Koji Seto

Born on May 18, 1988, Koji Seto is a well known actor and singer in Japan. He was born in Kama, Fukoka, and was the eldest child with 2 younger siblings. Seto dreamed of being a veterinarian, but his plans changed when he was able to watch the TV series Orange Days while he was still in Junior High School. He then planned to become an actor, being inspired by the performance of Satoshi Tsumabuki in the series. He then enrolled in an acting school, with his parents providing full support to their son. In 2005, Seto got a role as Makoto Kanno in the comedy TV series Rocket Boys.

Koji Seto

 

After finishing his filming for the series (which took 6 months to air), he was surprised by his parents with a letter stating that Seto made it to the final round of the D-Boys audition by Watanabe Entertainment. Koji Seto then won the Grand Prix 2nd Winner award for his performance of “Himawari”, which was originally sung by Fukuyama Masaharu. in 2006, Seto starred along with his fellow D-Boys members in their own show, titled “D-Boys”. He also got the part for Eiji Kikumaru in Tenimyu, who is an energetic and highly acrobatic tennis player. He then popularized his nickname “Setomaru”, which was a combination of his last name, Seto, and the last name of Kikumaru. It became a household name in Japan with Seto’s 151 performances under the nickname. In 2007, Seto, along with stage partner Yukihiro Takiguchi, were given the Best Actors Album, and were given praise and acclaim by the creator. In 2009, Seto was casted for the latest sequel to the Ju-On movie which was entitled “Ju-On – Black Girl”. Seto then played again his role as Wataru Kurenai for the Kamen Rider Decade’s first and last episode. He also starred later that year for the TV series Atashinchi no Danshi as Satoru Okura, who is described as ill-tempered, but genius and witty.

 

image from Google

Japanese Architect Kisho Kurokawa

Kisho Kurokawa was born on April 8, 1934 in Kanie, Achi. He is a well known architect in Japan, and is also noted to be one of the leading founders of the Metabolist Movement. Kisho Kurokawa attended Kyoto University where in he graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Architecture. After he graduated in 1957, he then chose to study again in the University of Tokyo for his Masters degree, and was guided by Kenzo Tange through out his stay. He was able to obtain his Master’s degree in 1959. Kisho Kurokawa planned to pursue a doctorate in philosophy, but he eventually dropped out of it in 1964. In 1960, Kurokawa, along with his peers and colleagues, formed the avant-garde movement famously known as the Metabolist Movement. It is a movement revolving around the idea of using the environment and biological growth as inspiration for architectural designs, which also had some Marxist theory influences. The movement became successful, and reached its peak in 1970 at the Osaka World Expo 1970. The movement also dissolved the same year.

Kisho Kurokawa

 

Kurokawa founded his own architectural firm on April 8, 1962 which was named as Kisho Kurokawa Architect and Associates, where in he also acted as the president. The main office is located in Tokyo, with branches found in Osaka, Los Angeles, Nagoya, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, and Astana. It is registered as a “First Class Architects Office” in the Japanese government. Some of the notable projects that Kurokawa has been involved in are the Takara Beautilion, Nakagin Capsule Tower, Nation Museum of Ethnology and Headquarters of the Japanese Red Cross society in the 70s, National Bunraku Theater, Saitama Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, and Japanese-German center of Berlin in the 80s, Chinese-Japanese Youth Center, Okinawa Prefectural Government Headquarters and the Lane Crawford Place in the 90s. In his latter days, Kurokawa became more concerned in the protection of the environment and even ran for governor of Tokyo in 2007, in which he lost. Kurokawa died of heart failure on October 12, 2007.

 

Image from designbuild-network

Ichiro Suzuki, Japan’s Baseball Superstar

Ichiro Suzuki, was born on October 22, 1973, in Nagoya, Japan. Known simply as Ichiro, he is currently playing for the Miami Marlins in the Major League Baseball. Before he started his career in MLB, Ichiro first played in Japan in the Pacific League in 1992. He was known for his swinging style, which was then dubbed as the “pendulum”, which also garnered him some criticism from his manager Shozo Doi, and placed him in the farm system because of it. The whole duration of Ichiro’s stint under Shozo Doi saw him in the farm system, but that all changed when Doi was relieved of his duties in 1994. Doi was then replaced by Akira Ogi, who gave Ichiro playing time. He eventually earned a leadoff position, where in he further proved himself and his unusual and unorthodox swing were both effective and efficient. He then went on to set a single season Japanese record for hits, having 210 hits for that season. That record is not to be surpassed until Matt Murton had 214 hits in 2010.

