Category Archives: Essays

“The Name of the New Era is Taiyo Komon Spapan”: Thirty Years of Music, Politics, and White Underpants

An Interview with Masanosuke Hanasaki of Taiyo Komon Spapan Interview and Text by Anastasia Traynin Photos Copyright Hiromichi Ugaya (except top image) This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Heisei era and also its unprecedented end, with Emperor Akihito … Continue reading

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Politics and dōjinshi: Zengakuren booth at Comiket sells revolution to otaku

On 31 December, 2018, while much of Japanese society was getting ready to crowd around the TV to watch Kōhaku Uta Gassen that evening on NHK or helping out in the kitchen, the scene was quite different in Odaiba, where … Continue reading

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Anti-government monk group JKS47 protests nuclear power with monthly prayer rituals in Kasumigaseki

It should be obvious to all that Premium Friday, that ill-named and ill-begotten government gimmick to encourage workers to leave their jobs early on the final Friday of the month, has utterly failed when even the (no doubt overworked and … Continue reading

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Shinjuku Station West Gate: Reclaiming Tokyo’s banned plaza as a political space

Over the years I have continued to gravitate back towards the Shinjuku Station West Gate (Nishiguchi) protests, which I believe to be one of the most important yet little-known social movements in Tokyo today. Every Saturday from 5pm to 7pm, … Continue reading

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New academic year begins with student activists and Hōsei University staff clashing at campus entrance

In Japan, April is far from the cruellest month and perhaps rather the most optimistic, not least because it heralds the cherry blossom and the start of the new fiscal and academic year. I recently had the somewhat unnerving experience … Continue reading

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