John L. Tran

For John L. Tran's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Exploring war through woodblock prints

Jan 20, 2018

Exploring war through woodblock prints

Sensō-e, literally "war pictures," are a particularly dramatic form of Japanese woodblock print that emerged as a style of reportage during the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, and went on to become a widespread and popular way of disseminating patriotic imagery during the First Sino ...

The cosmic talents of Noriyoshi Ohrai

Jan 16, 2018

The cosmic talents of Noriyoshi Ohrai

It must have been nonstop monsters, warships, hunks and epic boobage for much of Noriyoshi Ohrai's life. The retrospective exhibition, at the Ueno Royal Museum, of this incredibly prolific illustrator's work is a frenzied and spectacularly schlocky cosmos of sci-fi and action movie posters, magazines, ...

The elaboration of decoration as art

Jan 9, 2018

The elaboration of decoration as art

In the setting of what is probably Tokyo's most stylishly decorated art museum, curator Kasumi Yamaki explains the theme of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum's latest exhibition "Decoration Never Dies, Anyway." "I've always wondered what the audience are thinking when they use the ...

Asia in the wings of Japan's art scene

Dec 12, 2017

Asia in the wings of Japan's art scene

"Tis the season to be jolly ... circumspect. As regards art, despite suggestions from some art professionals that biennials and other recurring art festivals are an exhausted format, 2017 offered up an embarrassment of riches, some more embarrassing than others as it turned out. The ...

Dec 12, 2017

Bohemia along the Sumida: In search of cultural capital

On paper, the Japanese government supports the arts, which are considered important vehicles for promoting Japanese culture globally, enhancing the country's image as a tourist destination and stimulating declining regional economies. But, where does the content for Japan's increasing number of art festivals actually ...

1968: The year Japan truly raised its voice

Nov 19, 2017

1968: The year Japan truly raised its voice

During a recent conversation with a student in his sixth year at a university renowned to be an incubator for Japanese politicians, 23-year-old Atsugi Fukuhara tells me that he wants to stay a student forever. The past five years have consisted of a lot of ...

Be in the right frame of mind for  Roger Ballen

Nov 7, 2017

Be in the right frame of mind for Roger Ballen

In one of Roger Ballen's most well-known images, a picture of F. de Bruin of the Orange Free State prison service, the elderly sergeant looks out at us with the forlorn look of a tired beagle, not at all the face of an enforcer ...

In the right light, every detail counts

Oct 3, 2017

In the right light, every detail counts

At the tail end of an unexpectedly long conversation, the last question I ask photographer Keizo Kitajima is why it's important for him to have even lighting across the image. The photographs he is showing at the Photographers' Gallery in Shinjuku are part of ...

Kyoichi Sawada: Vietnam and home

Sep 26, 2017

Kyoichi Sawada: Vietnam and home

Kyoichi Sawada's 1965 photo of a Vietnamese family fleeing the bombing of their village in Binh Dinh province, during the war between North Vietnam and South Vietnam and the U.S. and its allies, has become a landmark image of 20th-century history. A mother, grandmother, ...