Ichiro Suzuki

 

Ichiro then blossomed into a star, and garnered 7 consecutive batting titles and three consecutive Pacific League MVP awards. He then went on to lead the Blue Wave to a Pacific League pennant in 1995, its first one since 1983. Ichiro then moved in 2001 to the Major League Baseball and play for the Seattle Mariners. It eventually caught the attention of viewers, as Ichiro is the first Japanese position player to play for MLB. Ichiro had to prove his worth again, as spectators and critics predicted that the Japanese standout wont last long in the 162 game marathon of a seaon in MLB. He then set a rookie record of 242 hits in a season, the most since 1930 by a rookie. He then went on to play at the All-star game, and became the only player in MLB to win the Rookie of the Year award, MVP award, Gold Glove award, and Silver Slugger award.

image from google

 

 

Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball’s Creator

Akira Toriyama was born on April 5, 1955 in Nagoya Japan. Toriyama’s best known work is his anime series Dragon Ball, which went to become one of the most popular manga series and anime series of all time in the world. The manga sold over 230 million copies worldwide, and has achieved critical acclaim from readers, fans, and critics. Toriyama first discovered his talent for drawing when he was in elementary school with his friends, which became their source of entertainment. His skill became more developed, and noticed that he has surpassed the skill and talent of his classmates when he was able to do draw pictures of his classmates. His desire and passion for art however, became more noticeable when he won a prize for his One Hundred and One Dalmatians picture, and concluded that “art was fun”.

Akira Toriyama

 

When he was around 23 years old, he started working for an advertising company, designing their posters for three years. He then decided to leave, and aspired to have a career in the manga industry by joining a contest conducted by Jump magazine and submitting a work to have a chance of winning the prize money. He did not win the prize, but received a more valuable consolation prize; an encouragement coming from his future editor Kazuhiko Torishima. He then published his debut in the manga scene with his work, Wonder Island. It was published in Weekly Shonen Jump, but did not receive the popularity that he thought it would have. He would come back in 1981 with Dr. Slump, which proved to be a much stronger effort from him and ran from 1980 to 1984. This established his place as one of manga’s superstar writers. The series also earn Toriyama a Shogakukan Manga Award for best manga of the year. After the Dr. Slump series, Toriyama published in 1984 his greatest and most known work, Dragon Ball. It went on to be an international sensation, and sold 156 million copies in Japan, good enough for 2nd place in the best-selling mangas of all time list.

 

image from google

Order in the World through Dance!

World Order, a Japanese dance group and band, is one of the most interesting and innovative dancers there are. It is not like the typical hip hop, jazz or whatever that people see from typical dance competitions and dance groups. The way that World Order dances is something else beyond compare and beyond description. Genki Sudo used to be a Mixed Martial Artist who formed the band World Order after he retired from his martial arts career. He did not MMA and was able to complete and win multiple tournaments and competitions during his time.

genki sudo world order members

Members of the World Order

Their first and most impressive song “Machine Civilization” made them well-known throughout the world. This song was produced as their response to the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami calamity of Japan. Their forte would be choreographed robotic dances that have beaten our every notion of robotic dance. It shows mind-blowing synchronization, choreography and illusion. Most of their dances, though they seem as if they are parodying other artists are artistic homages to the greatest artists and musicians of our time. Their appeal to audiences may not be as significant as international artists from different corners of the world but they have dominated the Japan and other parts of the world with their innovation and creativity.

