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Summer lineup

Million Dollar Baby (May 28):
Clint Eastwood’s awardwinning women’s boxing story.

Elektra (June 4):
Spin-off from the 2003 Marvel Comics film Daredevil.

The Assassination of Richard Nixon (June 11):
True-life story of a pathetic loser (Sean Penn) who tries to hijack an airliner with the aim of crashing it into the White House in 1974.

Batman Begins (June 18):
The early days of the caped crusader, with Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, Gary Oldman and Liam Neeson.

The Ring 2 (June 18):
More screaming from Naomi Watts.
Sahara (mid-June): Rousing adaptation of Clive Cussler’s novel, with Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt.

War of the Worlds (June 29):
Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise tackle some most unfriendly alien visitors in this remake of the HG Wells classic.

Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith (July 9):
George Lucas answers all questions as Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader.

Herbie: Fully Loaded (July 30):
The Love Bug makes a comeback.

Alfie (mid-July):
Jude Law is the British playboy in New York City.

Fantastic Four (late August):
Comic book family of superheroes comes to the screen.

Bewitched (early Sept):
Nicole Kidman stars in the movie version of the 1960s TV comedy series.




776: The Tricksters of Tokyo
With dozens of magic bars and a small army of illusionists, Tokyo has a whole lot of tricks up its sleeve
775: Meet Markets
From nightclubs to dance lessons to, um, wax museums, locals offer their tips on where to find a date in Tokyo
774: Screen Dreams
A digital-age literary form has become a publishing powerhouse
773: Red Star Rising
With global Capitalism on the ropes, local Communism is on the rise
772: Spirited Away
In her newly translated memoir, Sakie Yokota recounts a mother’s ultimate nightmare
770-71: Turning Japanese
Get your new year off to a crafty start by learning a traditional hobby
769: Last call for Kabukicho
As the iconic Koma Theater goes under the wrecking ball, is this the end of Tokyo’s notorious red-light district?
768: Annus Scandalous
A year’s worth of food safety scandals has upset Japan’s applecart
767: The Giving Season
Picking presents is easy with our can't miss gift guide
766: Odd Jobs
Foreigners are finding creative ways to make a living in Tokyo
765: Hot Water
Tokyo’s onsen are open and ready for business
764: Showa Sweetness
Nostalgia for the postwar era has revived the market for vintage snacks and toys. From 200-year-old shops to gleaming mega-malls, everything old in Tokyo is new agains
763: Peace Prize
After going missing in Mexico for more than 30 years, Taro Okamoto’s Myth of Tomorrow is about to be unveiled inside Shibuya station. Here’s the inside story of the efforts to recover and restore one of the artist’s most stunning works
762: Get out the Vote
The 2000 US Presidential election proved that every vote counts—especially those cast from overseas. This time around, expats are making sure their voices are heard
761: Murderer’s Row
A rogue’s gallery of heinous killers reveals the dark soul of a nation
760: Game on!
A new book takes readers inside Tokyo’s game centers and offers tips on how to clean up
759: Latin Lover
Pop singer, erotic actress, lingerie model, pro-sex activist—Aya Sugimoto is a one-woman cultural phenomenon. Now she’s adding tango to her repertoire
758: A Tour for all Seasons
By land, sea or air, Tokyo’s sightseeing companies have an outing that’s right for you
757: Join the Club
Get a taste of the good life at Tokyo’s exclusive membership clubs
756: Drive Time
From unruly passengers to political scandals, Tokyo’s cabbies travel a rough road to success
755: Off the Books
Toss away your tourist guides—Metropolis gives you the scoop on Tokyo’s true hotspots
754: Troubled Waters
As typhoon season looms, Tokyo finds that its flood-prevention efforts are all wet
753: Sign of the Times
Say goodbye to “High Touch Town.” Roppongi is about to get a new Logo to go along with its new image
752: Carrie Nation
As Sex and the City: The Movie opens in Tokyo, Japanese women are emulating their big-screen heroines
751: Air Fair
Fuel costs are sending airfares into the stratosphere. What’s a poor traveler to do?
750: Face Off
Each year on August 15, downtown Tokyo turns into a riot zone as right-wing militants clash with antiwar protestors. Metropolis gives you a ringside seat to all the action
749: Gold standard
As all eyes turn to Beijing, Japan’s Olympians Look to repeat their Athens Success
748: [Sub]urban Pleasuresl
Futako-Tamagawa offers attractions ranging from the spiritual to the cultural to the culinary. Here’s an insider’s guide TO THIS leafy Setagaya-ku neighborhood
747: Dressed to Thrill
As the summer sizzles with major cosplay events across Japan, the industry branches out in bold new directions
746: Long Live the Queen
TV host Charles Ayres scours the city for his prince
745: State of the Art
Why collecting Japanese contemporary art is right, now
744: Here Be Monsters
From ESP labs to Pokemon panics to death cults, Japan is a wonderland of the bizarre. Metropolis takes a Fortean approach to the country’s mysteries
743: Quick Fixes
It’s smooth sailing for Tokyo’s plastic surgeons as more and more people take the plunge
742: Ladies Night Out
An evening in Tokyo’s underbelly reveals the bare essentials for a girl about town
741: On the Move
Connecting Shibuya with Ikebukuro (finally!), Tokyo’s last major subway line is ready to roll. Hop onboard the nifty new Fukutoshin line
740: Jero Worship
Japan can’t get enough of the first African-American enka singer
739: Shooting Asia
In Looking East, iconic photographer Steve McCurry portrays the continent and its people
738: All Dolled Up
Despite negative stereotypes and shifting demographics, Tokyo’s doll industry is booming
737: Air Time
Tokyo’s high-flying team of parkour enthusiasts let no obstacle stand in their way
736: Ask Mr Movie Man
Just in time for Golden Week, Don Morton previews the current crop of cinematic offerings
734: Fighting Back
Victims are finally learning to speak out against Japan’s outdated rape laws
733: Echoes of the Past
During the Meiji era, Tokyo’s love affair with foreign architecture—and architects—took flight. Traces of their work remain scattered throughout the city
732: Bar Time
Part cookbook, part pub guide and part cultural exploration, Izakaya offers an entrée into “Japan’s friendliest dining experience”
731: Burning Rubber
Two lightweight sports cars go head-to-head before the first round of the Formula Nippon race series
730: True Blu
Sony is flying high after its Blu-ray format defeated Toshiba’s HD DVD. But the electronics giant now faces even greater challenges from the internet
729: Green Scene
Get to the roots of Japan’s fascination with nature
728: Local Heros
As the Boston Red Sox open their season in Tokyo, the popularity of American baseball is at an all-time high
727: Akihabara on the Run
Thanks to otaku culture, Akihabara is the symbol of “Cool Japan.” But with developers moving in, will the geeks be left behind?
726: Records of the Rising Sun
An examination of Japan’s world-beaters yields a “superlative” understanding of the country
725: A Time to Play
Tucked away in back alleys and basements, Tokyo’s underground jazz clubs welcome fans and musicians of all stripes—especially foreigners
724: Thin Is In
Ultra-small homes offer an attractive option for Japan’s space-starved urbanites
723: Say it with Giri-Choco
A short history of Valentine’s Day in Japan
722: Rush Hour
Two women. Two vehicles. Six destinations. One winner.
721: Cool Erotica
Forget cute. From music to TV to the world of Adult films, Japanese women are flaunting their sexuality
720: Top of the Town
Your choices for the best that Tokyo has to offer
718-719: Centers of Attention
The past year saw a host of dazzling shopping and dining centers make their debut in Tokyo
717: At Your Convenience
Competition and changing demographics are forcing Japan’s conbini to change with the times
716: The Wacky Wired World of Thanko
Akihabara’s most playful gadget-maker looks beyond the otaku market
715: In the Spirit
Spreading Christmas cheer is a breeze this season with our handy gift guide
714: The Air Up There
The X-Trail Jam in Tokyo dome heralds the arrival of winter with lights, cameras and high-flying action
