Tag Archives: Japan

Surfing in Suits: Quicksilver True Wetsuits

We’re all familiar with the phrase “business in the front and party in the back” with regard to clothes and hairstyles but Quiksilver has brought the versatility of work and play to a whole new level with the True Wetsuits collection. Basically, golf is not the only kind of sporting activity that you can network at soon. Our friends at Men’s Folio Singapore had the story and we just had to share it! With its innovative spirit that never fails to amaze, Quiksilver has rallied available technology to come up with three different business suits that can be worn straight into the water.

For the modern gentleman who relishes scaling the corporate ladder as much as chasing waves, the collection offers the Party Tuxedo as well as two authentic single-breasted suits in black and navy – Office Smart and Casual Friday respectively – that function as perfectly in the ocean as they do in the boardroom.

The level of details invested into the design of the suits is stunning. Two-millimeter thick super stretchy jersey neoprene, the same fabric used for regular wetsuits, make up the jacket, pants, and tie. The material is firmly held together with a special wetsuit production method with glued and blind-stitched seams (GBS), while pinholes do not penetrate the fabric so as to prevent water from leaking into the suit. Pockets have been designed not to catch water while surfing, with a fastener and drain hole on the left breast inside pocket, where electronic devices can be carried. Side vents on the jacket also ensure comfort and utter ease of movement. Never fear staining the crisp-collared dress shirt, which is made with four-way stretch Dryflight fabric that is best known as the material used for board shorts.

In order to ensure the best fit, all True Wetsuits orders are available only as made-to-measure pieces that can be ordered through the Quiksilver Japan website. Despite the sleek, structured lines and the intense attention to design details that bring it up to the standard of sartorial finesse, it’s quite clear that the collection is a new animal altogether. It brings a whole new angle and dimension to the idea of pushing the boundaries of style and functionality in fashion, and reminds us that truly nothing is impossible.

Story credits

By Rachel Ang

At this point, before you head off to Quiksilver Japan, do note the website is in Japanese, for some reason. We are also unsure why only the Japanese site is offering this (ok surfing is very popular with the working set in Japan but still…). The video here is also from Japan for that market but it is crazy cool.

Sushi Boss Pays $117,000 for Bluefin Tuna

An outcry followed the news of this sale breaking. Basically, a Japanese sushi boss shelled out more than $117,000 January 5 for a giant bluefin tuna. This happened at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market as it held its last New Year auction ahead of a much-needed modernization move.

Bidding stopped at a whopping 14 million yen for the enormous 200-kilogram (440-pound) fish – a threatened species – that was caught off Japan’s northern coast. That works out to $585 per kg. Believe it or not, this is not a record price and it is perfectly legal as trading in blue fin tuna is not outlawed.

The price was three times higher than last year but still far below the record 155.4 million yen paid by the sushi chain operator in 2013 – when a Hong Kong restaurant chain weighed in and drove up bidding – for a slightly larger (222-kg) fish of similar quality.

The New Year auction is a traditional feature at Tsukiji, where bidders pay way over the odds for the prestige of buying the first fish of the year.

But it came as Japan, the world’s largest consumer of bluefin tuna, faces growing calls for a trade ban on the species, which environmentalists warn is on its way to extinction.

The population of Pacific bluefin tuna is set to keep declining “even if governments ensure existing management measures are fully implemented”, Amanda Nickson, director of Global Tuna Conservation at the Pew Charitable Trusts, said in a release.

Bluefin is usually the most expensive fish available at Tsukiji, the biggest fish and wholesale seafood market in the world.

A single piece of “otoro”, or the fish’s fatty underbelly, can cost up to several thousand yen at high-end Tokyo restaurants. The growing popularity of Japanese sushi worldwide has stoked demand elsewhere.

“Given the already dire state of the population – decimated to just four percent of unfished levels – it is of particular concern that the auction price is rising again,” Nickson added.

“The international community must let the Japanese government know that additional action is needed to save this species.”

Tuesday’s auction winner, Kiyoshi Kimura, president of the firm behind the popular Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain, said he was “glad to make a winning bid in the last New Year auction at Tsukiji.”

Kimura has won the bidding every year since 2012.

Tsukiji – a sprawling complex of tiny stalls and wholesalers popular with tourists – will end its eight-decade history this year when it is relocated to a modern facility in Toyosu, a few kilometres away.

Kobe Beef, Yubari Melons Get Protected Status

Champagne, Melton Mowbray pork pies and Gorgonzola cheese are to be joined by Kobe beef and eye-wateringly expensive Yubari melons as protected products after Japan granted them special status on December 22. Luxuo has been following the story of Japanese melons in particular for some time so this story caught our attention immediately.

A total of seven products including Kobe beef and the melons from the northern of island of Hokkaido were added to a list of Japanese geographical indications, the farm ministry said.

With the designation, anyone who uses the registered brands without permission could face penalties.

“We’ll promote the registration of geographic indications and increase demand (for premium farm products) inside and outside Japan,” Hiroshi Moriyama, agriculture minister, told a press conference.

The World Intellectual Property Organization on its website defines a geographical indication as “a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin”.

The government hopes to boost exports of made-in-Japan premium agriculture products as local farmers could face competition from cheaper imports with the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact.

Under the deal, most tariffs were to be eliminated or slashed on everything from beef, dairy products, wine, sugar, rice, horticulture and seafood through to manufactured products, resources and energy.

Yuji Funatsu, head of the agricultural cooperative in the city of Yubari that applied for a geographic indication, told AFP ahead of the announcement that earning such a designation means “quite a lot of pressure” to maintain quality.

Yubari melons are considered a status symbol in Japan – something akin to a fine wine – with many being bought for high prices as a gift for friends and colleagues.

A single pair of the melons fetched 1.5 million yen ($12,400) at an auction in Japan in May. The best-quality Yubari melons are perfect spheres with a smooth, evenly patterned rind.

