When a modern Japanese family sits round the supper table eathing their bowls of Japanese-grown rice, they are not simply indulging a gastronomic preference for short-grain and slightly sticky Japonica rice over long-grain Indica rice from Thailand. They are eating and absorbing a tradition—in the sense of an invented and reinvented past. While the television beside the dining table pours out a stream of images of the here-and-now, of an urbanized, capitalist, and thoroughly internationalized Japan, each mouthful of rice offers communion with eternal and untainted Japanese values, with a rural world of simplicity and purity, inhabited by peasants tending tiny green farms in harmony with nature and ruled over by the emperor, descendant of the Sun Goddess, who plants and harvests rice himself each year in a special sacred plot. Simple peasant rice farmers are as marginal in contemporary Japan as hand-spinners are in India, but the small rice farm, like the swadeshi [homespun-style cloth] industry, lives on as a powerful symbol.
As part of the Japanese census, people were asked to keep a record of what they were doing in 15 minute intervals. The data was publicly released and Jonathan Soma took it and graphed the results so that you can see what many Japanese are up to during the course of a normal day.
“Sports: Women like swimming, but men eschew the water for productive sports, which is the most important Japanese invention.
Early to bed and early to rise… and early to bed: People start waking up at 5 AM, but are taking naps by 7:30 AM.”
The story about vintage clothes in Tokyo goes like this: A Hollywood actress, after a successful crash diet, sold her size 6 wardrobe to a thrift shop in Santa Monica. Three months later she came to Tokyo to promote her latest movie and one afternoon wandered into one of the city’s landmark vintage clothing shops, called Santa Monica. What should she find there but her own shorts and several party dresses, unobtrusively displayed under a sign that read: “Santa Monica Style.”
The story is credible for the simple reason that Tokyo has now reached a point where it’s safe to call it Planet Vintage. Among the 400-plus shops scattered over the city, myths like this abound.
The good news is that it’s not all rumor and folklore - according to a fashion stylist, Keiko Okura, “the quality of Tokyo vintage products are unmatched.”