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Legends: Japan’s Most Notable Names

This series looks at the lives and careers of Japan’s most successful and respected icons in a range of fields, including music, art, and fashion.

Ozawa Seiji: The Self-Made MaestroShibata Katsuhiko

One of the most renowned orchestra conductors of our era, Ozawa Seiji was not born into a musical elite. His successes are entirely due to hard work, dynamism, and personal appeal, qualities that have allowed him to reach the pinnacle of the classical music world.

Moriyama Daidō: Photographer with the “Eyes of a Stray Dog”Iizawa Kōtarō

Moriyama Daidō wanders the streets like a stray dog, taking snapshots that leave vivid impressions on viewers. He is mentioned with the likes of Araki Nobuyoshi as one of Japan’s contemporary master photographers.

Ocean Child: Reappraising Ono Yōko’s AchievementsKusumi Kiyoshi

For many years, Ono Yōko’s putative role in the breakup of the Beatles overshadowed her own achievements as an artist and activist. Now all that is changing. Art critic Kusumi Kiyoshi adds his own insights to the ongoing reappraisal of this much-misunderstood Japanese legend.

Araki Nobuyoshi: An Artistic Rebel, UnbowedIizawa Kōtarō

Araki Nobuyoshi began his career as a rebel and is now one of the world’s reigning masters of photography. A critic and close friend of the artist looks back over Araki’s prolific and sometimes tempestuous life.

Love Forever: The Genius of Kusama YayoiTatehata Akira

With major exhibitions opening in Japan and North America this year, 87-year-old Kusama Yayoi, known for her “obsessive” repetition of polka dots and reticulated patterns, is one of the most widely admired figures on the contemporary art scene today. Longtime champion Tatehata Akira traces the roots and evolution of her eccentric yet highly compelling idiom, from the “naked happenings” of the 1960s to the dazzling “pumpkin” installations of recent years.

Kitano Takeshi: Marching to His Own Creative “Beat”Uno Koremasa

Kitano Takeshi has established a unique position for himself, appearing as a popular comedian on Japanese TV while simultaneously winning international acclaim as a serious filmmaker. Meet the unique creator who has for many years lived a double life as mass entertainer and creative artist.

Sakamoto Ryūichi: A Trailblazer Reshaping the Art of MusicAmatatsu Yasufumi

Sakamoto Ryūichi won global fame in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a member of Japanese techno-pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra. In the ensuing decades he has continued to carve out new musical possibilities with genre-crossing works.

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