713: The Return of the Benshi
Seventy-five years after their heyday, Japan’s silent-film narrators are breathing new life into cinema classics
712: In the Box
Karaoke hits the global stage
711: No Man's Land
The haikyo phenomenon shines a light on Japan’s ghost towns, deserted islands and abandoned spaces
710: Man With The Plan
Companies are getting a new lease on life from sharp entrepreneurs like Gen Tamatsuka and his team at Revamp Corp
709: Sword Play
Afro Samurai, the first Japanese manga to make its anime debut in English, is breaking all boundaries. Metropolis speaks with its creator ahead of the movie version’s Tokyo premiere
708: State of the Art
For foreign artists, Japan offers both an inspiration and a challenge. Six local talents talk about overcoming difficulty and creating their own niche in a land far from home
707: Signs of the Times
One of Japan’s last movie billboard artists carries the torch of a fading art form
706: Mix Masters
Tokyo’s Bartenders Hop on the Mixology Train
705: Fight For Your Rights
Local unions are helping foreign workers make their voices heard. But can non-Japanese ever really get a fair shake?
704: Fashion Forward
With a renewed focus and revamped format, Japan Fashion Week aims to put Tokyo designers on the world map. But can the country’s flagship event keep homegrown talent from defecting overseas?
703: True Believers
With the opening of a new mosque in Yokohama, Japan’s Muslim community is branching out. But can the locals learn to coexist with a misunderstood and stigmatized religion?
702: Hard Time
After Three Weeks in a Shinjuku Lock-Up, the author finds that justice in Japan is rough indeed
701: Marunouchi on the Move
An ambitious 10-year plan is turning the neighborhood into one of Tokyo’s most exciting destinations
700: A Few Of Our Favorite Things
To celebrate 700 issues as Japan's favorite English magazine, we offer our top picks for enjoying Tokyo. Now it’s your turn…
699: Fantasy Dining
Dramatic eating and drinking experiences await at Tokyo's theme restaurants
698: Come One, Come All To Yasukuni
Each August, the notorious shrine becomes a battleground in the struggle for Japan's self-identity
697: Cool Runnings
As registration for the 2008 Tokyo Marathon enters the homestretch, one runner recounts her experiences in the inaugural race
696: Two-Wheel Dreaming
Although Japan’s motorcycle industry is in decline, biking in Kanto still offers limitless pleasure. Here’s everything you need to know to get started
695: Past Perfect
Tree-lined paths, traditional crafts, historic temples—plus world-class restaurants and shopping—await in the cool hills of Yanesen
694: Hooking Up
Business networking opportunities abound in Tokyo for anyone who knows where—and how—to look
693: Future Tense
As writers and academics converge on Tokyo to explore the explosion of Japanese pop culture, the country's youth face an uncertain future
692: Battle of the Burgers
As Burger King returns to Japan after a six-year absence, fast food restaurants are pulling out all the stops to attract more customers
691: Big into Japan
From shakuhachi to sake to sushi, foreign artisans are bringing Japan to a wider audience
690: Art Attack
Tokyo's Contemporary Art Galleries Ride the Waves of Boom and Bust
689: Graffiti Nation
From walls to road signs to art galleries, Tokyo gets tagged out
688: Messengers of Life
Seven years after losing her son to a drunk driver, Kyoko Suzuki spearheads a campaign to raise public awareness of the issue
687: Boy Toys
No longer under the shadow of their sisters, Japan’s hosts have taken center stage
686: Design Triumph
With three new Tokyo restaurants, Sir Terence Conran looks to infuse the local dining scene with his distinctive sense of style
685: Festival Frenzy
Asakusa is set to go crazy for the three-day Sanja Matsuri
684: Spin Masters
Foreign independent label partners look to crack open Japan’s music industry
683: Ginza's Rumbling Road
It’s full speed ahead for Tokyo’s only private motorway
682: Time To Play
Stuck in Tokyo for Golden Week? Make the most of your holiday with these 15 can’t-miss activities
681: Dying For It
As the Lucie Blackman murder trial comes to a close, foreign hostesses in Tokyo are aware of the industry’s dangers
680: Japan Gone Wild
Tabloid Tokyo 2 uncovers the city in all its seamy glory
679: Great Heights
Roppongi undergoes another transformation with the opening of Tokyo Midtown
678: The Once and Future Ninja
A grandmaster carries on the legacy of Japan’s secretive art—and says foreign students may be its last hope for survival
677: Crime Spree
Foreigners who turn to Japan’s justice system for help find themselves ignored. Is incompetence to blame—or racism?
676: Game On
From rugby to volleyball, Tokyo has a sports team for you
675: Drawing a Crowd
Japanese youth have been rushing to put themselves under the needle. Is the centuries-old tattooing subculture finally gaining mainstream acceptance?
674: Star Shots
Leslie Kee’s mammoth photo book gathers Asia’s biggest celebrities for a good cause
673: Spirited Away
Despite tough new laws, Japan’s sex trafficking industry is booming. Meet one of its most tragic victims
672: Tuning Out
Japanese radio stations have forgotten about the listeners. But all signals point to big changes ahead
671: Dream Works
Director John Williams is making a name for himself in the world of Japanese film
670: Unwinding the Gyroball
Daisuke Matsuzaka is headed to the US Major Leagues with a super-secret pitch in his arsenal. Or is he?
669: Sole City
Want to look fashionable in the street-style capital of the world? Hint: Use your feet
668: Last of the Speed Tribes
Their theatrics are preserved in photos, but little else remains of Japan’s bosozoku biker boys
667: Who’s the Boss of You?
If you can break the bureaucracy, there is nothing more rewarding than starting your own business
666: Good sports
From baseball sizzle to World Cup fizzle, Japan’s athletes had a wild 2006
665: Return of the Peacemaker
Humanitarian aid worker and former hostage Nahoko Takato won’t give up on her personal mission to alleviate suffering in Iraq
664: Hard to swallow
Japan makes a lot of noise about its cultural right to hunt whale, so why isn’t anyone biting?
663: Time for giving
Avoid last-minute Xmas anxiety with Metropolis’ seasonal gift guide
662: Downhill from here
Itching to hit the slopes this winter? The Metropolis winter resort guide is the place to start
661: No Mo’ Drama
Two visits from Michael Jackson make 2006 a thriller year for music promoter Broderick Morris
660: Gone but not forgotten
An award-winning film keeps the candle burning for Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korean agents 29 years ago
659: Kids’ night out
Children get a taste of what awaits them in adulthood at Kidzania
658: The Samurai in Shirokanedai
Mikio Yahara fights to keep the spirit of budo alive in the 21st century
657: Dynamite Design
This month, Tokyo becomes the world’s No.1 designer destination. Among the creative crowd, here are four faces to watch
656: How to get ahead
Corporate hunger for bilingual professionals keeps ruthless recruiters on their toes
655: Mori and Me
Five years after establishing Tokyo’s most prestigious art space, Japan’s first foreign museum director says sayonara
654: Big Kids
From comics to figurines, toys aren’t just for boys anymore. Grownups, even women, can play too
653: Here’s looking at you
So you always wanted to be a model? Now’s your chance
652: Doggy style
A decade ago, Tokyo canines were lonely sentinels chained up outside. today, a dog’s life is one of Tinkerbellesque luxury
651: The China Syndrome
As politicians wrangle, Japanese living in China are making money and building friendships
650: In The Mix
Networking websites give the bashful new opportunities for social interaction
649: Noh Way
A new season of Japan’s oldest theatrical art form starts this month
648: Wonder boy
From a troubled youth in Los Angeles to sold-out arenas in Japan, Cyril is enjoying a magical ride
647: Lights, camera, gaijin
Famous foreigners spill the beans ABOUT working in Japanese TV
646: No heels, no life
Girl tribes create fashion anarchy in the urban jungle of Shibuya
645: Local Hero
Foreign-born parliamentarian Marutei Tsurunen turns heads in nagatacho. but can he change minds too?
644: Southern Exposure
