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11 mars 2016 5 11 /03 /mars /2016 07:17

Merci http://www.kansai.gr.jp/mt51/plugins/KWInformation/news-search.cgi?__mode=detail&lang_code=en&id=4878

The Renovated Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library

Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library has changed from an ordinary library where visitors check out books and study materials, into one that creates and shares culture. In spring this year, as the first event of the transformed library, a special exhibition, “Looking Back on Good Old Osaka in Maps and Photos,” will be held. The exhibition includes maps and photographs from Nakanoshima Library’s collection, such as “The Mock Painted Picture of the Great Osaka,” a bird’s-eye picture of Osaka City drawn in 1929; Semba Fukugen Chizu, a restored map of the area near Semba elementary school around 1935; “Townscape Midosuji,” a brightly colored illustration of Midosuji drawn in 1984; Midosuji Emaki, a picture scroll depicting scenery along Midosuji, in 1991. Data concerning Nakanoshima Library since its opening in 1904, railroad guides (mostly prewar) in the Kansai region, and picture cards with street scenes, will also be displayed. Please enjoy the exhibition that will familiarize you with the history of Osaka.

The opening ceremony will be held on April 1, with Mozuyan, Osaka Prefecture’s vice-governor character in charge of public relations, in attendance. Guided library tours will help visitors feel the charms of modern architecture in the 112-year-old Nakanoshima Library building, which has been designated an important cultural property. Please take this opportunity to get a feeling for the history of Nakanoshima Library and the culture in those days.

Nakanoshima Library is pleased to start providing cultural information in a new perspective starting on April 1, 2016.

[ Special Exhibition ]
Period and Hours: Fri, April 1 – Sat, April 30
9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
Venue: Exhibition room (3rd floor of Nakanoshima Library)

[ Opening Ceremony ]
Date and Times: Fri, April 1, 8:45 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Venue: Nakanoshima Library

[ Guided Library Tours ]
Date and Times: Fri, April 1, 11:00 a.m. / 1:15 p.m. / 3:30 p.m.
Venue: Nakanoshima Library
* 15 guests maximum for each guided tour, on a first-come-first-served basis on the day

1-2-10 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka City
Contact : Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library Phone or E-mail +81-6-6203-0474

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17 janvier 2016 7 17 /01 /janvier /2016 13:29

Merci http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/15/national/osaka-set-pass-japans-first-ordinance-hate-speech-will-name-shame-offenders/#.VpuILU8RqAh

E. Johnston, The Japan Times 15 janvier 2016

OSAKA – The city of Osaka passed the nation’s first ordinance by a major city against hate speech late Friday.

The text is a watered-down version of a proposal that the assembly made last year and will serve merely to name and shame perpetrators.

It does not provide city funds to victims of hate speech for use in fighting the perpetrators in court. Nor does it fine those who make racial slurs and threats of violence.

Instead, the ordinance creates a committee that investigates allegations of hate speech filed by Osaka residents.

The committee is expected to consist of five academic and legal experts whose appointments must be approved by the assembly. If the committee judges that a particular group is engaged in hate speech, its name will be posted on the city’s website.

Last year’s version of the ordinance failed to win the assembly’s approval because of disagreement over a provision that would have given the city the authority to loan money to victims who secure recognition by the committee and who want to take their case to court.

Although the ordinance was supported by then-Mayor Toru Hashimoto and his Osaka Ishin no kai (One Osaka) local party, the measure was opposed by the LDP and Komeito.

Earlier in the session of the the municipal assembly deliberating the ordinance, a man in the gallery threw two colored balls filled with orange paint onto the floor, bringing the discussions to a standstill.

When the man was subdued by guards, he resisted by shouting, “Protect the self-esteem of Japanese people,” Kyodo News reported.

After the disruption, the session resumed late Friday night.

Osaka became the international focus of hate speech in 2013, following an incident that February in which the anti-Korean group Zaitokukai held a rally in the city’s Tsuruhashi district, home to many ethnic Koreans.

In a video that was translated into numerous languages and placed on YouTube, a 14-year-old was shown screaming insults, death threats and racial slurs about Koreans as Zaitokukai members applauded.

That led to calls by Hashimoto for crackdowns on hate speech, which intensified after the mayor squared off in a heated debate with the head of Zaitokukai in October 2014.

Korean activists in Osaka welcomed Friday’s decision by the city assembly, saying it was an important step forward but that more needed to be done.

“It’s a shame that there are no penalties imposed on those who engaged in hate speech. But we welcome it as the first ordinance of its kind in Japan,” said Kwak Jin Woong, head of the Osaka-based Korea NGO Center.

How effective the new ordinance will be in stopping hate speech is difficult to determine. But city assembly members said last year that even without an ordinance, local bureaucrats could already use existing rules and regulations about public welfare to refuse permission for certain groups to use public buildings and spaces for such gatherings.

This is basically the policy that Kadoma, a city in Osaka Prefecture, has been pursuing since 2014, when it said it would not approve applications for use of public facilities by those who habitually engage in violent and discriminatory behavior. The city also said it may revoke permission for rallies if applicants are likely to engage in such behavior.

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8 janvier 2016 5 08 /01 /janvier /2016 04:47
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8 janvier 2016 5 08 /01 /janvier /2016 04:03
Encore une destruction

Il est vraiment dommage que les Japonais ne respectent pas plus leur patrimoine architectural et urbain.

Merci http://ajw.asahi.com/article/business/AJ201512310034

82-year-old Osaka landmark awaits wrecking ball

December 31, 2015

OSAKA--Despite an uproar over its impending demolition, the historic main building of the Daimaru Shinsaibashi department store, an art deco masterpiece, closed its doors for the last time here on Dec. 30 to end its 82-year history.

Representing the style of bold modernization that blossomed during the Taisho Era (1912-1926), the gothic-style building will be torn down to make way for an earthquake-resistant structure.

The eight-story building was designed by renowned U.S. architect William Merrell Vories (1880-1964), and has served as a major branch for the popular department store chain in the city’s busy Shinsaibashi district since 1933.

Although some parts of the structure were destroyed in an air raid during World War II, it was rebuilt based on the original design.

In July, Daimaru operator J. Front Retailing Co. decided to tear down the building to construct one that can withstand a major earthquake. The company will spend 38 billion yen ($316 million) to erect a new 11-story building with three basement levels. The new structure will be about 60 meters tall, 20 meters taller than the current building.

J. Front Retailing said it will try to preserve much of the original building’s interiors, including the ceilings, which are noted for their geometric patterns, and stained glass panes.

Daimaru will stay in business by moving its popular clothing brands and other operations from the main building to the north and south buildings of the branch while the new building is going up. It is set to open in autumn 2019.

“Our floor space will be condensed (until the new building opens),” a Daimaru official said. “But we hope to keep our loss of sales low by having an exclusive selection of goods.”

The Daimaru Shinsaibashi department store's main building in Osaka features ceilings with geometric patterns and stained glass panes. The building was designed by U.S. architect William Merrell Vories. (Kenta Sujino)

The art deco-style main building of the Daimaru Shinsaibashi department store in Osaka represents the style of modernization that flourished in the Taisho Era (1912-1926). (Kenta Sujino)

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19 mai 2015 2 19 /05 /mai /2015 08:16

Merci http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201505150011

Osaka intensifies campaign for World Cultural Heritage status

Political opponents have temporarily set aside their differences. Financial institutions are venturing into uncharted territory. Banners are being waved, and leaders are rallying behind slogans of “pride.”

Osaka Prefecture, with its persistent rivalry against Tokyo hovering in the background, is sparing no effort in its campaign to have a group of ancient tombs in the prefecture listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.

But Osaka, the only prefecture in the Kinki region with no UNESCO-recognized cultural heritage site, faces a fierce battle with three other areas that have also stepped up their campaigns. The Cultural Affairs Agency this summer will choose only one group of cultural properties for recommendation to the Paris-based U.N. organization.

For Osaka Prefecture, listing would provide Kansai, the region in and around Osaka, with a status it has long craved—and also the expected economic benefits.

The prefecture’s candidate, the Mozu-Furuichi Kofungun Ancient Tumulus Clusters, spans the cities of Sakai, Habikino and Fujiidera. It consists of nearly 90 tombs, including the 486-meter-long tomb of Emperor Nintoku, which was built in the fifth century and is now regarded as one of the largest tombs in the world.

On March 30, 45 lawmakers elected from constituencies in the Kinki region held a meeting in Tokyo to establish a group that will promote the ancient tumulus clusters as a World Heritage site.

The lawmakers chose Sadakazu Tanigaki, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, as chairman of the group.

“Tokyo is becoming reinvigorated due to (preparations for the 2020 Summer) Olympics. Kansai must not lose out. We have to send out more information about Kansai’s good points,” Tanigaki said at the meeting.

Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui, a proponent of plans to dissolve the city of Osaka into five special wards and transform the Osaka prefectural government into an Osaka metropolitan government, attended the meeting. Sakai Mayor Osami Takeyama, who strongly opposes the rezoning plan, also joined.

After the meeting, a reporter asked Matsui if he was willing to work with the city of Sakai to list the ancient tumulus clusters as a World Heritage site.

“(Registration) will bring very big benefits to Osaka Prefecture,” Matsui replied. “Irrespective of the differences of the political groups we belong to or the opinions we have, we want to tackle the issue together.”

Two days after the meeting, Takeyama also mentioned the need for unity.

“The group was established by lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties,” the mayor told a news conference. “In the meeting, Governor Matsui said, ‘The entire Osaka will work together.’ We want to promote our campaign as an all-Osaka, all-Kansai movement.”

The private sector is also lending a hand.

Several panels reading, “Let’s make Mozu-Furuichi ancient tumulus clusters a World Cultural Heritage site,” are displayed at the Sakai branch of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.

Banners saying, “Let’s bring a World Cultural Heritage site to Osaka,” are also fluttering in the branch.

The bank’s five branches in the Sakai area have been taking such measures since November 2014 as part of their contributions to local communities.

The Sakai city government expected the private sector to support the campaign.

The megabank also thought that joining the movement would heighten its brand image in the area and lead to new customers.

Employees of the five branches, mainly young workers, set up a team to promote the campaign.

The branches’ activities have received positive feedback from the locals. Pamphlets distributed in the branches for the publicity campaign immediately ran out of stock.

“The tomb for Emperor Nintoku is a pride of Sakai,” said a 44-year-old nursing-care manager who visited one of the branches. “The activities are unexpected for a big bank. But I support them.”

In February, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking held a seminar to promote registration of the ancient tumulus clusters as a World Cultural Heritage site. New customers took part in the event.

“By having people know about our activities that contribute to the local communities, we want more people to become fans of our bank,” said Hideyuki Sugiura, leader of the five branches.


Japan currently has 14 World Cultural Heritage sites, according to the Cultural Affairs Agency.

Eight other sites are seeking recommendation by the agency to UNESCO, including the four aiming for World Cultural Heritage site status in 2017.

The competitors of the Mozu-Furuichi ancient tumulus clusters are: a group of ruins of the ancient Jomon period in Hokkaido and the northern Tohoku region; a group of gold and silver mines on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture; and Okinoshima island and related sites in the Munakata area of Fukuoka Prefecture.

The Council for Cultural Affairs, an advisory body to the agency, will choose one of the groups as early as in July this year, and the government will recommend the pick to UNESCO by the end of September.

Members of advisory bodies to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee will conduct on-site inspections in summer and autumn 2016, and the committee will then decide whether to register the group as a World Cultural Heritage site.

Local governments campaigning for registration of cultural properties in their areas are holding symposiums and seminars for their citizens.

The Fukuoka prefectural government appointed singer Hiroko Moriguchi and actor Takahiro Fujimoto as “ambassadors” of its campaign.

In 2014, a group of churches and other Christianity-related buildings and sites in Nagasaki Prefecture was chosen for recommendation to UNESCO for 2016 registration. An official of the Fukuoka prefectural government expressed hopes that Kyushu will continue attracting the attention of the Council for Cultural Affairs.

“Last year, Nagasaki Prefecture was chosen for recommendation. So we want to be chosen this year,” the official said.

The Niigata prefectural government held a “meeting of prefectural citizens” on May 10, in which Masanori Aoyagi, the commissioner for cultural affairs, made a speech.

“What’s important is for local people to understand the values of (cultural) properties,” said an official of the Niigata prefectural government. “We want to use economic benefits, which will be brought by the registration, for the movement to preserve (those properties).”

