Anthony Al-Jamie

Anthony Al-Jamie

Anthony Al-Jamie lived and worked as an educational administrator and journalist in Tokyo for over 20 years. His in-depth understanding of Japanese language and culture has allowed him to carry out interviews with many of the most renowned individuals in Japan. He first began writing for the Tokyo Journal in the 1990s as Education Editor, later he was promoted to Senior Editor, and eventually International Editor and Executive Editor. He currently works in higher education publishing and serves the Tokyo Journal as Editor-in-Chief.

Thursday, 19 December 2013 00:00

The Man Who Brought Sushi to America, Part III

Introducing Japanese Food Culture to America

This is the third in a series of interviews with Noritoshi Kanai, chairman of Mutual Trading and the man who coined the phrase “sushi bar.”

TJ: Can you tell us about Rocky Aoki and Benihana?
KANAI: Rocky Aoki and I were introducing Japanese food to the U.S. almost at the same time, with me on the west coast and Mr. Aoki in New York. Mutual Trading’s idea was to introduce traditional Japanese food culture to Americans. However, Mr. Aoki combined Japanese and American food to create something brand new – the Teppan steakhouse. Since then, the spreading of the Japanese food business was based on two styles – Mr. Aoki’s Benihana Restaurant-style and my idea of traditional food, namely sushi. Mr. Aoki was a very personable man and a better businessman than me. Benihana grew through advertising and Mr. Aoki’s self-promotion. Finally Benihana arrived in California and I took my sushi concept to New York. At that time, I remember thinking to myself that sushi had a bright future due to its innate strength as a traditional culinary property, unique to Japanese foods.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013 00:00

Tomomi Itano

Graduating from AKB48

Tomomi Itano

Tomomi Itano has been called the “Queen of Commercials” in Japan. She has gone from a first generation member to a 2013 “graduate” of AKB48, a Japanese girl group that took Japan by storm in 2005 to become a social phenomenon. According to Guinness, AKB48 is the largest pop group in the world, originally made up of 3 teams - A, K and B, each with 16 members. It is one of the highest-earning musical acts in the world, with sales surpassing a record US$226 million in 2012. On August 27, 2013, Tomomi had her final graduation performance with AKB48 and is now working hard on her career. Tokyo Journal ’s Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie talked with Tomomi Itano to find out about this 22-year-old superstar.

Monday, 09 December 2013 00:00

Tao Okamoto

Tao Okamoto

Japanese Supermodel

Interview by Anthony Al-Jamie

Japanese supermodel Tao Okamoto resides in New York City, where she is capturing the attention of the American and European fashion world and is widely recognized as one of the top models to ever come from Japan. At the age of 23, her signature bowl haircut took the fashion world by storm and she’s never looked back, becoming the face of Ralph Lauren and walking the catwalk for such brands as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Miu Miu and Michael Kors. She has fronted campaigns for Vivienne Westwood, D&G, Emporio Armani, Kenzo and Tommy Hilfiger. In 2009, she was the first Japanese model in nearly a decade to grace the cover of Vogue Nippon. In 2013 she entered the acting world as the love interest of Hugh Jackman in “The Wolverine” and in January 2014, she will make her Japanese television debut in a police drama miniseries entitled “Chi No Wadachi”. Will she continue to shine on the silver screen? Tokyo Journal’s Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie talked with Tao to find out.

Monday, 09 December 2013 00:00

Hiroshi Tamaki

Interview with Hiroshi Tamaki

Hiroshi Tamaki is a popular Japanese actor, singer, and model from Nagoya, Japan. He has acted in Japanese films and TV dramas, served as host of the 2012 reboot of the television cooking competition “Iron Chef”, recorded a number of albums and singles as a singer, and performed in concerts throughout Asia. He made his debut in the drama “Am I Weird?” in 1998 and gained recognition with his appearance in the 2001 film “Waterboys”.

Monday, 09 December 2013 00:00


Japan’s Rock Legend Yoshiki Rocks Classical Charts Worldwide

Visual Kei Pioneer Rock Legend and Classical Genius Gets Intimate with TJ

Interview by Anthony Al-Jamie


30 million records sold, a 15-country world tour, 18 sold out Tokyo Dome concerts for 1,000,000 screaming fans, and Yoshiki and his band X Japan, are gearing up for another world tour. In his spare time, Yoshiki composed and recorded Eternal Melody, which remains one of Japan’s top-selling classical albums, and his most recent release “Yoshiki Classical” debuted at the top of the iTunes classical charts worldwide. He has collaborated with some of the world’s leading artists and producers including Queen’s Roger Taylor and legendary Beatles Producer Sir George Martin, performed for the Emperor of Japan, and he has created the theme songs for the World Expo and the last two Golden Globes. This classical genius is a hard rocking innovator and creator of the genre “Visual kei” – combining the styles of punk, rock, heavy metal, glam rock and classical music. In 2008, four years before Tupac’s hologram wowed Coachella, Yoshiki and X Japan brought back their deceased guitarist HIDE by hologram to perform in concert. Some may think it requires a super hero to accomplish all of this. Stan Lee, Marvel Comics founder and creator of Spiderman and the Hulk, agreed and created a superhero based on Yoshiki called “Blood Red Dragon.” What can’t Yoshiki do? Let’s find out.