Funatsu, who has been a melon farmer for more than 30 years, said maintaining quality and brand is not easy, adding Yubari melons are a “high-maintenance fruit”.

In addition to Kobe beef and Yubari melons, Yamecha green tea from Fukuoka prefecture, cassis from Aomori, Hyogo’s Tajima-gyu cattle – some of which become Kobe beef – pumpkins from Ibaraki and black vinegar from Kagoshima also received geographic indications, the ministry said.

World’s Largest Saint Laurent Opens in Japan

Now this is a proper flagship-type store. Tokyo is now home to the largest Saint Laurent store in the world – bigger even than your average penthouse. Spanning 929 square meters (10,000 square feet), the newly opened store along the Omotesando strip is designed to be minimalist with black marble, glass, brass and black leather, and carries Saint Laurent’s full line of ready-to-wear, leather goods and accessories for men and women, reports WWD.

To commemorate the opening, the store will be selling limited-edition Saint Laurent surfboards designed with Los Angeles-based artist Lucia Ribisi. Only 10 are available throughout the world at a price of US$6,615.

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Japan Bans Foie Gras Imports Over Bird Flu Virus

Japan has banned imports of French foie gras due to a bird flu outbreak, an agriculture ministry official said December 4. Altogether, eight countries have so far announced sweeping bans of French poultry products, including China, South Korea, Thailand, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. EU nations have not imposed controls, having accepted France’s containment measures.

The Japanese ban, which became effective November 26, will be lifted 90 days after all affected French poultry farms finish culling their birds and conclude necessary sanitary procedures, the official told AFP.

Japan took action to stop imports of French poultry and live birds after the European Commission confirmed birds at a French chicken farm were infected with the H5N1 strain.

However, French poultry products made before October 23 can be imported, the official said, citing a three-week incubation period for the virus.

“Products that were made after that date are banned to prevent the virus from entering into Japan,” he said.

“We are relying on the French authorities to give us information. We would lift the import ban 90 days after the affected farms finish culling their birds and go through full disinfection,” he said.

For the first eight months of this year Japan was the top global importer of foie gras, according to a French industry group.

France produces 75 percent of global foie gras and the country exported 4,934 tonnes of it in 2014.

Algeria, China, Egypt, Japan, Morocco, South Korea, Thailand and Tunisia banned French poultry imports following the outbreak last month in the southwestern area of Dordogne, said Loic Evain, deputy head of the French agriculture ministry’s food division.

“The list is not exhaustive,” Evain said Thursday, but does not include France’s 27 European Union partners, who have accepted containment measures proposed by Paris under World Health Organization guidelines.

“Unfortunately some countries’ first reaction is to close their borders and only then to discuss” strategy, Evain said.

Golden ticket: Kit Kat Limited Edition in Japan

For chocolate lovers with cash to burn and dreams of Willy Wonka, a gold-coated Kit Kat bar will hit stores in Japan late November, but at an eye-watering 2,016 yen (US$16) a finger it will only be available for the lucky few.

Unlike in the famous children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the luxury chocolate bar won’t be randomly scattered among regular Kit Kats in shops.

Instead, 500 of the single bars will be made and sold only in the country, according to Nestle Japan, which has produced over 200 flavors — from strawberry to green tea and even wasabi — since introducing the chocolate treat there in 1973.

“In Japanese convenience stores, consumers are used to having new varieties all the time,” Nestle Japan spokeswoman Melanie Kohli told AFP on Thursday. “Japan is a very unique market.”

Nestle’s limited edition “Sublime Gold” one-finger treat, which is covered in gold leaf and described as having a rich, bitter chocolate taste, will go on sale at chocolate boutiques in eight swank department stores from Tokyo to Sapporo in the north and Fukuoka in southern Japan.

“We have made it a luxury product,” Kohli said of the gold bars, which could be a popular treat during the holiday season. “Not like you probably remember from your childhood. It’s a special occasion, to celebrate the end of the year.”

Kohli added that Japan’s “omiyage” culture of bringing regional gifts back for family and work colleagues after trips away was another reason for Kit Kat’s success with its various flavors.

“Like you have wasabi from Shizuoka and strawberries in Kyushu,” she said.

“Japan is the only place where you can have such a variety of Kit Kat flavors, something linked to that regional culture.”

Wasabi, related to horseradish, is a notoriously hot Japanese condiment served with sushi and sashimi.

Kit Kat, traditionally a four-fingered chocolate bar, currently offers around 30 different flavors in Japan, including Okinawan sweet potato, Yokohama cheese cake and Kobe pudding.

8 Top Selling Artists 2015

Often anticapitalist by nature and sometimes offering scathing critiques of socio-economic systems, contemporary art is paradoxically highly sought-after for its commercial potential. While classics famously hold their value well enough to be considered an asset class, contemporary art  – where the artist is frequently alive and still working – is required to demonstrate its potential at auction regularly. Of course, the value of most contemporary art is nebulous but therein lies the excitement.

Our friends at Art Republik give us the low-down on eight living artists whose best-selling work combined nets more than USD150 million…

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Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons was born in 1955 in York, Pennsylvania, United States of America. He received his B.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1976. Koons is known for his exploration of contemporary consumer culture in his oeuvre. His series of works include “Equilibrium” (1985), which feature ready-made basketballs floating in distilled water in tanks made of glass and steel,  “Banality” (1988), mostly sculptures of toys and popular icons rendered in porcelain and polychromed wood, and “Made in Heaven” (1989-1991), centered around photorealist paintings and sculptures of the artist engaged in sexual intercourse in varied positions with his ex-wife Ilona Staller, an adult film star.

Koons’ “Balloon Dog” sculptures in five color versions – blue, magenta, yellow, orange and red – are probably among his most well known works. These are from the “Celebration” series, which presents giant mirror-polished stainless steel sculptures with transparent color coating.

