV series 1984-1988),the source for many trendy quotable lines, SailorMoon (TV series 1992-1997), the anime abouta beautiful girl which started the kosupure(costume play) dress-up boom, and NeonGenesis Evangelion (the first cinema version wasreleased in 1997), which had a cult followingamong young people because of its complicatedstorylines and technical jargon, anime frequentlygive rise to social phenomena which resonate inharmony with contemporary Japanese society.Neon Genesis Evangelion 1976, 2007 SANRIO CO.,LTD.From bags to buses, Hello Kittyis a typical example of akawaii product GAINAX khara/Project Eva. TAF2006The Tokyo International Anime Fairdomestically, or 18% of sales. Revenues that theJapanese anime industry receives from TV, film, DVDand Internet media run to about 250 billion yenannually. In addition, the retail market for charactergoods based on the characters in manga and animehas reached 1.61 trillion yen. The ripple effect it hascaused is enormous: it is said that 60% of animationbroadcast on TV worldwide is Japanese. Meanwhile,the domestic hardware and software home gamemarket combined totals 400 billion yen, while about1 trillion yen in games are exported.

GAMESNintendo’s launch of the Nintendo EntertainmentSystem (NES; known as Family Computer, orFamicon, in Japan) in 1983 planted the seeds ofsuccess for Japan’s gaming industry. The console’ssuperior performance and ease of use resulted inalmost 63 million shipments worldwide. This eraalso laid the foundations for such genres asaction games (Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros, forthe NES) and role-playing games (RPGs, includingDragon Quest developed by Enix, now SquareEnix). The 1990 release of the Super NintendoEntertainment System (Super Famicon in Japan)sustained the momentum, spurring the creationof a wide range of gaming software.The generation that grew up with theseconsoles formed the next wave of developers.Active in the early 1990s, they created thePlayStation with its high-quality graphics andenhanced processing power. They also focused onnew genres such as 3D fighting games andrhythm action games. Japanese gaming softwarebecame popular in other countries because of itsattractive characters (reflecting the impact ofcommon. It is a highly complimentary term todescribe “cuteness” as used by young Japanesewomen for such characters as the Hello Kitty series.Young animators in Europe, the USA and Asia aimto incorporate Japanese-style animation into theirwork, while in Japan new businesses areemerging, such as one based on mobile phonemail messages incorporating pictographs, derivedfrom keyboard punctuation characters, created byJapanese high school girls. Thus, pop cultureemanating from Japan appears to be changing theways in which humans entertain themselves andcommunicate on a global scale. It is effectivelybecoming a common global culture. KozanjiIt is sometimes said that the Japanese culture ofmanga, anime and games is simply a continuationof a traditionbeginningwith religiousillustratedscrolls such asthe ChojuJinbutsu Giga(Scrolls ofChoju Jinbutsu Giga (Scrolls of FrolickingFrolickingAnimals and Humans)Animals andHumans) drawn in the 12th century and the ukiyo-e(woodblock prints) of the Edo period. However, theimmediate roots of Japanese pop culture can betraced to the importation of overseas comics andanimation after the period of modernisation in thelate 19th century onwards, and particularly theperiod of the industrialisation of the anime andmanga industry under the influence of the USA 2007 NINTENDO. TMGlobal mass cultureNintendo's Wii Sportsafter WWII. This fact shows that cultures whichtranscend borders, languages and religions are theembodiment of a universal trend born out ofcontact with foreign cultures, much as globallyinfluential impressionist art gained great inspirationfrom Japanese ukiyo-e.From the 1960s, Japanese pop culture developedagainst the background of a society with massmedia and mass production and consumptionmanga andanime), thesweep of itsvirtual worlds andits appeal to abroad array ofgamers, frombeginners