YouTubing in Japan

The Japan Times has a piece up that looks at the popularity of foreign YouTubers in Japan, with a focus on a Canadian called Sharla, and her YouTube channel “Sharla in Japan.” It’s interesting to see how things have changed since we were seeing the start of stuff like this a decade or so ago (late 2000s), and how YouTube/Google in Japan is now actively supporting these people — in part with the “YouTube Space” at the Google offices, designed by my ex-employers, Klein Dytham architecture.

Quit Your Band

Ian F. Martin is a music columnist for The Japan Times, and he’s just released a book about the music scene in Japan that sounds quite interesting. Quit Your Band! Musical Notes From the Japanese Underground is available now, and Ian wrote a piece the other day to commemorate the release, that highlights other books that have taken a look at the Japan’s music scene.

Update: Here’s also a post about the book from Time Out Tokyo.

Koya Bound

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The Japan Times has a great photo essay and interview up with Craig Mod and Dan Rubin, who earlier this year walked the Kumano Kodo route in Wakayama, and are about to launch a photo book based on the experience (Koya Bound, out in September).

Update (16/09/06): A Kickstarter campaign for Koya Bound was launched today, with plans for the book to ship in December.

Tee Dee Double You

If Tokyo Design Week takes place and you’re not there, does it really take place?

Apologies for the ridiculous statement, but as this year’s edition of Tokyo Design Week kicks off, it indeed feels incredibly strange to see it happen from afar. Even though in recent years I’d grown a bit disillusioned with a lot of what I’d see on display, there’s no denying that it consistently played a huge part within the evolution of what I did while based in Tokyo.

I got my start by blogging about art and design in Japan (more specifically, Tokyo) and I can indeed recall attending Tokyo Design Week (or rather the collection of design-related events that took place at that time, not specifically under that banner) during my first few years in Tokyo, and how it contributed to my enthusiasm for Japanese design.

Later, as I started carving a path in writing professionally about design – first for a now-defunct site called Tokyo Q, and then for The Japan Times through my monthly “On Design” column – I’m fairly certain that Tokyo Design Week (or more specifically at the time, “Tokyo Designers Week”) was the first major event for which I had a press pass to cover.

It didn’t take long before my desire to place myself more closely inside this scene had me collaborating with my good friend Jesper Larsson on showcases/exhibitions for Swedish design, that were part of the Swedish Style events that used to take place during TDW. It was incredibly exciting and satisfying to play a direct role in helping designers to take part in the week-long design festivities, and it also led to some fantastic connections with all manner of creative people. And who could forget those fantastic parties at the Swedish Embassy during TDW – always the best.

The last phase of my relationship with Tokyo Design Week was the most direct one, and it involved the annual PechaKucha Night that we produced for them in the big dome, which would end up being the biggest event of the week. It still doesn’t feel natural to see posts about this week’s PechaKucha Night at TDW, and not being the one who has to make sure that we have all of the presentations from our presenters, that all the tech is in place for the night itself…

So yeah, this time of the year coming around without a Tokyo Design Week to take in or to take part in is a bigger shock than I expected.

Miki Saito

I’m so happy to see artist Miki Saito getting a lot of attention these days.

The best thing about hosting PauseTalk all these years was that it gave me the chance to meet so many interesting and creative people, and Miki was one of those people. She was a regular attendee since returning to Japan.

She’s just launched her second exhibition this past week since moving to Tokyo – at Wada Garou – and instead of me describing her art, you can take a look at the articles on both Spoon & Tamago and The Japan Times.

This Is October

This is this, and that’s that.

A bit of an update on the various things I’m involved with, starting with the very happy announcement that was made a week ago that PressPause is coming back for a second season, starting on Thursday, November 6 (at 20:00). We – me and my fellow organizers, Daryl Cole and Ryan Ruel – wanted to take some time to reconfigure things, in order to produce something that would work better in light of what we experienced with season 1. I explain it more in detail in this post on the PressPause site, but in short, we want it to feel more inclusive to people who can’t really commit to spending a lot of time on producing an actual finished game, but who still want to get a taste of what it takes to make one. We’ll still have lessons – and homework for those who want to put into practice what they learned – but we’ll also have a speaker each time, and we have a nice ending in mind that we’ll talk about more next year.