The artist has pioneered new techniques for the making of his artworks. For the “Celebration” series, for example, he collaborated with Arnold AG, a metalwork mill in Germany to make the sculptures’ high-shine surface. In addition, he used the CAT scan, typically used in hospitals, to get an all-round imaging of subjects so that the enlarged versions could be reproduced to perfection. He also has a unique way of working. Koons’ works are made in a studio that employs more than 100 assistants who fabricate his work.

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“Balloon Dog (Orange)”

2008 was a particularly productive year for Koons, with solo exhibitions at Château de Versailles, France, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin. More recently, in 2014, “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective”, was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It has now traveled to the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and will be at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao later in the year.

Koons’ first million-dollar work sold was the “Pink Panther” (1988) from the “Banality” series, which transacted at Christie’s in 1999 for USD1.8 million (1988). In 2013, he became the most expensive living artist when “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sold for USD52 million at Christie’s. He holds the title to this date.

Koons lives and works in New York.

In Brief

  • Age: 60
  • Nationality: American
  • Gallery Representation: David Zwirner Gallery, Gagosian Gallery, Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Galerie Max Hetzler
  • Big Break: Koons’ “Banality” series (1988), featuring the work, “Michael Jackson and Bubbles”, exhibited at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York City in 1989.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Balloon Dog (Orange)”, 1994-2000, mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, 307.3 x 363.2 x 114.3cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD58.4 million. Sold at Christie’s, New York, November 2013

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Zeng Fanzhi, Mask Series No. 5, 1994, oil on canvas, 180 x 150 cm. Sold at Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, October 2010.

Zeng Fanzhi

Zeng Fanzhi was born in Wuhan, China in 1964. He graduated from Hubei Academy of Fine Arts in 1991, where he specialized in oil painting.

Before moving to Beijing in 1993, he began painting the “Hospital” series, showing tableaus from the hospital, and the “Meat” series that contrast human beings with butchered meat, inspired by the hospital and the butcher’s shop he lived next to. From these first works, the characters began to be drawn with disproportionately larger hands, which persisted into his “Mask” series.

Zeng Fanzhi is probably best known for his paintings in this series of figures standing in groups or alone, wearing white masks with big smiles. This was motivated by his interactions with people in the capital of China, whom he thought hid their true identities and feelings from others and perhaps from themselves as well, in a representation of the Chinese people’s feelings of isolation in the decade after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

An adventurous artist who has experimented with different styles, Zeng began drawing landscapes in 2004, mostly covered with bare intertwining branches, inspired by the unexpected beauty he saw in a pot of Chinese wisteria in his studio. He also painted portraits of luminaries in western culture such as Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol in 2010.

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“The Last Supper”, 2001, oil on canvas, 220 x 395 cm.

Zeng first set a new world auction record for Chinese contemporary art in May 2008, when his diptych Mask Series 1996 No. 6 sold for USD9.7 million at Christie’s in Hong Kong. This featured eight members of the Young Pioneers, the Communist Party’s youth movement, wearing their representative red scarves, and Zeng’s signature masks. In 2013, his painting, “The Last Supper” sold for USD23 million at Sotheby’s. He remains the most expensive living Asian artist.

In the same year, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris presented the first French retrospective of 40 paintings and sculptures from Zeng made between 1990 and 2012.

Zeng lives and works in Beijing.

In Brief

  • Age: 51
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Gallery Representation: Gagosian Gallery, Acquavella Galleries, Gallery Hyundai, ShangArt, Hanart TZ Gallery
  • Big Break: Fresh out of art school, paintings from Zeng Fanzhi’s “Hospital” series were selected by Johnson Chang from Hanart TZ Gallery based in Hong Kong to be included in an exhibition at Hong Kong Arts Centre in 1993 titled “China’s New Art, Post-1989”. This introduced the artist to the art community, and at the same time gave Zeng tremendous encouragement to continue pursuing his career as an artist.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “The Last Supper”, 2001, oil on canvas, 220 x 395 cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD23.3 million, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 2013

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Installation view, Takashi Murakami’s exhibition, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, Gagosian Gallery, New York, 10 November – January 17 2015 © 2014 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever.

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami was born in 1962 in Tokyo, and received his BFA, MFA and PhD from the Tokyo University of the Arts, formerly the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

A multi-hyphenate, Murakami is involved in many aspects of the art world, and works as an artist, a gallerist, a curator and an art theorist, among others. He founded the Hiropon factory in Tokyo in 1996 for the production of his works, which later evolved into Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., an art production and art management corporation. In addition to the production and marketing of Murakami’s art and related work, it manages and promotes emerging artists.

Murakami has organized several influential exhibitions based on the theory of a tradition of a pervasive superflat look in contemporary Japanese visual culture, typified by manga, which refer to comic books, and anime, which refer to animation, that tend towards two-dimensionality. The first exhibition, titled simply “Superflat”, was held at Parco Gallery in Tokyo and Nagoya. It subsequently traveled to MoCA gallery in the Pacific Design Centre in Los Angeles, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, in 2001. He has followed up with exhibitions such as “Coloriage” at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris in 2002 and “Little Boy: The Art of Japan’s Exploding Subcultures” at the Japan Society in New York in 2005.

A pioneer in art-fashion collaborations, Murakami began working with Louis Vuitton in 2003. He first created the “Monogram Multicolore”, which featured the “LV” monogram in 33 bright colors. Since then, he has made special prints for the luxury fashion house’s leather goods that incorporate motifs such as cherry blossoms and pandas. In 2008, the limited edition “Monogramouflage” collection, for all products from iPhone cases to luggage, featured a juxtaposition of the khaki and beige camouflage print and the Louis Vuitton monogram.