What happens when you travel from the busiest city on the planet to the remotest spot on earth? One photographer found out—and took his diary with him
643: The Meaning of LOHAS
The pioneer behind Japan’s sustainable lifestyles craze goes back to basics
642: Nights to Remember
Taste the good life at ten unique Tokyo hotels
641: SONY at 60
Will Japan’s most famous company get a new lease on life, or early retirement?
640: Turning Japanese
For better or for worse, pop stars everywhere have got something to say about Japan
639: Life’s a Beach
Here comes the sun, so get ready to strip off, oil up and catch some rays
638: You Go, GIRLS!
Japanese women demand equality in the workplace
637: 20/20 Vision
The Tokyo-born Pecha Kucha phenomenon has the global creative community hooked
636: The World is not Enough
Led by a low-key coach, Japan’s soccer team limps into the World Cup
635: A dying breed
Japan’s smokers are feeling the heat as the government slowly tackles tobacco
634: The Real Tokyo Underworld
Beneath our streets, engineers are thinking big to keep the city functioning
633: Cool Biz
Rich, confident and creative, corporate Japan is giving itself a makeover
632: Treat Yourself
Tokyo is famous for its eclectic health treatments, some wonderful, others just weird. We dispatched a skeptic to try ten of the most maverick
631: Pocket Revolutionaries
With podcasting, anyone (even Metropolis) can be a DJ
630: Flower power
Spring in Tokyo is the start of a vibrant cycle of new colors that abound even in this concrete jungle
629: Man vs Mountain
For Tokyo resident Blair Falahey, Everest is just one more obstacle to overcome
628: Little Journeys, Big Delights
From bugs to butts, tokyo's less visited museums have something for everyone
627: Harmonize This
Shinjuku’s Aikido World Headquarters is a magnet for martial arts enthusiasts from around the globe
626: The Emperor and I
Former Newsweek bureau chief Bernard Krisher recalls how he got the scoop of a lifetime
625: Fair Game
The Tokyo International Anime Fair returns, with global interest in Japanese animation at an all-time high
624: Dark Matter
Suffering ignorance and discrimination, Japan’s black community struggles to retain its pride
623: Revenge of the Nerds
The geeks come out to play in Akihabara, and they’re not ashamed anymore
622: An Ofer you can’t refuse
A Tokyo-based entrepreneur says his South Pacific dream is a win-win adventure for everyone
621: We’d be nowhere without the subway system we love to hate
620: The Boys and Girls of Winter
Rocked by scandals and looking to overcome an abysmal showing in Salt Lake City, Japan’s winter Olympians take on the world in Turin
619: The view from the Hills
Minoru Mori defends the Omotesando Hills development and reveals big plans for Tokyo
618: Think of the Children
Japan’s prejudiced legal system encourages desperate parents to abduct their own kids
617: We ♥ Tokyo
From the quirky to the cultural, explore more of Japan’s eclectic delights in 2006, because only here can you…
616: The Inner Mongolian
As Asashoryu fights to extend his record-breaking winning streak, Metropolis asks the yokozuna about babies, Bulgarians and Ulaanbaatar
614-615: Create a new you in 2006 by learning a traditional Japanese craft
613: Get the Message
As companies vie ruthlessly for our attention, Tokyo is consumed by innovations in advertising
612: Mad Dash
The Tale of Snow White and the Master Shafter: A day with the Samurai Hash House Harriers
611: Geisha Gazing
Rob Marshall and his pan-Asian stars put the casting controversy behind them to lift the lid on the world of old Kyoto
610: Life through a Lens
Whether in a war zone or on a rugby pitch, 29-year-old photographer Chihiro Koga has a unique perspective
There may be method in the madness of Alberto Fujimori, formerly Tokyo’s most notorious foreign resident
608: True Crime
Convicted drug smuggler Nick Baker’s story is not what it first appeared
607: Fight Clubs
PRIDE and K-1 are muscle-packed, testosterone-fueled phenomena. But there’s more to sport than blood and brawn
606: Home Truths
Purchasing property here isn’t easy, but there’s never been a better time to try. One happy homeowner has these house-buying hints
605: Meeting of the Minds
Design tide descends on Tokyo for an explosive week of creative mischief
604: Lights, Camera...
Be part of the action at the 18th Tokyo International Film Festival
603: Kafu's City
The haunts of Tokyo's most famous scribe may have gone, but their spirits remain
602: Big city nights
Asia's most happening city is just across the water, So what are you waiting for? Find out what all the fuss is about
601: Let’s Get Trivial!
Just what you’ve been waiting for: part two of "The Big 600" things to know about Tokyo
600: The Big 600 Part 1
Facts and figures, tales and trivia, records and rumors. We present everything you ever wanted to know (and some things you didn’t) about the biggest and greatest city in the world
599: Show me the way
If you have trouble learning Japanese, or lack the motivation to do so, why not try Japanese Sign Language instead?
598: Blueprint for Living
A postmodern development in Chiba is beautiful to look at. But would you want to live there?
597: Inside the Box
They spend their lives taking care of drunks, criminals and tourists. Who on earth would want to work in a koban?
596: The Film Files
Donald Richie, the worldwide authority on Japanese film, shares his movie memories
595: Sea Worthy
Minoru Saito’s seventh around-the-world voyage may have been his last, but the 71-year-old isn’t about to abandon the open water
594: In Search of the Rising Sun
Sixty years after the end of World War II, Tokyo still has places that evoke that tumultuous era
593: Art is All Around
Enough with overcrowded galleries! Get a different kind of art attack in the city’s free public space
592: What are you staring at?
Wild Harajuku styles are no longer Japanese only. Seven international enthusiasts explain what it’s all about
591: River Chronicles
Every July, Tokyo celebrates summer with dazzling fireworks along its most famous river. But the Sumida’s waters conceal a history of both joy and tragedy
590: A Kissa the Action
Cheap, open all night, and offering loads of entertainment, Tokyo’s manga kissa serve a restless generation
589: Halo Heroes
The Guardian Angels hit the streets of Tokyo to fight fear and complacency
588: Taste the Success
The celebrity-chef invasion gears up as British bad boy Gordon Ramsay opens two restaurants at the new Conrad Tokyo
587: Keeping your cool
Metropolis offers some hot tips for enjoying Tokyo this summer
586: A Tale of 2 trainers
Got a week? Or a couple? Two writers abandon their desks and learn to get fit…quick
585: Room Service
Back by popular demand, our design specialists turn two Tokyo shoe-box apartments into dream dwellings
584: Half a world away
Brazilian-Japanese have a love-hate relationship with the land of their forefathers
583: Coming to a theater near you
Everything you ever wanted to know about the marketing of foreign movies in Japan
582: Little Miss Popular
So much more than just a doll, birthday-girl Blythe is everything to everyone
581: A Life Less Ordinary
A new exhibition gives modern relevance to the dramatic suicide of Japan’s most controversial author
580: Resting in pieces
With no relatives around to pay for upkeep, dozens of graves in Aoyama Cemetery are in danger of being relocated. But not if The Foreign Section Trust has its way
579: Holiday of Hopes and Dreams
Volunteers Find it Hard to Balance Tourism and Charity on a Hybrid Holiday to Tsunami-Hit Sri Lanka
578: The World in a Day
Been there, Waited in line, Got the T-shirt. Decide for yourself whether to tackle Expo 2005 with our comprehensive (and honest) guide
577: The Road to Ruin
Residents of Shimokitazawa fight plans to build a highway through their town
576: Back on Course
After losing its groove in the economic downturn, Japanese golf is scrambling back
575: Idol Worship
The whiz kid behind ’90s house icons Deee-lite is back with his first solo disc in six years
574: The Eagles Take Flight
The first foreign general manager of a Japanese baseball team, Marty Kuehnert says he’s confident he can make the new team fly
573: The Writes of Spring
Haiku offer the clearest understanding of the undying appeal of the cherry blossoms
572: Seekers of Supreme Truths