Thursday, 05 December 2013 12:33

Francis Ford Coppola

On October 16, 2013, Francis Ford Coppola, one of the most influential movie directors, producers and screenwriters of all time, was awarded the Praemium Imperiale in Tokyo, Japan. The Praemium Imperiale is an annual global arts prize awarded by the Japan Art Association in recognition of a lifetime achievement in the arts, in categories not covered by the Nobel Prizes. This award, which Mr. Coppola received from Prince Hitachi of Japan’s Imperial Family, is the most recent of many accolades for the filmmaker. He and his films have received six Academy Awards and the Coppola family is one of two families in history to have three generations of Academy Award recipients. Four of his films (“The Godfather,” “The Godfather Part II,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Patton”) were included by the Writers Guild of America’s list of “101 Greatest Screenplays Ever.” He has been honored with the Directors Guild of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and he is one of only eight filmmakers to win two Palme d’Or awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Prior to leaving for Japan, Tokyo Journal’s Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie interviewed Mr. Coppola regarding his love for film and his affinity for Japan.

TJ: I understand you will be receiving the Praemium Imperiale from Prince Hitachi of
the Imperial Family. Can you tell us about the award?
COPPOLA: It was an award I hadn’t known of, but it’s an award that was given in honor of the arts in fields that the Nobel Prize does not cover such as film, theater, literature, architecture, and sculpture.

TJ: Tell me about your background in Japan. When was your f irst visit to Japan?
COPPOLA: It’s hard for me to really pin down my first visit to Japan. I’ve been there a dozen times. I did visit Japan many times during the period in which I was making “Apocalypse Now.” While we were filming in the Philippines, we would often stop in Japan as my family loved going there, and over the years I went many, many times. My little children travelled with me at the time and they also love Japanese culture. That was the basis of Sofia’s fondness for Japan and her experience there.

TJ: What is your favorite part of Japan?
COPPOLA: In terms of a place, there are certainly Tokyo and Kyoto. But I think my favorite part of Japan is its unique and beautiful culture where they are able to combine the mundane steps of life with beauty, and each area of life has been understood as a kind of expression of grace, harmony and beauty. The culture is so unique in that everything that is done there has been a tradition of doing it with exquisite beauty. It is that very unique aspect of Japan that is so admirable. Whether it’s a piece of fabric, poem or food, there exists some sort of perfection in every area.


2013 年 10 月 16 日、東京で、高松宮殿下記念世界文化賞の授賞式が行われた。演劇・映画部門では、映画監督、 プ ロ デュー サ ー 、 脚 本 家 として 歴 史 上 最 も 影 響 力 を 持 つ 巨 匠 の1人で あ るフ ラン シ ス・フォ ード・コッ ポ ラ 氏 が 受 賞 。 日 本 美 術 協 会 が 創 設 し た 同 賞 は 、 優 れ た 芸 術 家 を 顕 彰 す る た め に 年 1回 授 与 さ れ るも の で 、 ノ ー ベ ル 賞 が 対 象 とし な い領域をカバーしている。常陸宮殿下から授与されたこの賞が、コッポラ氏の受賞歴に新たに加わった。氏はこれま でに6つのアカデミー賞を受賞している。3世代にわたってアカデミー賞を受賞したのはコッポラ一族を含め2例だけ。 氏の作品「ゴッドファーザー」「ゴッドファーザーPart II」「地獄の黙示録」「パットン大戦車軍団」は、全米脚本家 協会が選ぶ映画脚本ベスト101 にランクイン。また全米監督協会のライフタイム・アチーブメント・アワード、カンヌ 国際映画祭パルム・ドールも受賞している。パルム・ドールの栄誉を2回手にしたのはコッポラ氏を含め8人だけ。東 京ジャーナルのエグゼクティブ・エディター アントニー・アルジェイミーが、日本に発つ前のコッポラ氏に、映画に対 する情熱と日本との縁について聞いた。


TJ: 高松宮殿下記念世界文化賞を受賞され、常 陸宮殿下から顕彰メダルを授与されるそうです ね。
コッポラ:僕は知らなかったが、ノーベル賞が カバーしていない映像、演劇、建築、彫刻など の分野の芸術家を対象とした顕彰制度だそう だ。