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Takashi Murakami, “Lionel Messi and a Universe of Flowers,” 2014, acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas laid down on board, 70 7/8 x 70 7/8 in

A notable recent exhibition is “Takashi in Superflat Wonderland” at the PLATEAU Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul Korea in late 2013, where some of the artist’s most iconic works were on display, including one of the artist’s “Superflat Flowers” sculptures made in 2010. Also in the exhibition was a fiberglass sculpture of “Miss Ko2”, a buxom character created by Murakami as a commentary on otaku culture, an obsession with anime and manga, and the resultant desire to have these unreal characters come to life.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Murakami is constantly innovating. In 2013, he released his first feature film, “Jellyfish Eyes”, which mixes live action with cartoon characters, with plans for a sequel.

Murakami lives and works in Tokyo.

In Brief

  • Age: 53
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Gallery Representation: Gagosian Gallery, Blum & Poe, Galerie Perrotin, Kaikai Kiki Gallery
  • Big Break: Murakami had an international traveling retrospective, “©Murakami”, showing over 90 works by the artist that kicked off at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles in 2008. In an interview in W Magazine in April 2013, Murakami said that this exhibition was a turning point in his career, stating that he thought the conventional view before the exhibition was that he was merely an artist influenced by Japanese subculture. The exhibition was persuasive of the strength of his artworks to have a place in art history.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “My Lonesome Cowboy”, 1998, oil, acrylic, fiberglass, iron, 254 x 116.8 x 91.4cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD15.1 million, Sotheby’s, New York, May 2008

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Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998, mattress, linens, pillows, objects, 211 x 234 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, London, July 2014. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2014.

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin was born in London in 1963, and studied at Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London, where she earned her Master’s degree in 1989.

Emin’s art is inspired by her personal life. Her artworks reflect universal emotions and are both relatable and confrontational. These are created in wide range of mediums, including, painting, photography, textile, video, installation and sculpture.

In 1999, Emin was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, an annual prize awarded to a British visual artist below the age of 50. This was for her provocative work, “My Bed”, an installation of the artist’s bed complete with liquor bottles, cigarette butts, worn underwear, condoms and rumpled stained bedsheets, the scene of a post-breakup breakdown.

Among other works by Emin are her “I’ve Got It All” photograph from 2000 showing the artist seated on the floor with ample cleavage, her legs wide open, bills and coins pressed against her crotch. She is also known for her neon light installations, which she has produced since the 1990s, featuring evocative messages such as “You Forgot to Kiss My Soul” (2001) and “You Loved Me Like a Distant Star” (2012).

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Tracey Emin

Emin has exhibited extensively. In 2007, she represented Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale. The first major retrospective exhibition of Emin’s work opened at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 2008, and traveled to Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain and the Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland. In May 2011, Emin had a major survey exhibition, “Love is What You Want” at the Hayward Gallery in London.

Emin currently lives and works in London.

In Brief

  • Age 52
  • Nationality British
  • Gallery Representation Lehmann Maupin, White Cube
  • Big Break Charles Saatchi’s “Sensation” exhibition at the Royal Academy, London included Emin’s much-discussed work “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995”, which was a tent embroidered with over 100 names of people she had slept with, including 32 lovers, and 80 people she had only slept next to.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold “My Bed”, 1998, mattress, linens, pillows, objects, 79 x 211 x 234 cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD4.3 million, Christie’s, London, July 2014

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Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, 1986, oil on canvas, 300.6 x 250.5 cm. World auction record for the artist at Sotheby’s, London, February 2015. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden, Germany. He studied at the Staatliche Kunstakademie, or the State Academy of Art, in Düsseldorf under the eminent German artist Karl Otto Götz from 1961 to 1964.

Richter has had an illustrious career spanning over half a century. Beginning in the 1960s, the author painted, in grey scale, renditions of blown-up blurred black-and-white photographs he had taken of still lifes, portraits and landscapes, such as “Kitchen Chair” (1965), “Helen” (1963) and possibly his most well-known work of the period, “Domplatz, Mailand” (1968), measuring nearly 3 meters by 3 meters, featuring the Cathedral Square in Milan. This iconic work appears to vibrate with Richter’s signature fuzzy blur in his photo-paintings, which had the capacity to soften or destabilize an image.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Richter created his “Colour Chart” and “Grey Paintings” series that were based on his exploration of color. “1024 Colours” was made in four unique editions, and feature neat ovoids of 1024 different colors painted in a grid at random. His “Grey Paintings” were inspired by the use of shades of the color in his photo-based paintings.

In the 1980s, Richter started to apply a squeegee across the canvas to scrape and smear freshly laid paint to create intuitive paintings that revealed hidden layers, and from the 1990s, the tool was applied both horizontally and vertically to create new possibilities in the final works.

Richter has exhibited all over the world. He had a major exhibition, “Abstract Paintings”, in 1978 at the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, which traveled to the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. In 1988, the artist was given his first North American retrospective, jointly organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. The exhibition traveled to Washington and San Francisco. In 2002, a 40-year retrospective of Richter’s work was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and in 2011, a major retrospective of the artist’s works opened at the Tate Modern, London and traveled to the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Richter has also participated in multiple editions of the Venice Biennale and the Documenta in Kassel since 1972.

In 2012, Richter became the most expensive living artist after his work, “Abstraktes Bild (809-4)” (1994), sold for USD33 million in London, a title he held until 2013. Most recently, in February 2015, another “Abstraktes Bild” work, this one painted in 1986, sold for USD37 million, which made him the most expensive living artist
in Europe.

Richter has lived and worked in Cologne since 1983.