Ten years after the gas attacks, Japan struggles with old memories and new religions
571: Spring Forward!
Update your wardrobe with the top trends from the Spring/Summer 2005 collections
570: Memoirs of a gaijin house
Clean up your room; you never know when photographer Yutaka Otsuka will turn your living space into art
569: Meals on Wheels
Entrepreneurial Tokyoites storm the city’s lunchbreaks with a new take on street-food tradition
568: How to be Romantic:
A Valentine’s Day Dating Guide
567: Understanding the Enemy
Japan faces an inscrutable opponent when it plays North Korea in the World Cup qualifiers
566: Reaching for the Universe
The Miss Universe Japan pageant is about more than just looks: it’s shaping women who are savvy, goal-oriented and able to express themselves
565: Inner Space
Come in from the cold with our guide to Tokyo's top winter entertainment spots
564: Voices of Kobe
Ten years on, experiences of the great hanshin earthquake can help tokyoites prepare for the worst
563: The Russians are coming!!
Japan’s ages-old sport faces a foreign invasion
561-562: Golden Year 2004
2004 was record breaking, both on and off the sports field. Metropolis recalls the year’s best, worst, and most bizarre
560: Chef du jour
With an empire that spans the globe and a talent for bringing diners to their knees, Alain Ducasse is the undisputed king of the culinary world. Now Tokyo gets a taste of his success
559: The Jingle Hop has begun...
As the countdown to the holidays continues, Metropolis offers a look at both cool and traditional options for adding a Japanese flavor to your holiday shopping
558: Final conflict
Fifty years after his celluloid birth, Godzilla takes one last stroll through Tokyo. But is this really the end of the iconic green monster?
557: Perfect getaways
From cross-country skiing to traditional culture, winter in Japan offers a wealth of reasons to venture outside the capital city
556: Rock of ages
Elvis schoolmate, former Yankees shortstop, protegé of mafia don Joe Colombo—rocker Jimmy Angel’s colorful life shows no signs letting up
555: Art explosion
Japan’s largest art event, Design Festa, marks its tenth anniversary
554: The bait and the catch
An ex-sushi chef lives in hiding, while dishing out details of the private life of his onetime boss, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il
553: Watercolors
The horror writer of Ringu fame paints the tale of a riveting performance by a Tokyo theatrical troupe
552: Well read
Japan takes center stage as Metropolis rounds up recent fiction set in the Land of the Rising Sun
551: Reality check
Hardcore punk rocker turned Zen master Brad Warner leads a journey of self-discovery
550: Life lessons
From permanent residency to private schooling, our expert panel tells you how to make the most of out of living in Tokyo
549: Journey Into Imagination
Explore the creative minds of contemporary designers with a guided tour of Tokyo’s upcoming design extravaganzas
548: State of play
Japan’s top video-game makers try to dig themselves out of a slump with new titles debuting at this weekend’s Tokyo Game Show
547: Let the games begin—again
There’s no shortage of options for pro sports fans when it comes to taking in a contest in Japan
546: Fish stories
A Harvard academic and anthropologist casts his net around Tsukiji, “the fish market at the center of the world.”
545: Flash back
Tokyo designers look to the past for this season's fashion trends
544: Unsung heroes
In a profit-driven economy dominated by mechanization, mass production and cheap foreign labor, a handful of Kyoto artisans keep the traditional art of craftsmanship alive
543: Law and order
Tougher cops, late-night curfews and surveillance cameras. Governor Shintaro Ishihara is spearheading an unprecedented stand against crime in the city of Tokyo. Is it all too much or not enough?
542: Eyes on the prize
From the pool to the track, Japan's Olympic athletes set their sights on Athens glory
541: Knight errant
When Narita immigration officers took custody of Bobby Fischer on July 13, the chess champion felt betrayed by the country that had granted him sanctuary. Now the former grandmaster and his supporters ready his last gambit
540: War and remembrance
Tim Hornyak revisits Japan's WWII legacy through the exalted and execrated grounds of Yasukuni Shrine.
539: Out and about
Whatever you’re looking for in a summer getaway, you’ll find it in the Tokyo area and beyond. Heather Lew gets the scoop on the hottest ways to chill out.
538: Snail's pace
Once a country that defined “fast-forward,” Japan is learning how to take its time. Steve Trautlein catches up with the Slow Life movement.
537: Role models
Japanese actors are stepping into the spotlight overseas thanks to some award-winning performances and a raft of samurai-inspired flicks. Chris Betros profiles the top talent.
536: Sonic stories
Summer Sonic creator Naoki Shimizu says Japan's rock festival calendar may have reached the breaking point.
535: Feeling festive
From fireworks to dance contests, Tokyo is gearing up for another summer of matsuri mania. Metropolis previews the best of the bunch.
534: Field of dreams
Hideki Matsui made his name in the ballpark, but the Major Leaguer hopes to be remembered as much for his heart as his home runs. Sachie Kanda visits him in New York.
533: Depth charge
From the underwater realms of Okinawa to the green seas off Izu, spectacular diving is closer than you think. Carlo Niederberger jumps in.
532: Screen dreams
Undaunted by miniscule budgets and a serious lack of limelight, Tokyo’s foreign filmmakers pursue their craft. Michael J. Miller talks to the people behind the cameras.
531: Spirited away
Jumpei Yasuda was abducted at gunpoint and held captive by a band of Iraqi mujahideen. So why can’t he wait to get back to Baghdad? Tama Miyake Lung hears his story.
530: Wonder Bars
Tokyo’s theme bars serve up food, cocktails—and some totally unexpected entertainment. Metropolis goes in search of the city’s wildest drinking dens.
529: In the loop
A dedicated group of foreign and Japanese artists are filming what they hope will be Japan's first sitcom. Chris Betros visits the set.
528: Down towns
In the shadow of glittering skyscrapers and trendy mini-cities, Tokyo’s derelict neighborhoods survive unchanged. Stephen Mansfield takes a walk on the wilder side.
527: Ask Mr. Movie Man
Faced with a bewildering plethora of new movie releases this Golden Week, self-indulgent Metropolis film critic Don Morton interviews himself.
526: Director’s Cut
With a hit film inspired by her observations of Tokyo, Sofia Coppola has emerged as a gifted storyteller who fuses trendsetting style and quiet resolve. Tama Miyake Lung catches up with the Oscar winner on a recent visit.
525: Room service
Armed with ¥5,000 per room, our interior stylists make over three expatriate pads using a playful dose of discount decor.
524: Uninventing the wheel
While other inventors dream of high-tech glory and patent riches, Kenji Kawakami straps toilet paper to his head and hankies to the seat of his pants. Tim Hornyak meets the Chindogu master.
523: Fresh talent
A handful of hot young chefs are raising the bar for traditional Japanese cuisine. Ai Uchida learns their recipes for success.
522: Full Steam Ahead
The area's newest railway, the Minatomirai line, puts the varied charms of Yokohama within easy reach. Steve Trautlein goes for a ride.
521: Fields of dreams
Just in time for spring and summer, Japan's sports scene gets set to sizzle. Fred Varcoe keeps his eye on the ball.
520: Out of Eire
One-hundred years after his death, Lafcadio Hearn remains a favorite in his adopted country of Japan. Steve Trautlein goes in search of the writer's Irish connections.
519: Pop star
With its anime, manga, music and film all the rage overseas, Japan is entering an age of unprecedented hipness. Tony McNicol investigates the staying power of "Japanese cool."
518: Food fright
With mad cow and avian flu adding to the list of threats to Japan's food safety, Tama Miyake Lung looks at how the country is coping and provides tips on how to protect yourself.
517: Curtain call
Events editor Dan Grunebaum reflects on the past and future of Tokyo's performing arts scene, and provides a sneak preview of the year ahead.
516: Second coming
Despite being dumped by the team nine years ago, Bobby Valentine is back in Japan to manage the floundering Chiba Lotte Marines. Rob Smaal meets this season's most anticipated arrival.
