Interviews With Japan People

Japan Interviews

Regge Life discusses his work


Regge Life's film Doubles: Japan and America's Intercultural Children was screened at the Kansai International Film Festival.

Regge Life is an award-winner director: four CINE Golden Eagles, a Sony Innovator of 1991, and he has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy for work on Sesame Street.

Regge Life is in addition the founder and director of the Global Film Network.

C. Ogawa

Toyota Designer Simon Humphries working at the world's most successful auto company

Toyota Designer Simon Humphries

Simon Humphries has been in Japan a long time, since 1988, and has worked as a designer for Sony as well as Toyota. What makes him a bit special is the fact that he's the only Western regular employee at Toyota's headquarters in Toyota-shi near Nagoya, out of some 700 designers there.

And while he is quick to downplay this uniqueness, he's not been afraid to capitalize on it, to the benefit of both himself and Toyota.

Now in his lateish 30s, he is currently responsible for Design Strategy for both the Toyota and Lexus brands.

Richard Donovan

Pink Box - an interview with author Joan Sinclair

Read an interview with Pink Box author Joan Sinclair.

Read an interview with Joan Sinclair, author and photographer of Pink Box. Joan Sinclair feminist, journalist, lawyer, photographer, and former English teacher talks about her work on Japan's ubiquitous sex industry, Pink Box: Inside Japan's Sex Clubs.

In Japan the archetypes for sex clubs come from manga; the aesthetics are similar to manga, the heroes reflect adult manga. These kinds of clubs in a way adhere to cultural norms, but they are more a sanctioned playground where men can be boys, can break the rules while still sticking within the norms of Japanese society.

David Mitchell author of Cloud Atlas

David Mitchell Cloud Atlas

Booker Prize-nominated author David Mitchell moved to Hiroshima in his mid-twenties, where he decided to get serious about his career as an author.

Not surprisingly, Japan has had a profound impact on his work, and his first two novels - Ghostwritten (1999) and Number 9 Dream (2001) - feature a deluded cult member hiding in Okinawa, a juvenile jazz-buff finding romance in Tokyo, and a mind-bending trip into the capital's seedy underbelly.

Joe Sinclair

Kabuki Star Ebizo Ichikawa XI

Kabuki interview.

Dressed in the black robes of a wandering samurai, Ebizo Ichikawa XI struts out to the centre of the stage and turns towards the auditorium, hands on hips. His face, legs and hands are still plastered in white makeup. But he has taken off his wig.

He calls out an order and the lights dim, sending the river, flowers and bushes into darkness. But beneath the spotlight, the twenty-eight year old, kabuki's new superstar is glowing.

The dress rehearsal went well, but there are details to finalise and Ebizo is not yet satisfied. The lighting, the set, the performances, must all be perfect for tomorrow's first night.

Joe Sinclair

Japanese Tattoo Salon: Chopsticks

Tattoo Artist

It is estimated that about 15% of the American population, and no less than 36% of those between 25 and 29, sport at least one tattoo. America being America, that is a fairly reliable indicator of how popular getting a tattoo is anywhere in the world at the moment. Japan, with its own venerable tradition of tattooing, is no exception.

However the way that tattooing developed in Japan means that until very recently it was something that stigmatized and alienated the wearer, perhaps even more than in the West.

Apparently tattooing began in the 17th century in Japan as a reaction against laws that sought to lock society into a rigid class structure by prescribing and proscribing certain ways of behaving, eating, dressing, and styling oneself.

David Stormer

Film Director John Foster talks about Kyoto Nocturnes

Read more on John Foster. recently spoke with photographer and filmmaker John Foster. His film "Kyoto Nocturnes, Part 1: Elegant Slaughter" played at the Kansai International Film Festival. The film is, in the words of KyotoNoir, about a "psychotic yakuza boss [that] hires an alluring American hit woman to end a gang war in the geisha district of Japan's ancient capital." Originally from New York, Foster first came to Japan in the early 1990s and takes about the experience of being a foreign filmmaker in Japan.

C. Ogawa

"Moving, Moving": Photographer Barbara Flatten

Read about photographer Barbara Flatten.

A vivid, yet ephemeral red-skirted pair of legs - only just identifiable as such - swirling astride a chaotic cityscape. This was my first encounter with the work of Tokyo-based German photographer, Barbara Flatten. It was May, 2007, at the fourth of the Naked Tokyo events in Roppongi. This depiction of ghostly flamboyance haunting an impersonal urban clutter kept me in front of the giant photograph for minutes. There was a mysteriousness about this rainbow-toned, unpindownable movement - not only in this particular photo, but in all of Flatten's other works, too.

David Stormer

Gay Bar Owner "Take-san"


The owner of a gay bar in Tokyo's Ni-chome district, Take [pronounced ta-kay]-san, has operated Usagi since 2006. Until then he was associated with GB, a long-running Ni-Chome institution, where he was a barman. He talks about coming out, running a gay bar in Shinjuku and the changing nature of Japan's gay scene.

This interview was later withdrawn at the request of interviewee

David Stormer

Kenichi Iwamoto - Translator for Trey Hillman and Tsuyoshi Shinjo

Self-confessed baseball fanatic Kenichi Iwamoto went to college in the US to try his luck in life after a junior high school injury ruled him out playing the game at a high level. Iwamoto eventually became the translator for Tsuyoshi Shinjo at the New York Mets and Trey Hillman in Japan, when the American managed the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

Andrea Marcus

Calligraphy & Suiboku Master, Ransui

Calligraphy and suiboku master, Ransui Yakata.

Satoshi "Ransui" Yakata is a young Japanese calligraphy and watercolor master active in Tokyo, Japan, and with a broad international portfolio. The watercolor painting he specializes in is known as suiboku: a traditional style that, like calligraphy itself, originated in China. I got to know Ransui (his professional name) in 2006 when, eager to try calligraphy, I was introduced to him through a friend. Ever cheerful, and with a maturity beyond his years, he inspired me both with his buoyancy of spirit and consummate skill with the brush.

David Stormer

Kyoto Buraku Liberation League (BLL)'s Shigeki Yasuda

Kyoto Buraku Liberation League (BLL)'s Shigeki Yasuda.

Kyoto is home to eleven recognized Dowa areas. These are the neighborhoods in which the Burakumin live. These people are the historical outcastes of Japan whose ancestors performed unclean work - often work with corpses or animal skins - and were restricted to living in certain areas of the city and throughout Japan. From the late 1960's until 2002, residents of officially recognized Buraku areas received affirmative action benefits from both the national and local governments.

C. Ogawa

James Heisig

James Heisig.

James Heisig is Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Letters and Permanent Research Fellow of the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture at Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan. Professor Heisig is best known for his Remembering the Kanji and Remembering the Kana books, which have now been published in English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and Dutch, with the Hungarian and Italian translations currently being prepared. He has also recently published similar books for students of Chinese, Remembering Traditional Hanzi and Remembering Simplified Hanzi.

David White

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