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Nitpicking the Mainstream Media on Nigo and Bape

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While iMomus and Jeans Now properly dealt with Ben Anderson’s Tokyo travel article in The Guardian last week, I had not taken a look until it popped up on my screen while searching for something unrelated earlier today. Obviously the novice Japan traveler is not going to produce the most cutting-edge piece about the city ever written and will generally follow the Western-Friendly Concierge Playbook (Page 1: Zakuro!), but paragraph two sort of took the story out of the realm of reality and into our Western collective-fantasy of hyper-cool neo-Tokyo c. 1998 CE:

Omotesando is also home to the cult clothing line Bathing Ape, the epicentre of Tokyo’s youth culture. Armies of kids covered in its bright camouflage and shiny trainers wander round the four Bathing Ape stores all day and often camp out overnight on a rumour that a new top or trainer has just arrived. They get their hair cut at the Bape salon and eat off gold-rimmed china, especially made with the Ape logo, at the Bape cafe.

I do not mean to pick on Bape or single it out, but this whole paragraph is historical fiction, based on hearsay. I can promise you that neither Anderson nor anyone on their team — in this year 2006 — actually saw kids camp outside overnight or swarm to get their hair cut at the Bape salon and eat the Bape cafe. (Wait, did kids ever swarm to eat Bape and have a Bape haircut??) This is like doing a travel piece on New York and talking about “all the graffiti on the subways.” (“I dunno, man. I mostly took cabs, but I asked a colleague about it and he said it was far out.”) Was there a time when this observation was true about Bape and Omotesando? Sure. Is it really accurate to describe Omotesando as the “epicentre” of Bape rather than the central fashion headquarters for the nation? No, not in 2006 when everyone in Japan has moved on from a brand that topped the charts a full decade ago.

Last Thursday afternoon, I passed by the Omotesando Bape store and no one was in it. The weekends are surely different, and I do not want to make my personal observation into the Law, but no matter: the fact that Ape has a lot of stores does not mean that Ape in 2006 is filling all of those stores with rabid first-tier customers.

But imagine how embarrassing it would be to everyone to learn that Bape has seen better days.

The day I arrived, Vanity Fair was in town to interview Nigo, and I’d only just missed Natalie Portman and Stella McCartney, who both took him out for dinner.

What if Ito Misaki and Hamasaki Ayumi went to Los Angeles and chose to go out to dinner with Mickey Rourke? Needless to say, the Japanese media would have the responsibility of protecting the honor of these two women by playing up Mickey Rourke’s reputation, nudging the facts, going on hearsay and “rumour” to make him sound like the hippest (and strongest!) guy in town. Nigo is Nigo, and at this point, his fame is more about his fame than his actually selling clothes. But must we extrapolate some kind of fantasy 1999 scenario of his stores to live up to his legend? Are all travel writers doomed to go somewhere and fantasize their surroundings as those existent five years ago instead of sizing up the situation from a ground-level inductive perspective? Or should they read blogs by jaded locals totally myopic about the grand narratives bestowed on Japan from the outside world?

W. David MARX (Marxy)
October 2, 2006

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

Shukan Post on the Bape Vast Tax Evasion Scheme

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The sometimes-reliable, always-sensational news magazine Shukan Post reports in their May 27th issue about a “vast tax evasion scheme” (巨額脱税工作) linked directly to A Bathing Ape’s Nigo. I very much doubt that this story would have made the magazine had Nigo not recently started to date popular model/actress Makise Riho, but the ultra-wealthy fashion capitalist has bought himself into the big time — which also means becoming fodder for extravagant headlines and closer media scrutiny.

Apparently, Japan’s Tax Administration Agency opened up an investigation last year on Nigo’s company Nowhere. From there, they began a compulsory investigation on a man the Post identifies only as Mr. A (A氏) who was allegedly involved in the financial management of the Ura-Harajuku brands. (This news also made the newspapers on the same day, so it feels like the Tax Administration Agency leaked it.) In the ’80s, Mr. A ran several successful tarento goods stores in Harajuku, but when the Bubble burst and the kids fled to Shibuya, Mr. A went bankrupt and moved overseas. He was called back to Japan by a “Mr. B” during the late ’90s “Harajuku revival.”