The group is composed of seven dancers who are known to push the boundaries beyond entertainment and awe. They even incorporate actual machinery in their dance that make them look as if they are live robots dancing to the tune of the music. What made them catch attention is the fact that they simply go out in public places, dance and leave as if nothing happened. This is their appeal, their uniqueness and quirkiness and the confusion of why they dance that way will certainly pull in audiences and invite them further to watch.

image by thisiscolossal

Running a Marathon, the Legacy of Yuki Kawauchi

Nobody would ever thought that a simple man that works a simple office job would ever make a name for himself internationally without the help of celebrities, scandals and the like. Yuki Kawauchi simply is one of the most incredible men in Japan and has gained his popularity quite anonymously. He is not an athlete and definitely not an Olympian. Kawauichi is a self-coached, 40 hour per week government worker who has ran eleven marathons in a single year. Whatever motivated him to do as such, he must be thankful for he topped a number of these marathons and has beaten quite a number of records by famous athletes as well. His average time in his eleven marathons in 2013 was significantly faster than the Top Eleven US marathon times. Out of these eleven, four were below 2:10 which was already considered as an elite athlete status.

Yuki Kawauchi (right)

It was in 2011 when he became quite popular with the media and the scouts. With his time at 2:08:37, he finished the Tokyo Marathon of 2011 as the first Japanese and third in overall rankings. He was given the nickname “citizen runner” when it came as a surprise that he works 40 hours a week for a full-time job for the government of the Saitama Prefecture. Without any sponsorship, trainers, coaches or teammates, he impressively did all the training by himself. He was given recognition and that despite the lack of professional training, he was given the chance to represent Japan in the World Championships in Athletics and the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. He has competed in a lot of marathons and finished first as well in a number of them.

Sometimes, it is those people we least expect that will impress us. Maybe in the next Olympics we would be able to see him running along other Olympiads and athletes to bring name and fame to Japan.

One of his best times

images by motivacion-ydeporte and ajw.asahi

Japanese Writers and their Take on Comfort Women Issues

Even if the war ended in the mid-1940s, it was only in the 1990s when the issue on Korean, Chinese, Filipino and Vietname Comfort Women was opened to the public. These women are females who were forced into sexual slavery that would serve the Japanese military during the Second World War. Though there were hundreds and thousands of women who suffered from this ordeal, the conservative nature of society during the time inculcated in them a hesitation to cry out for help.  It was only when the media started digging up dirt and took a serious look at this issue that tiny voices of women became larger than life and fought against this issue.

Comfort Women

The rising concern and anger regarding the issue has led to studies and researches regarding what truly happened to these Comfort Women and why it took decades before the issue started to come out. Literature experts, researchers, anthropologists, historians and all those concerned came from different corners of the world to make their own investigations regarding the matter. One by one, they started to uncover the truth.

There are even Japanese writers who made their own works regarding the matter. One particular writer, named Senda Kakou wrote a book entitled “Comfort Women” in 1973. Compared to other writers, Senda focused on the Japanese participants of what is then called as Comfort Stations. His work was the first post war piece that ever mentioned the idea of comfort women during the war. Not being able to believe his words, people, historians and the government accused his work to be distorted and fraudulent. With this he was widely criticized and the issue died down until activism on the issue sparked up again in the 90s.

Indonesian Comfort Woman, her testimony

In 1989, another Japanese journalist created his own testimony of the issue. He too was accused to be fraudulent. In 1996, he admitted that his testimony was fictional, though there is some degree of truth behind what he wrote, some parts of his memoir was mixed with a few of his own assumptions.

These two people are only some of those who were daring enough to write about their own accounts regarding what happened during the war before activism on the issue rose to popularity in the 90s, may it be based on what they saw or heard, nobody will ever truly know until the facts within these works are proven to be true.

image by tutufoundationasia and wikipedia

The Success of JPOP

The Japanese Pop music industry, more commonly referred to as JPOP, is an international sensation. Its unique appeal is known throughout the world and makes even non-Japanese speakers sing along. It is a popular musical genre which started in Japan around the 1990s and are deeply rooted from and influenced by traditional Japanese music. However, even if it is influenced by traditional Japanese music, post war Japanese music has started being influenced by western music such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys. By the 1970s, prior being labelled as pop music, this genre was considered as “new wave” with strong accents of electronic beats and many more.

Back in the 1990s, boy bands and girl groups were very popular that a lot of groups started sprouting out of nowhere. However, as the world reached the new millennium music was significantly changed again. Members from old boy bands and girl groups started opting for solo careers and venturing into other genres of music. Surprisingly, it was in the late 2000s that girl groups and boy bands started going back to the music scene; this time bringing even more surprises and flavor. Most of these groups become ambassadors of fashion, where trends are newly set influencing not only the Japanese but neighboring countries as well.  Most often than not, these groups are not only talented in singing. Majority of members are also great dancers, actors and models. The JPOP artists of today are much more diverse and holistic  – venturing into different forms of media. A group normally have strong dancers, great voices and even rappers for many. They diversify not only their talents but the quality of their music as well. Singing ballads and love songs are not the only focus that they have.