515: Room at the top
A new wave of luxury hotels is shaking up the industry in Tokyo like never before. Can they all survive? Chris Betros checks in.
514: Building up
Tokyo's chaotic sprawl serves as the breeding ground for playful and cutting-edge building design. Stephen Mansfield tours the city's architectural highlights.
513: Pick of the litter
She's cute, she's a commercial powerhouse and she's coming up on her 30th birthday. Ken Belson and Brian Bremner let the story of Japan's favorite cat out of the bag.
512: Beating the blues
Feeling depressed or in trouble? Tokyo has plenty of support groups that are just a phone call or mouse click away. Chris Betros provides a few pointers.
511: A world apart
For many foreign parents in Tokyo, providing their children with a fulfilling education is beyond reach. Steve Trautlein reports.
509/10: Up where we belong
As the skiing and snowboarding season comes into full swing, a handful of pros provide tips on where to travel this winter. Carlo Niederberger reports.
508: Call of the wild
Jeff Hammond talks to Tokyo-based photographer Beezer about his new book, Wild Dayz, and the legendary music scene it portrays.
507: Santa's secret weapon
With all the craziness before the holidays and the rush to jump on the plane, finding the perfect gift can be more hassle than heartwarming. Hanna Kite brings the fun back with a shopping guide sure to please everyone on your list.
506: Fashion by numbers
Tama Miyake Lung sums up the top trends from the Spring/Summer 2004 Tokyo collections.
505: Sex education
After decades spent believing that HIV and AIDS are other countries' problems, Japan could be in for a disturbing lesson. Stephen Cotterill reports.
504: Man about town
Stephen Mansfield goes on a sentimental journey with eminent author and celebrated Tokyo chronicler Donald Richie.
503: Bowled over
Bowling has been in Japan since the Edo period, and it looks like it's here to stay-even if the lights go out. Michael J. Miller gets in the game at Tokyo's top lanes.
502: Trial and error
Josh Noblestone takes a closer look at the case of drug-smuggling suspect Nick Baker and what it reveals about Japan's criminal justice system.
501: Close encounters
The skies above Japan are alive with extraterrestrial activity, according to the nation’s foremost UFO research group and its fearless leader. Matt Wilce examines the evidence.
500: Coming of age
As Metropolis celebrates its 500th issue, we look at where we've been, and where we're going, through the eyes of Tokyo's international community.
499: Welcome happiness
The new Mori Art Museum hopes to lead Roppongi's cultural evolution. John McGee sees what's up.
498: Just passing through
There's always someone interesting to catch up with at the Tokyo International Film Festival, says veteran attendee Chris Betros.
497: Pick six
From October 9-13, Tokyo Designers Block will transform the streets of Aoyama and Omotesando into a grown-up’s playground. Steve Trautlein talks with a half dozen of the event’s top talents.
496: The name game
Arnold Schwarzenegger's not the only one hoping to trade celebrity for a taste of political power. Chris Betros looks at Japan's lawmakers and finds everyone from singers to wrestlers filling the ranks.
495: Bliss list
Metropolis hits the massage table for a rundown on the city's best spas.
494: On alert
Two years after the September 11 attacks, experts say Japan is more vulnerable than ever to the threat of terrorism. Steve Trautlein reports.
493: Playing the field
Japan's athletes are gearing up for an autumn of nonstop sports action. Fred Varcoe previews all the fun.
492: From the hip
Japan's youth are giving hip-hop music, dance and fashion a makeover. Michael J. Miller raps with the devotees of "black style."
491: Modern marvel
With a bold new design for the Dojunkai Aoyama Apartments along Omotesando, award-winning architect Tadao Ando is raising the stakes on an already remarkable career. Tama Miyake Lung meets the self-made maestro.
490: Show time
Nearly one year into a government-run licensing program, Tokyo's street performers are finally getting some respect. Mick Corliss hears more from some of the charismatic characters.
489: Time zone
Old and new exist side by side in Tokyo's Tsukishima-Harumi area. Chris Betros goes for a tour.
488: Great escapes
From pristine beaches and picturesque temples to mountain resorts and the magic of Hollywood, Matt Wilce compiles our ten favorite spots for a quick getaway.
487: Season tickets
Looking for a fun way to beat the heat? Metropolis gets the rundown on the best thrills and chills to keep you entertained all summer long.
486: Life at the top
Yuichiro Miura survived 70 years, several potentially fatal ski runs, and five days in the Death Zone before becoming the oldest person to conquer Mount Everest. Tama Miyake Lung meets the new record holder and the son who shared in his thrilling ascent.
485: Seeing green
As temperatures in Tokyo rise, city officials look skyward to beat the heat. Steve Trautlein tours the city's rooftop gardens.
484: Calling the tunes?
Piano icon Herbie Hancock looks to reinvent jazz with Tokyo Jazz 2003, but is adding a turntablist to his band going to do the trick? Music editor Dan Grunebaum reports.
483: Power struggle
After a string of safety scandals, Tokyo's major energy supplier may not have enough juice to meet demand this summer. Matt Wilce reports on the very likely possibility of the city's first blackout in 16 years.
482: Flavor of the month
Boston-based big shot Todd English is the latest celebrity chef to spice up the Tokyo dining scene. Georgia Jacobs gets the scoop.
481: The new wave
As another scorching summer approaches, more and more Japanese are discovering the joys of the beach, and a fair few are finding sporting success on the sand. Tama Miyake heads for the shore.
480: Never-ending stories
The big onslaught of summer movies begins with lots of sequels and remakes. Chris Betros looks at the lineup.
479: Revival of the fittest
Ginza is under fire from swish new developments, but Japan's sentimental shopping strip is fighting back and winning some unlikely fans. Martin Webb reports.
478: The sky's the limit
The Moris are changing the face of Tokyo like never before. Chris Betros meets the man on top, CEO and President Minoru Mori.
477: Park place
With spring in full swing, there's no better time to unwind in the city's lush sanctuaries. David Chester tells you where to park it.
476: Fun in the sun
As the mercury rises, Japan's sportsmen and women gear up for a season of thrills. Fred Varcoe previews all the action.
475: The elements of style
When the mercury drops this fall and winter fashion hits a high note, if the Fall/Winter 2003-2004 Tokyo collections are anything to go by. Georgia Jacobs reports.
474: The hills are alive
Tokyo is an ailing city about to get a new cultural and entertainment heart: Roppongi Hills. Chris Betros goes for a visit.
473: Big bang theory
After lying dormant for 300 years, Mount Fuji has recently rumbled to life, and Tokyo is bracing for the worst. Steve Trautlein reports.
472: Recipe for success
In the City of the Saturated Restaurant Industry, launching 102 new establishments is a lot to swallow. But if anyone can pull it off, it’s America’s most famous gastronome, Wolfgang Puck. Georgia Jacobs gets the dish on his Japan expansion.
471: From tigers to towers
A gleaming new city is springing up at Shiodome, one of many transforming the Tokyo landscape. Chris Betros joins the crowds.
470: Head over heels
At Shinjuku’s Yoshinkan Hombu Dojo, April is the time for foreigners and Japanese police officers to train side-by-side, as Steve Trautlein learns from the masters.
469: Tokyo story
It’s been 400 years since Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa made Edo his capital. As Tokyo gets ready to celebrate four centuries as Japan’s premier city on March 24, Matt Wilce takes a look at the metropolis’ less familiar history.
468:Mass immigration
All foreign residents in Tokyo and nine prefectures now have to troop off to a new immigration office in Shinagawa for that vital stamp in the passport. Chris Betros joins the crowds.
467: In the raw