The Post refers to Mr. B as the “don of Ura-Harajuku” — i.e, the man who financed all the major streetwear brands, including Bape by acting a mediator between the young fashion designers and whoever it is providing the investment capital. Neither the Shukan Post nor the newspaper articles gave his name but gave his age. Mr. A worked for Mr. B’s consulting company “W” as a managerial adviser to the young Ura-Harajuku brand runners. According to the article, Mr. A helped these brands evade taxes through imaginary receipts and inflated orders — in three years, they hid ¥1,5 billion, which according to A’s friend “Hasegawa,” was given directly in cash to Mr. B in kickback money.

Nigo’s tax counselor happens to be an alumni of the National Tax Administration Agency, and according to him, the investigation is focusing only on Mr. A and not Nowhere.

In an interview with the Shukan Post at the end of the article, Mr. A proclaims his innocence and also takes the fall, saying that he just cheated Nigo, who knew nothing about the scheming.

To Nigo’s credit, the article does not give much proof that he directly participated in the tax evasion, but having said that, this is one of the first media attempts to investigate the long-standing rumors about the financial workings of the Japanese street fashion business. As with all pop culture in Japan, it’s nearly impossible to figure out who’s ultimately paying the bills.

W. David MARX
May 18, 2005

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.

A Bathing Ape Takes a Final Bath

In Summer 2000 I came back to Tokyo to research the popular Ura-Harajuku street fashion brand A Bathing Ape for my senior thesis. My makeshift mentor was an editor of Hot Dog Press — a men’s lifestyle magazine from Kodansha that ceased publication in 2003 — who had covered the Fujiwara Hiroshi family of brands over the years.

One day he drew a triangle on a piece of paper with the x-axis being number of consumers and the y-axis being brand cachet. He explained, “At the top point here are very cool but low-selling brands. At the bottom of the triangle are all the mass market brands with huge sales but no cachet. The secret to A Bathing Ape and the Ura-Harajuku brands is that they keep themselves right in the middle of the triangle and don’t let themselves slip down. They have a healthy number of consumers but they make sure to never go all the way to the bottom.”

This was the general understanding about A Bathing Ape’s success: They would always use specific marketing techniques to appear underground even when selling to millions of young Japanese across the country. I understood this “brand cachet über alles” strategy to be so integral to their success that I ended my thesis with the prediction, “Once the Ura-Harajuku cultural complex disintegrates, Ape may lose its subcultural base and will be subject to the normal forces of fad market structures. [Founder] Nigo will probably stop producing Ape before this point in order to save the brand’s reputation.”

How wrong I was.

Within a year of writing that overly-confident forecast of Nigo’s future fate, the brand embarked on an extremely conspicuous tie-up campaign with soda maker Pepsi. Bape then quickly dropped all of its previously-important artificial brand barriers to mass market appeal and tried to win over anybody and everybody. When I moved back to Japan in 2003, things looked pretty grim for A Bathing Ape: The Tokyo stores were empty during weekdays, and the only consumers seemed to be the high school kids who came into the big city on weekends.

The brand hit their second wind, however, when Nigo met Pharrell Williams, and for about three years in the mid-2000s, Bape became one of the hottest brands on earth — this time framed as an integral part of the American hip hop scene. Nigo made one of the least plausible yet most accepted visual transformations in recent history, dropping the Cornelius-lookalike routine to slot in gold teeth and wayward baseball caps (or worse, a skull cap).

Despite this international expansion, Bape’s days at the top of the Japanese brand hierarchy were long over. The Ape head had become too ubiquitous, and the brand was spread way too thin. When the U.S. bubble for Bape burst around 2008, parent company Nowhere started heading towards serious financial insolvency. Now we have learned that Nowhere — A Bathing Ape’s parent company — had been suffering massive losses. The Wall Street Journal states that fiscal year 2009 ended with ¥267.4 million and 2010 ended with ¥119 million in the red. Nowhere also has debt in the range of ¥2.6 billion.

In 2001, we believed that A Bathing Ape had mastered the dynamics of the brand life-cycle pyramid so that it would never fall prey to the dangers of becoming too mass market and seeing their consumer base quickly dry up. But with the changes in 2002, the brand went on an expansion spree that could rival Uniqlo. There were Busy Work Shops in every single major and minor regional city from Kyushu to Hokkaido despite declining demand. At some point Nigo established a Bape-themed hair salon, a restaurant, an art gallery, shops for his secondary lines like Bape Kids and Baby Milo. Meanwhile they were so desperate for consumers that Nigo stopped any sort of passing attempt to be cool. Most famously, Nigo made $15 yellow Ape-head T-shirts for Nippon Television’s charity telethon 24 Hour TV in 2007, which could often be seen on the backs of housewives and elementary school kids.

