“With its wide-open spaces, national parks, active volcanoes, forests of silvery beech, forlorn coastlines and remote fishing towns, Hokkaidō is ideal for road trips….”
Lonely Planet started a new series of cookbooks, called From the Source. The idea is to capture a place through its food, and include recipes from the best cooks who make the food — all with gorgeous photos throughout. This summer, editions for Italy and Thailand were released (photo above). I want to make everything.
Next up: Japan. I’m contributing the chapter on Tohoku & Hokkaido. The photographer and I are still in the process of sorting out our plans, but it looks like we’ll be road-tripping deep into Hokkaido. I can’t wait!
“Over the past few years, several American-style pancake joints — Eggs n’ Things and Cafe Kaila, for example — have washed up on Tokyo’s shores. Now, the tide is going the other direction.
“Well, sort of: Australian chef Bill Granger first brought his laid-back brand of home cooking (and his famous ricotta hotcakes) to Japan in 2008, with the opening of bills Shichirigahama on the Shonan coast. He hit it so big — Granger is credited with setting off the current pancake mania — that he now has four restaurants in and around the capital. And last month, he opened bills Sydney, his first Stateside outpost, in Hawaii.
“’I do restaurants where I can get inspired,’ Granger tells The Japan Times. ‘Hawaii is interesting because it’s the ultimate fusion place. It’s people from everywhere.’”
Published in The Japan Times.
“Taito Designers Village packs a lot of old-school charm — literally. It’s housed in an elementary school rendered redundant by changing demographics. The walls still have murals painted by former students, a parking lot retains the outlines of a running track, workshop space is furnished with science-lab desks, and the sinks lining one of the hallways sure weren’t designed for grown-ups. ‘The toilets are really small too,’ says Ayako Takagi.
“Takagi is my guide for the afternoon, introducing me to the facilities and faces of the workspace. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, her long hair capped with a bright turquoise hat, she possesses both a personality and a face that, had she chosen a different path, could easily have landed her on the cover of a fashion magazine. Instead, inspired by her jewelry-designing parents, Takagi makes character art and figures under the brand name Uamou. She’s part of the second generation of designers who have been selected for a three-year, low-rent residency at one of the 19 studios that comprise Taito Designers Village.”
Published in Tokyo’s Metropolis magazine
“Ganari Takahashi made his millions as head of adult video business Soft on Demand. He retired (how much quivering flesh can one man take?) and established Kunitachi Farm in 2006 with a self-investment of ¥1 billion. From Takahashi’s point of view, this leap from pornography to agriculture was not as rash as it may seem.
“‘When I entered the adult video industry, the most important people, those who were actually making the product, weren’t able to earn anything,’ he explains. ‘Instead the distributors were making all the money. So I worked to create an industry where those who made things were properly valued. When I thought about living as a farmer, I realized that in agriculture as well, the act of making things was not duly valued. So I thought to apply what success I had in the adult industry to the world of agriculture.’ Thus was born Takahashi’s idea of ‘agricultural reform.'”
Published on CNN Travel (formerly CNNGo) in December 2009. But for one brief moment at maybe 3am this was the top story on the CNN global site!
This is one of my favorites of the stories I’ve done, because of it took such a bizarre turn. I really did just pitch it because I thought the idea of a Planet Hollywood-style restaurant for farmers was interesting. I had no idea who Ganari Takahashi was until he politely replied to my questions and explained he was a famous porn mogul.
“The Higashi-Nihonbashi and Bakuracho neighborhoods, an area characterized by rundown buildings housing small business offices, bland new mansion towers, and cheap wholesale clothiers. Economic decline has led to low rents and numerous vacated spaces, a trend which has inspired some Tokyo-based creators (who were in turn inspired by neighborhoods such as New York’s DUMBO) to gather in the area with the intention of using their collective artistic powers to revive the neighborhood.”
Published on Tokyo Art Beat.
This story is old, from 2007, but it is a record of how gentrification happens at a snail’s pace in Tokyo. I have been watching this neighborhood for nearly a decade and in that time it’s added just a handful of new shops, galleries, and cafes (while Williamsburg has gone from cult to cliche). Will Andrews put together a slightly more current (2009) guide to the area, also for Tokyo Art Beat.