Young Nigo in Blackface


I promised this earlier: on the right, a very young Tomoaki Nagao — aka Nigo from A Bathing Ape — posing in Cross Colours, fake dreads, and semi-blackface in the October 2, 1991 issue of Popeye. I knew that Nagao used to work on the “Pop Eye” pages in the front of the book, but I never knew he showed up as a model.

W. David MARX
August 15, 2009

Scene Report: Mejiro Hospital

I was hanging out in Mejiro tonight and was walking by the local hospital, so I thought I’d stop in and see how the facilities were for the next time I break my arm. (Last time I broke my arm skateboarding, a common occurrence, I was shuttled to three different hospitals before seeing a doctor who could “set” my arm sans painkillers of any sort in the x-ray room so no one could hear me yell at the top of my lungs. And now my left wrist makes a weird clicking sound ALWAYS. Yay Japanese medicine….)
So without further adieux, Mejiro Hosital Scene Report:
Accommodations: Shabby. The usual combo of dirty beige walls, Betadine-stained entrance way from some Gumi member “bleeding out” in the genkan onto the non-sealed cheapo faux Linoleum.
Floor: Dirty as fuck
Staff: Nice security guard. Gross doctors.
Bathroom: No soap. What? Why? This is a fucking hospital. A doctor came in and took a shit while I was in there, then casually rinsed his hands before walking out.
Rating: Five fucking stars. Never take me there.

August 14, 2009

File under: Assorted

A whole passel of designey news from Neoland.

Ever the modest gentleman, our guy Matt Treyvaud’s awesome wife Chie Yoshimura has opened a lovely new cafe in Yokohama. Go visit. Eat something. Admire the logo.


Dentsu Canada shot over samples of the Sapporo beer coasters using the Pattern Pattern series of pattern designs from Néojaponisme this week. They look great! Thanks guys!

Thanks so much to everyone who came out to the Tokyo debut of Meeting Modernity. As a little fun giveaway, I designed and made a bunch of sets of Néojaponisme buttons for opening attendees. If you are interested in procuring a set, feel free to get in touch.

August 13, 2009

On "The Soul of Japan"

Roland Kelts, “The Soul of Japan“, Adbusters

I am not sure I understand what is going on in this article.

1. Japan has been too influenced by American culture, but also hasn’t been influenced enough.

Murakami Ryu complains about Japan taking up too much American-style materialism, but then complains that Japan only took up American culture in a superficial way. But wouldn’t it be way worse had Japan adopted American style values in a deep and thorough way? Hasn’t Japanese culture been “saved” by only appropriating American culture as surface?

2. The entire idea of Japanese social dependence comes from the defeat of WWII and not over a millennium of Confucian-derived values.

“A Japan shaped by its reliance upon big brother/big daddy America would naturally perfect this form of expression.”

Murakami Takashi — if I was new to this, I would think that everyone in Japan is named “Murakami,” by the way — is obsessed with framing every possible Japanese cultural tendency through the lens of WWII. Sure, the war was an epoch-changing affair and the scars are deep, but I don’t think America suddenly invented the idea of dependence and hierarchical relations and hoisted them on Japan. Murakami seems to complain about all these hierarchical structures — in an incredibly Oedipal American way — and then blames them on America. And then he also goes around saying that Japan is “superflat” — no hierarchies at all.

Then Murakami Ryu says, “The paradigm of Japanese society has changed since the era of rapid economic growth, but our society still provides the same kind of education and corporations are still managed by rules based on norms rooted in the paradigms of that time.”

This is a great summary of Japan’s political issues, but the cause has way more to do with Japanese internal political inertia and social organization than any sort of complex with America.

3. Japan is powerless to do anything about this American influence.

“There are 45,000 American troops here, and American fast food is everywhere. What could we do to stop it?”

For the time being, let’s ignore the fact that there is Japanese fast food everywhere and that there are probably as many Doutors as Starbucks.

I absolutely believe that the United States has had a distorting influence upon the Japanese political process. The CIA secretly funded the LDP until, at least, the late 1980s and put right-wing thugs on their payroll to crush Leftist dissent.

That being said, individual Japanese citizens do have a choice of whether to eat McDonalds or Yoshinoya. All that “fast food” is there because it sells really well. McDonalds Japan just posted record revenues.