In 2009 Nigo — seemingly bored with his crumbling empire — stepped down as CEO of his own company, giving the reigns to an ex-World executive. (Perhaps not so coincidentally World also bought up former Ura-Harajuku brand Real Mad Hectic.) Nigo lately has been working on not particularly significant side projects such as “Human Made” and suit brand “Mr.Bathing Ape.” Meanwhile things were not looking good for Nowhere post-Nigo: the L.A. store closed in 2010.

Bape did, however, have one remaining ace in the pocket: massive support from consumers in Greater China especially Hong Kong and Taiwan. Hong Kong in particular had always been attracted to the Fujiwara Hiroshi empire of Japanese street brands, and since 1999, HKers had been intimately familiar with A Bathing Ape. That year Nigo teamed up with locals Eric Kot and Jan Lamb to open an Ape boutique on the 17th floor of an office building. The result was the most draconian shopping policy in Ape history. Potential shoppers had to apply to become Busy Work Shop members, which required a Hong Kong passport. This excluded all non-Hong Kong residents from using the shop. Moreover the applications would be sent to Japan for ultimate approval. Once customers were approved as members, they would have to make an appointment before being able to enter the store — no casual walk-ins allowed. The image, however strict, matched perfectly with the super-exclusivity of the original Japanese strategy.

Although the first Busy Work Shop Hong Kong was never a huge phenomenon in itself, the brand’s sudden presence in the Chinese language media put A Bathing Ape in the wider Asian pantheon of hot labels. The Baby Milo shirts in particular were a huge sensation in Hong Kong, making the evening news as a noteworthy youth trend. While Japanese lost interest, the rise of a new youth consumer in East Asia balanced things out for brands. Anecdotally-speaking, most shoppers I have seen inside or near A Bathing Ape in Harajuku have appeared to be from Greater China. Nigo has also directly targeted fans in these locations with a Taipei store in 2005 and an enormous new store in Hong Kong in 2006. Beijing and Shanghai opened in 2010.

So if Nigo’s 18-year old pet ape is being primarily consumed by the Chinese in its old age, it only makes sense that a Hong Kong based company — I.T Ltd. — would buy out the whole thing (including the debt). The depressing detail was the 90% equity purchase only cost the acquirers $2.8 million. Nigo has easily put more than that in his art, toy, and vintage LV trunk collection alone. This sell off of A Bathing Ape is an incredibly dramatic flame out for a company that defined the potential of Japanese independent brands to go abroad and changed the face of global fashion. It’s better than bankruptcy but not exactly a feel good denouement to an otherwise remarkable success story.

But just as Japanese apparel companies like Onward and Renown bought up heritage Anglo brands like J. Press and Aquascutum in the ’80s and ’90s, Chinese companies are likely to be the future bulk purchasers of Japanese brands. The Japanese fashion ecosystem relies more and more on the flow of East Asian cash, and the desperate fire sale of Nowhere is likely the opening paragraph to an entirely new chapter of Japanese cultural history.

W. David MARX
February 2, 2011

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.

Team Néojaponisme are a-okay. Thanks for asking.

Autumn Notes on Japanese Fashion

1. I saw an eight year-old kid riding the Inogashira line today in an official red Bape “24-Hour Television” t-shirt and yellow Sesame Street backpack. Nice work, Nigo. The new Shibuya store up near PARCO may make the brand even bigger with the milkbox set.

2. Comme des Garçons had a rather unusual selection of sweaters and sweatshirts at their Aoyama store. By unusual, I mean, “slightly generic and reasonably priced” — like something you would see at Ships. The price tags, however, are printed with an enormous “Made in China / 中国製” stamp. This entire collection seemed like a guilt-instilling honey-trap for less desirable customers: “Yes, you can buy a small piece of our brand, but know that this is made in China, cheapo.” I may have fallen prey the genius art/marketing team of Kawakubo and hubby, but I’ve always been completely sold on the idea that Comme des Garçons has no need for piddling customers who aren’t on the conceptual level. Now with PLAY and these China exports, however, the brand has almost completely removed the serious hurdles to a mass audience and has even stopped feigning reticence.

Interestingly enough, these items are only available at the directly-managed CdG stores — probably because the margins are too thin to make wholesaling possible. (Don’t you love it when I talk business? Rack jobber. You like that?)