In Brief

  • Age: 83
  • Nationality: German
  • Gallery Representation: Marian Goodman Gallery, Scott White Contemporary Art
  • Big Break: In 1968, Richter was commisioned by Siemens AG to make a work to hang in their Milan offices. The result was “Domplatz, Mailand” (1968), at the time the artist’s largest figurative painting, and probably the most accomplished
  • photo-painting by the artist.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Abstraktes Bild”, 1986, oil on canvas, 300.5 x 250.5cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD46.3 million, Sotheby’s, London, February 2015

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Exhibition view of Yayoi Kusama, Ota Fine Arts, Singapore. Photography by Quek Jia Liang. Image courtesy of Ota Fine Arts

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto City, Japan in 1929. She moved to the United States in 1957 before moving back to Japan in 1973. Kusama has had a rich and varied career as an artist for over five decades. Her works are in various mediums, including painting, sculpture, performance and installation. Among her most well known works are the “Infinity Net” paintings she began making in the late 1950s, made by adding white arcs onto a darker background on a large canvas. The “Accumulation” sculptures came after, and feature soft-sculptures she made by stitching cotton-stuffed cloth into phallic shapes to attach to furniture and clothing, as well as her trademark polka dot designs in both two- and three-dimensional works. In her time in New York in the 1960s, she was also a performance artist who staged provocative happenings, such as painting people in the nude in her trademark polka dots.

Kusama has exhibited all over the world. In 1993, she represented Japan at the Venice Biennale, for which she created an installation with a mirror room and multiple yellow pumpkin sculptures, the beginnings of similar sculptures covered in uneven black dots. In 1998, a major retrospective of her work made in New York, opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of art before traveling to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.

Notably, from 2011 to 2012, a touring exhibition of her works made its way to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Tate Modern in London as well as the Whitney Museum in New York.

In 2012, Kusama collaborated with Louis Vuitton in an ambitious project that saw products such as leather goods and ready-to-wear fashion, in prints featuring Kusama’s signature polka dots – black polka dots against a yellow background, white against black and red against white, which took center stage in window displays of 460 Louis Vuitton stores in 64 countries, as well as seven special concept stores in Paris, London, and Tokyo.

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Yayoi Kusama, Shellfish, 1989, screenprint, 53.5 x 46 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Ota Fine Arts.

In the past decade, Kusama has created immersive installations of walk-in rooms that create disorienting experiences for the viewer. “Fireflies on the Water” (2002) features 150 lights and a pool of water in the center of a room, whose surfaces are all covered with mirrors that give multiple reflections. “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” at the David Zwirner Gallery in late 2013 played on a similar concept with 75 colored LED lights that glimmered and pulsed in a small mirrored room. Another recent installation is “The Obliteration Room”, currently at the Queensland Art Gallery, where children add colorful dot stickers to white furniture, objects and surfaces.

Kusama lives and works in Tokyo.

In Brief

  • Age: 86
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Gallery Representation: Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro, David Zwirner Gallery
  • Big Break: Kusama has had a long and successful career, but probably became a global household name when she collaborated with Louis Vuitton in 2012, which included not only a full range of products carrying her signature polka dots, but also the window displays of the luxury fashion house’s stores in over 60 countries.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “White No. 28”, 1960, oil on canvas, 147.6 x 111.1cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD7.1 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2014

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #463, 2007/2008, chromogenic color print, 174.2 x 182.9 cm, edition of 6. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures.

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman is an American artist born in 1954 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. She graduated from State University College, Buffalo, New York, in 1976. Her photographs have seen her take on multiple roles since her first series, “Untitled Film Stills” in the late 1970s, and continuing with “Centrefolds” (1981), in which she was photographed in an intimate setting as a vulnerable character, and “Fashion” (1983-84), exploring the objectification of women in the still image. The artist is at the center of each photograph, but in different guises, as she plays with identity through dress, transforming her image through hair, make-up, costumes, props and prosthetics.

Sherman has continued to create chameleon-like transformations in performative photographic works, such as in her humorous interpretations of old master paintings as photographs between 1989 and 1990, where she became the portraits’ subjects. Another series of similar works, this time with society portraits in 2008, saw Sherman dressed as aging socialites against moneyed backgrounds. These works poked fun at the trappings of excessive wealth and the obsession with youth and on-the-surface perfection in contemporary society.

While she is most famous for her more light-hearted self-portraits in different roles, she has created a significant number of works that are darker in nature. Beginning in the mid-1980s, her body of work expanded to include the “Fairy Tales” and Disasters” series that show grotesque scenes from which the artist is mostly absent. Other dark series include “Sex and Death” in the late 19080s, photographed using disfigured mannequins, “Pure Horror” in the mid-1990s and “Clowns” in the mid-2000s.

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Cindy Sherman, “Untitled Film Stills”, gelatin silver print, 25.4 x 20.3 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, New York, November 2014. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015.

Sherman has had numerous solo exhibitions at home and abroad since the 1980s. Of particular note is a survey at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2012, which showcased more than 170 photographs from the artist’s extensive body of work. The exhibition also included the debut of Sherman’s new photographic murals, which saw her image manipulated digitally against a decorative toile background.

Sherman lives and works in New York.

In Brief

  • Age: 61
  • Nationality: American
  • Gallery Representation: Metro Pictures, Galerie Sprüth Magers
  • Big Break: “Untitled Film Stills”, shown at the landmark performance and video space The Kitchen in New York in 1980, was Sherman’s breakthrough. In these black-and-white photos, the artist took on 69 stereotypical female roles in movies such as the housewife and the femme fatale.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Untitled Film Stills”, 1977, gelatin silver print, 25.4 x 20.3cm.
  • Price including buyer’s premium: USD6.8 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2014

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Andreas Gursky, Rhein II, 1999, chromogenic colour print face-mounted to plexiglass, 185.4 x 363.5 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, New York, November 2011. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015.

Andreas Gursky

Andreas Gursky was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1955. He first studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, formerly Folkwang Academy in Essen. He then attended the Staatliche Kunstakademie, or the State Academy of Art in Düsseldorf and studied under the influential German photographers Hilla and Bernd Becher from 1981 to 1987.

