Friday, July 23, 2010

New print of Japanamerica in Japan...

...courtesy of Takeda Random House, formerly Random House Kodansha:

Interview with Haruki Murakami, out now in Japan

My interview with Haruki Murakami on America, American literature, and American readers has just been released here in Japan in "Monkey Business." The interview was translated by Motoyuki Shibata, and I am honored.

Online info HERE.

Amazon purchase HERE.

モンキービジネス Vol.10 アメリカ号


モンキービジネス Vol.10 アメリカ号

定価:1,575円(本体価格 1,500円+税)


内田 樹×柴田元幸


リン・ディン 休み時間をカジノで 訳―平塚隼介


穂村 弘 行ってみたいな僕の国


レベッカ・ブラウン ホーソーン 訳―柴田元幸


聞き手―ローランド・ケルツ 訳―柴田元幸

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Japanamerica drumming...? Tokyo

Oops. I also play the drums:

Come See ALi-MO and be Coool!

Date: July 24, Saturday

Venue: What The Dickens! (EBISU)
4th Floor, Loop6 Bldg
1-13-3 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-5545-4242

Time: 9:00-ish p.m. till midnight
Price: FREE!!

Norwegian Wood / Noruwei no Mori teaser

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Geisha Beer Gardens in Kyoto/ Telegraph UK

by Danielle Demetriou for

Say the word “geisha” and images of beautiful kimono-clad women serving green tea, reciting poetry and playing classical instruments may spring to mind.

In Japan, outsiders typically pay hundreds of pounds in order to spend several hours with geisha in teahouses, with activities including artful conversation, and dancing.

But the lull in the global economy appears to be forcing the world of geisha to seek more enterprising — and cheaper - ways of earning a living by setting up geisha beer gardens.

At the traditional inn Gion Shinmonso, in the ancient capital of Japan, for the £4 (530 yen) cost of a draft beer, visitors can raise toasts and make conversation with trainee geisha, called maiko, before they perform nightly traditional Kyotan dances known as “kyomai” on a special beer garden stage.

Meanwhile, the beer garden at Kamischichiken enables visitors to buy a “geisha starter pack” for £13, including a mug of beer, two snacks and company of kimono-clad geisha.

“We introduced the service because before, fewer guests were visiting the inn,” said a spokeswoman from Gion Shinmonso.

“We also wanted people to learn more about maiko and geisha. Many more people are able to see them now. They have attracted a lot more customers.”

The world of geisha blossomed in Kyoto in the 18th century, with young girls trained rigorously in geisha houses an array of traditional arts, from tea ceremony and kimono dressing to playing classical instruments.

The number of geisha — who are trained to provide entertainment and no sexual services — peaked at 80,000 in Japan in 1928 but since then has declined to an estimated 1,000 across the country.

The rise of the geisha beer gardens may help more people gain access to a world that was previously unaffordable, according to Ayako Itagaki, deputy director of the London office of the Japan National Tourist Organisation.

“Geisha are an iconic image of Japan and something many visitors to Japan would like to experience,” she said. “I think beer gardens are a wonderful development that is opening the geisha world up in a new modern way to those who before would have struggled to gain access due to the high costs and their exclusivity.”

Roland Kelts, author of Japanamerica, a lecturer at Tokyo’s Temple University and a visiting scholar at the University of Tokyo, added: “ I suspect it could really take off, especially if they can handle queries and bookings in Chinese and Korean, given the recent spike in the number of Asian tourists.

“Kyoto is the premiere destination for visitors seeking encounters with the so-called ’real Japan,’ or at least an accessible and satisfying version of it.” Here

Friday, July 09, 2010

Anime Avatars in the USA

SOFT POWER - HARD TRUTHS / Know thy audience

A few months ago in New York, I got wind of an enterprising new virtual reality game called TinierMe. The principal developer, the Japanese gaming company GCrest, a division of CyberAgent Inc., opened an office in San Francisco earlier this year for the U.S. launch of its virtual reality portal featuring anime -style visuals.

Imagine Second Life with avatars that look like anime characters, giving American and other English-speaking fans a chance to cosplay, to create their own anime-inspired avatars anytime they want, rather than waiting for the next area anime convention.

Amid the dissonance of declining anime DVD and manga book sales abroad and at home and the escalating numbers of overseas fans attending conventions and expos, entrepreneurs are beginning to see an opportunity: Reach the fans via new networks of accessibility, and you just might survive.

"We see tremendous opportunity for growth," says Masaru Ohnogi, who heads GCrest America in San Francisco and is overseeing the launch of TinierMe. We met in the parent company's Shibuya headquarters during his brief Tokyo business trek late last month. "Our goal is to become a virtual Disneyland," he says. "We want to entertain people all over the world, with music, games, anime...everything." [more HERE; & @ 3:AM HERE]