3. For all the talk about manufacturing in Japan being so expensive, small clothing labels are still best sticking to Japanese factories — in terms of both quality and price. The problem, however, is that most of these workshops are staffed exclusively by grandpas and grandmas whose kids have long abandoned any interest in taking up their craft. In the next twenty years, we are going to see the complete disintegration of this industry — not necessarily because of being out-priced by globalization, but because sewing and fabric dying did not look particularly sexy in the 1980s when their kids went off to the City to chase dreams. Will the grandkids pick it up? Besides some denim work in Okayama, I doubt it.

4. Do yourself a favor and read every single Japanese fashion magazine one month. The messaging ranges somewhere between monotony and conspiracy. You wouldn’t think that Classy and Glamorous would have much in common, but they’ve both taken the same central directives as their core content. So everyone’s in leather “riding jackets” and leopard print and houndstooth check, and magazines simply find the right way to nestle these new elements into previous subcultural and demographic conventions.

5. The November issue of Vivi has a story called 「噂のめちゃ売れ服」 (“Clothes that are Rumored to be Selling Well”), and get this, the super popular clothes featured in the piece are exactly the trends advocated in the October issue. Seeing that September was muggy and hot and generally August-like, I seriously doubt that the editors of Vivi really had an evidence that these very Autumn styles were selling “like hot cakes” back three weeks ago when they wrote the story and it was 28° C outside and the very idea of wearing a trenchcoat and a sweater dress was pure evil. But the “rumor” angle lets you both get away from actual reporting/objectivity and into legitimizing your fashion advice as a solid slice of social ether / 世間.

6. I am not sure there was a single fashion shoot in October’s Popeye that featured a styled mix of various brands on a specific theme. The magazine is now 60%+ advertorial, with Mr. Sukezane and Co. receiving assignments to work within the box of a single brand. If you wonder why Japanese consumers understand the minor positional differences between brands so well, the advertorial is clearly a big part. Brands are allowed to be buy completely unadulterated pages and present their side of the story — even using the magazine’s star models to maintain maximum plausible deniability. Now, the same first-tier brands buy pages in all of the major magazines, causing some serious overlap and redundancy, but hey, the system works for the big boys and it’s not like magazines make money from readers. The remaining question is whether kids just want manual catalogs or they want editors to give them something original. But think about it: most people drowning in a sea of social pressures would rather have a textbook for SCUBA than critical and artistic musings on marine biology.

7. Color’s back. JJ had six solid pages of every possible type of colored tights, modeled by a legion of amputated legs. Spur regrettably use cringe-inducing self-reference in their main fashion story “We, fashion people, are everything but black” but at least they’re pro-chromo.

8. Strange crossovers on the subcultural kids. Elastic‘s reporting on some weird gyaru-gothloli crossover in Popteen. And I spotted gyaru-cutie hybrids at the Shonen Knife/Kiiiiiii gig (photo courtesy of Suzuki Mio.) I think these particular girls come from the CUTiE side of things, but they’ve picked up some cues from their peers at 109.

W. David MARX
September 29, 2007

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.

Neomarxisme Archive

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Néomarxisme — “the pop sociology of pop” & “a post-blog” — launched in October 2004 as the personal media space for Tokyo-based writer and musician W. David Marx (Marxy). The site went into hiatus upon Marx’s establishment of Néojaponisme in August 2007, but in its almost three years of existence, Néomarxisme featured nearly 800 essays and pieces of original content. The following archive organizes the best material from this vast reserve of information into appropriate categories.

Serious Matters

Education, Employment, and Labor
“Regain and Orthopraxical Labor Goals”
August 6, 2007.
“Golden Week: Ultra-Rational Order Causes Massive Demand for Low Supply”
May 2, 2007.
“Work/Life Balance – Coming Never to Japan” March 6, 2007.
“No Chances in the Early Days of the ‘Second-Chance Society'” November 22, 2006.
“The Republic of (Un)Educated Elites” November 6, 2006.
“A Refreshed Hierarchy for the Japanese Hypermeritocracy” October 17, 2006.
“Japanese Employment, the Adventure” March 27, 2006.
“The Myth of Japanese Universities” June 22, 2005.

