Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

from Photographers' Blog:

Dark side of Japan’s pet boom

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Approximately one and a half million unwanted dogs have been put to death in public animal management centers across Japan in the last ten years.

It was a very surprising figure for me as I had only been covering Japan’s colorful and luxurious pet boom, so I decided to shed some light on the dark side of the industry.

(View the full text story here)

After more than a year of seeking permission, I was finally given the go-ahead to shoot an animal management center in Tokushima and I went on a 745 mile (1,200 km) long journey from Tokyo with my DSRL camera for shooting still and video.

After 8 hours of traveling by car and train, I arrived at the town where I would have two opportunities to witness the euthanasia treatment for unwanted dogs. It became one of the saddest assignments of my life.

Clubs defy credit crunch

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If Japan is struggling to shake off a recession, then clearly nobody has told Tokyo’s party people as dance floors heave and thud to techno-house raves at the city’s clubs.

club-1With summer gone and the nights drawing in, DJ events continue to pack in club-goers, like those of events organiser Phonika, which hosts outdoor parties around a rooftop pool in Tokyo.

Denim deflation

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James Dean smouldered in his, the Marlboro men looked rugged in theirs, and now me and hordes of other Japanese people can feel frugal in ours. Jeans — practical, durable and with just a hint of  rebelliousness — are at the centre of a price war in Japan, as struggling retailers look to lure cash-strapped customers back through their doors.

With the country slipping deeper into deflation and its jobless rate rising, shops have for some time been marking down almost everything from bags of cereal,  to laundry detergent and bicycles.

Torture on tap in Tokyo

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I am ordering vodka and Red Bull at $10 a pop at the bar of a posh Ginza club and a woman dressed as a nurse carrying a silver tray full of syringes taps me on the shoulder.

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“Open your mouth!” she says with a wink.

“OK then.” And she squirts some strawberry-flavoured cocktail down my throat.

Naked robot no fashion threat

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She appeared naked on the runway with a body that will never succumb to age, but a new robot model’s first fashion outing at the Tokyo Fashion Week posed no threat to supermodel Naomi Campbell.

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Monday’s appearance of the HRP-4C humanoid robot at a fashion show illustrated not only how far robots have come, but also how far they still have to go.

Barbies strut their stuff

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The Barbie event wasn’t like the typical press conferences I cover. The gathering to fete the iconic doll’s 50th birthday was full of women decked out in micro minis and spiked heels, with pink the dominant color – and Tokyo’s ubiquitous dark-suited salarymen nowhere in sight.

I felt a bit out of place in my navy business suit among all the fashonista public-relations reps and their “cho kawaii” (“super cute”) outfits designed for the Barbie clothing line for adults.

Colour me hopeful

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The world’s No.2 economy, mired in what may be its longest and ugliest recession, is not wearing its misfortunes on its sleeve — at least not literally.

Yutaka Sato, a spokesman for Millennium Retailing, which runs the Seibu and Sogo department chains, said Japanese consumers are going green in more ways than one.

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