Tokyo Blog, Tokyo Story

The blog of Stephen David Smith, Tokyo, Japan 2018

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SonarSound Tokyo 2012’s Superb Lineup

This year’s SonarSound Tokyo 2012 sports the most unmissable lineup ever: Squarepusher, Clark, Global Communication, The Cinematic Orchestra, Vincent Gallo, Mount Kimbie, Rustie, Hudson Mohawke and way more(!). It takes place on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd of April and a one day ticket will set you back ¥7,750 in advance and ¥8,500 on the day and the two day ticket costs ¥14,500. Regardless of cost, this is surely a must-go-to event for any electronic music fan. I’ll certainly be there as it’s my birthday on the 24th! I’ll be here both days, and then off to relax in the hot springs of Izu the following day! It’s going to be a great weekend – let me know if you’re going.


New Studio Ghibli Movie, Kokuriko-Zaka Kara

Kokuriko Zaka Kara

When I was at the cinema this week, I saw the trailer for the new Studio Ghibli movie Kokuriko-Zaka Kara (From Kokuriko Hill), due out in Japan this summer (2011). Unfortunately UK, US and the rest of the world probably won’t get to see it until much later – as much as a year judging by what’s gone on with The Borrower Arrietty, which has now finally got a cinema release date for 29th July 2011 in the UK.

It would seem that this new movie is about the life of a girl living in Yokohama, the large port city conjoined with Tokyo. In the story, based in the 60’s, her father had gone missing at sea and her mother often worked abroad as a photographer so she spends her time hanging out with friends in the many school clubs and after school activities common for students in Japan. When the time comes for the school clubhouse to be demolished to make way for preparations for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the friends unite to defend it from the wrecking ball.

There’s absolutely no way of passing judgement on this until it comes out this summer, but I’m disappointed by the lack of supernatural themes, wizards, giant beasts, airships, robots, ghosts and so on, and there’s more than an outside chance that this could be a schmaltzy and overly sentimental offering from the once great studio.

EDIT: I’m just messing around because actually, I was a big fan of Mimi wo Sumaseba and Omohide Poro-Poro.


Ghibli Game, Ni No Kuni

Ghibli Game, Ni no Kuni

Ghibli are working on a video game. I still don’t own a Wii or a PS3, but then something always comes along that tempts me to buy one, like this game for instance, Ni no Kuni (Second Land). It appears to be an RPG in which Studio Ghibli (responsible for the animated movies Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away) are in charge of the character, world design, background artwork and storyline, and possibly even the gameplay too. If you thought that was a good idea, you’ve also got the legendary Joe Hisaishi composing the musical score. Game development is by Level 5 and it will be available in 2011 on both the Nintendo DS and the Playstation 3. See the trailers for more details, you really have to see it.


Facebook’s New Offices

Facebook's New Offices

Personally, I’m a user but not a fan of Facebook. It’s obviously one of the most sophisticated online applications and also one of the most visited sites in the world – but I can’t help feeling that it’s somehow evil. It’s pretty spammy at times and has caused me no end of troubles, not to mention the wasted hours resulting from the voyeuristic tendencies it fosters.

That said, you can’t knock their offices. Designed by studio o+a, it’s a rambling facility of entertainment rooms, modern interiors, recreational facilities and hippies riding skateboards. Whether or not this multi-million dollar playhouse will increase productivity is another matter. It’s now generally accepted that a happy workforce is a productive one, but I think you have to draw the line somewhere. With too many distractions it becomes impossible to get focused on what it is your supposed to be doing (i.e. not table football).

See more photos at either or


Karigurashi no Arrietty

Karigurashi no Arrietty

There’s a new Studio Ghibli movie coming out and it looks to be loosely based on the classic, British children’s book The Borrowers. This isn’t the first time a Ghibli movie has been based on children’s books written in the UK either; Howl’s Moving Castle was based on a book written by Diana Wynne Jones.

The title of the movie is going to be 借りぐらしのアリエッティ (Karigurashi no Arrietty) which translates as Arrietty the Borrower – the official website is here, for what it’s worth. It will be directed by Hiroaki Yonebayashi, and not by the great Hayao Miyazaki, although Miyazaki will be responsible for writing the script. Apparently, the idea for the movie has been discussed before a long time ago by Miyazaki and his team, but only now is it being put into production. Miyazaki stepping back from the directing duties is interesting, as he has already retired once before and looked to be trying to appoint individuals capable of carrying his legacy forward, most famous of which being his son, Goro Miyazaki who took directorial duties on the movie Gedo Senki – Tales from Earthsea (which was also loosely based on a series of books by American author, Ursula K. Le Guin). As he relinquishes control on Karigurashi no Arietty it will be interesting to see if he will be able to keep his hands off the drawings and animation all the way through production, without seizing control of at least one of these aspects as he has been alledged to have done on past features (where he was supposedly not going to be involved in either).

Finally, the story (in a nutshell) is going to be about a boy living in a house in Koganei, Tokyo (the real-life location of Studio Ghibli) who has a tiny girl called Arrietty living under the floorboards of his house, and presumably she ‘borrows’ stuff.


The Google Story

It’s pretty amazing what Google has done in a relatively short time, and Nick Scott Studio’s animated story of the companies rise to ubiquity is a great way to visualise it for yourself. What next indeed?


And Now For Something Completely Different…


There’s a new creative agency in the UK called Displayground, an exceptionally talented group of designers, producers and creatives. I produced the Flash component of their new site, which involved incorporating some of the company’s ambitious ideas. You’ve got a mix of traditional stop-time animation, clay models, motion graphics, and vector shapes coming together to create a really original site. Design and photography credits go to the boys in the studio under creative director Mat Glover. The free-roaming orbs took a while to program and no mistake.