Socioeconomics and Class
“Rich Kids” December 12, 2006.
“How Did Japanese Analysts Make Money Before the Rise of Poor People?” (on Miura Atsushi) September 12, 2006.
“Dignity of a Nation Analysis Sidebar 1: Income Inequality and Lifetime Employment” July 31, 2006.
“The Rise of Social Class in Japan, Pt. I” January 16, 2006.
“Japan Discovers Poor People… and They’re Awesome!” December 12, 2005.
“Class and Creativity” (Tokion’s Creativity Now Tokyo) October 24, 2005.
“Les Maisons des Nouveaux Riches” April 3, 2005.
“Income (In)equality in Japan” December 13, 2004.

Economics and Development
“The Friend Tax” March 18, 2006.
“A Sudden Influx of Foreign Labor” February 14, 2006.
“Livedoor Con’t” January 24, 2006.
“Down with the Construction Industry!” December 5, 2005.
“Sturm und Traing” (when the trains stop in Tokyo) November 7, 2005.
“15%” (consumption taxes in Japan) October 25, 2005.
“OECD Economic Survey on Japan 2005” June 1, 2005.

Politics and Power
“The Kurile Island Dispute and the World of Women’s Fashion” June 3, 2005.

Japanese Leftism
“Kichiku Daienkai” March 23, 2005.
“Kids These Days!” (why Japanese student radicalism failed) March 3, 2005.

The Dignity of a Nation
“Are You Ready for Kokka no Hinkaku Week?” July 23, 2006.
“Kokka no Hinkaku Chapter 1: The Limits of the Modern Spirit of Rationality” July 24, 2006.
“Kokka no Hinkaku, Chapter 2: The World Will Be Ruined with ‘Logic’ Alone”
July 24, 2006.
“Kokka no Hinkaku Chapter 3: Doubting freedom, equality, and democracy” July 26, 2006.
“Dignity of a Nation Analysis Sidebar 1: Income Inequality and Lifetime Employment” July 31, 2006.
“Kokka no Hinkaku Chapter 4: Japan – the Nation of Sensitivity and Form” August 6, 2006.
“Kokka no Hinkaku Chapter 5: Reviving the Bushido Spirit” August 14, 2006.

Japanese National Identity

Japanese definitions of Japan
“Japan, So Narrowly Defined” May 15, 2007.
“Athletic Underdogs and Nation States” March 29, 2007.
“Japan: Major or Minor Country?” December 8, 2006.
“Pompous Particularism vs. Pompous Universalism” July 3, 2006.
“Girls, Don’t Fight! We Can All be Japanese!!” August 9, 2005.
“Jomon vs. Yayoi” July 20, 2005.
“Hip Hoppin’ Ben Franklin and Kyrgyzstani Textiles in a World of Curry: Aichi Expo 2005” April 21, 2005.
“Gundam: Warriors of Universalism” April 15, 2005.
“Travel Japan: It’s… Not Bad!” February 6, 2005.

Foreign definitions of Japan
“The America that Mistranslates Japan” December 7, 2005.
“Japan as Number One! – Part One” May 23, 2005.
“Japan as Number One! – Part Two” May 25, 2005.

Gross National Cool
“Japanese Cool from Economic Meltdown? Not really.” June 23, 2007.
“Back to the ’90s” July 14, 2005.
“Gross National Cool: A Japanese Response” June 4, 2005.
“The Fragility of Pop Culture” (the fleeting Cool Japan moment) March 20, 2005.
“Japan Boom Trickle Down” February 26, 2005.
“Debunking ‘Gross National Cool'” Young Alive In Love blog. July 5, 2004.

Culture, Arts, Literature, Craft, Language

Philosophical dispositions
“Top Gun and Faith Alone” July 2, 2005.
“Orthodoxy vs. Orthopraxy” February 11, 2005.

Craft and Creativity
“Recycling Cliches: Rakugo vs. Stella” March 2, 2006.
“Class and Creativity” (Tokion’s Creativity Now Tokyo) October 24, 2005.
“Murakami Takashi Sells Out!” June 19, 2005.
“TOKION’s Creativity Now Tokyo” November 7, 2004.

Pakuri (Artistic Thievery)

“Pakuri Goes East-West” May 10, 2007.
“2-Ch Foils Manga Pakuri” October 19, 2005.
“The Do-Nuts: Halcali Pakuri” July 7, 2005.
“Noda Nagi’s Pakuri Problem Part Two” July 6, 2005.
“Otsuka Ai Pakuri!” June 17, 2005.
“The Pakuri Debate: Noda vs. Aida” April 30, 2005.

