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Print is suffering, but English readers have never had it so good

by Angela Jeffs and Ashley Thompson

Returning to Osaka after several years, James wonders what became of Kansai Time Out, the magazine that served the English-speaking community in that region and beyond:

“It was an institution . . . had been around for years and was full of really interesting features as well as useful information. What happened?”

KTO was first published in 1977 and never failed to appear for the next 390 issues. It folded very suddenly in September 2009.

Why? According to former editors of the magazine interviewed by The Japan Times (“Did technology kill the KTO star,” Zeit Gist, Sept. 15, 2009), competing with digital media became an insurmountable challenge as readers flocked to free information online. Another blow for the magazine came when the main supplier of English books in Japan closed and they lost distribution to various locations outside of Kansai and overseas.

It’s possible there were other reasons for the magazine’s demise, but few can argue with the difficulties print publications face as online media become the preferred source of information for non-Japanese and Japanese readers alike. Over the years, some English-language periodicals in Japan have come and gone while others have persevered and new publications have popped up. All of these have had to grapple with the advent of the digital age, an issue Gianni Simone tackled in his recent two-part Zeit Gist series (“English mags approach milestone, crossroads,” April 25, and “It’s innovate or die in today’s mad mag world,” May 3).

On a similar note, John in Kanto asks about magazines for English speakers/readers in Japan: “I know it’s asking a lot, but there are a few of us here!”

Metropolis (formerly Tokyo Classified) describes itself as Japan’s No. 1 magazine in English and includes news and information about travel, entertainment and what to do in the capital: see metropolis.co.jp

Serving Kyushu since 1999, Fukuoka Now features area news and events, with a focus on providing information to foreign residents and visitors: www.fukuoka-now.com

In part to fill the hole left by KTO, Kansai Scene magazine serves Japan’s western hub, and can be picked up at more than 500 points around Kansai and Tokyo — visit www.kansaiscene.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=9&Itemid=8 for the full list.

Eye-Ai is a monthly magazine devoted to Japanese entertainment and culture. Produced in Tokyo but also sold overseas — mainly in Hawaii, but also in the U.S. and Southeast Asia — Eye-Ai is about to celebrate its 35th anniversary. Find out more at www.river-f.com/english/eyeai/?pid=index

Being A Broad and associated publications provide practical support for international women living in Japan. Website: www.being-a-broad.com

Tokyo Weekender, currently published every fortnight and covering topics ranging from current trends to business and education, has been around since 1970, and can also be found online: www.tokyoweekender.com

Tokyo Notice Board, free and published weekly, distributes Tokyo living information and classifieds: www.tokyonoticeboard.co.jp

Tokyo Families is for parents living in the capital, especially the newly arrived: www.tokyofamilies.com

For those of a more literary bent, the quarterly Kyoto Journal has been publishing articles, photography, fiction and poetry on subjects from architecture to philosophy since 1986. KJ switches to an all-digital format from June. For more information, visit their site at www.kyotojournal.org

Active types may enjoy Outdoor Japan, a bimonthly, bilingual guide to travel, the outdoors and active lifestyles that includes a mix of information about events, races, sports, lifestyle and other cultural and environmental topics. Their site: www.outdoorjapan.com

Ko-e Magazine is another bilingual bimonthly, this time focusing on literary and visual arts: www.koemagazine.com

Japanese-language learners should check out the bilingual Hiragana Times, which provides features and facts about Japan in Japanese, with furigana and English translations: www.hiraganatimes.com/hp/magazine/about/about-E.html

Kateigaho International Edition may also appeal to those interested in Japan’s arts and culture. Twitter user @tokyololas says: “Somewhat aimed at nonresidents but beautiful and lots to appeal to residents. Gorgeous magazine and I have been buying it for years.” Website: int.kateigaho.com/index.html

No. 1 Shimbun is the magazine of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. The print edition is available to members and visitors to the FCCJ headquarters in Yurakucho, Tokyo, but the high-quality journalism within its pages can be enjoyed by all online at no1.fccj.ne.jp

Webzines, or online magazines, are another good source for English and bilingual information and entertainment.

FitnessJP caters to anyone living an active lifestyle, with advice about fitness centers, sports clubs and other related events: www.fitnessjp.com

Paper Sky is a travel-focused Japanese magazine that publishes an English-language “international” edition. @Darrell_Nelson tweets: “Paper Sky is always worth a read — bilingual articles and great layout.” Visit www.papersky.jp/category/international/

You can find a wide variety of Japan-related content via Japanzine, formerly a nationwide print publication but now an online affair with an email newsletter service. Its articles run the gamut from travel, the arts, society and lifestyle to sports, music and humor: www.seekjapan.jp

@tokyofreelance suggested club and association magazines and journals, which are typically free to view online, such as ACCJ Journal (associated with Metropolis), Eurobiz and iNTOUCH (Tokyo American Club).

Thanks also to Twitter users @enginyd, @SawagiEnglish, @shilkytouch, @JapanLite , @ShanaGraves, and to Ali and Robert on Facebook for sharing their recommendations.

If we missed your favorite publication, please let us know.

Angela Jeffs is a freelance writer and writing guide ( www.thewriterwithin.net). Ashley Thompson writes survival tips and unique how-tos about living in Japan at www.survivingnjapan.com. Send all your questions to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp