TRENDS & SOCIETY

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Enishi in the Modern World

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Japan's Seven Int'l Samurai Featured

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Vol. 31, Issue #270's Feature Story identifies Japan's 7 most influential international trailblazers, many of whom have been overlooked by the Japanese public.

Japan's Most Influential Trailblazers

Japan has produced many outstanding individuals throughout its very long history, which dates back to 660 B.C. Visionaries and innovators have throughout history forwarded the efforts of this tiny island nation and due to these contributions, Japan has played a significant role in the region for many centuries. Pioneers such as Takatoshi Mitsui (1622-1694), advanced the way Japan did business through innovation after innovation in the textile sales industry. In the late 1800s, it was the first President of Mitsui & Co., Takashi Masuda, who sought out a global vision for exporting Japanese rice and other goods to Europe.

It is the efforts of global visionaries and innovators of post-World War II Japan that have made Japan a major contributor to the world in the fields of business, technology, film, animation, engineering, architecture, philosophy, art, music, and even athletics. The brand “Made in Japan” has become synonymous with quality, and in this article “Japan’s Seven International Samurai”, we identify Japan’s seven most influential, international trailblazers. These modern day samurai have set themselves apart from the crowd through their global influence and have helped to change the way the world perceives Japan.

It will not go unnoticed that many of Japan’ss leading business figures and domestic heroes were left off the list. This is because they did not meet all of the criteria. The seven that were chosen were selected for their courage to enter unchartered waters, their desire to compete on an international scale, and their ability to be one of the best in the world at what they do.

本は、紀元前660 年にまでさかのぼ る長い歴史において、多くの傑出した 人物を輩出してきた。先見の明のある パイオニアたちが小さな島国の歩みを牽引し、 そのおかげで日本は何百年にもわたり地域的に も重要な役割を果たしてきた。呉服業界におい て革新的な戦略を打ち出した三井高利(1622- 1694)や、1800年代末に日本の米を始めてヨー ロッパに輸出することに成功した三井物産初代 社長の益田孝といった先駆者たちが、日本のビ ジネスの礎を築いてきたのである。

第二次世界大戦後の日本を、ビジネス、技術、 映画、アニメ、エンジニアリング、建築、哲学、 芸術、音楽、スポーツの各分野で世界レベルに 押し上げたのも、グローバルビジョンを備えた 革新者らの功績である。「メイド・イン・ジャ パン」ブランドは、クオリティと同義語となっ た。「世界を舞台に活躍する日本の7人の侍」 のページでは、絶大な影響力を持つ世界の第一 人者である日本人7人を紹介する。現代の侍は、 国際的に大きな注目を集め、世界の日本観を変 える役割を担ってきた。

日本の多くの財界人や国民的ヒーローが取り 上げられていないことは事実だが、それは彼ら が基準の全てを満たしていないからである。こ こに取り上げる7人は、前例のない道に踏み込 む勇気、世界レベルで勝負したいと望む熱意、 専門領域で世界のトップクラスにある能力とい ういずれの点でも傑出しているのだ。

Samurai #7: Ichiro Suzuki
 
Samurai #6: Seiji Ozawa

 
Samurai #5: Osamu Tezuka

 
Samurai #4: Kisho Kurokawa
 
Samurai #3: Soichiro Honda

 
Samurai #2: Akira Kurosawa

 
Samurai #1: Akio Morita


This story appeared in Issue 270 of the Tokyo Journal.

To order Issue 270, click here.

 

Tokyo Anti-Nuclear Demonstrations

Japan's anti-nuclear demonstrations march on. Japan's residents take to the streets. Friday protests in front of the Prime Minister's residence have become the norm.

Winter Solstice:1947

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The following article by Donald Richie is a reprint of his article that first appeared in the Tokyo Journal in April 1991.


IN 1947 Postwar Tokyo was a city of silence, its populace stunned by massive destruction and despair. Yet a young GI witnessed signs that the people were on a slow mend, ready to rebuild Tokyo and themselves. It was winter – cold, crisp, clear – and Mt. Fuji stood sharp on the horizon, growing purple, then indigo in the fading light. I was standing at the main crossing at Ginza 4-chome.

There was no smoke because there were few factories, no fumes because the few cars were charcoal-burning. Fuji looked much as it had for Hokusai and Hiroshige.

Then the sky darkened and the stars appeared – bright, near. The horizon stayed white in the winter light after the sun had vanished and Fuji had turned a solid black.

The Ginza was illuminated by acetylene torches of the night stalls and the passing headlights of Occupation jeeps and trucks. In the darkness Fuji remained visible, a jagged shadow fading into the winter night.

Most of the buildings were cinders. It was wasteland. And from the crossing Japan’s familiar peak was seen as it had not been seen since Edo times and as it would not be again seen until another catastrophe.
At the crossing there were only two large buildings still standing. One was the Ginza branch of the Mitsukoshi Department Store. But it was gutted, hit by a fire bomb, and even the window frames had been twisted by the heat. Across the street was the white stone Hattori Building with its clock tower. It was much as it had always been, once the clock itself was repaired. With its curved front window, cornices, and pediments, it remained from the pre-war Ginza.

The complete article is available in Issue #271. Click here to order from Amazon

Donald Richie Interview by Pat Carome

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The following interview with Donald Richie first appeared in the April 1992 edition of the Tokyo Journal


DONALD Richie seems at home in the quiet confines of Roppongi’s International House, a scholarly association where he recently accompanied a silent film showing on the piano.

Our small table in the coffee shop straddles two dimensions: the din and clatter of the lunchtime crowd on one side, the carefully pruned garden outside the window on the other.