So if you’re interested in the making of games, and more specifically using Unity as a tool to make that happen, then please join us. You’ll find updates on the PressPause site, and you can now follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or subscribe to a newsletter.

As for PauseTalk, I apologize again for cancelling this month’s edition due to the typhoon. The typhoon business was actually all done fairly early in the day, and so there wouldn’t have been a problem, but I had to make the decision the day before, and didn’t want to take a chance – especially that we tend to get a lower turnout even when it’s just a rainy day. 

PauseTalk Vol. 82 will instead happen on Monday, November 10 – yes, it’s on the second Monday of the month instead of the first, to avoid clashing with the holiday and the end of Tokyo Designers Week. Hope to see a nice turnout then.

Although I’m not involved in producing PauseDraw, I’m really happy to see what’s happening with the series under the leadership of Luis Mendo, Adrian Hogan, and Eiko Nagase. After a summer hiatus, they were planning on restarting last week, which was also cancelled because of the typhoon, and so instead it’s happening today (Sunday, October 12). Follow them on Facebook or Twitter to stay updated on upcoming editions.

Lastly – but certainly not leastly – is our big Tokyo Designers Week edition of PechaKucha Night at the end of the month. As with the past couple of years, we’re having a big event under the dome on the TDW grounds, in a space that can hold up to 1000 attendees. I think we have a great lineup planned – with a possible surprise or two – and I’m especially happy that we got the creative director and lead dancer at the Robot Restaurant to present – should make for a fun presentation. It happens on Wednesday, October 29, and you’ll find the rest of the details here.

Oh, and I don’t mention it much here, but I do still write my monthly “On: Design” column for The Japan Times, which now gets published on the first Saturday of the month. The latest edition was published last week, and can be read online here.

So yeah, a big October (and start of November) with lots happening. Add to that much cooler weather and you have the makings of some nice times here in Tokyo.

Global PechaKucha Day – Inspire Japan

If you’ve been to the front page of this site sometime this week (I have to assume that many of you reading this in your feed reader), then more than likely you’ve noticed the giant banner I have there now. It’s for the big Global PechaKucha Day – Inspire Japan event I’ve been working on over the past few weeks, set to happen this Saturday (April 16). I alluded to it in a recent post, but if you don’t know about it, it’s a big charity event we’ve put together, bringing together the PechaKucha community — we’re 404 cities strong, as of this writing — for a day/night of events all over the world, with the goal of raising funds for reconstruction efforts in Japan. As with last year for Haiti, we’re teaming up with Architecture for Humanity.

The core of the event is on Saturday, with a whole bunch of cities holding PKNs, and a lot of them will be streaming live as well — just go to the Inspire Japan site on the day of the event, and whatever is currently streaming live should be up at the top of the site. But our Inspire Japan efforts will also span all of April and May, and we’re inviting organizers of all PKNs during this period to collect donations — because this all came together so suddenly, many cities were not able to re-schedule already planned events, and some just found it difficult to organize something on the 16th.

Here in Tokyo, instead of our regular home of SuperDeluxe, the event will be held at the Roppongi Hills Tokyo City View (52nd floor), with doors opening at 17:00, and presentations starting at 18:00 (it should run until around 21:30 or so). Entry will be a minimum donation of 1000 yen — you’re of course welcome to leave more. To access the event, you’ll need to go to the 3rd floor to get a free ticket to get to the top, and we’ll have signs there to point you to the event space (where you’ll pay the entry fee).

This will also be the first time I present in quite a while — I only presented once at a PechaKucha Night, 3-4 years ago at a special Tokyo Design Week edition with my friend Jesper (it was about the Swedish Style event we had organized at Cafe Pause). This time, I’ll be teaming with Ian, who is responsible for all of the Inspire Japan graphics you’ve been seeing. The presentation will pretty much be about design efforts to raise money for Japan aid, based on that post I started a few days after the quake, as well as the follow-up I did in last month’s edition of my “On Design” column for The Japan Times. For his part of the presentation, Ian will cover the projects he worked on to help raise awareness and collect donations.

The event should be amazing — I mean, you can’t really beat that view — and you’ll also be contributing to reconstruction efforts, so I urge you all to come and support us. Also, if you’d like to help spread the word, feel free to get and use Inspire Japan banners and ads that Ian created, as well as a very cool (and workable) QR code that SET Japan designed for us.