Language
“Miihaa” June 5, 2007.
“Cuteness vs. Fluency” February 26, 2007.
“Kanji Causes Manga: Why?” December 13, 2006.
“English” March 7, 2005.
“English, Pt. III” March 15, 2005.

Literature
“Rich Kids” December 12, 2006.

Japanese Postmodernism
“Japanese Postmodernist on Japanese Postmodernism” April 5, 2005.

Music and Entertainment

Japanese Entertainment World
JJ and Johnny’s” August 23, 2007.
“Gossip is Hard to Read” August 21, 2007.
“Cigarettes: Way Before You Die of Cancer, Your Idol Contract Gets Revoked” March 27, 2007.
“Cuteness vs. Fluency” February 26, 2007.
“The Japanification of Leah Dizon” February 15, 2007.
“Idol Decline” (the rise of Koda Kumi) October 24, 2006.
“Hamasaki Ayumi Engagement: Ultimate Paranoid Narrative” December 11, 2005.
“The Hamasaki Ayumi Wedding Fiasco — Part II” December 8, 2005.
“Mourning Musuko” November 16, 2005.
“The Soft Appeal, Con’t” August 23, 2005.
“The Soft Appeal” August 16, 2005.
“iTunes Japan: Sony vs. The Jimushos” August 11, 2005.
“Payola” July 28, 2005.
“The Trials and Tribulations of Japanese Entertainment” May 13, 2005.
“Suzuki Ami’s Mystery Boss” May 12, 2005.
“Talent Industry 101” March 31, 2005.
“When Artists are Resurrected” (Suzuki Ami) March 29, 2005.
“The Onyanko Club” March 16, 2005.
“The Onyanko Club, Pt. II” March 17, 2005.
“The Onyanko Club, Pt. III” March 18, 2005.
“When Artists Disappear” February 24, 2005.
“What Fuji Keiko’s Daughter is Up to in America” October 14, 2004.
“Utada and the Bie Lie of Selling Abroad”
Young Alive In Love blog. September 29, 2004.

Japanese Music
“Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll TV?” July 11, 2007.
“Year in Music 2006” December 21, 2006.
“R.I.P. Velfarre” November 17, 2006.
“Being For the Benefit of Mr. K” (Avex CD inspired by Kurt Cobain) April 20, 2006.
“Noah’s Ark” (DIY recording in Tokyo) January 27, 2006.
“Gimme Shelter and Towel Rock” November 12, 2005.
“In Search of… Henbyoshi” October 17, 2005.
“Low on Budget, Low on Concept, High on Rock” September 29, 2005.
“Puffy Amiyumi as Neo-Bubblegum” September 9, 2005.
“Breakfast Notes on Jpop Videos” August 29, 2005.
“Japanese Artists With Foreign Names 1984-2004” August 26, 2005.
“Golden Interview Week: No. 6 – Shugo Tokumaru” May 4, 2005.
“Indie Bread vs. Indie Music” April 12, 2005.
“Japanese CD Rental Stores” January 18, 2005.
“No Criticism, No Past” January 16, 2005.
“The Year in (J)Pop 2004” January 11, 2005.
“No Lyrics in Music Reviews” November 2, 2004.
“The Decline of the Japanese Music Market, Part One” October 17, 2004.
“The Decline of the Japanese Music Market, Part Two” October 18, 2004.
“The Decline of the Japanese Music Market, Part Three” October 19, 2004.
“The Decline of the Japanese Music Market, Part Four” October 20, 2004.

Shibuya-kei
“A Eulogy for Zest” (closing of Shibuya-kei record store Zest) September 25, 2005.
“The Legacy of Shibuya-Kei Part One” November 15, 2004.
“The Legacy of Shibuya-Kei Part Two” November 16, 2004.
“The Legacy of Shibuya-Kei Part Three” November 19, 2004.
“The Legacy of Shibuya-Kei Part Four” November 19, 2004.
“The Legacy of Shibuya-Kei Part Five” November 22, 2004.
“The Legacy of Shibuya-Kei Part Six” November 24, 2004.

