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John L. Tran
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art / 2019 in Review
Dec 17, 2019
Creative expression stifled by 'safety concerns' in Japan
As the taboo-busting comic Joan Rivers used to say after pressing her audience's buttons, 'Can we talk?' On the evidence of this year's Aichi Triennale, if it's about World War II atrocities, the answer seems to be 'no.'
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Nov 20, 2019
Yukinori Yanagi: Resurrecting Akitsushima
For Yukinori Yanagi, whose work from the late '80s and '90s featured ants burrowing through national flags made of sand, nature is not synonymous with an anthropomorphically friendly 'harmony' or 'balance'; it's disruption, chaos, decay and metastasis.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WHY DID YOU LEAVE JAPAN?
Nov 16, 2019
Yoshi Shimizu: Curiosity and the camera
Taking an elective course on photography while studying business in California changed the whole course of Yoshi Shimizu's career.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Nov 7, 2019
Yayoi Kusama: The underdog story of a Japanese art maverick
A documentary tells the story of Yayoi Kusama's battles with racism, sexism and mental illness during her 70-plus years of creating art.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Nov 6, 2019
The power of cultural and economic capital
Compared to exhibitions in which art objects are meant to seduce us into epiphanic transcendence, the works in "Surface and Custom," a group show at Shiseido Gallery organized by Berlin-based artists Jay Chung and Q Takeki Maeda, are more akin to frank expositions about the exchange of cultural and economic...
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Oct 25, 2019
Bicycles and bees on Papersky’s Tour de Nippon
Papersky's Tour de Nippon project combines cycling with other activities, such as gastronomy, hiking and craft workshops.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WHY DID YOU LEAVE JAPAN?
Oct 19, 2019
Taku Sekine: Paris, liberty and cocktails
Shifting from a background in political science to studying languages and then training as a chef, Sekine says he only serves a menu degustation at his Paris restaurant Dersou because, 'I want to be free, actually ... from everything.'
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Oct 15, 2019
So much to say — so many ways to show it
Same-sex relationships, American bases in Okinawa, globalization, the Olympics, the atomic bomb, national identity, the exploitation of natural resources — 'Image Narratives: Literature in Japanese Contemporary Art' at The National Art Center, Tokyo, does not lack for hot button topics.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Oct 8, 2019
'Reading Images': Take the time to read into photography
The Tokyo Photographic Art Museum exhibition "The Time of Photography" starts with kitsch late 19th-century Yokohama shashin — hand-colored photos of Japanese scenes for sale to foreigners — and ends with the evanescence of Rinko Kawauchi's photography of everyday life made poetic through the artist's...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Sep 24, 2019
Art at a science museum: When worlds collide
The premise of 'Illuminating Landscapes: The Integration of Art and Science,' as designer Taku Satoh puts it, is to explore 'art and science together, not separated, as is too common in today's world.'
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WHY DID YOU LEAVE JAPAN?
Sep 7, 2019
Mio Yamada: A life-changing cycle in Africa
Mio Yamada has a deep voice with a reassuringly matter-of-fact quality about it. She tells me that her day, like every day in Rwanda, is going to be spent troubleshooting. This is mostly what life is about for her at the moment: dealing with electricity blackouts, water getting cut off ...This affects...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Sep 3, 2019
Julian Opie: A fascinating view of the mundane
Julian Opie's schematic reductions of people, animals and landscapes to planes of color may be fun and casual, but it's not just eye-candy — he gets us to see much more than he shows us.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Aug 20, 2019
Minimalism: Not as straightforward as it seems
It's 100 years since the Bauhaus art and design school first opened in Weimar, Germany, and the new Muji flagship store in Ginza is as good a venue as any to hold an anniversary exhibition celebrating the values of simple, affordable modernist design.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WHY DID YOU LEAVE JAPAN?
Aug 17, 2019
Shiori Aiba: Getting the right paperwork
Life in Berlin inspires textile designer Aiba to branch out into jewelry.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Aug 10, 2019
Reborn-Art Festival: A Tohoku community gets a new lease on life
Climbing the stairs of Ishinomaki's first department store, built in 1930, I can hear the sound of a man singing and the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar. The voice is not one of a professional crooner; it's raspy and unsure, and sounds like an amateur retelling a tale of sorrow without too much...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Aug 6, 2019
'What Do You See When You Look at Pictures?': Reading between the brushstrokes
'What Do You See When You Look at Pictures?,' the current exhibition at the Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, presents itself as an exercise in visual literacy and is full of thoughtful provocations.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jul 2, 2019
Sachiko Kazama: Objections on paper
Sachiko Kazama's epic black-and-white compositions scratch at the history of Japanese fascism, refusing to let it hide behind prevarication and bad text books.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jun 25, 2019
Tadanori Yokoo: From the shadows within
The blotchy, salty self-portrait that confronts you as you enter Tadanori Yokoo's exhibition of recent work "B29 and Homeland: From My Childhood to Andy Warhol" (2018) has a hangman's noose in the top left corner. This recalls one of the artist's most renowned works, the 1965 "Having Reached a Climax...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jun 4, 2019
Ryuji Miyamoto: Looking back to go forward
'Invisible Land' at the TOP Museum doesn't showcase Ryuji Miyamoto's best-known works. Instead, it offers insight into the photographer's development of a style that led to international recognition.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
May 28, 2019
Yu Araki: What you get is what you see
The minimalist elegance of Yu Araki's 'Le Souvenir Du Japon' at first seems to be an affirmation of civilization and the redemptive possibilities of beauty; however, within the gorgeous setup is a postcolonial ambivalence about the social and historical conditions of 'taste.'

Longform

The Japanese government updated its English education guidelines in 2017 to emphasize communication over grammar and memorization. Public school teachers are incredibly busy, however, which means schools haven’t been able to implement changes uniformly. Private and alternative schools are attempting to remedy this.
The language of opportunity: Bilingual education is on the rise in Japan