Everything you ever wanted to know about TC, but were afraid to ask

The editors on a lunch time taste-testing mission

Simon Reynolds provides a (hopefully) rare glimpse into Tokyo Classified' inner sanctum. Tread quietly lest you disturb the natives…

It's 9am at the "Tokyo Here and Now" conference, and new arrivals to the city gather within the overstated opulence of the Tokyo American Club ballroom to consume TC editorial's latest take on life in Tokyo. Intrepid editors Georgia Jacobs and Matt Wilce wait for their turn on the stage, ready to offer up their own newcomer faux pas stories and impart insider information to 75 of the city's finest ladies fresh off the plane.

The search for the perfect martini

Having left the food and style beat at Singapore's hottest free entertainment/lifestyle magazine for the teeming environs of Harajuku to head up Tokyo Classified's editorial team, Georgia begins with the dish on Tokyo dining and a few high-tech toilet how-tos to lighten the mood - don't get up if the bidet starts to spit and (heaven forbid!) keep cats out of the bathroom. Then it's on to day trips and survival tips, and a selection of goodies from TC's pages. It's TC unplugged.

Stuart struggles to transcribe his latest interview

Later that day Georgia assembles the Editorial team for a joint effort in a difficult task. They must stakeout the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Old Imperial Bar as part of the upcoming cocktail feature. The team goes about its work with meticulous precision. A waiter is summoned and a Smirnoff Black martini along with a Bombay Sapphire extra dry with double olives quickly appear. Not wasting any time, the Sapphire is swapped for spicy Zubrovka and the Smirnoff for a fruity Cosmopolitan; that the drinks are shaken not stirred is duly noted. The editors' commitment to the search for the perfect martini has got them in the mood for a follow-on appearance at the "Tokyo Here and Now" cocktail party. Time to spread a few more handy life hints, before rounding off the night with another taste-testing at the Trader's Bar. And then home? Maybe. A typical day? Perhaps.

Debbie and Matt discuss last minute changes

Eight days a week
Every Monday the process of producing your weekly slice of life begins again; artwork and photos are laid bare on a light table and subjected to the scrupulous eye of Marco Mancini, the Brazilian/Italian art director and free jazz sax player who skirts around the production desk in army fatigues. A man of few words who expresses himself best while on stage at Blue or behind the Mac, Marco is figuring out which of Beezer's (Photographer Extraordinaire) photos to use for Tokyo Talk. Oh well. He takes another cigarette break and contemplates next weeks' cover.

Marco studies slides for the next cover

Meanwhile, in the backstreets of Shibuya, Matt, with Maki, bilingual editorial assistant and survivor of 1995's Great Hanshin Earthquake, set out to get the lowdown on Japan's hot rap trio, m-flo. The interview is running late. The manager escorts Matt and Maki into a cosy meeting room, tucked beneath a studio in Shibuya's backstreets. A friendly and apologetic Verbal - one third of m-flo - makes an understated entrance into the smoke-filled room. Acclimatizing to the tobacco-tainted air is an occupational hazard when it comes to rubbing shoulders with Japan's stars.

Georgia's fingers fly to get the ed note to Marco

London-born and famous around the office for his Gucci garb and impeccable Japanese, Matt's six years of Japan experience supplemented with a two-year stint at English entertainment mag, Eye-Ai, makes him adept at schmoozing marketing people and managers for further interviews. More important, he is the resident expert on celebrity gossip. Dropping the chit-chat he switches on the tape-recorder and starts an amicable interrogation.

Design and production scrutenize the proofs

Afternoon in Omotesando. Debbie, faced with yet another esoteric homage to Zen Buddhism asks Georgia, "What does satori mean?" In between weekend raves, the Australian Production Manager spends her weekdays mapping out ads, proofreading, grappling with space constraints, practicing diplomacy with sales, editorial and design, and doling out praise to Simone, fellow compatriot and graphic designer, whose keen eye and quick tongue help waylay a potential spacing problem. "You're a genius you know?" says Debbie. Points of grammar up for contention are decided by the AP Style Guide, and the latest electronic version of Webster's Fourth Edition. Throughout the day captions are called for, paragraphs deleted, photos resized and pages rearranged and then sent for layout. Simone shares the increasing workload with Meg (the quiet one in the corner), laying out each page at Superwoman speed.

Quick on the mouse, Simone tackles yet another page

Wednesday, and panic has struck the Editorial Department : The Looking Good spread is missing in action. Simone notes that most things gone astray are buried under the piles on Georgia and Marco's desks. However, this time Maki is the culprit. When she appears hours later with the pages and an innocent "Were you guys looking for this?" seven sets of evil editorial, design and production eyes reply in unison. She holds up a yellow Post-it with a cryptic symbol (meaning Starbucks), a discreet offer to procure caffeine from a nearby American chain as a sign of peace. At 6pm the cappuccinos have failed to jog Matt's memory. Trying to fact-check online sites included in a Web Watch article, he realizes that some of them simply don't exist!

Debbie redoes the ad-map to accomodate a late ad

While the editorial team decides whether Juliette Binoche or Judi Dench will be interviewed for the next "In Person" a cry for help comes in from a reader. Georgia asks around: "Do you know how this guy can get a job as a host?" Matt thinks he knows but he's "going to have to make a call". Georgia reflects on her email inbox: she's still working how to answer "Hola, soy Biologista Molecular de Barcelona y quiero vivir en Tokyo. ¿Tiene usted trabajo en Tokyo Classified por mi?"

Changes waiting to be made on-screen

It's Thursday night, after banging away on the keyboards all week, the classified typists are, at last, ready. Simeon has led his type-happy band through the high seas of fax paper and emails; the fruit of their labors is the last link in the magazine production line. As the classifieds are exported from the database into the page templates, the delivery man arrives with a shiny new edition. Everyone stops for a half a second. How does it look? Is everything in the right place? Smiles round the office mean it ain't no FrankenTC this time. Then we settle back into the groove knowing that tomorrow the wrinkled face of hope on a racing punter will introducing Japanese racing, the week's best movies, concerts, restaurants, and classifieds all around town.

Simeon tries to stay on top of the never-ending stream of personal ads

One more time
It's Monday again, just before (or sometimes after) lunch. The mad rush to put the final pages on disk is almost over. TC has left the building! It's the collective creative output of your multi-lingual, multi-cultural motley crew of designers, scribes, production and sales gurus, who join together to render their take on Tokyo's vibe every seven days. With another week's work safely in the hands of one of Japan's biggest and best printers for the next 24 hours, Georgia, Matt and the designers give each other a wistful look: Another week, another TC.



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 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