With his charity restaurant receiving rave reviews and his acclaimed no-holds-barred documentary launching in Japan, things are looking up for Jamie Oliver. But, the Naked Chef tells Georgia Jacobs, reality sometimes bites.
466: Reaching for the stars
The quest for space will continue despite the Columbia tragedy, and Japan will play its part, Chris Betros reports.
465: Devil may care
Governor Shintaro Ishihara relishes his role as the thorn in the side of Japanese bureaucracy. But the most powerful man in Tokyo is also one of the few people getting things done in the capital, he tells Tama Miyake.
464: Love in the fast lane
Romance is big business in Japan, as matchmaking and speed dating agencies vie to help you find your soulmate. Chris Betros reports.
463: Eastward bound
As Japan's homegrown talent struggle to launch themselves to stardom in the West, many of Hollywood's biggest names, ironically, have headed east to kick-start their careers.
462: Small talk
With a healthy sense of play, Tokyo offers youngsters all the fun they can handle. Steve Trautlein joins in.
461: All washed up
With the mercury dropping there's no better time to get up to your neck in hot water, and have a little fun in the process. Matt Wilce brings you a roundup of nearby onsen with more.
460: Going BAPE
With BAPE hotel wishes, BAPE Café New York dreams, and a new London boutique finally a reality, A Bathing Ape creator Nigo is the next self-appointed fashion ambassador for trendy Tokyoites. But is the rest of the planet ready for this simian-inspired lifestyle? Roland Kelts gets the answer from the man himself.
459: China Town
Thirty years after the former adversaries joined hands, China and Japan aren't exactly the model of diplomatic relations. But, as Tama Miyake discovers, that hasn't stopped Tokyo trendsetters from making the Middle Kingdom all the rage.
457/8: Happy holidays
Most of Tokyo shuts down for New Year's–but not all of it
456: Voluntary Movement
Despite a legacy of government indifference and a lack of social recognition, Japan's volunteers are determined to carry out their good works
455: The busy person's guide to holiday shopping
Wrapping things up at the office before the end of the year doesn't leave much time for wrapping up presents, let alone shopping for them
454: Ahead of the curve
In a world where design is the new capital, the currency through which brands and products are bought and sold, Marc Newson is a captain of the industry
453: Click draw
Following Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and now Waking Life, are Japanese animators jumping on the computer graphics bandwagon?
452: Warm front
Tama Miyake tracks the hottest trends from the Spring/Summer 2003 Tokyo Collection
451: Great taste
Former sumo champ Akebono brings his fighting spirit and an appetite for life to the restaurant business at the newly opened ZUNA
450: Seniority rules
With wads of cash in the bank, the nation's elderly are quickly becoming the darlings of savvy manufacturers
449: A different tune
Music is universal, but can expat musicians carve a niche out of the world's second largest market?
448: To die for
Cardboard coffins, online mourning, space burials and wearable remains
447: A business of her own
With continuing education, self-invention and sheer will, the country's female population is joining the ranks of Japan Inc
446:Great Idée
Teruo Kurosaki wants to change the world through design
445: Open house
A traditional Japanese farmhouse complete with thatched roof and hearth, Chiiori in the Iya Valley offers adventurers the opportunity to relive the best of old Japan
444: In a T.I.F.F.
The 15th Tokyo International Film Festival celebrates Asian cinema with a little bit of help from Hollywood heavyweights.
443: All grown up
Western readers will be seeing a new face to manga soon, and it's got nothing to do with Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh.
442: Saved by the bell
With the suicide toll topping 30,000 since 1998, can hotline pioneer Inochi no Denwa, answer Japan's cry for help?
441: Ready to rumble
Japan's X League American football players on the road to the Rice Bowl
440: Feel the rhythm
Asakusa's Samba Carnival is proof positive of Japan's status as the Asian hotbed of Brazilian culture
439: Interior angle
The stars du jour of the foodie crowd are no longer celeb chefs but the country's avant-garde designers
438: Alternate view
Tokyo's independent cinemas offer a ticket out of the mainstream
437: Bean counting
The last thing caffeine-addicted Tokyoites need is another fancy cup of joe
436: Wild things
August is the time when friends flee for Bali, Blighty and Buenos Aires, and the city empties for O-bon, but that's no reason to be bored
435: Ties that bind
Thanks to increased government involvement and greater public exposure, child abuse is gradually emerging from the shadows
434: Stars in your eyes
You know when summer has arrived in Japan. Baseball bats and yukata come out of storage, tea and noodles are served cold, cicadas' songs pierce the air and fireworks fill the night sky
433: Picture this
Don Morton, the guy who goes to all the movies so you don't have to, offers guidance for the time you'll spend this summer in dark rooms watching moving images on walls
432: The shore thing
Three hours south lies a village by the sea where the sands of time slow to a trickle, breeze blows off the Pacific, and turquoise waters lap at its pristine beaches and hidden coves
431: Fast food
On July 4, the world's fastest eaters descend on Coney Island, New York, to conquer a mountain of hot dogs in the 87th annual Nathan's contest
430: Making music
Drawing 50,000 fans and over 70 world-class acts, The Fuji Rock Festival is Japan's premier sound extravaganza
429: Capital Assets
Tokyo is a treasure trove of art, culture and a fair share of kitsch
428: The house of Hanae
As the investor-owned pret-a-porter line that bears her name goes bust, Japan's couture pioneer pushes ahead
427: The grand stand
Overshadowed by its mega-neighbor, the new Saitama City is set to prove it's more than a sleepy industrial backwater
426: Sugamo stories
With little more than pencils and paper, five prolific inmates documented life behind bars with such infamous war criminals as WWII premier Hideki Tojo
425: Made in Japan
A charmed existence by many standards, expatriate life in Tokyo, despite wars, earthquakes and occupation, has paved the road to success for many a foreigner
424: The game of life
Hidetoshi Nakata has been cheered and jeered as the face of Japanese soccer
423: In the flesh
Summer sumo tournament at Ryogoku in May
422: Fashion Frenzy
The joshikosei, or teen fashionistas, are some of the most voracious consumers on the planet
421: This way up
On the doorstep of fashion enclave Daikanyama, Nakameguro has been steadily making its way from downtown district to divine destination
420: The big kick
The first World Cup of the 21st century promises to be a ball of fire
419: Win win situation
With the winter season safely behind it, Japan is bracing itself for potentially the biggest sporting year in history
418: Laughing matters
Tokyo's comedians want to make Japan a funnier place
417: Robotops
Spearheading the robot evolution, Japan continues to wow the world with its clever cast of droids
416: Crime scene
Mark Schreiber dishes the dirt on Japanese felons
415: Culture class
Tokyo's international schools dole out lessons on life in Japan
414: Club scene
Our guide to where to go to get tight and toned in Tokyo
413: Matter of PRIDE
Ultimate fighters pull out all the punches for Pride
412: Spy games
Unfaithful spouses and philandering beaus beware of the beautiful barfly
411: A winter's tale
Japan's all star cast of Olympians are set to storm Salt Lake City
410: Close quarters
Venturing into Tokyo's private spaces
409: In the DARC
Turning the spotlight on Japan's cutting-cutting edge rehab program
408: Take the plunge
You don't have to go far outside the city limits before you hit prime onsen territory.
407: Bringing up the baby
The future looks bright for the newest member of the royal family
406: You gotta have Seoul
Korea Reconsidered
405: Deep impact
Meet Japan's most influential people in 2001
404: 12 fun ways to spend your post christmas break
403: Martha Stewart exclusive
America's domestic diva descends on Japan
402: All they want for Christmas
399: To beef or not to beef
One mad cow and Japan's beef industry is bust.
398: In touch with tradition