In the same way, the Japanese people could have voted for a political party that promised an independent foreign policy from American needs, but the LDP has been given the reigns to the country for almost the entirety of the post-war period. There are everyday lifestyle choices that would help mitigate the American influence, but most people are choosing the status quo. No one seems to be interested in asking why there is such a high demand for American culture and products in Japan.

“And the BBC reported in May that Japan’s Communist Party had swelled to more than 400,000 members, with 1,000 newbies signing on every month.”

So, good, the Japanese, through support of the JCP, are making a political movement against Japan’s participation in the American capitalistic sphere and the nuclear treaty. But if membership is increasing, why did the JCP lose ground in the last Tokyo election? And why do people think they will lose further ground in this month’s big national election?

4. Everyone loves American culture, but there is something shameful about liking American culture.

“Oe admitted that books like Huckleberry Finn and volumes by Walt Whitman first inspired him to embark on his career as a writer. He reportedly bowed his head in apology immediately after making this confession.”

I think the context of that anecdote was that Oe has always been aligned with the Japanese left, but as an American Left-style humanist liberal democrat, he had to feign a certain amount of shame in front of the dominant USSR and China-oriented Socialists. I don’t think that liking Huckleberry Finn is particularly shame-worthy in more mainstream circles. Murakami Haruki wears his American influences on his sleeve, and he’s a hugely-selling author.

5. American culture has lost influence in Japan.

“Younger Japanese are setting the trends that young Americans and other Westerners now follow”

This needs to be highly qualified. Mixi was a Friendster rip-off, and American web culture — other than 4-chan perhaps — has taken very little influence from Japanese web culture. There are probably things that prove the “Japan got to postmodernity before the US,” but net culture does not work as an example.

But I agree with the bigger point: young Japanese have generally lost interest in the U.S. This is totally true — especially in the fashion world. Japanese youth know so little about the rest of the world that there is no way they could harbor an inferiority complex.

So shouldn’t this be a cause for celebration? Isn’t this the end of the psychological crisis? Do any of the artists featured in the piece feel happy about the artistic potential of the latest youth generation? Wasn’t it the complex and dialogue with the West that spurred the creative tension in their work? Would Murakami Takashi give all the money back for his “soul”?

W. David MARX
August 12, 2009

Meeting Modernity Exhibition Tokyo!


Unearthed outside of the city of Sano in Tochigi-ken, this portrait photography series documents Japan as it engaged with modernization and commercial photography in the Meiji and Taishō Periods.

This post marks the Tokyo opening of the Meeting Modernity Exhibition.

OPENING: A Night of Néojaponisme
A night of presentations, discourse, music, and booze.
DATE: 31st of July 2009
OPEN: 1800 START: 1900
FEE: open charge (Nagesen)
PLACE: hybrid so+ba gallery
TOKYO 156-0052

Come on down to the infamous Hybrid SO+BA Gallery in Kyodo (Odakyu Line) for a night of revelry with the staff of Néojaponisme. A smattering of presentations by the editors of and contributors to the site will be accompanied by Funkmaster DJ Jean Snow on the wheels of steel.

July 22, 2009

The Potential of Web Typography

Firefox 3.5 is out now- go get that sucker!

The Mozilla Japan team asked that Craig Mod and I jointly write and design this demo page of what is now possible using Firefox’s new @font-face, a CSS rule implemented in Firefox’s latest 3.5 release which allows web designers to reference fonts not installed on end user machines.

(In other words: it allows web designers to store fonts on their server and reference them in CSS, regardless of what fonts the user browsing the page has installed.)

Look at it in Firefox- it is designed for that. It looks OK enough in Safari, but we’d rather have you see it in all its glory. Click around a bit and see what the future of typography for the web looks like….

We lucked out in getting Underware to agree to being our foundry partners in making this demo happen. The demo coincides with the release of their new typeface, Liza.

Original referring page on Mozilla’s site is here.

Thanks to Craig for dropping crazy hours with me on getting this project together. Shoutouts to Mozilla for their support, encouragement, and sheer radicalness!

June 30, 2009

Poster Initiative 001


I just started a new series of two-color posters called “Poster Initiative” that will be distributed for free around Tokyo. The first batch were dropped off at Nagi Shokudo last night and another went to Cafe Pause today. Poster Initiative 001 was printed in a series of 1,000.