Music Reviews
“Solid Gold Disney” January 18, 2006.
“Who’s Got Beef? You Chicken?” November 21, 2005.
“Halcali – HarukaRImikkusu” March 25, 2005.
“Three Jpop Discs that Matter: Honorable Mentions” February 7, 2005.
“Three Jpop Discs that Matter: Number One” (Shiina Ringo’s “Shoso Strip”) February 6, 2005.
“Three Jpop Discs that Matter: Number Two” (Judy and Mary’s “The Power Source”) February 5, 2005.
“Three Jpop Discs that Matter: Number Three” (Puffy’s “amiyumi”) February 4, 2005.
“Tokyo Jihen – Kyouiku” December 5, 2004.
“Halcali – Ongaku no Susume” November 11, 2004.
“Hazel Nuts Chocolate – Bewitched!” Young Alive In Love blog. August 9, 2004.
“Aprils – Pan-da” Young Alive In Love blog. August 9, 2004.
“The Electronic Tomato – S/T” Young Alive In Love blog. August 9, 2004.

American Music
“SXSW and the Paradox of Choice”
March 21, 2007.
“Looking Back on 1996” (conceptual review of The Shins and Rilo Kiley) October 31, 2006.
“The Three Most Underrated Singles of All Time” March 27, 2005.

Markets and Consumers

Japanese Consumer Culture
“Miihaa” June 5, 2007.
“It is no longer fun to wait in line” November 13, 2006.
“Does the Long Tail Apply to Japan?” August 11, 2006.
“Hyper-Speed Product Proliferation? Blame Distribution” June 27, 2006.
“The Soft Appeal, Con’t” August 23, 2005.
“The Soft Appeal” August 16, 2005.
“Back to the ’90s” July 14, 2005.
“A Half-Pint of ‘Sono Hoka no Zasshu 2,’ please” April 13, 2005.
“The Leftover Plurality” March 24, 2005.
“Happoshu Culture” November 28, 2004.
“The Dasai Market Thesis” Young Alive In Love blog. September 7, 2004.

Advertising
“Regain and Orthopraxical Labor Goals” August 6, 2007.
“Rip Slyme in a One-Act Play Entitled ‘Sony Vaio: Fight the Power'” February 24, 2007.
“All Behold the Monolithic Beauty of the Mobile Ad Monopoly” December 4, 2006.
“Wake Up to the Same Coffee at Your Friendly Gigolo” (on hosts) September 8, 2006.
“Proof!” (quotes on Japanese movie posters) January 12, 2006.
“Truth in Advertising” January 15, 2005.

Media

Japanese Media Basics
“Everything Bad is Good For You (In Selected Media Markets)” October 28, 2005.
“Too Hot for Japan” (Cyzo on taboos) October 2, 2005.
“A Correction on Japanese Film Criticism” July 26, 2005.
“Cyzo: Censoring Star Wars Reviews in Japan” July 22, 2005.
“Japanese Consumers Want Manuals” June 26, 2005.
“Den Hideo on the Japanese Media” May 11, 2005.
“The Japanese Media: A Recap” May 10, 2005.

Internet
“The Second Digital Divide in Japanese Society” March 1, 2007.
“The So-Called ‘Densha Otoko'” July 10, 2005.
“Telecommunications: Culture Killer or Catalyst?” June 28, 2005.
“Japanese Blogging and Anonymity” May 27, 2005.
“Alas, the iPod Shuffle” May 15, 2005.
“Friendster vs. Mixi, U.S. vs. Japan” February 11, 2005.

Magazines
JJ and Johnny’s” August 23, 2007.
“On the New Japanese Tokion” September 18, 2006.
“Deductive Argument on Advertorial” July 20, 2006.
“Terminal Decline… of a Certain Subculture (Which Had its Many Foreign Fans)” (end of Relax magazine) June 15, 2006.
“All We Do Here is Sleep, Work, and Eat” (ku:nel) January 8, 2006.
Relax on Peace” October 20, 2005.
“Cyzo!”
July 4, 2005.
“Do You Hate Uniqlo? Then Buy a Magazine All About the Brand!”
April 23, 2005.
“Authority through Selective Democracy” November 18, 2004.

Fashion Magazines
“MilK Helps Your Kids Grow” June 8, 2007.
“Street Snaps: Top-Down or Bottom-Up?” June 6, 2007.
“Zino: Because We Needed Another Leon” May 14, 2007
“I Know What Boys Like” August 29, 2006.
“The Kurile Island Dispute and the World of Women’s Fashion” June 3, 2005.
“I Can CanCam May 29, 2005.

TV
“Lackluster Video: The Continuing Enigma of Japanese Television” November 28, 2006.
“Japanese TV: Passing the Savings onto the Top” November 2, 2006.
“Japanese TV, Part II – Sonim vs. Orlando Bloom” November 5, 2005.