an interview with 3 artisans who bring the best of the past to present-day Tokyo
397: Captain cooks

Out of the kitchen - Tokyo's rising executive chefs
396: Ghost town

Tokyo's horrible history
395: Generation Next

The world-first launch of NTT DoCoMo’s third generation mobile phone network represents a quantum leap into mobile cyberspace. Stuart Braun goes online.
394: Sister act
Celeb sisters Kyoko and Mika Kano have taken Japan by storm, but can they win over the West? Chris Betros and Maki Nibayashi spend an evening with the divine duo.
393: Reel time
Matt Wilce gets a close-up of the Tokyo International Film Festival's hottest tickets.
392: Lap it up
Michael Schumacher is champion again, but the unpredictable Suzuka circuit is still set to offer up a surprise-packed Japan Grand Prix on October 14. Stuart Braun goes trackside.
391: Everything old is new
You might think Azabu Juban is all swanky dining and dancing 'till dawn.....
390: Cooking the books
Celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s in town with his new book in hand.....
389: Up from the underground
Japan's literary superstar Haruki Murakami is home for the duration
388: First wave
John McGee dives into Japan's art extravaganza
387: Water world
Matt Wilce explores Tokyo DisneySea
386: Open house
Many people are sleeping on the streets of Tokyo
385: A moveable feast
Some of the city's best yatai fare
384: Hair
A look at Tokyo's salon industry
383: Summer in the city
20 ways to make August a little more bearable
382: Tokyo Tomorrow
Stuart Braun tracks the future of the metropolis
381: From zero to hero
81-year-old Zero fighter Sadamu Komachi looks back
380: Island escapade
Journey to Odaiba
379: Open-air fare
Tokyo's alfresco dining spots
378: Reel story
Reel in the summer's hottest movies
377: Sonic relief
Gear up for the summer's hottest music festivals
376: All at sea
No shortage of fun in the sun on the beach
375: Your cup of tea
Tea time in Tokyo
374: No time to waste
Tokyo's mounting problems with garbage
373: Freetown
Tokyo's stylish suburb, Jiyugaoka
372: Broken record
Tokyo's ecclectic array of record stores
371: Bottoms up
Tokyo's finest martini bars
370: Admit one
Regulations for foreigners wanting to live and work on Japan
369: After a fashion
Spring trends from the catwalks to the streets
368: Bandwidth wagon
Japan's move towards DSL
367: Just for sports
How to play ball this summer
366: Life's a hitch
Helpful hints for hitch hiking in Japan
365: Altered state
Try Tokyo's tailors on for size
364: The Fringe Club
Shinjuku's infamous Golden Gai bar district
363: Take two Tomatos
Design gurus Michael Horsham and Steve Baker
362: Stage left
Innovative and intimate shogekijo (little theaters)
361: The lowdown on TC
Everything you ever wanted to know about TC, but were afraid to ask
360: A reversal of fortune
Tokyo's home of racing, Fuchu Racecourse
359: Funny Valentine
How to do Valentine's Day in Japan
358: Two-faced
Heartthrob Katsunori Takahashi
357: Read all about it
Amazon.com comes to Japan
356: Daikanyama
Central Tokyo's hippest hood
355: Wash out
Heaven Sento
354: Means to an end
Some good ideas to inspire you
352/3: Last Laugh
TC's rosey re-cap of the year
Signs of the times
Horoscopes for 2001
351: It's a wrap
TC's holiday gift tips
350: Cable ready
Cable and satellite broadcasting renaissance



By Chris Betros

Coming to a theater near you

Everything you ever wanted to know about the marketing of foreign movies in Japan

Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Japan is the second biggest market in the world for Hollywood movies. Moviegoers in 2004 spent ¥210.9 billion at the box office on 310 domestic and 339 foreign films, according to the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. Apart from a few domestic hits, such as Howl’s Moving Castle, the biggest earners were Hollywood heavyweights, which accounted for 63 percent of sales—the top three being The Last Samurai (¥13.7 billion), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (¥13.5 billion), and Finding Nemo (¥11 billion). So it’s no surprise that US distributors spare no effort and expense to market their movies in Japan. But why are so many movies released here so long after their US debut? How are they marketed? What about subtitles? Merchandising tie-ins? Let’s find out.

Why are movies released so late?
Because there are fewer theaters in Japan and time is needed to generate buzz. There are exceptions: War of the Worlds will be released in Japan and the US on June 29, a Wednesday, which is rare for Japan where movies open on Saturdays. “To put it into perspective, there are only 3,000 screens in Japan. In the US, there are ten times as many,” says William Ireton, chairman of Warner Entertainment Japan, which has been No. 1 in grosses in Japan for the past four years. “That being said, we release most of our big-budget pictures within a couple of weeks of the US release.” Warner did that with the Harry Potter films and The Last Samurai; while Batman Begins (June 18) will open here only three days after its US release.

Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

There are three important seasons in Japan—Golden Week, summer and New Year—and if distributors hope to have a blockbuster, they have to slot it into one of those. That’s why Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith, which opened in 40 countries on May 19, won’t open here until July 9. “All Star Wars films have opened at that time of year in Japan,” says John Flanagan, vice president, theatrical marketing for Asia/Pacific at Twentieth Century Fox. “However, we are releasing more films sooner than we have in the past. Kingdom of Heaven opened May 14 in Japan, only a week later than the US.”

One genre that requires more time for marketing is animation, says Dick Sano, general manager of Buena Vista International Japan. “Japanese animation, except for Miyazaki, is mostly derived from TV series, so when a movie version comes, there is already 100 percent awareness. But with something like The Incredibles, we have to do custom-made marketing and promote the characters from scratch. The release dates for it and Finding Nemo were decided a year in advance to give us more time.”

Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

How are release dates decided?
Distributors negotiate with theater owners such as Toho and Shochiku. “We request the release date after considering what our competitors are releasing,” says Sano. “At least on opening weekend, you want to be No. 1. For example, we didn’t want National Treasure to go head-to-head with The Aviator, so we went one week earlier on March 19.” Distributors usually request an initial run of 12 weeks for major releases, but “movies run as long as people want to see them,” says Warner’s Ireton.

Opening-weekend box office sales are the measurement used by the industry to determine how successful a movie is going to be (more late shows in Japan would help earnings, say distributors). So if a film fails, the distributor can expect a call from the theater chain on Monday morning. In that case, the movie will be bumped ahead of schedule. On the other hand, with movie release dates announced in advance, what if the preceding movie is still doing well? Does it get bumped, too? “Yes, to a second-tier theater circuit,” says Ami Shinoda, a PR spokesperson for Toho Cinemas.