toserious players.Starting withNintendo’s GameBoy (1989),portable gamingAlpine Racer 3 for PlayStation2 (top)consoles forand Formula One Championship Editionchildren represent for PlayStation3another majortrend. Nintendo’s Pokémon software released forthe Game Boy in 1996 was a huge hit, winningchildren’s hearts because it allowed them toraise and swap their own monsters. Together,domestic shipments and exports of Japanesegaming software exceed a combined 200 milliontitles annually. The release of next-generationconsoles such as Nintendo’s Wii and SonyComputer Entertainment’s PlayStation3 in 2006buoyed shipments in Japan and overseas.Portable consolessuch as theNintendo DS andthe PlayStationPortable (PSP)also remainvery popular.Courtesy of SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT INC.this trend, the comic market, started such anevent in 1975 and it is currently held twice a year.It is now the biggest indoor pay-to-enter event inthe world, with an average of 400,000 visitorsevery time.Among the worshippers of Japanese pop culture,whose numbers now total in the millions aroundthe world, the word kawaii (cute) has becomemarkets. Subsequently, it evolved further with thesecond generation of post-war baby boomers andbeyond, thanks among other things to digitalcommunication technology such as the Internet.We are now witnessing a transformation ofJapanese pop culture into the next generation ofglobal mass culture. The supporters of Japanesepop culture will be children and young peoplefrom all over the world.07

Takashi MurakamiAnd then, and then and then and then andthen / Cream, 2006 (acrylic on canvasmounted on board, 1000 x 1000 x 50mm)08Courtesy of Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris & Miami 2006 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. AllRights Reserved.Takashi Murakami developed the style known as“Superflat”. Characterised by traditional Japanese art’s lackof depth – the works are flat, ignoring Western perspectivetechniques – Superflat is two-dimensional and planar,drawing on styles common to contemporary anime andmanga. Superflat works exhibit values and concepts verydifferent from those in Western art history. Murakamibelieves childishness, amateurism and the relativelysmall postwar income disparities in Japanese society havebeen sources of creativity in Japan’s contemporary art scene.He is also known for his collaboration with luxury fashionhouse Louis Vuitton.Falling Colour, 2005, and a fusuma painting at Daitokuji-Jukoin-Betsuin TemplePainter Hiroshi Senju uses traditional Japanese techniques(blurring, gradation, blending) to portray the changing seasonsas reflected in Japan’s natural environment. His Waterfallseries won the Venice Biennale Award of Excellence in 1995.In 2002 he completed a six-year project to paint 77 slidingpanels for eight rooms in Daitokuji-Jukoin-Betsuin Temple inShizuoka Prefecture.Hiroshi SugimotoAl. Ringling, Baraboo, 1995 and Hyena-Jackal-Vulture, 1976 (gelatin silver print) Hiroshi Sugimoto / Courtesy of Gallery KoyanagiHiroshi Sugimoto is known for works exploring natural light andthe passage of time, such as Seascapes (images of sea horizonsaround the world) and Theaters (extremely long-exposureimages captured by opening the camera’s shutter as a moviebegins and closing it as it ends). He has recently producedfusions of photography with collections of old fine art.Yoshitomo Nara 2006 Yoshitomo Naraexhibitions featuring notonly his own works but alsothose of Japanese artists fromthe late 19th centuryto the present day andincorporating manga, anime,shokugan (Japanesegiveaway candy toys) andfashion. While stretching theboundaries of art in this way,he has expanded intoTan Tan Bo, 2001 (acrylic on canvas mounted on board, 3600 x 5400 x 67mm)producing marketable works. 