Gursky is known for his large-scale magnified photographs of varied scenes, which can measure up to 2 by 5 meters, reveal the conditions of contemporary times. Usually taken from an elevated vantage point, the artist’s photographic works are known for their stunning and often overwhelming clarity.

In the 1990s, Gursky began experimenting with digital manipulation through shooting the images on chromogenic prints, or c-prints using a large-format camera, then scanning the images for reworking on the computer to create his massive and precise photographs. One of the earliest works made this way was “Paris, Montparnasse” (1993), which showed an inhabited apartment building, and highlighted its uniformed structure and crowdedness in a commentary on the cookie-cutter mold of contemporary urban living. In “Rhein II”, Gursky merged photographs of different parts of the river together to exclude industrial activity, creating an imaginary serene landscape.

In 2011, this work became the most expensive photograph sold at auction.

A recurring theme in Gursky’s work is the effects of capitalism and globalization in contemporary society that put in place invisible systems. Perhaps his most recognizable images from the 1990s are of the Chicago Board of Trade from 1990, which, in contrast to “Rhein II”, shows a flurry of activity reflective of the trading floor’s organized chaos, with traders at the pit surrounded by circular rows of computers. In “99 Cent II Diptychon” (2001), which shows the interior of a 99 Cents Only store, the bright colors red, yellow and orange of rows of boxes were edited to jump out from the photograph, aided by the addition of a mirrored ceiling. The visually impressive work provided a stark reflection of an obsessive consumer culture in contemporary society.

From the mid-2000s, Gursky has worked on numerous projects in Asia, including Japan, Thailand, China and North Korea, among others. “Pyongyang”, a series of photographs of the annual Arirang Festival in North Korea in 2007 presented the heavily directed spectacle to the rest of the world. In taking the festival proceedings such as choreographed mass dances from a great distance, the resulting images look like colorful tapestries, and show the insignificance of the individual within the society.

Gursky has exhibited internationally. A 2001 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York traveled to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

In recent years, Gursky has also exhibited small photographs atypical to the rest of his oeuvre, such as in “Werke-Works 80-08,” which opened in Kunstmuseen Krefeld in Germany in 2008, and toured to Moderna Museet, Stockholm and Vancouver Art Gallery in 2009.

Gursky lives and works in Düsseldorf.

In Brief

  • Age: 60
  • Nationality: German
  • Gallery Representation: Galerie Sprüth Magers, Mai 36 Galerie, Matthew Marks Gallery
  • Big Break: Gursky acquired worldwide fame with his major solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, in 2001.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Rhein II”, 1999, chromogenic print, Plexiglass, 207 x 385.5 x 6.2cm.
  • Price including buyer’s premium: USD4.3 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2011

Story Credits

Text by Nadya Wang

couturier jean paul gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier launching Japanese line October 1

couturier jean paul gaultier

French designer Jean Paul Gaultier is set to release his affordably priced collection for the Japanese retailer Seven & i on October 1.

According to WWD, the line, which was first announced in March, includes a trench coat and striped boatneck jersey tops.

The collection will be available in the company’s Ito Yokado, Sogo and Seibu stores, while an online portal will allow customers to pick up their purchases from 7-Eleven convenience stores.

Seven & i is also planning the launch of a new brand called Sept Premières, with Gaultier’s designs to be featured in a capsule collection within the range and other designers expected to design future collections.

Ermenegildo Zegna Couture Made in Japan

Zegna Unveils Japan-Made Capsule Collection [VIDEO]

Zegna Japan Group shot

Italian designer Ermenegildo Zegna has created a new collection, inspired by Japan’s fashion and craftmanship, reports Women’s Wear Daily.

Zegna’s exclusive capsule collection — labeled “Ermenegildo Zegna Couture Made in Japan” — will be produced in Japan by local artisans, and feature 22 pieces.

Stefano Pilati, Zegna’s head of design, chose certain pieces from the fall collection, adding Japanese materials and tailoring to create the new items.

The new collection will go on sale Saturday at Zegna’s Ginza store, before heading to the brand’s Osaka location on October 1.

Certain pieces from the collection will make their way to other stores around the world later in the year.

Zegna Japan Zegna Japan Zegna Japan

International Space Station

Can You Really Age Whiskey In Space?

International Space Station

An unmanned cargo ship loaded with emergency supplies — including Japanese whisky — successfully docked at the International Space Station early Tuesday, officials said.

But thirsty astronauts will have to keep their hands off the golden tipple — it’s a science experiment.

Drinks giant Suntory sent the booze to space so it could test how time in a zero-gravity environment affects its flavour.

suntory whisky

Researchers for the company have said that storing the beverage in an environment with only slight temperature changes and limited liquid movement could lead to a mellower flavour.

The cargo was placed inside the 5.5-tonne vessel Kounotori, which blasted off from southern Japan last Wednesday attached to an H-IIB rocket.

Suntory has previously won the world title for the world’s best whisky and produces the drink at the oldest distillery in Japan.

Inside The Suntory Yamazaki Whisky Distillery

Suntory to launch whisky into space

Inside The Suntory Yamazaki Whisky Distillery

Japanese whisky will be sent into space next month to test how time in a zero-gravity environment affects its flavour.

Suntory to launch whisky into space

Samples of whisky produced by Suntory will be stored in the Japanese laboratory facility of the International Space Station for at least a year, with some flasks staying longer.

Researchers for the company believe that storing the beverage in an environment with only slight temperature changes and limited liquid movement could lead to a mellower flavour.

Suntory will send whisky aged for 10, 18 and 21 years as well as a number of other alcoholic substances.

Once they are returned to Earth, blenders will assess their flavours while researchers subject the liquids to scientific analysis, the company said.

“For the moment, we’re not thinking about applying the study results to commercial products,” a Suntory spokeswoman told AFP.

