Monocle’s special report on Japan

By | March 30, 2015

Monocle is a magazine whose cover design has caught my eye now and then at the local bookstore, though usually when I leaf through it the topics don’t quite match my interests, with stuffy topics like world affairs.

However, the cover of the most recent issue (#81) was a big picture of Doremon, the famous Japanese comic character, so I knew there was something in it for me. It’s a special edition on Japan spanning over 80 pages, with topics ranging from media, politics, craft cities, and fashion. Although I haven’t yet read through the entire thing yet, a few minutes of perusing through the pages told me that this was well worth the $12 USD at the Barnes & Noble where I picked it up. The Monocle website also says they do international shipping for prices staring 6 pounds (around $9 USD).

Some of the articles, like the one on foreign ministry, are still a bit out of my normal sphere of interest, but I’m hoping to learn some new things about Japan which I usually don’t have the opportunity to research. There is a small discussion on the comic industry, where I learned what the top-selling Manga of all time is (Hint: It’s an comic that has been crazily popular for over a decade).

One of the other interesting segments was the one on JAL (Japan Airlines) which showed pictures about the extravagant first class and linked it to the Japanese concept of “omotenashi” (hospitality). On one of the pages was an amazingly tasty looking bowl of Ramen soup – which also turned out to be something served on this surely expensive flights.  It was a great example of a cultural note which doubled as a effective advertisement, and providing interesting content which doubles as a money makes is the pinnacle of good magazine design.

I highly recommend checking out this issue for anyone into Japanese culture. You can see the issue on Monocle’s website here:


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