2001 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy of Tomio Koyama Gallery.Japan’s contemporary artThe foreign view of Japanese art hasscene encompasses a broad range of artiststended to focus on traditional aspects,working in different media. They includeas represented by Japonisme. However,pop-culture figures Takashi Murakami andexhibits at the Venice Biennale Aperto 1998Yoshitomo Nara, photographer Hiroshiby artists including Tatsuo Miyajima andSugimoto and painter Hiroshi Senju, whoseYasumasa Morimura have spurred interestworks deal with seasonal change in thein contemporary Japanese art as well.natural world and the artist’s ownTakashi Murakami has exerted a majorsensibilities, and Tatsuo Miyajima andimpact on the USA and European art scenesYasumasa Morimura, who makewith his concept of Superflat, developedseemingly casual yet clever use of thefrom Japan’s pop culture. He has producedlatest technology. Nacasa & PartnersHiroshi SenjuPop artist Yoshitomo Nara has beenactive mainly in Europe. Exploring theJapanese concept of kawaii (cute), hisinternationally acclaimed works enjoyan established reputation. He is knownfor his idiosyncratic treatments of younggirls with distinctive facial expressionshighlighted by slanted eyes.The little star dweller, 2006 (acrylic on canvas, 2280 x 1820mm)

2Tokyo fashion is about young people. It isn’t aluxury business, as it is in the USA and Europe.Luxury articles don’t give status. It's the youngpeople strolling in the streets who decide whatappeals to them, and this trend then spreadsamong their like-minded peers. This youth-drivenphenomenon is similar to how Mods and Punkscreated their own fashion in the London of the’60s and ’70s. The difference is that young Tokyotrend-setters are not people angry at society, likethe Punks, or people who use a style of clothingas a means of protest. In Tokyo, the girls wantwhat’s kawaii (cute), and both the boys and thegirls want clothes that will make them the focusof others’ attention.345In his L’Empire des Signes (1970), RolandBarthes wrote that Tokyo is a city with an “emptycentre” of signs without meaning. Likewise, Tokyofashion isn’t about meaning. The girls treat LouisVuitton bags as they would a Samantha Thavasa bag(an inexpensive domestic brand), because bothseem very kawaii to them. When they tire of them,they move on to a new “cute” brand.This is why Western designers are astonishedwhen they visit Tokyo. Wearing fashionable ortrendy clothes doesn’t mean being rich or successfulin Japan. It’s not about prestige but about beingyoung, free and sometimes innocent. In thismarket, there’s no need to design clothes formature and wealthy tastes. Foreign designers areoverwhelmed by the freedom. Leading Tokyobrands like Undercover, Green, Mintdesigns and ABathing Ape aren’t about prestige and class: theyjust want to make things young people will go for.Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons said inthe early ’80s that to create something new is tobe youthful. Her brand faced barriers in the USAand Europe at the time because European criticscommented that Commewould not suit maturewomen. Now thebrand is coming tobe acknowledgedas a statement ofTokyo fashion.6Tokyo Street Style 2. Autumn and Winter2007/08 Collectionfrom Undercover UNDERCOVER3. Tokyo Collection WeekSpring 2007 Japan Fashion Association1 Fashion Strategy Forum, HISUI 2007s/s collection4 5. Autumn and Winter2007/08 Collectionby Mintdesigns MINTDESIGNS6. Collections fromA Bathing Ape09

10Published by Conran Octopus, London Kyoto KitchoKunio TokuokaExecutive chef and proprietor ofthe Arashiyama Kitchorestaurant, Kunio Tokuoka isKyoto’s foremost exponent oftraditional Japanese cuisine,who adds a contemporary twistto tradition. He was feted in2004 and 2006 at Turin’s SaloneInternazionale del Gusto foodand wine fair in Italy.Nobu MatsuhisaKaiseki hors d’oeuvreJapanese cuisine involves the elegantpresentation of delicate flavours andtextures created from a refinedsense of taste and varied seasonalingredients. Using the maximising ofawareness of seasonal elements as anBeautifully presented chakaiseki mealart form, traditional Japanese cuisine issensitive to even the subtle differences in taste between early andlate spring. Serving dishes also play an important role. Changingwith the seasons, they afford the cultured pleasure of choosing, for KodanshaTraditionalJapaneseCuisineCookery expert HarumiKurihara is extremelypopular with all age groups.In 2005 she became the firstJapanese to win BestCookbook of the Year (forHarumi's Japanese Cooking,right) at the 2004 GourmandWorld Cookbook Awards.Nobu Matsuhisa is executivechef and proprietor of the Nobu,Matsuhisa and Ubon creativeJapanese restaurants aroundthe world. He pioneered theglobally popular “modernJapanese” cuisine.example, a flower pattern to reflect a sense of enjoyment fromtableware used only in the flower’s blooming season.These characteristics trace their roots to the honzen-ryōri (foodsserved in utensils on a legged tray) developed by the warrior classduring the Muromachi Period (1333-1568) and the kaiseki-ryōrifor the tea ceremony, formalised by tea master Sen no Rikyu inthe Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1568-1600). Underlying them is theconcept of gratitude to the meal’s preparer and the living thingsthat compose it. Japanese express this by saying “Itadakimasu”(I humbly receive this food) before beginning a meal.Courtesy of Nobu restaurantsJapanese cuisine is based on the enjoyment of arichly varied table offering a nutritional balancethrough a range of seasonal offerings. In doing soit reflects the Japanese people’s discriminatingapproach to taste and ingredients and theirreadiness to explore the unfamiliar. Whilecontinuing to value their national cuisine, Japanesehouseholds also create local versions of foreigndishes: a homemaker will often prepare curry oneday followed by pasta the next. The Japanese havean insatiable interest in food. Cookery experts andchefs will introduce recipes in the media, only tosee suburban kitchens using them on the same day.Japanese also enjoy a wide range of cuisinesoutside the home. Japanese cuisine alone offersmany popular alternatives, from high-class ryōteiHarumi Kurihara Kyoto ShimbunContemporary cuisineContemporary Chefs Kyoto Kitcho Quadrille Publishing LtdModern Japanese cuisine(where parties dine inprivate rooms) andless-formal kappōestablishments(modern restaurantswhere the chefRyōteiprepares dishes facinghis customers across a counter) to specialistrestaurants offering sushi, soba noodles, yakitori(skewered chicken with vegetables) and tempura(deep fried batter-dipped seafood and vegetables)and casual izakaya (Japanese pubs serving food toaccompany a range of beverages). In Japan it is notunusual for kaiseki-ryōri (fine cuisine served mainlyat ryōtei using fresh seasonal ingredients cooked tohighlight the original flavours and textures) to featureEuropean ingredients and tableware, or for oneizakaya customer to order a glass of champagnewhile another drinks shōchu (a traditional distilledspirit). Combining the pursuit of flavour with healthconsiderations and a range of foreign table cultures,Japanese cuisine is an increasingly appealingpalliative for jaded contemporary taste buds.

HarukiMurakamiExamples of Murakami’sbooks translated intoforeign languagesCourtesy of The Japan FoundationPortrait Marion EttlingerGlobalisation can undermine identity, resulting in a senseof emptiness and loss. Haruki Murakami’s novels, written ina dry style, portray this kind of contemporary society.Murakami was at university during the student activism ofthe late 1960s, and so is familiar with the succeeding periodduring which spiritual emptiness was pervasive. His works,which sometimes draw on the techniques of fable and sciencefiction, portray the difficulty of finding satisfaction in thebusiness of living and the consequent need for kindness.Amongst his main works are Norwegian Wood (1987), TheWind-up Bird Chronicle (1994) and Kafka on the Shore (2002).Portrait Makoto WatanabeOUT (1997), writesin a broad range ofgenre-transcending areas. Recentworks include Grotesque (2003).Yoko OgawaLa Formule

Nowadays, the term “manga” is used worldwide to refer to Japanese cartoons, as distinct from American comics or French bandes dessinées. Likewise, the term “anime” refers to Japan-produced animation as opposed to Disney cartoons or animation produced elsewhere. The 1990s saw the J