Otakon celebrates 20 years of anime fandom in the U.S.

| Aug 13, 2013

Otakon celebrates 20 years of anime fandom in the U.S.

The American anime convention, Otakon (“Otaku Convention”), begins with a costume parade before it officially opens. Last week I had a bird’s-eye view of the spectacle from my 14th-floor hotel room in Baltimore, Maryland. An endless army of imaginary characters trudged across the elevated ...

Can METI's ¥50 billion fund unfreeze 'Cool Japan'?

| Jul 9, 2013

Can METI's ¥50 billion fund unfreeze 'Cool Japan'?

Naysaying is almost always risk-free, especially if you do it online. If you’re a cynic, you’re usually right, and if you’re wrong, you can just delete those errant tweets and posts and join the party. So last month, when Japan’s Upper House rubber-stamped a ...

Social clubbing takes off with iFlyer service

| May 8, 2013

Social clubbing takes off with iFlyer service

Clubbing in Japan is a kick. The country’s zeal for global pop trends and its prominent club scene draws big-name DJs and performers from the international circuit. Japan’s hodgepodge approach to urban planning means that clubs seem to blossom nearly anywhere — in the ...

Pop tourism gains traction

| Apr 10, 2013

Pop tourism gains traction

Pre-flight shopping at Narita airport a couple of weeks ago, I passed a mannequin sporting a light-blue necktie and a turquoise wig with pig tails dangling down to its mini skirt. The vision spoke volumes: It was Hatsune Miku, of course, Japan’s holographic, animated ...

Hatsune Miku goes highbrow

Dec 21, 2012

Hatsune Miku goes highbrow

On her own, Japanese pop superstar Hatsune Miku can’t sing. Nor can she rap, dance or DJ. She is drug- and alcohol-free because she can’t indulge in either, and she can’t have affairs or engage in offstage shenanigans fit for YouTube scandals or tabloid ...

Townshend: Japan, U.K. took same postwar path

Dec 6, 2012

Townshend: Japan, U.K. took same postwar path

Who guitarist and composer Pete Townshend originally wanted to call his memoir, “Pete Townshend: Who He?” His publisher, HarperCollins, settled on the less cheeky, more digestible, “Who I Am” — though a better title might be: “Who I Was.” Townshend has long been rock ...

'I carry The Who brand with pride'

Dec 21, 2007

'I carry The Who brand with pride'

I first met The Who’s Pete Townshend 10 years ago at a hotel near his home in London for an interview. He entered the first-floor suite energetically. When he sat down, his crossed legs bounced with barely contained passion in response to each question. ...

Sep 30, 2007

Beyond darkness: sleepless in Tokyo

After Dark by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin. Knopf, 2007, 208 pp., $22.95 (cloth) If New York is the city that never sleeps, Tokyo is the city of sleepless souls — or so it appears in the cinematic narrative of “After Dark,” among ...