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Contemporary Culture Going Global

Japan’s Products and Pastimes Seek Wider Audiences

Japan’s pop culture is making inroads in overseas populations and product markets and populations. As seen in this section, this is often on the strength of its creators’ dedication to careful craftsmanship, rather than due to a calculated global marketing strategy.

Japanese Star Katori Shingo’s One-Man Show in Paris

Paris, the city of arts, is being swept off its feet by Japonismes 2018, a series of Japanese cultural events celebrating 160 years of friendly ties between Japan and France. Highlighted by the lighting up of the Eiffel Tower in traditional Japanese colors, the more than 100 attractions include exhibitions, performances, films, pop culture events, and food. And among them is a dramatic display of artwork by Katori Shingo, a popular Japanese actor and singer serving as a Japonismes 2018 goodwill ambassador.

Taniguchi Jirō’s World of Manga

Manga creator Taniguchi Jirō died in February 2017, leaving behind an immense and impressive body of work. His comics drew particular praise in France; he was just one of three mangaka to receive Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Rakugo Without Borders: Exporting Japanese ComedyClara Kreft

Rakugo, the traditional art of comic storytelling, is generally seen as almost impenetrable to those without a strong command of Japanese. But the Rakugo Without Borders project is changing this view with its subtitled shows that are making audiences laugh around the world.

A Retro Manga Master’s Italian Renaissance

Italian fans have discovered the allure of the late manga artist Kamimura Kazuo, whose erotic yet poetic depiction of women elicited comparisons with ukiyo-e and whose ruthless heroines have inspired the likes of Quentin Tarantino. We talked to the translator and scholar Paolo La Marca about his love affair with Kamimura’s work.

Meet Obada Kassoumah, the Syrian Who Translated “Tsubasa”

In January 2017, the Arabic translation of the hit manga series Captain Tsubasa went on sale in the United Arab Emirates. A portion of the first print run was donated to Syrian refugee children. It was translated by Obada Kassoumah, a 27-year-old Syrian who learned the language by studying abroad in Japan. We spoke to him about the hurdles of translating this Japanese soccer classic into his own language.

Boys’ Love and the Bard: Brighton-Based Manga Artist Kutsuwada ChieTony McNicol

Japanese-born manga artist Kutsuwada Chie lives in Brighton and runs manga workshops for children and students around Britain. Her work spans genres from samurai legend to horror, but her passion is yaoi, which depicts romantic or sexual relationships between male characters. She is now at work on a yaoi manga adaptation of Shakespeare’s sonnets to the “Fair Youth.”

“Strip!”: The Manga Art of Anno Moyoco

A recent exhibit at the Parco Museum in Ikebukuro looked at 20 years of creations by manga artist Anno Moyoco. Here's a look at what was on display and an overview of her career.

Concert to Honor the Anime World of Nagai Gō

A concert on September 18 honoring manga and anime creator Nagai Gō will feature orchestral arrangements of the theme songs from many of his most famous works, including Mazinger Z, Cutie Honey, and Devilman. asked Nagai to share his thoughts ahead of the event.

Wonder Festival 2016 (Photo Gallery)

The biannual event brings together creators and fans of figures and models in a showcase of the latest additions to popular series, limited edition items, and original creations from manga, anime, and video games.

“Dragon Quest Museum” Celebrates 30 Years of Classic RPG

Since the release of the first Dragon Quest game in 1986, there have been 10 installments in the main series and numerous spin-offs. An exhibition in Shibuya, Tokyo, looks back at three decades of the series that changed Japanese gaming.

Bending Metal: Marty Friedman Takes on the Babymetal Invasion

Japanese idol group Babymetal have stormed onto the world heavy metal scene with a unique brand of music that combines established metal riffs and high-octane performances with anthems on such everyday themes as chocolate. Legendary heavy metal guitarist and long-time resident of Japan Marty Friedman argues that, love or hate them, the trio is giving the long-established genre a needed shakeup.

The Manga City Where Japan’s Spirits Staff

Mizuki Shigeru, who passed away in November 2015, is known for the many yōkai (natural spirits) that appear in his manga works. Statues of these characters and other themed attractions now draw tourists to Mizuki’s hometown of Sakaiminato in Tottori Prefecture.

Farewell, Naruto: The Curtain Closes on the World’s Best-Loved Ninja

On November 10, 2014, the manga series Naruto ended its 15-year run in the weekly Shōnen Jump. We spoke with Kishimoto Masashi, author of this work beloved in Japan and around the world, about his thoughts on the series and what lies ahead for him as an artist.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s J-Pop “Kawaii” in Paris

Pop singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has already hit it big in Japan, but now she’s aiming to build her fanbase overseas. Here we interview a Japanese reporter living in Paris to find out how Kyary’s brand of kawaiii is viewed in France.

Manga Artist Brings Bushidō Spirit to FranceLaurent Lefebvre

Every summer France hosts the Japan Expo to showcase Japanese pop culture. In 2012, the martial-arts manga artist Saruwatari Tetsuya attended the event. In this article, we spotlight his visit.

French Manga Fans Inspire the Work of Tsutsui TetsuyaLaurent Lefebvre

The young manga artist Tsutsui Tetsuya was highlighted at the 2012 Japan Expo in Paris. French journalist Laurent Lefebvre looks at his work, including his latest series Prophecy, which depicts the anxieties youth now face in our social-networking era.

“Anime” and “Manga” Take Root in ChinaKobayashi Sayuri

Japanese subculture is surprisingly popular in China these days, particularly anime and manga. This article sheds some light on what’s driving this popularity.

Decoding the Charm of Japanese Video Games (Part Two)Tane Kiyoshi

Japan’s video-game industry, which has had a huge impact on pop culture worldwide, today faces tough times. This article looks at the dilemma and how the industry might make a comeback in the future.

A Soccer Hero Adored Around the WorldIwamoto Yoshihiro

The manga and anime series Captain Tsubasa ignited a soccer boom in Japan, has been aired in countries across the globe, and made an impact on many soccer greats. Author Takahashi Yōichi discusses how Tsubasa came into being and the secrets behind the international popularity of Japan’s pop culture.

Exporting “Otaku”

Japan’s otaku culture centered on manga, anime, and video games is seeing a growing number of aficionados worldwide. We take a look at major otaku-themed events that take place each summer in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Paris and get a glimpse of the Japanese pop culture that is seeking an increasingly global audience.

Decoding the Charm of Japanese Video Games (Part One)Tane Kiyoshi

Video game systems from Nintendo and Sony have had a huge impact on worldwide culture. This two-part article explores Japanese cultural factors that helped give birth to these games and the secrets of their success.

Lasting Popularity for a Tough Watch

Nearly three decades after the 1983 launch of the G-Shock series, Casio has put its watches on wrists in the world’s mountains, seas, skies, and streets. By pairing functional durability with awareness of youth culture and fashion, G-Shock’s creators have achieved a lasting hit series.

If It’s Not “Kawaii,” How Can It Be Smart?

A key question faces Japan’s mobile phone industry: When will young women make the switch to smartphones? This demographic has driven mobile phone development for a decade or so, and young women’s tastes have inspired only-in-Japan innovations that have given conventional handsets uniquely convenient—and cute!—functions found nowhere else.

Rokkaku Ayako: An Artist with the World at Her Fingertips

A rising star of the Japanese art world, Rokkaku Ayako creates a vivid world of color and vitality by painting directly with her fingers without any preliminary sketches or guidelines. Her beguiling works have captured the hearts of people of all ages and backgrounds around the world.

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