June 19, 2009

Chewing the Cud: Herbivores

Emergency Message to the MSM
June 1, 2009

From the desk of The Reporter Generalissimo

To Japan correspondents:

Please go and write an article about Japan’s soushokudanshi: the so-called herbivore men.


We don’t care that this is an old story in the Japanese media.

The Reporter Generalissimo

CNN – “Japan’s ‘herbivore men’ — less interested in sex, money” (June 8, 2009)

Independent UK – “Japan’s Generation XX” (June 13, 2009)

Slate – “The Herbivore’s Dilemma” (June 15, 2009)


Marxy sez: I will have some deeper thoughts on this soon…

W. David MARX
June 18, 2009


What happens when you give two graphic designers and three programmers turntables, then team them up with a duo of professional sound artists?
If you are in Tokyo, you are obligated to make your way to Lesson Three of Exercise, the official unofficial dance party of IMG SRC/Non-Grid, Tokyo’s top web design and interactive agency.

Friday June 19th
@ Rubyroom Shibuya
11pm – 5am
¥1,500 including one FREE drink
Get out from behind that monitor and get your sallow, pasty ass on the dance floor, motherfucker!!!

June 17, 2009

10... Q...

Just a reminder that Néojaponisme contributor Daniel Morales is scheduled to begin liveblogging his day reading Murakami Haruki’s new book 1Q84 in twelve hours or so over at How to Japonese.

Be there or… reread Dōjidai game, I guess.

May 28, 2009

Adachi Yumi's Mom in Porn Debut

安達有里(安達祐実の母)がAVデビュー 7月にSODから発売 (Adachi Yuri — Adachi Yumi’s mother — to make adult video debut from SOD in July)

We’ve all suspected at some level that mothers who force their daughters into show business at a young age either have some kind of ethnically-unbound ethically-unbound capitalist lust or are using their children as proxy agents to achieve unfulfilled life dreams. Adachi Yuri, however, may take the cake for stage mom awfulness. Thanks to her nude photo book and now this upcoming porn debut (at age 51!), Adachi Yumi’s career will no doubt be forever buried under the shadow of her mother’s freak show.

More pressingly, I wonder how Adachi’s 16 year-old son feels about this.

The commenters are 2-ch are not so hot on this whole story either: “子供を芸能界に入れる親ってやっぱりどこか外れてるのか”

W. David MARX
May 24, 2009

Scion Installation San Jose


I will be in San Jose, California for the Scion Installation tour stop there at Anno Domini. The opening is on June 5th and goes from 8PM to 12AM. If you are remotely near the Bay Area, come on down!
Other artists who will have work on display include luminaries like Dave Choe, Souther Salazar, Jeff Soto, Kofie One, Usugrow, and Eye One.

May 22, 2009

In Search of the Lost Taste


Now out: In Search of the Lost Taste, a vegan cookbook by Joshua Ploeg. I art-directed and designed this half-recipes/half-adventure/sci-fi/fantasy novella with cover illustration by comic maestro Aaron Renier and copious interior illustrations by the mighty drawing overlord Nate Beaty. The typography within is something I’m a bit proud of, as well- a hodgepodge of no less than twenty typefaces are deployed to make the book fun to read while still communicating effectively.

The author Joshua was the singer of some of the best West Coast weirdo hardcore bands around including Mukilteo Fairies and Behead the Prophet No Lord Shall Live before his most recent stint as an amazing itinerant vegan chef.

The book is available via the publisher, Microcosm or directly through me in Japan.

May 15, 2009

Girl Talk Piece in Best of Music Writing 2009

I am very happy to announce that the article “2008: Girl Talk” about the musical artist Girl Talk I co-wrote with Nick Sylvester will be included in the newest edition of Da Capo’s Best Music Writing anthology. (Last year’s edition available here: Best Music Writing 2008). The piece was originally co-published on Néojaponisme and Nick’s blog Riff Market. This year’s Da Capo collection will be edited by rock crit legend Greil Marcus — author of Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music and other fine books.

The original piece:

2008: Girl Talk


W. David MARX
May 8, 2009

Tokyo Art Beat/Beams tee

Ian Lynam tokyo Art Beat

My new shirt for Tokyo Art Beat is now available in their shop. The elusive custom green and pink colorway pictured above is available only at Beams T.

May 2, 2009