Streams

 

Japan

Studio 360

Bad Fortune Lack

Friday, November 21, 2008

While the Japanese are known to be secular or atheist, at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples you'll often see people dropping coins in an offering box and praying (albeit briefly). Another ritual at these sites is to get a fortune, or omikuji. At the Akasuka Temple in Tokyo, you ...

Read More

Comments [3]

Studio 360

Pachinko wizard

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I was alone in Kyoto part of last week getting tape for a story.  One night after doing an interview, I was looking for something to do... and I stumbled into one of the city's gigantic pachinko parlors.  The sliding doors opened to a wall of sound -- a cacophony ...

Read More

Comments [3]

Studio 360

Tokyo Confidential

Thursday, November 20, 2008

As we walked down one of the narrow side streets of the Times Square-ish entertainment district around the Shibuya train station, past swank rock clubs and 'love hotels,' we came upon an unlit, grimy, highly decorative stone-and-stucco facade that looked to be from the first third of the 20th century -- an ...
Read More

Comments [1]

Studio 360

Be here now

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Buddhist word of the day: On the overview map of Kyoto train station I noticed this funny thing, instead of saying 'You are here' it simply said 'Now'. I guess it comes to the same, except 'Now' would be true not just for the Kyoto train station map, but for ...

Read More

Comment

Studio 360

Meanwhile, back at Studio 360...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kurt Andersen and most of the staff are in Japan. Who's minding the shop?

Read More

Comments [8]

Studio 360

360 Book Club: The Tale of Genji

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

So get this: the world's first novel came from Japan -- and it was written by a woman -- and it's all about sex.

Japanese literary buffs and commoners alike are celebrating the 1000th anniversary of The Tale of Genji. The author Murasaki Shikibu (c. 973 - c. 1014 ...

Read More

Comment

Studio 360

Biking the hills of old Kyoto

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Our disco-era Kyoto hotel redeemed itself when we found out they rent free bikes.  So our 24-hour visit was topped off by a delightful morning ride through the hills of the Higashiyama district.  It's the section with the largest concentration of temples and shrines, with narrow streets lined by old ...

Read More

Comments [1]

Studio 360

Sun(glasses) King

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I knew about otaku, the term for Japanese obsessively interested in particular cultural artifacts -- particular kinds of anime, arcade video games, 1950s L.A. jazz, whatever. But I had no idea how deep and odd the obsessions ran until today.

As I was wandering through the neighborhood of ...

Read More

Comments [1]

Studio 360

Revenge of the nerds

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Holy Geekdom! The DENPA party Sunday night was euphoric. Two floors full of happy nerds, dressed up as their favorite manga/anime/computer game characters, dancing to extremely loud computer game music, drinking, smoking and taking pictures of each other in studied poses. Takero Mimura, one of the producers of the night ...

Read More

Comments [3]

Studio 360

Kurt, Pico, and Bambi

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yesterday the whole team was in Nara (30 minutes by train from Kyoto) to meet with the writer Pico Iyer -- we've turned to him several times on the show for his keen, beautifully expressed observations of life in various corners of the world. Pico first came to Japan 20 ...

Read More

Comments [1]

Studio 360

Kyoto hotel: ancient 70s chic

Monday, November 17, 2008

We're in Kyoto tonight after a wonderful interview with Pico Iyer in nearby Nara. (More on that to come.) In our 12 hours here, we got great tape, saw beautiful night-lit temples, and ate delicious sushi at a genuine local joint. Our accommodations, however, leave something to be desired. ...

Read More

Comments [1]

Studio 360

I saw the light in Naoshima

Sunday, November 16, 2008

You'd think that a New Yorker wouldn't succumb easily to urban claustrophobia. But when I finally got to the fields and mountains of rural southern Japan -- three trains and four hours later -- the sense of relief and calm I felt were palpable. I was making a pilgrimage to ...
Read More

Comments [2]

Studio 360

Street festival for drummers, breakdancers

Sunday, November 16, 2008

On the streets of Shibuya today: drum circles, drumming lessons, and breakdancing. We met a young radio reporter (Pejk spotted his DAT recorder) and he told us it's the third annual Shibuya music festival, called Shibu-on.

Some video highlights: first, breakdancing unplugged - to hand drums, pan flute and didgeridoo. ...

Read More

Comments [1]

Studio 360

Temple-hopping (or: the temples are hopping)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's high season in Kyoto -- this weekend, the autumn colors are at their brightest and it seems like the whole country plus several others have converged on the city to take a look.  Luckily, there are dozens of temples (probably a dozen 'major' ones alone) with gorgeous landscapes and ...

Read More

Comment

Studio 360

Design for the Real (Japanese) World

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We (Americans) love to talk about how Japanese design - sushi, origami, bonsai trees - is amazing for its beauty and detail.  And yes, those things are there. But as I've been walking the streets of Tokyo, a few things have caught my eye that are much more utilitarian.

When ...

Read More

Comments [3]

Studio 360

Your life is a precious gift from your parents

Friday, November 14, 2008

The first view of Mount Fuji is like a blow to your stomach, utterly breathtaking. Towering Godzilla-like over everything it is perfect, like a children's drawing. Did someone just say all cliches are true? I arrived yesterday to the Solar Cafe and Emiko, the inn keeper made a wonderful dinner ...

Read More

Comments [3]

Studio 360

Kyoto Station

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kyoto may be the 1200-year-old home of Japanese classical arts, but you wouldn't know it when you first get here.

Built in 1997 by Hiroshi Hara, Kyoto Station is a stunning living monument to modern Japan.  A hub for multiple regional and local train lines, it's also home to great ...

Read More

Comments [1]

Studio 360

She looks like an axelotl?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today I joined Lisa Katayama for her interview with Erina Matsui, a 24-year-old artist who's already gotten the attention of Takashi Murakami and other art world big-wigs. Erina paints playful and surrealistic self-portraits, which she says should make people laugh. So as we walked into the Yamamoto Gendai ...

Read More

Comments [1]

Studio 360

Kawaii Kurt

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The motto of a fictional character of mine was All Cliches Are True. As I was reminded twice, spectacularly, during my first full day in Tokyo.

Of course I knew about the (cliche of the) Japanese schoolgirl subculture, and its devotion to cuteness, uniformity, pinkness, intense girl-to-girl friendliness, technology, and ...
Read More

Comments [2]

Studio 360

The old poet and the radios

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

While the girls were hanging out in Golden Gai last night, I was picked up by William Elliott and Kazui Kawamura, the English translators of the poet Shuntaro Tanikawa and taken to an undisclosed location to meet the poet himself. I had met Tanikawa in Copenhagen 10 years ...

Read More

Comments [6]