Toy retailers are cashing in on the Force with Star Wars board games, light sabers and Darth Vader voice changer helmets
©2005 Lucasfilm Ltd & TM and Hasbro

Theatrical release or straight to DVD?
The bottom line is what sort of return can be expected. “When we do annual budgets, we look at the lineup,” says Flanagan. “Some films we may not know much about, so after seeing them, we do an analysis based on similar pictures and figure out where the film might end up. Then we estimate how much we can make on the home entertainment side. If a theatrical release doesn’t add to the home entertainment side, it goes straight to video/DVD.”

Given the high price of admission tickets, many people prefer to wait six months for the DVD, which does hit attendance, Sano admits. “Film distributors and theater owners have been trying joint campaigns to encourage people to go to the movies, especially teenagers who make up less than 10 percent of moviegoers in Japan.” What if the US head office requests a big promotion, but the Japan office doesn’t think the movie will appeal to audiences? “Early on, we had to keep proving ourselves to the home office, but nowadays it is easier,” answers Sano. “If they push a movie which we think is not worth a theatrical release, they respect our decision.”

Chris Betros

How are movies marketed?
In most cases, TV swallows up to 70 percent of a movie’s advertising budget. Next come magazine and newspaper ads. “Initially, we judge each movie on its marketability and playability,” says Ireton. “Some movies lend themselves more to long-lead publicity where the buildup is gradual, whereas ‘event’ pictures—Ocean’s Twelve, for one—need a marketing blitz, including a Hollywood-type premiere and tours by the principal talent.” Some films hardly need a blitz, but get it anyway, such as Star Wars, which is evident in trailers and posters everywhere.

Buena Vista is already gearing up for December’s Memoirs of a Geisha (to be released here as Sayuri), which generated some controversy over the casting of three Chinese actresses as geishas. Sano says marketing won’t be difficult. “We’ll play up the Chinese actresses and sell it as a heart-warming story about the life of a young girl.” He admits, however, that promoting A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will be a challenge.

How are movie names decided?
Currently, The Manchurian Candidate is playing as Crisis of America. Why isn’t it in katakana? It all comes down to how the title sounds and what feeling it connotes, say marketing staff. For example, The Interpreter is easier to sell (but not pronounce) than Za Tsuyakusha. But there never has been any logical pattern, as a visit to a DVD rental shop will show. If you want to rent The Magnificent Seven, you’ll need to ask for Koya no Shichinin (Seven Men in the Wilderness). For An Officer and a Gentleman, try Ai to Seishun no Tabidachi (Setting Off on a Journey of Love and Youth). The list is endless. For some titles, the “cute” factor is important: Director Garry Marshall’s films have the katakana for “pretty” in them because of the success of Pretty Woman; Legally Blonde became Cutie Blonde, while Miss Congeniality is Dangerous Beauty. “Most titles are transliterated into the katakana renditions of the original title, although sometimes we change the title due to language factors,” explains Ireton. Memoirs of a Geisha will be rendered as Sayuri because that is the title of the Japanese translation for Arthur Golden’s book. Sano says he would like to use a more descriptive Japanese title rather than katakana, but the time lag between releases makes it difficult. “If a movie opens big in the US, the Japanese media report it and the original title becomes quickly known, so we have to go with it.”

The poster used in Japan to promote Kingdom of Heaven, bottom, is considerably different from the one used in the US, top
Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

What about subtitles?
There are about a dozen subtitle makers, the doyen being Natsuko Toda who has been doing them since 1970. Distributors want her name on the film because it adds prestige. “I get a finished print, accompanied by the script, and have only one week to 10 days to work on it,” says Toda who does about 40 films a year. “The distributors always hurry us as they want to show the subtitled version to exhibitors and book better theaters.”

Sometimes, the films are not finished until the very last moment before the premiere. “In that case, we get preliminary versions of the film on video. With one big film for summer, I got five preliminary versions in the span of two weeks. Sometimes, for security reasons, the pictures are masked or blacked out so we cannot see what is happening, or who is talking to whom! Can you imagine how difficult that makes our work?”

With space for only about 20 characters on screen at one time, subtitling is not easy. Comedy is the hardest genre, says Toda. “African-American comedians are impossible challenges, and just try some of Woody Allen’s Jewish humor on the Japanese and see if they laugh. You have to explain why it is funny, and in doing so, you lose the impact. Besides, there is no room for the explanation. With puns, we try to replace them with Japanese puns, but if it’s a funny story that has a punchline, you just cannot invent a different story in Japanese for subtitles. It looks false and turns the audience off.”

From Memoirs of a Geisha, director Rob Marshall, Gong Li, Kaori Momoi, Michelle Yeoh, Ken Watanabe, Koji Yakusho and Yuki Kudoh; Penelope Cruz and Matthew McConaughey promoting Sahara (bottom)
Photos by Chris Betros

Occasionally, some curious subtitling occurs. In the 1992 film Lethal Weapon 3, Mel Gibson siphons gas from a car and spits it out, exclaiming “Exxon!” The subtitle says “Shell.” In The American President (1995), when Michael Douglas talks about bombing Libya, the subtitles only refer to it as teki (the enemy). The distributors do check subtitles for accuracy. For the Harry Potter series, Warner enlisted the aid of Yuko Matsuoka, the books’ translator, to make sure the terminology reflected the image of the stories—after all, how do you translate muggles and shapeshifters? Dubbed versions are popular, too, says Sano, adding that they provide 80 percent of Buena Vista’s box office in animation.

DVD sales and rentals are a growing part of the business

Are posters changed for Japan?
Yes, depending on the stars’ popularity here. “The poster for Kingdom of Heaven worldwide was blue, showing Orlando Bloom with a gritty face, holding a sword as if he were about to kill somebody,” says Fox’s Flanagan. “In Japan, we changed the color and opted for different elements that appeal to the public, such as the love angle and huge settings in the background. Since Orlando is a heartthrob here, he now has a cleaner face.” Last year, with I Robot, the US poster showed Will Smith against an army of robots with the catchphrase: “One man saw it coming.” In Japan, the poster showed Smith, the female character and the robot Sonny with the phrase: “Break the rules and the future is lost.”

George Clooney works the crowd at the Roppongi Hills premiere of Ocean’s Twelve earlier this year
Warner Bros Pictures Japan

Why bring the stars over?
Junkets are expensive, involving stars and their ever-growing entourages, but definitely worth it, say distributors. Contracts sometimes have terms that require the stars to publicize the film. Ireton says their visits create a lot of publicity exposure, especially on TV. Flanagan adds: “Nothing is greater than bringing over stars you would normally not see, and it generates goodwill with the public, like with Will Smith last year. He’s a great entertainer.” Yet a high-profile visit doesn’t guarantee a hit, Sano notes. “The marketing and publicity are already done, so having the stars come over is gravy.”

Chris Betros

What do the stars do?
They endure up to 80 interviews, often by TV variety show personalities, each lasting about eight minutes, crammed into two days or so. News conferences routinely attract 500 or more media. In some cases, distributors have pre-selected reporters and have even given them the question written on a piece of paper. Sometimes, foreign reporters may not be picked by the MC for fear that a sensitive question will be asked. The stars seem happiest when they work the crowd at gala premieres at venues such as Roppongi Hills, and then head off to nightclubs.

Chris Betros

How big are merchandising and ad tie-ins?
This is a fast growing part of the business. Hitachi is using War of the Worlds to advertise its products because its plasma display panel TVs appear in Steven Spielberg’s film. Hitachi will show movie clips at stores selling its products until August. Merchandising is vitally important for Buena Vista because many companies like the Disney labels. “We have corporate alliances with companies like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s,” says Sano. “Four staff work exclusively on tie-ins.” With Star Wars, toymakers are having a field day, with products ranging from a Darth Vader voice-changing helmet, board games and light sabers to a bevy of action figures, including a holographic Yoda.

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