Nobuko Inaba, professor of world heritage and architecture at the graduate school of the University of Tsukuba, serves as a member of the Council for Cultural Affairs’ subcommittee on world cultural heritage and intangible cultural properties.

She said it is understandable for people to think that registration will be beneficial for local development because the status will serve as a spiritual identity to unify citizens and attract more tourists to their regions.

“(But) it is important for each local government to create a balance between preservation of cultural properties, which is sought by UNESCO, and local development,” Inaba said.

(This article was written by Masayuki Shiraishi and Yusuke Fujii.)


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12 mai 2015 2 12 /05 /mai /2015 03:03

Merci http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201505010073


OSAKA--A museum famed for its many exhibits showing Japanese aggression during World War II has removed them, bowing to pressure from conservative politicians.

“We had no choice but to remove the exhibition on the aggression to ensure the survival of the museum,” a source close to the museum explained.

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto had threatened to close down the Osaka International Peace Center museum when he was governor of the prefecture.

Hashimoto's successor as Osaka governor and a close ally, Ichiro Matsui, praised the facelift when he toured the museum in the city’s Chuo Ward on April 30, the day the facility reopened after renovations.

“This looks better now,” Matsui told reporters. “I believe exhibits should not represent the view of one side when there are diverse perceptions (on the war).”

The Osaka International Peace Center is operated by an entity funded by the Osaka prefectural government and Osaka municipal government.

Among the dozens of exhibits removed were panels on Japan’s invasion of the continent, the colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, suffering in Southeast Asian countries due to Japanese aggression, text describing the 1937 Nanjing Massacre and abuse of prisoners of war, and photos showing piles of dead bodies and civilians being buried alive.

Instead, the museum now houses an expanded section on U.S. air raids in Osaka Prefecture between December 1944 and August 1945 and shows a 14-minute war-related video in which Japan is not labeled an aggressor.

The Osaka International Peace Center was established in 1991 and was known for being a rare public facility in Japan shedding an equal amount of light on the nation’s role before and during World War II as well as the sufferings of the Japanese during that period.

Masaaki Arimoto, who led the secretariat of the museum for three years from 1992, said the facility opened at a time when there was growing awareness of the importance of learning about Japan’s militaristic past.

“There were advances in the research on Japan’s aggression, and many of those who fought in the war were alive,” said Arimoto, 78. “People in Osaka shared a notion that they would never be able to fully understand the backdrop behind the air raids without knowledge of Japan’s acts in other parts of Asia.”

Although the museum attracted about 70,000 to 80,000 visitors annually, it has long been condemned by conservative politicians and organizations.

In some cases, the museum was forced to withdraw or revise exhibits following protests.

Yoshinori Kobayashi, a renowned manga artist, denounced the museum by calling it a “system to brainwash viewers in the name of a peace museum” in his 1998 manga “Sensoron,” which defended Japan's actions during World War II.

The critical turning point came in 2011, when the Hashimoto-led Osaka Ishin no Kai became the dominant political party in both the prefectural and municipal assemblies.

The museum was already planning a renovation when Osaka Ishin no Kai party members at the prefectural assembly in the autumn of that year lambasted it, with one saying it had “too many unbalanced exhibits.”

In response, Hashimoto, who was the governor at the time and pushing through a review of public affiliated entities, pledged to “consider the possible closure of the museum if the exhibits are determined to be inappropriate.”

As a result of the criticism, the Osaka International Peace Center proposed in 2013 to scale back the display on the aggression and widen the exhibits on the air raids.

What was installed as a direct replacement for the items on the aggression was 14 minutes of footage portraying the period leading up to Japan’s defeat in World War II starting with the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5 and including the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5.

The section has an overall title of “When the world was embroiled in war.”

The narration of the footage does not use the term aggression regarding Japan’s wartime behavior.

On the Nanjing Massacre and Bombing of Chongqing, it simply states a large number of residents were killed.

The exhibits removed from the museum were thrown away late last year.

“Our storage room is small and very old,” explained Shigenobu Okada, the head of the museum.

Kazuya Sakamoto, a professor of international politics at Osaka University, defended the removal of the exhibits.