Richie is credited with bringing Japanese film to the eyes and ears of the outside world. Hanging on the walls of his home next to his shelves of books are among other honors, the U.S. Citation of the National Film Critic’s Society and the San Francisco Film Society Award.

Of his 3o books, 11 are about film. Four are novels and one is a collection of profiles of Japanese. “I don’t know exactly what to call it.” He says. “I find it in the strangest places in bookstores.” He’s also presented career retrospectives of Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, and Ozu at the Cannes and Berlin film festivals.

In his beige tweed jacked worn over a navy blue shirt and a narrow brown tie, he looks every bit the part of someone’s kind uncle. But he has definite concerns about the accuracy of how he’s presented. “Make sure you get the chronology straight,” he insists.

Donald Richie: A Living Tribute

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Honorable Visitors: Ulysses S. Grant, Rudyard Kipling and Charlie Chaplin

The following is part of Tokyo Journal’s Living Tribute to Donald Richie who passed away on February 19, 2013. Donald Richie’s contribution was originally printed in the April 1994 edition of the Tokyo Journal. It was excerpted from “The Honorable Visitors” by Donald Richie (Charles E. Tuttle Publishing Co., Tokyo. May 1994). Donald Richie’s first honorable visit to Japan took place in 1947. Since that time he became a celebrated film critic, author and composer, not to mention a journalist of many talents recording the changes of over half a century of life in Tokyo. Donald Richie contributed to the Tokyo Journal over the years and when asked about times in the nineties, Donald replied, “Frightening but exhilarating. I think everybody with a pencil should be out there taking notes.”

The Legacy of Donald Richie

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Donald Richie’s Reflections on Novelist, Yasunari Kawabata

by Peter Grilli

Whenever I think of Donald Richie’s early life in Tokyo, somehow the very first image that always springs to mind is of his rooftop conversation with Yasunari Kawabata.

It was a chilly morning in the early spring of 1947. Richie, the tall 23-year-old American GI journalist, dwarfed the frail Japanese novelist, who was older and far wiser, at more than twice his age. They stood high above Asakusa, gazing out over the ruins of a city that the older of the two knew intimately and the younger was just beginning to love.

The Legacy of Donald Richie

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The Legacy of Donald Richie

The following is part of Tokyo Journal’s Living Tribute to Donald Richie who passed away on February 19, 2013. Donald Richie’s contribution was originally printed in the January 1995 edition of the Tokyo Journal. It was excerpted from “Japan Journals 1947-2004” by Donald Richie (Stone Bridge Press. 2004). Donald Richie’s first visit to Japan took place in 1947. Since that time he became a celebrated film critic, author and composer, not to mention a journalist of many talents recording the changes of over half a century of life in Tokyo. Donald Richie contributed to the Tokyo Journal over the years and when asked about times in the nineties, Donald replied, “Frightening but exhilarating. I think everybody with a pencil should be out there taking notes.”

THE LAST SAMURAI

This fourth installment from his Japan Journals features Donald Richie’s elegy for Yukio Mishima,written shortly after the novelist’s suicide.

15 November 1970. It has been some days now since Mishima killed himself, yet the sense of loss continues. It is not that he did it. I guess we all expected that. It was the way in which he did it. It was like a rape. (So all of us victims are trying to account for it. I will write an essay and give it to the paper.)

The shock that so many felt at the manner of Yukio Mishima’s death was deepened by an equally strong sense of loss. No contemporary writer had more completely disclosed himself; none had more honestly shared his most deeply personal emotions. From Confessions of a Mask onwards, Mishima was himself his own subject and his varied works are all, to an extent, autobiographical.

The Legacy of Donald Richie

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The Legacy of Donald Richie

The following is part of Tokyo Journal’s Living Tribute to Donald Richie who passed away on February 19, 2013. Donald Richie’s contribution was originally printed in the January 1995 edition of the Tokyo Journal. It was excerpted from Japan Journals 1947-2004 by Donald Richie (Stone Bridge Press. 2004). Donald Richie’s first visit to Japan took place in 1947. Since that time he became a celebrated film critic, author and composer, not to mention a journalist of many talents recording the changes of over half a century of life in Tokyo. Donald Richie contributed to the Tokyo Journal over the years and when asked about times in the ‘90s, Donald replied, “Frightening but exhilarating. I think everybody with a pencil should be out there taking notes.”

Some Autumn Days

Encounters with a world renowned sculptor, former ambassador and aged author in this excerpt from Donald Richie’s Japan Journals

On OCTOBER 18, 1982. At the conference, Isamu Noguchi, for the first time since I have known him, talked about himself. To be sure, he usually talks about his opinions, beliefs, etc., usually at length. But here he spoke of what it felt like to be him — of Japanese ancestry, born an American, back to Japan before the war, back to America, his work, then back to Japan after the war, then back and forth, back and forth. He spoke about what he discovered in Japan and in himself, talked about stone and rock.

Sisters Cities Pioneer

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Thelma Press, Southern California Sister Cities Co-Founder

Born to British parents in Darjeeling, India, Thelma Press attended Loreto College where one of her teachers was Mother Teresa. With this kind of influence, it’s not surprising that Thelma would go on to seek ways to promote peace. She has done just that as a Sister Cities International veteran since 1959, beginning with the establishment of the relationship between San Bernardino, California and Tachikawa, Japan. She has served on boards and in key positions for Sister Cities International, the San Diego-Yokohama Sister City Society, the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s Balboa Park, the Asian Arts Council of the San Diego Museum of Art, and the first Sino-U.S. Sister Cities Conference in Beijing. Thelma Press has received over 60 awards for her work in international relations and in 2012 was approved as a Global Envoy, the highest honor of Sister Cities International. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie visited with Thelma Press in San Diego, California.



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