ARASHI – Most popular Japanese male idol group

It was because of the appeal of the artists that attracted millions of fans all over the world. Non-Japanese singers become die-hard fans of these JPOP groups that they start learning the language through listening to the songs. The biggest competition of the JPOP would be their Korean counterparts, aptly called as KPOP music. JPOP, though its popularity has been challenged in the recent years still continue to flourish not only in Japan but throughout the globe.

image by wikipedia

Of Boys and Bands

The JPOP industry made all local Japanese music popular in different parts of the world. This genre of music has been in the industry since the late 1970s when new wave groups started to fuse with Japanese music. It was a term used by the media to distinguish foreign music from the Japanese Popular Music. JPOP is not only a music genre, it also more of an identity. It has great influences in fashion, style, and many more – often mimicked by many neighboring Asian regions.

Through the years, the Japanese Popular Culture has grown into a more distinguished form of art and has reached a level of popularity that no other industry in Japan has ever reached.  Sales of music outside of Japan started to become famous and the fan base grew throughout the world. Simply put, JPOP was taking the world by storm. What made the Japanese Popular music ever so popular in the world are the boy bands that exemplify not only talents but style. They have pretty faces with strongly masculine flares. They set fashion trends, hair styles and even make up for men. Any fan girl would definitely go crazy at the sight of their favourite boy band.

Japanese Boy Bands Setting Fashion Trends

Boy bands were really popular in the 1990s however, these kinds of groups lost their lustre as ELECTRPOP, Party Music and EDM started to become popular in Hollywood and other parts of the West.  Anyone who has never listened to nor is familiar of the JPOP industry would think that Japan is rather traditional, thinking that it is unusual for this day and age to become a fan of a boy band. But, JPOP has given boy bands a new blaze for these kinds of Japanese bands play electropop and party music other than the normal romantic songs. Furthermore, among the most popular actors of today are idols from famous JPOP groups – diversifying their career from music to modelling and even acting.

Among the most popular Japanese Pop Idol Groups are Arashi, Da-Ice B’z and many more. Also popular today are girl bands or girl idol groups – setting a new image of the Japanese Kawaii. These include AKB48, Princess and Speed among others. JPOP, though only recently coined, gave the Japanese music industry a new face.

image by imgarcade

The Stereotype of a Japanese Man

Any person looking at a particular nation will always be influenced by a particular stereotype. Though the origins of these stereotypes are unknown, one’s relationships with certain people and how they treat each other will always be affected – for both positive and negative ways. Being a unique nation, it is expected that other nations will have a specific idea of what a normal Japanese person is.

Of course, there are a lot of positive ways for which other people look at the Japanese. The first of these would be their genuine love and intelligence towards science and technology. The Japanese are known to be innovators of technology, bringing into the world the latest and the best to fit man’s needs. People have this generalization that every single Japanese man can create their own robot, which is quite ridiculous. Though it may be true that the Japanese have a passion towards science, it is definitely unrealistic to generalize this idea over all the men in the Japanese population.

Another positive Japanese stereotype is the fact that a lot of non-Japanese people look at the community as a polite, respectful and kind people. This is true not only for Japanese men but for Japanese women as well. It is in their culture to incorporate these values in their daily lives. Furthermore, the Japanese people are also known to be hardworking, leading to the trust of foreign investors towards Japan.

The World’s Image of a Japanese Man

However, there are also very negative stereotypes towards the Japanese. The first is that people have an image of Japanese men to be hard working to an extent that they spend time excessively on their work. A lot of non-Japanese people are afraid of marrying Japanese men because of this idea, in fear that they will spend too little time for family.  Another stereotype that people have about the Japanese is that they are strange. A lot of Japanese products made famous in different parts of the world are some of their unique inventions and designs. This may also be attributed to the image that media has set regarding the Japanese people. This idea seems to overpower all their other achievements and possibly their true image as well.

image by Katsumi Kahara