Episode #1435

Studio 360 in Japan

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Shibuya, Tokyo Shibuya, Tokyo (WasabiNoise/flickr)

Studio 360 is big in Japan. Kurt Andersen hits the streets of Tokyo in search of cutting-edge art and design. Female art stars take on the schoolgirl stereotype; young rebels scream against an economic system that failed them. And Kurt goes undercover at the epicenter of all things nerdy to get a taste of otaku culture.

(Originally aired: February 6, 2009)

Studio 360 in Japan was produced by Jenny Lawton, Pejk Malinovski and Leital Molad, and is supported, in part, by the Freeman Foundation and the United States-Japan Foundation.

Special thanks to David D’Heilly, Shizu Yuasa, Junko Takeuchi, Ken Marks, Chris Bannon, Amy Busam, Alex Villari, Anna Boiko-Weyrauch, Ralph Samuelson, Yoko Shioya, David Janes, Kazuo Kawamura, Lisa Kato, and On the Media.

Sticker Me Beautiful: Purikura

Kurt Andersen lands in Tokyo's Shibuya — glitzy and bustling, it makes Times Square look quaint, and it’s the epicenter of teen culture. Kurt meets up with blogger Lisa Katayama, who ...


Japanese Schoolgirls Grow Up

The Japanese schoolgirl image was made famous by comic books and cartoons. But not everyone thinks they’re so kawaii (cute). What do Japanese women make of this archetype? Lisa Kataya...


Akihabara, Nerd's Paradise

Roland Kelts, an expert in Japanese pop culture, takes Kurt Andersen to Akihabara, a retail paradise for otaku — obsessive fans of manga and other Japanese culture. But a recent trage...


This Is Their Youth

Young adults in Japan are unemployed, disenchanted, and depressed. Roland Kelts talks to poet Misumi Mizuki, novelist Ryu Murakami, and other artists to understand why. And he finds t...


The Lion

Kurt stumbles into a temple for classical music fans, with scratchy records played at the altar.

Slideshow: Inside the Lion

Comments [3]

Tokyo Old and New

What is essentially Japanese in design? One designer compares it to tofu. Architects Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Shigeru Ban, designer Reiko Sudo, and poet Shuntaro Tanikawa show Kurt And...


Pico Iyer: Outside Man

Travel writer Pico Iyer has lived in Japan for 20 years. And while he knows the locals still see him as an outsider, he told Kurt Andersen that this status helps him pay attention t...


No Time For Tea

The tea ceremony is a 400-year-old ritual for serving green tea. But in Japan's techno-centric society (increasingly fueled by coffee) can the tea ceremony survive? Studio 360’s Jenny...


Suicide Forest

Aokigahara is the forest at the foot of Mount Fuji. It’s mythologized in Japanese literature as a sacred place for people to end their lives — and every year close to a hundred suic...


Comments [3]

Leesa from Durango, CO

Kurt -
Your story was very insightful and thorough in terms of what I remember after living in Japan for nine years.
By coincidence, while listening to this story today, I was working on the floor of my studio, with a Japanese zabuton pillow providing cushion between my knees and a hard surface. Once you've been there, the place is
in your soul and psyche forever.

Japan is the type of place that must be passed through slowly and not always taken at face value.
Although Tokyo is such a hyped up/techno city, it's still possible to find quiet pockets of beauty.

Thank you for including the story of Reiko Sudo and her innovative work in the textile field.
She has retained her humble nature even after her work has gained notoriety throughout the world.

The people of Japan often go to great lengths to extend themselves to foreigners, trying to give them
the best experience possible, making it quite difficult to repay their amazing hospitality.

Oct. 16 2013 09:14 PM

I was a bit disappointed that the first half of this episode explored what most western "orientalist" eyes look at, which is to make a fetish out of all that is cute and weird in Japanese pop culture. Certainly there are a lot of bizarre aspects of Japanese culture that's interesting, but I was hoping to not dive directly into school girl wonderland and otaku nerds as an introduction. Sure, it's a great topic, did it serve to de-mystify anything? I was also bothered to hear the history of Japanese cultural influence was fueled by "pokemon, sushi and Miyazaki." It's like packaging America as the land of hamburgers, big cards and Hollywood. Hmm...
I know it's a hard task to pick and choose what cultural topics to divulge into, but how could you not talk about food!? Kudos for mentioning Lion cafe, that place is awesome.

Sep. 01 2013 11:32 AM

what is Japanese is not really japaneseish, its global, you can find it anywhere if you look, its older then japan, and its a major part of autism cultural traits that's profoundly expanded in a people that respect autistic traits. but we don't like to stereotype people. in this particular case Asian people that have autistic traits such as obsessive compulsive disorder ( that lead to a Japanese corporate authoritarian rules within rules state) combine with clinical depression all within this collective gene pool. make no mistake. japan is a corporate authoritarian state not too far away from a Chinese corporate authoritarian state. in reality it far worst. keep in mind this is a country that took pride it can make its employee back in the 1980 scream at the top of their lung for 8 hours half naked in the middle of winter on a subway platform for its corporate slogan just to proof its company loyalty. the more you realize the strength and the dynamic of Japanese people within their country, the more you realize its a some what sadistic autistic personality that expand these dysfunctional norms into a national cultural identity.

Aug. 30 2013 03:37 PM

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