Gaijin Evolution: From seekers and slackers to strivers and thrivers

Rewind two decades to the first issue of Metropolis in 1993. Japan was a juggernaut—about to roll to Number One on an unstoppable export machine. My time here tracks this magazine’s existence, so for the 1000th issue let me hazard a few thoughts about the changes in the Western population that constitutes our readership…


Metropolis “Last Word,” May 23, 2013


Song of the Rightwing Soundtruck: Tunes the Uyoku Use to Shatter Our Calm

Military songs from the ’30s and ’40s played to ear-rending levels, or even the occasional enka or anime theme song the rightwingers use to spice up their playlists, are probably not most modern-day Japanese people’s cup of tea. Yet their popularity on YouTube speaks volumes. Japan’s war songs might just hold a greater appeal to many Japanese people than you might imagine.

Metropolis, Oct 26, 2012

Festival/Tokyo 2012: Japan’s marquee theater fest defends free speech post-3/11

“In recent Japanese media… we can see a critical and dangerous increase in one-sided denunciations of risk-taking artists and art,” says program director Chiaki Soma in her notes for F/T12. To combat what she sees as a “nonchalant oppression,” Soma cobbled together a hard-hitting lineup of political theater for the fest’s fifth edition.

Metropolis, Oct 11, 2012

Patti Smith: Don’t Call Her a Survivor

“I was deeply concerned about the people and their morale,” Smith says by phone from Amsterdam, where she’s set to play the city’s famous Paradiso. “Lenny [guitarist Lenny Kaye] and I wanted to write a song but we didn’t want to write specifically about the disaster. Lenny was working on some chords and the words just came to me. It’s a simple song based on 16th-17th century Japanese literature. It’s a prayer to the mountain to shelter the people.”

Metropolis, Aug 17, 2012


Drama in the Wake of Disaster

‘‘There won’t be a simple yes or no vote on nuclear power. But I want to ask, ‘From where should the discussion begin?’’’ says the director Akira Takayama.

The New York Times, December 1, 2011

Japan’s New Wave of Protest Songs

A small group of Japanese songwriters takes an unusually political stand on the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The New York Times, June 30, 2011

Cool Japan Is Out of Breath

Is Japan losing its cool? (Japanese version)

Newsweek Japan cover storyJune 13, 2012