Film
“Bus Man” (Japanese release of Napoleon Dynamite) August 24, 2005.
“Top Gun + Japanese Film Practices” July 3, 2005.
“Bad Tuning” (Japanese film titling) July 1, 2005.
“Star Wars III – In July!” May 21, 2005.
“Kichiku Daienkai” March 23, 2005.

Travel

Japan
“Good Times at the Kamiya Bar” May 21, 2007.
“Go West” (visiting Kansai) July 19, 2007.
“Fun, Sun, and Black Ships” (a trip to Shimoda, Izu Peninsula) October 12, 2006.
“The Lion Whispers” (classical music cafe Lion) February 2, 2006.
“Friday Night” (a night in Tokyo) November 19, 2005.
“Canyoning vs. Ikaho”
August 2, 2005.
“Travel Japan: It’s… Not Bad!”
February 6, 2005.

Sex, Love, and Marriage

“No Shotguns, No Weddings” August 15, 2007.
“The Beauty of Effort” July 27, 2007.
“5318008 Upside-Down on Calculator” July 6, 2007.
“Attraction to Adult Women: a Hot Trend for Upper-Middle Class Men” April 14, 2007.
“Cuteness vs. Fluency” February 26, 2007.
“The Japanification of Leah Dizon” February 15, 2007.
“I Know What Boys Like” August 29, 2006.
“Magazine Rack” (the Japanese breast fetish) June 13, 2005.
“Weekly Playboy: Say No to “Deai-kei” Sites” June 2, 2005.
“The Onyanko Club” March 16, 2005.
“The Onyanko Club, Pt. II” (“Otto Chikan”) March 17, 2005.
“The Onyanko Club, Pt. III” (“Stop it, Teacher!”) March 18, 2005.

Subcultures

Subculture Basics
“Delinquent Subcultures vs. Consumer Lifestyles” April 8, 2005.

Yankii/Gyaru

“The Misanthropology of Late-Stage Kogal” January 23, 2007.
“Wake Up to the Same Coffee at Your Friendly Gigolo” (on hosts) September 8, 2006.
“Namennayo – On Pirates and Cats” July 16, 2005.
“Kenka Bancho” March 26, 2005.
“Roller Cool” November 25, 2004.

Otaku
“Otaku: The Last Nerds Left Standing” August 31, 2006.
“On that OTAK Otaku Certification Exam…” August 17, 2005.

Pop and Youth Culture

History of Pop Culture
“Massing, Demographics, and the Beginnings of Japanese Pop Culture” June 4, 2007.
“Now I Understand Why Contemporary Japanese Pop Culture is at a Nadir” July 11, 2006.

21st Century Youth Malaise
“The Kids Are Allwrong” June 27, 2007.
“The Soft Appeal, Con’t” August 23, 2005.
“The Soft Appeal” August 16, 2005.
“A No-Tenko Japanese Youth” May 13, 2005.

Fashion

“MilK Helps Your Kids Grow” June 8, 2007.
“The Commercial Mystery of Bitch Skateboards” April 25, 2007.
“Booze, Babes, and Bawling” (Liquor, Woman, & Tears store) September 28, 2006.
“From First Class to Coach: Beginnings of Taste Deflation in Japanese Fashion” September 26, 2006.
“The Competing Orthopraxies of Three-Button Suits in Japan” May 12, 2006.
“Harajuku/Omotesando: Radically Cool or just Totally Awesome?” April 24, 2006.
“My Favorite Band is Dinosaur Jr. T-shirts” September 24, 2005.
“Popeye ’79 on American College Life” August 8, 2005.
“NY Times on Harajuku Girls… Again” June 20, 2005.
“LoVe” (Louis Vuitton in Japan) June 16, 2005.
“Do You Hate Uniqlo? Then Buy a Magazine All About the Brand!”
April 23, 2005.
“Delinquent Subcultures vs. Consumer Lifestyles”
April 8, 2005.

A Bathing Ape
“Shukan Post on the Bape Vast Tax Evasion Scheme”
May 18, 2005.
“Ape vs. Good Charlotte”
April 2, 2005.
“When Trendy Cafes Disappear”
(closing of Bape Cafe) March 29, 2005.
“Nagao Tomoaki in the New York Times”
December 22, 2004.

W. David MARX
July 19, 2007

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.