On Magazines

I was reading the latest issue of Wired this morning, and with the mention that the title is starting to gear up for its 25th anniversary (in 2018), and with Monocle just last month celebrating its 10th anniversary, it made me realize how loyal I tend to be to magazines I really like.

Not only are these magazines part of my very small pile of regular reads — along with Entertainment Weekly, which celebrated its 25th anniversary a couple of years ago — the other thing that these three titles share is that I’ve been reading all of them since the very first issue. For all of them, there have been very short periods where I may have fallen off for a few issues — mostly because of big changes in my life, like moving to Asia (China, and then Japan) — but it’s still interesting to see how loyal I’ve stayed to these titles.

I say that these are the only three titles I regularly read, and that’s not to say I don’t read any other magazines — I love a lot of indie titles, I still listen religiously to Monocle‘s The Stack podcast about magazine publishing, and would like to be reading titles like Edge and Time regularly, but for the former I can’t find print copies in Montreal and dislike the PDF-like digital edition, and for the latter I don’t want to buy the print edition and also dislike the PDF-like digital edition. In fact, I do most of my magazine reading digitally (I’ve been reading Wired and Entertainment Weekly digitally ever since they launched their iPad editions), and so there’s only Monocle that I read in print — sure, it’s because they don’t offer an iPad-edition, but to be honest, it’s also a beautifully produced paper product that I love holding in my hands.

There’s not real point to this post other than to say, shit, I’ve been reading these magazines for quite a while now.

The Japanese House

There’s a show on at the Barbican right now entitled “The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945.” What especially grabbed my attention when I saw mention of it — it’s featured in this Monocle radio show — is that it apparently includes a full-scale recreation of Ryue Nishizawa‘s Moriyama House (pictured), which just so happens to be the house that I introduced in one of the episodes of NHK’s Tokyo Eye program I appeared in back in the day. It was a fantastic experience to act as a guide to the house (check out this Google image search), which really is something incredible — and the owner who commissioned the project was a joy to speak with as well.

Where They Create: Japan

A new book to lust over, Where They Create: Japan is a collection of what looks like fantastic photo shoots of creative spaces by photographer Paul Barbera. You get a peek inside the studios and work spaces of creatives like Anrealage, Kengo Kuma, Wonderwall, Nendo, Tadao Ando, Tokujin Yoshioka, and Toyo Ito. You can order it here — and here’s a radio interview with Barbera from Monocle.

Changes to Harajuku Station

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Harajuku station certainly is iconic in its own way — I still remember enjoying working across the street from it, in full view, when I was editor at PingMag. A recent Monocle Minute newsletter has an update on what’s likely to happen when it gets renovated in time for 2020.

Tens of thousands of people pass through Harajuku Station’s portals each day and now the current structure, which dates from 1924, is set to be renovated in time for the 2020 Olympics. The distinctive Tokyo landmark, which sits next to Meiji Shrine and one of Tokyo’s busiest fashion districts, comes close to a standstill at weekends – and its proximity to Yoyogi National Gymnasium, built for the 1964 Olympics and due to be a venue in 2020, only adds to the crowds. The station’s owner, East Japan Railway Co, is being careful not to reveal too much about its plans for the popular old building but it has published a design proposal: a functional structure that will increase capacity with room for retail but that is lacking in charisma. Local residents are being consulted later this month but the future doesn’t look promising for this small Tokyo gem.

Tokyo’s Cignale Enoteca Tops Monocle’s Restaurant Awards

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Monocle’s latest “Restaurant Awards” are included in issue 4 of The Escapist (currently in shops), and it’s again topped by a Tokyo restaurant, this time the beautifully cozy Cignale Enoteca. Watch this video to have a better look at the place, as well as an interview with the chef/owner (it’s the 3rd restaurant featured in the video).

Ametora

W. David Marx’s upcoming book on the popularity of the American Ivy League fashion style in Japan in the 60s, Ametora (short for “American Traditional”), comes out on December 1, and you can pre-order it from Amazon.

This is a project that David has been slowly cooking – let’s call it a crock-pot of a project – for quite a while, and seeing it finally get to a point where it’s almost out and already getting some great coverage – like a recommendation in the latest issue of Monocle, pictured in this post, and an excerpt in Lapham’s Quarterly – is really fantastic. There’s no one I know who is more knowledgeable about this topic – and to be honest, the history of modern fashion in Japan – than him (he even wrote a thesis on A Bathing Ape).

This all gets me feeling quite nostalgic. David is one of the very first friends I made when I first moved to Tokyo over 15 years ago. We became acquainted slightly before my arrival, through a Pizzicato Five mailing list, which is how I made all of my first friends in Japan.

Yes, even back then, electronic communications were a thing, imagine that.

Over the years we’ve each had our own entertaining journeys, and his involved producing some excellent music (under the Marxy monicker), and before launching the Néojaponisme website with Ian Lynam, he was quite well known for some epic online essays about Japanese culture that evolved into some of the most pointed and heated discussions, usually with Momus playing the role of foil.

So yeah, Ametora, can’t wait to read it.

Monocle Mediterraneo Missteps

I finally received my issue of the Monocle Mediterraneo summer newspaper today, but it wasn’t easy. I ordered it in early August, and after a month going by with still no paper in my mailbox (they promise delivery in two weeks) I finally decided to get in touch on Monday. To their credit, they immediately got back to me, and said that they would send me another copy using registered mail, and it has arrived today (although I suspect it may just be the original issue that was mailed out, which would mean it took 5 weeks for delivery).

The reason I bring this up is because from the feedback I’ve gotten through Twitter after I started wondering “out loud” where my issue was, I got quite a few responses from others having similar problems, so my example is far from being an isolated case. What’s to blame? Is it the UK mail service? It is rather disappointing to receive a copy of something that celebrates summer in September, a frustration compounded by the fact that a few weeks ago I stopped by the Monocle Shop in Aoyama and saw it sold for 500 yen — ordering it online costs 7 pounds, which is almost double. Quite surprising considering that the Japan cover price for regular issues of Monocle is 2310 yen (almost $30), which itself is ridiculous.

But despite these complaints, it really is a beautiful thing. The paper’s smell may have turned into a joke, but its pages really do have a great, almost nostalgic odor. I love the format and the size, and would really like to see more publications/magazines use it — and it sounds like we can already expect Monocle to repeat the experiment during the winter holidays.