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Welcome to our semi-annual pledge drive. Japan Subculture Research Center (@japankenkyu) was founded in 2007 by Jake Adelstein and many contributors to expose the hidden side of Japan – its underground economy, its transient and strange trends, its robust sex trade, wacky politics, corruption, social issues, many subcultures, yakuza, host clubs and hosts, Japanese cinema and all the other intriguing and seedy aspects that keep the country running. Balancing commentary, reporting and dark humor–we’re the kakekomitera (駆け込み寺) aka “last resort” of some news stories that no one else will touch. We’ve covered rebel graffiti artists, crusading lawyers, and some real heroes.

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Over the years, articles posted on this website have become books, like Outsiders Among Outsiders and we are pleased to also feature the witty essays and review of Ms. Kaori Shoji, including her seminal short-fiction series, The Amazing Japanese Wife

We would like this summer to support two interns so that we can post more original material and also revamp the layout. We’d like to add a current events section, more book reviews, more informative and provocative essays about Japan, and fund some investigative journalism. Ambitious yes, but we have lofty goals here at JSRC. Please read our manifesto: If you love Japan, make it better. Our mission statement.

Meanwhile, as part of this year’s pledge drive, we are giving away to the lucky two readers who donates before Thursday (drawing by lottery) free tickets to to see Shoplifters with English subtitles and a Q & A, by the director Hirokazu Kore-eda. Your contributions are greatly appreciated, however small or large.

The business friendly Japanese government fails to deal with preventing Death By Overwork. In January, the Labor Ministry did put signs saying” Stop Karoshi” urging an end to death by overwork, “for a society where people can continue to labor”.

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AIDA MAKOTO: Monument To Nothing (Art Exhibition Reviews)

Aida Makoto is one of the most well-known modern artists in Japan today. However, the prevalence of grotesque and erotic themes in Aida’s work overshadow some of his political and social messages. Some of his pieces might be considered child pornography in the United States.

According to the Mori Arts Museum, “while projecting modern Japanese society, he simultaneously draws heavily on traditional artworks and modes of expression. It is also true, however, that surveying Aida’s oeuvre, that very ambiguity starts to resemble a miniature version of Japanese society. This exhibition, Aida Makoto’s first solo museum show, will reveal the artist in all his chaotic glory, via around 100 works – including new offerings – covering the two decades since his arrival on the international art scene.”

The exhibition will continue until March 31st at the Mori Arts Museum

Lykke Lafaye, art fan and frequent twitterer, was kind enough to contribute her review of the exhibition. She was over 18 at the time of the review.*

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Waterfall by Aida Makoto
Waterfall by Aida Makoto

Extended Adolescence 

If you feel an affinity with both nationalism and anarchism, then Aida Makoto’s exhibition in the famous Roppongi Mori-Art Museum is your go-to of the year. The artist, who it seems is like a prepubescent trapped in an adults’ body, expresses his twisted world vision –whether it be war, suicide or the recent nuclear dilemma in Japan in several mediums: drawings, installments, objects. Whilst some of his work poses nothing other than seemingly meaningless mind-disturbers reminding much of its guests of the famous Ghibli movies, other pieces display Aida’s strong view on political issues. Having profound interests in JK’s (an acronym for “Joshi-Kousei (女子高生)”, meaning high school girls) or perhaps even to those younger, Aida himself switches character from adult to child when creating certain pieces. His obsession with either working on art with minors in it, or working on art as a minor, casts an interesting mindset over all of the exhibition. One minute you feel as if you have accidentally walked into an apartment of a man with perverted interests, the next minute you feel as though you are visiting a kiddy exhibition at your local primary school. Whilst being concerned with Aida’s coherence when producing these works, the subtle fascination–not only of amusement but also of admiration and repulsion–cannot be ignored when looking at the faces of the museum’s visitors. Their reactions become a part of the art.

 

After all, this is not an exhibition for the right-minded, nor is it suited for the “weak-stomached”. Be prepared to be grossed out, as well as amazed, upon your visit to this twisted abyss of modern Japanese art.

*WARNING: (also from the Mori Arts Museum) This exhibition contains works with provocative and sexually explicit content. These works reflect diverse aspects of contemporary society in Japan. However, please be warned if you find subject matter of this nature disturbing. The sexually explicit works are displayed in especially designated room and these are marked as being suitable for 18 years old or older only.