Whisky demand rocketed in Japan last year after national broadcaster NHK aired a drama called “Massan,” the true story of a Japanese entrepreneur and his Scottish wife who established Japan’s first whisky distillery.

Sales also soared when Suntory’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 was named the best in the world by the prestigious Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2015.

Book and Bed Hotel

The library hotel, Japan’s latest concept for tourists

Book and Bed Hotel

Have you always dreamed of staying in a library after hours? Japan has the solution: a library hotel, the “Book and Bed Hotel,” will open this fall.

The owners have partners with Shibuya Publishing & Booksellers, a publishing house that has agreed to provide all the books and other reading materials that will make up the walls of the hotel.

In reality, the place will be a vast room divided by stacks of books. Don’t expect to arrive and be given a key to your room, as there are no rooms.

Guests will have to make do with cabins and bunks in little nooks between the books to get some rest. Intimacy is definitely not a priority at this concept hotel that is set to open in the commercial and entertainment district of Ikebukuro in the Toshima ward of Tokyo. There will however be curtains installed to offer tired guests a bit of peace.

Tourists can reserve for one night or just spend some time catching up on reading during the day. The hotel has yet to announce its pricing options.

This isn’t the first time Japan experiments with concept hotels. Earlier this month a robot-staffed hotel opened its doors where travelers may, for example, be welcomed at reception by a robot dinosaur.

receptionist robots

Lady Gaga for Shiseido

Watch: Lady Gaga in latest Shiseido ad

Lady Gaga for Shiseido

In the latest ad for Shiseido, Lady Gaga may start off au naturel, but by the end of the 30-second promo, in true Gaga fashion she ends the ad with beaded curtains hanging off her eyebrows. As only Gaga can do…

LADY GAGA PHOTOGRAPHS HERSELF FOR SHISEIDO

With the tagline “Be Yourself. That’s what makes you beautiful,” the singer sports a pretty, natural face at the beginning of the ad, and leaves the hotel in a nondescript fringed dress.

But once in the limo, the Lady finds her inner self by changing into a blue leather jumpsuit and affixing beaded curtains to her eyebrows.

Henn-na Hotel staff

This Japan hotel is almost entirely run by robots

Henn-na Hotel staff

Japan has opened the doors to the world’s first automated, robot-staffed hotel, replacing people with pretty, lifelike lady humanoid receptionists and a bow tie-wearing, dinosaur concierge.

At the Henn-na Hotel, or ‘Strange Hotel,’ guests check in, check out, get their rooms cleaned and their luggage conveyed by a fleet of blinking, beeping and rolling robots that the hotel describes as “warm and friendly.”

Likewise, as part of their aim to feature cutting-edge technology, stays are keyless. Instead, guests enter their rooms via facial recognition technology.

The use of robots and the emphasis on automated services is part of a bigger concept: To reduce labor costs, save energy, reduce waste, and develop a self-sufficient hotel powered by solar energy and machines.

receptionist robots

For example, rooms are conspicuously absent of refrigerators, lights are motion-sensored, and rooms are cooled using an energy-efficient radiant panel air conditioning system.

The hotel is part of the Dutch theme park Huis Ten Bosch in Sasebo, Nagasaki, and may be expanded across Japan and abroad.

Future plans also include the addition of Chinese and Korean languages to the robots’ repertoire.

Henn-na Hotel bedroom

Other features include a porter robot, that will transport luggage to guest rooms, and a self-serve cafe which serves snacks and drinks from, what else, a vending machine.

Room rates at the Strange Hotel, which features 144 rooms, start at 9,000 JPY ($73 USD) for a single room.

Henn na Hotel

bunch of Ruby Roman grapes

Bunch of grapes sells for record $8,200 in Japan

bunch of Ruby Roman grapes

A bunch of Japanese grapes has sold for a record one million yen ($8,200), or $315 per berry — no trifling matter even in a country where fruit can cost a small fortune.

The record-setting bunch of 26 “Ruby Roman” grapes was the highest-priced at this year’s first auction in Kanazawa, 300 kilometres northwest of Tokyo, smashing the previous record of 550,000 yen set last year.

Each berry weighs at least 20 grams (three-quarters of an ounce) and is the size of a ping-pong ball, according to the local board of agriculture.

Winning bidder Masayuki Hirai, head chef of the Nikko hotel in Kanazawa, told media he had been under strict orders, with local tourism chiefs eager to capitalise on a new train line to the area.

“With the opening of the Hokuriku shinkansen (bullet train) line, I was told to win the bidding at any cost,” he said.

For connoisseurs of eye-wateringly-priced fruit, Japan is Seventh Heaven.

Earlier this year, a pair of Yubari melons from Hokkaido, northern Japan, were snapped up for a jaw-dropping 1.5 million yen.

Meanwhile, a Japanese department store thought nothing of shelling out 300,000 yen for a pair of pristine mangoes grown in southern Japan.

Kyoto Golden Temple

Kyoto named world’s best city 2015

Kyoto Golden Temple

For the second year in a row, Kyoto, Japan has been voted the world’s best city by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine.

After compiling the scores from its affluent and well-traveled readers, the American travel magazine released the results of its annual World’s Best Awards, which break down the top-scoring cities, hotels, airlines and cruises into tidy rankings.

And with an A+ approval rating of 91, Kyoto was given the top spot on the world’s best cities list, narrowly beating out Charleston, South Carolina and Siem Reap in Cambodia for the title.

Aerial view of Kyoto

While Tokyo is best known for being a portal of modern city life — bustling energy, skyscrapers, flashing neon lights — Kyoto offers a different kind of rhythm that includes more than 1,000 ancient Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, zen gardens, traditional ryokan inns and a district dedicated to working geishas. Kyoto is considered the birthplace of geisha culture.

It was also the imperial capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years.

Interestingly, conspicuously absent on the list are a few of the top tourist destinations in the world, notably Paris, New York and London, as well as representation from Latin countries and South America.