TJ: 日本との関わりについて教えてください。 最初に日本を訪れたのはいつですか?
コッ ポラ:最初に行ったのがいつだったかは 分からないが、日本にはもう数え切れないほ ど行っているよ。「地獄の黙示録」の製作中も、 撮影場所はフィリピンだったが、途中でよく日 本に立ち寄ったんだ。家族が行きたがったから ね。子供が小さい頃は一緒に旅行したから、子 供たちも日本の文化が大好きだ。ソフィアが親 日家なのは、小さい頃の経験ゆえだろうね。

TJ: 日本の何が一番お好きですか?
コッ ポラ:場所で言えば東京と京都だが、何と いっても、平凡な日常と美を融合できる独特の 美しい文化に魅力を感じるね。生活そのものに、 気品、調和、美が感じられる文化なんだ。日本 の文化は全てにおいて個性的で、非常に美しい 伝統様式がある。それは日本の特徴であり、賞 賛されるべき点だ。繊維であれ詩であれ食べ物 であれ、あらゆる領域に“完璧”が存在する

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 11:36

Production I.G CEO Mitsuhisa Ishikawa

Since 1987, Production I.G has been involved in the production of anime television series, original video animation, theatrical films, video game animated scenes, video game design and development, and music publishing and management. It is perhaps best known for its “Ghost in the Shell” series. Tokyo Journal sat down with founder Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, who put the “I” in Production I.G, prior to his press conference at the 2013 Anime Expo in Los Angeles.

Q: It’s great to see you again. It’s been a long time! Can you tell us how you got started in your career?
ISHIKAWA: When I was a student, I started out with a part-time job in the anime world at Tatsunoko Production. I didn’t expect to get into it at all. I just kind of got lost into it and found myself here. I was working on a program called “Golden Warrior Gold Lightan,” where a lighter turns into a robot.

Monday, 21 October 2013 00:00

2013 America's Got Talent Winner

2013 America's Got Talent Winner: Kenichi Ebina Sneak Preview

On September 18th, 2013, dancer Kenichi Ebina became the first Japanese performer to win NBC's hit TV show America's Got Talent! He won $1,000,000 and will get his own show in Las Vegas. The following is an excerpt of Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie's exclusive Interview with Kenichi. For the full-length interview see Tokyo Journal's Autumn Issue.

TJ: When did you first start to dance?
EBINA: I was attending an English Language Institute for international students who don't speak English. It was connected to the college I graduated from and since it was on a college campus, students in the English school were invited to college activities. I went to a dance party for welcoming freshman. At the time I wasn't big into dancing at all but I knew the steps for the "Running Man" that I had learned from some friends. At the party they made a circle and people started showing off. I had to go in and I did the Running Man. People started getting loud. At the time I thought they were loud because I wasn't good, but it was the opposite - they were cheering for me! After that, I started thinking dancing was fun. I started watching videos and copied their moves and steps.

How Yul Brynner and “Shogun” Made Sushi Popular

TJ: Can you tell us what you did before you became involved with Mutual Trading?
KANAI: World War II was a very big shock to me. So after the war I read about philosophy. I was very interested in Robert Owen, a famous English philosopher. I took his philosophy, which taught me many good things, and decided to make my own life to improve myself.

During the war, the U.S. was Japan’s enemy but during the Occupation they did very good things to help build Japan back up. We could not imagine that the U.S. would do so many good things for us. At that time, I met Mr. Chuhei Ishii, who was a food supplier to the U.S. before the war. He had been in the U.S. for 30 years in Santa Maria doing food distribution, but he went to China during the war to take care of the Peking Grand Hotel – a large, famous hotel owned by the French. Mr. Ishii bought the hotel and moved to Peking. At the end of the war, I met him in Japan. As his wife and my mother were friends in Japan, my mother told me, “If you do business with the United States, go see Mr. Ishii and ask him questions.” So I visited Mr. Ishii. Although he wanted to return to the States, he lost his U.S. permanent residency when he went to China. He said to me, “I am thinking of making a business exporting food to the United States because there are many Japanese immigrants who cannot get Japanese food conveniently. Why don’t you help me?” So I joined him.
“ Shogun really launched Japanese culture in the U.S.”

Wednesday, 02 October 2013 11:33

Cheap Trick

The Band that Put the Legendary Budokan on the Map

TJ Exclusive Interview with Rick Nielsen

TJ caught up with Cheap Trick guitarist, backing vocalist and primary songwriter Rick Nielsen to talk about the 35th anniversary of Cheap Trick at Budokan. It was their best-selling album and is ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Cheap Trick was referred to by the Japanese media as the “American Beatles” and ranked #25 in VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Bands such as Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Weezer, Stone Temple Pilots, and Extreme have cited Cheap Trick as an influence.


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