“It runs a risk of instilling an erroneous idea in the public that air raids (on Osaka Prefecture) were only expected since Japan did terrible things abroad,’” he said. “There is a need to fully convey the suffering of local residents first. After this, officials can get the public to ponder the development leading up to the aerial bombings, as well as Japan’s aggression.”

But Keiichi Harada, professor of modern Japanese history at Bukkyo University in Kyoto, said the display depicting Japan's wartime acts was vital in offering a bigger picture of the war.

“If the tendency to scale back exhibits of the aggression continues, war could be glorified and prevent the masses from grasping the reality of war,” he said. “That would make it easier for the nation to go back to war. We need to show both sides of war in peace education.”

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29 mars 2015 7 29 /03 /mars /2015 14:39
Cendrier commemoratif pour la construction du Osaka Kokugikan
Cendrier commemoratif pour la construction du Osaka Kokugikan

Je suis allé voir la petite exposition sur le sumo à Osaka au Musée de l'histoire d'Osaka. J'en retiens surtout deux informations, illustrées par ces images, empruntées au site internet du Musée:

- En 1937, on a construit à Shinsekai une salle pour le sumo, le "Osaka Kokugikan", qui pouvait accueillir 25.000 personnes.

- les tournois de sumo étaient l'objet de paris; l'organisateur de ces paris était appelé kyokaku, un terme utilise aussi pour certains yakuzas. L'argent récolté servait notamment à financer un orphelinat.

Kokugikan (Merci http://www.city.osaka.lg.jp/hodoshiryo/joto/0000241992.html)

Kokugikan (Merci http://www.city.osaka.lg.jp/hodoshiryo/joto/0000241992.html)

Maquette du Kokugikan (merci http://www.city.osaka.lg.jp/joto/page/0000247984.html)

Maquette du Kokugikan (merci http://www.city.osaka.lg.jp/joto/page/0000247984.html)

Billets pour les paris

Billets pour les paris

Voir aussi http://www.mus-his.city.osaka.jp/news/2007/tenjigae/080308.html, annonce d'une exposition précédente

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26 février 2015 4 26 /02 /février /2015 01:46

Merci http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201502130078

By AKIRA NAKANO/ Staff Writer

OSAKA--Korean poet Kim Shi-jong, who has lived in Japan for more than 60 years, said while Japan can serve as a common base for the two Koreas, he is saddened over the “genetic" tendency of Japanese to discriminate against ethnic Koreans.

Kim, 86, who has written poems on how ethnic Koreans live in Japan, has given lectures in Osaka for more than 18 years.

He will look back on his checkered life during a lecture scheduled for Feb. 21, which will be his last due to his advanced age. His new book about his life, which encompasses the Korean Peninsula and Japan, will be published on Feb. 20.

During a recent interview, Kim said people from the divided peninsula can join hands in Japan.

“Being a Korean resident in Japan is like leading a life comprising many white hair roots planted in bedrock,” said Kim. “Each hair is too weak, so they live their lives by wrapping it around Japan, their common base. They spend time together at ceremonial events even if they have opposing views.

“If we do all we can do along with other members of the same ethnic group, it virtually represents the unification (of North and South Korea).”

Kim spent his early life on the Korean Peninsula when it was a colony of the Japanese Empire. At school on Jeju Island, he said he was taught to work hard to “be a fine Japanese and a child of the emperor.”

Consequently, Japan’s defeat at the end of World War II had a strong effect on him.

“I felt a sense of disappointment--it was as if my feet had been sinking into the ground on which I stood,” Kim said, recalling Aug. 15, 1945, the day the emperor announced the surrender of Japan.

After the peninsula was liberated from Japanese colonial rule, Kim studied the Korean language and history to reconnect with his ethnic identity.

Around the same time, the country was tragically divided by the United States and the Soviet Union into north and south.

Many residents on Jeju Island, opposed to the partitioning, rose up in protest in 1948, which led to clashes with authorities and the eventual slaughter of many by police and military forces.

Kim, who worked as a liaison for the opposition camp, escaped the bloodshed after his father arranged for him to leave the island. Kim was smuggled to Japan aboard a boat in 1949.

“We drifted and made it to (Japan),” Kim said. "It was like a miracle.”

Kim started a new life in the Ikaino district of Osaka's Ikuno Ward, which now makes up one of the nation’s largest Korean communities.

Kim, who now lives in Ikoma, Nara Prefecture, calls the district as “the starting point of ethnic Koreans in Japan.”

While working at a candle manufacturing plant in the district, Kim devoted himself to the opposition movement against the Korean War.

Even after leaving Ikaino, Kim continued to compose poetry themed on the lives of Korean residents in Japan.

Although he said the difficulties his homeland faced sometimes caused Koreans living in Japan to quarrel with their family members, Kim believes “ethnic Korean residents are a living group that has great potential.”

And it is because of that dual Korean-Japanese identity that growing discrimination against Korean residents in Japan is so disappointing.

“I was told (by a Japanese teacher once) that the Japanese kimono was the most beautiful garment in the world,” he said, recalling an incident from his childhood. “But (the teacher) said your clothing is far from being civilized.”

“The Japanese people’s disdain for Koreans has been growing since the Meiji Restoration (in the 1860s),” said Kim. “They have since unconsciously been underestimating Koreans, and the tendency continues to be passed on like a gene.”

Kim's new book, titled “Chosen to Nihon ni Ikiru: Saishuto kara Ikaino e” (Living in Korea and Japan: From Jeju Island to Ikaino), comprises 40 serial articles published in the magazine Tosho (Books), as well as passages he wrote exclusively for the publication.

By AKIRA NAKANO/ Staff Writer

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12 février 2015 4 12 /02 /février /2015 10:11

Lu sur la liste mail H-Japan:

Dear colleagues,

The speaker for the February meeting of the Kyoto Asian Studies Group is Scott Johnson, who will present on the artist Tsukioka Settei (1710–1786) and his erotic parodies of models of proper education and deportment for women. One such book is “Onna Dairaku takara-beki” (see abstract below).

The lecture will be held on Monday, February 23rd from 6:30-8:30 in Room 212 of the Fusokan on the Doshisha University Campus (see link below for access information).

***Please note the time change from 6:00 to 6:30.


Tsukioka Settei (1710–1786) was a much-honored Osaka artist, trained in the Kano tradition, but known for his versatility. He was also noted in his own lifetime for his painted and printed erotic works. Among his erotic books, he created a publishing trend in the Kamigata area for parodying books offering models of proper education and deportment for women. The first, and most important, in this genre, was “Onna Dairaku takara-beki,” a pointed visual and textual parody of “Onna Daigaku takara-bako” and its Confucian stress on women’s subservience. Settei’s book was published around 1755, reviving shunga publication since the official banning of such publications in 1722. It was not suppressed, the reasons for which will be explored in this presentation. I will also examine the role of lending libraries, the readership of shunga parodies, the tricks of publishers of shunga parodies, the importance of Osaka as the home of shunga parody publishing, and most importantly, the book’s alternative (anti-Confucian?) stress on the place of women: play at home to save the nation. Settei’s art, including shunga parodies, was the main subject of the January 2015 issue of Geijutsu Shincho, as well as an important aspect of the ground-breaking British Museum show entitled “Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art” (2013-14). I will draw heavily upon the careful study and partial translations of “Onna Dairaku” by Andrew Gerstle (SOAS), and will show images from the two books. There will be time to physically compare examples of both books.

Scott Johnson is scholar residing in Kyoto

Sponsored by the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies. For access information see:


Please refrain from bringing food or drinks into the meeting room.

Contact: Hillary Pedersen, hillyped@yahoo.com

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6 février 2015 5 06 /02 /février /2015 01:55

Merci realestate.ipe.com /markets-/regions/asia-pacific/city-focus-osaka-the-secondcoming/


City Focus - Osaka: The second coming

January/February 2015 (Magazine) By Christopher O'Dea
Japan’s second city is vying to create the country’s most recognised skyline. Christopher O’Dea
explores Tokyo’s main competitor
Visitors may find the Japanese city address system confusing but there is nothing perplexing about
Osaka’s real estate market today. Like the proverbial ‘second city’ of any major industrial nation, Osaka
has one objective: to punch above its weight. And it is reaping the benefits of higher rents and hotel
room rates, and property yield compression.
Though Osaka only recently allowed construction of 100m high-rise buildings along its historic central
boulevard, the city is rapidly challenging Tokyo’s position as Japan’s iconic cityscape. Tokyo
Weekender, a website that caters to English-speaking travellers, says viewers in the capital were
dismayed to learn that The Night Movie Channel of Osaka, a time-lapse video of glittering skyscrapers
and glowing neon signage that has gone viral on YouTube, was the nightscape of Osaka.
The video captures images taken from many of Osaka’s landmark buildings, illustrating how the city is
building on its heritage as the commercial heart of Japan.
A glance at a map shows Japan consists of a series of islands, facing the Pacific Ocean on
the east and the Sea of Japan on the west. The largest island, Honshu, is home to most of the major
cities, which are dispersed across five major regions. Tokyo lies on the Pacific side of Honshu in the
Kanto region, which includes coastal plains. Osaka lies closer to the Sea of Japan in the Kansai region,
which includes the cities of Kobe and Kyoto.
“Though Osaka only recently allowed construction of 100m high-rise buildings along its
historic central boulevard, the city is rapidly challenging Tokyo’s position as Japan’s
iconic cityscape”
Augmenting its position as Japan’s historical centre, Osaka has in the past several years moved
rapidly into the future. The completion in 2013 of Grand Front Osaka, a sprawling commercial complex
north of JR Osaka Station in the Umeda district, illustrates how the city and property developers have
collaborated on a major redevelopment project that will transform a former freight rail yard north of
Osaka Station into a new, modern city district.
The Dotonbori district, with its iconic neon
advertisements, is a principal tourist destination
and sign that Osaka can give Tokyo’s economy a
run for its money
The first phase consists of a wide variety of shops and
restaurants, an Intercontinental hotel, office and event
space, and a residential tower. Elevated walkways
connect Grand Front Osaka buildings to each other
and to Osaka Station. The redevelopment is expected to be completed by 2025.
Provoking a skyline rivalry and completing ambitious redevelopment projects are certainly signs of
Osaka’s economic vibrancy, although it will be some time before Osaka knocks Tokyo off its pedestal
as Japan’s premier city. A board member of one of the leading US-Japanese business and cultural
associations in the US likens Osaka to a combination of Chicago and Pittsburgh, blending commercial
and industrial brawn, while Tokyo is akin to the money and power nexus found in Washington DC
and New York.
According to JLL’s City Research Center, Tokyo comprises the largest single economy and consumer
market in the world. With GDP exceeding $1.4trn (€1.2trn) – as large as the economy of Spain – and
nearly 38 million consumers, Greater Tokyo’s domestic market far exceeds even that of New York,
London or Paris. And while it is common for most Japanese companies to maintain dual offices, with
operational capabilities in Osaka and corporate functions in the capital, JLL says the Tokyo region is
also home to more Forbes Global 2000 headquarters than any other city.
In JLL’s ranking of 20 cities, Osaka was 17th in GDP terms and ranked 14th in the number of
headquarters. It did not make the list in terms of population. “Tokyo’s global competitive position is
fundamentally tied to its unique economic scale as the world’s most populous city,” says JLL.
But there is no doubt that Osaka and its property market are enjoying a strong run.
Just as the train station is the centre of the sprawling new Umeda city district, Osaka itself is the centre
of the Kansai region, Japan’s commercial and industrial heartland, and demand for space in both
sectors is strong across the region.
Underlining the strong demand in the region, the vacancy rate for industrial and logistics property in the
Greater Osaka region fell to 0.4% in the third quarter of 2014, a drop of 0.4 points from 2013, according
to CBRE. What is more, says CBRE, one of the benchmark industrial projects in the region, the Mitsui
Fudosan Logistics Park, slated for completion in the fourth quarter of 2014, was almost fully leased by
the end of September 2014, much earlier than expected.
Japanese companies across a variety of industries including consumer goods, electronics, building
materials and manufacturing are moving to improve their distribution efficiency, resulting in a tight
supply-demand balance that has enabled some property owners to sign tenants at slightly higher rents.
With large amounts of supply scheduled in the near future, CBRE says owners are trying to raise rents
while new supply remains low.
Tenants are also seeking large-scale logistics facilities that can accommodate consolidation of
operations, as well as general expansion. Big spaces in Osaka are on the order of 10,000 tsubo or
more. The denomination of industrial space serves as a reminder of the importance of culture when
doing business in Japan. The tsubo is a commonly used unit of measurement for property in Japan,
equivalent to 3.306sqm or the area of two standard tatami mats.
“Provoking a skyline rivalry and completing ambitious redevelopment projects are
certainly signs of Osaka’s economic vibrancy, although it will be some time before
Osaka knocks Tokyo off its pedestal as Japan’s premier city”
One of the new projects that may help restrain industrial rents in 2015 is the recently announced plan
by Itochu Corporation to build a large logistics facility of 40,000 tsubo in Sakai, a city in the Osaka
Prefecture that has been one of the biggest and most important Japanese seaports since the medieval
era. Already a large player in ‘build to suit’ logistics facilities tailored to tenants’ needs, Itochu expects
broad demand for state-of-the-art property to continue to increase. To help develop multi-tenant
facilities, Itochu last year formed a joint venture with Singapore-based Mapletree. The Sakai facility,
due for completion in 2016, will be the venture’s first project.
While features will vary between properties, the new facilities are typically earthquake-proof structures
that include anti-flood measures to protect against tsunami and tidal surges, and well water to deal with
water-service interruptions and backup power supply to keep operations humming in the event of
power outages.
Environmental features are also prominent. JLL says Osaka and Tokyo are the two least polluted cities
in Asia, based on World Health Organization data, and only Singapore and
Hong Kong topped the Japanese pair in Siemens’ Asian Green City ranking. New logistics properties
often incorporate solar power generation systems and LED lighting to reduce operating costs.
Mitsui Fudosan and Itochu are both considering establishing industrial or logistics real estate
investment trusts (REITs) to tap additional capital for project development and provide an additional
potential exit for leased-up properties. They would join a crowded field.
CBRE notes Japan’s four major trading houses have all entered the logistics property market. Latest
entrant Sumitomo Corporation announced the formation of a diversified private REIT last July,
following the launch of a real estate fund specialising in logistics facilities in February 2014.
Sumitomo’s diversified REIT will invest further in logistics, as well as office buildings, retail facilities,
residential facilities and hotels, and aims to raise assets of ¥200bn (€1.46bn) in its first five years.
Osaka’s property developers are also looking to the REIT market for capital for office, hotel and other
commercial property. Sekisui House, headquartered in the Umeda Sky Building, announced in October
it had received approval to launch a REIT that would invest in commercial facilities, hotels and other
property in
Japan and overseas, with a focus on domestic offices.
“Osaka’s property market is enjoying a strong run. Just as the train station is the centre
of the sprawling new Umeda city district, Osaka itself is the centre of the Kansai region,
Japan’s commercial and industrial heartland, and demand for space in both sectors is
strong across the region”
“We deem launch of and linkage with REIT businesses focusing on commercial properties
to be one of the important strategies for improving profit margin and efficient use of assets in our
development business,” Sumitomo said in its announcement.
The Sky Building, famed for its connected twin
towers and futuristic architecture, dominates the
cityscape of the Umeda district as a
demonstration of Osaka’s growing economic
The venture into office and commercial property
marks an expansion for Sekisui, the top brand in the
Japanese housing market. The company was
expected to record net sales and operating income in
the current fiscal year ending January 2015.
Residential development will remain a mainstay of
Sekisui’s business. A subsidiary, Sekiwa Real Estate
Kansai, is planning to complete a mixed-use building
by 2016 that will be the first to take advantage of new Osaka regulations permitting buildings as high as
200m along Midosuji, Osaka’s luxury boulevard.
The 50m-wide avenue, completed in 1937, was intended to be a commercial and high-end retail zone.
Although residential use was not expressly prohibited, there was a tacit agreement between the
government and landholders that it would not become a residential area. In order to preserve the
appearance of Midosuji, there was a 30m height limit imposed after the war, which was raised to 50m
in 1995, and buildings over 50m must be set back from the street.
When the new height limits were announced in 2013, city representatives told local media they hoped
Midosuji could become Japan’s version of Manhattan, with greenery equal to the tree-lined Champs
Elysées in Paris. It is perhaps no wonder that, just a few years later, Osaka is vying to become Japan’s
most recognisable skyline.

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