Suiran Kyoto

The only North American city to crack the list is Charleston, which also topped the best cities list for the US and Canada.

Travel + Leisure readers were most enamored by the Galapagos Islands in the category of best islands, followed by Bali and the Maldives, while Disney Cruise Line emerged the favorite mega-ship cruise line.

Disney Fantasy Cruise

In the category of top hotels, the luxurious Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur on Lake Lake Pichola in India, was named the best in show, scoring a near-perfect mark of 99 for its unrestrained opulence.

And travelers seem to be happiest with Singapore Airlines, which was named the world’s best airline over Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Top 10 cities as voted by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine

1. Kyoto, Japan
2. Charleston, South Carolina
3. Siem Reap, Cambodia
4. Florence, Italy
5. Rome, Italy
6. Bangkok, Thailand
7. Krakow, Poland
8. Barcelona, Spain
9. Cape Town, South Africa
10. Jerusalem, Israel

Unagi

Eel-flavored soda to launch in Japan

Unagi

A Japanese company has created a limited-edition eel-flavored soda as a refreshing summer treat.

Produced by Kimura Inryou, a company based in Shizuoka Prefecture, which is famous for its unagi (eel), the drink is made of eel extract and bottles the salty, fishy, savory flavor of grilled, barbecue eel in a fizzy cola.

The novelty drink will be sold at highway rest stops and gift shops throughout the prefecture and will also be made available at its online store for 200 JPY ($1.60 USD) as of July 21.

Other eyebrow-raising soda flavors out of Japan include salty watermelon, curry and iced cucumber.

Pair of Japanese melons

This guy just paid $12,400 for a pair of Japanese melons

Pair of Japanese melons

A single pair of premium melons fetched an eye-watering 1.5 million yen ($12,400) at an auction in Japan on Friday.

The winning bid was placed by a local fruit wholesaler for the first Yubari melons to go under the hammer this year at the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market in northern Hokkaido, officials said. (You can find more news about these melons here.)

The figure, enough to buy a brand new car in Japan is some way short of the record for the luxury fruit, which fetched 2.5 million yen in 2008.

High prices are the norm for the opening auction of the season and reflect buyers’ desire for prestige.

Yubari melons are considered a status symbol in Japan — like a fine wine — with many being bought as a gift for friends and colleagues.

The best-quality Yubari melons are perfect spheres with a smooth, evenly patterned rind. A T-shaped stalk is left on the fruit, which is usually sold in an ornate box.

While the prices they fetch at auction are very high, melons are not the only expensive fruit in Japan.

A single apple from a supermarket can cost more than $3 and a presentation pack of 20 cherries might sell for over $100.

Barack Obama and Shinzo Abe

Obama, Abe to dine on fusion food with Hawaiian twist

Barack Obama and Shinzo Abe

High politics will dominate Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the White House on Tuesday, but there will still be time for some haute cuisine.

At a state dinner Abe, US President Barack Obama and hundreds of other guests will tuck into an array of food that links Japan and the US, with a touch of influence from President Obama’s home state of Hawaii.

For starters guest chef Masaharu Morimoto will rustle up his fusion take on a salad classic — the “Toro Tartare and Caesar Sashimi Salad.”

“The salad is wrapped in a clear acetate and tied with Mizuhiki cord emulating a gift to be opened,” according to the program.

Then a consomme will be given a twist with bok choy and Wailea hearts of palm and bamboo shoots from Hawaii.

“This is served with a crisp Hawaiian pineapple tempura topped with a sliver of cured ham from Virginia.”

Blue-Trimmed Barack Obama State China

The main course will be roasted American wagyu beef with Spring vegetables.

For dessert the American-style cheesecake will get a spin with the addition of silken tofu and soymilk and a selection of seasonal berries from Florida.

All the dishes will be served on a new 11-piece State China Service, which was designed by Michael Smith in consultation with Michelle Obama.

Instead of opting for the traditional primary red or blue normally seen, the First Lady opted for a blue “inspired by the waters” off the coast of Hawaii — a “Kailua blue.”

The food will be washed down with sake — Dassai’s 23 for a toast — a Freeman 2013 “Ryo-fu” Chardonnay and a 2010 Morlet Pinot Noir.

Hachiro Mizutani

Why foreigners aren’t allowed to eat here…

Hachiro Mizutani

A top notch Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in Tokyo on Monday defended its special reservation rules for foreigners after a report in Japan it had refused to accept a booking from a Chinese customer.

Sushi Mizutani, which has two of the coveted Michelin stars, told AFP it has an “across-the-board policy” of not accepting bookings by non-Japanese customers — unless they are made through a hotel concierge or a credit card company.

JAPAN STAR SUSHI CHEF WARNS AGAINST OVERFISHING

“(Non-Japanese) customers may not show up for their reservations,” a member of staff at the restaurant said, adding employees do not have the foreign language proficiency to explain requirements to patrons.

“We prepare fish for the number of expected customers and have to turn down other requests for booking sometimes. We simply cannot afford it if people don’t show up. “We don’t think it is anything discriminatory” he said.

The confirmation came after a report that the restaurant, located in Tokyo’s glitzy Ginza district, had refused to take a reservation for Chinese journalist Mo Bangfu.

Mo, a resident of Japan for 30 years who is fluent in Japanese, intended to host three guests at the high-end restaurant, where prices start at 20,000 yen ($168) per person, the Nikkan Gendai tabloid reported.

“We have an increasing number of cases in which people are abandoning their reservations,” a restaurant worker told AFP, adding Japanese-speaking customers are called for reconfirmation a few days before their reservation.

The number of foreign tourists coming to Japan has rocketed in recent years as the value of the yen has fallen and as tensions have eased between Beijing and Tokyo.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he wants to attract 20 million foreign visitors a year by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympics.