"The 39 Steps" is currently enjoying a revival in London's West End - although I'm a bit alarmed that it's being described as a "family-comedy".
Also, any fans of David Tennant will be interested in this new drama series, airing…Continue
I've just come back from a seasonal trip to the UK, and I found evidence of a renewed interest in Modernism, Mod culture, and all kinds of artifacts from the Dieselpunk Era. For example, one major brewery (Elgood's) has been encouraging its pubs to restore their interior furnishings to their original designs - by which, they meant the Twenties and Thirties. Here are shots taken in the Wagon and Horses pub, Cambridge.
Added by John Paul Catton on January 3, 2013 at 2:30am — No Comments
Good wishes to all, and in 2013 I hope to finish my articles on Japan in the Jazz Age, and post more on things I've discovered and two-fisted fiction I've written. Until then, here are the promised pictures of the restored 1914 era Tokyo Station buildings. …Continue
Added by John Paul Catton on December 23, 2012 at 1:17am — No Comments
About three weeks ago, the renovated facades and interior of Tokyo station (Marunouchi side) were unveiled to the public, and the scaffolding and tarpaulins that have been up for the best part of ten years were all packed away. This huge red-brick building was first put up in 1914 and was the central symbol of modernist Tokyo architecture. …Continue
I swear I am not making this stuff up. About a week ago, the Japan Times ran an article on an exclusive cabaret club in Tokyo's adult-entertainment area of Kabukicho, and this club's unique selling point is ... robots. Not cute, manga-type robots; not mecha; not industrial/rescue machines; but 3-meter tall "Sucker Punch" style Fembots that scare the life out of you with their Amazonian breasts and Uncanny-Valley type faces.…Continue
The Japan Times has announced the existence of 6 aerial pictures of Tokyo before the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. These were found in the collection of an anonymous private collector (I have no idea why they have only just been publicized) and were taken by pilots of the Ito Hikoki Kenkyujo (Ito Airplane Research Institute).
Unfortunately, only one of them…Continue
"The Japanese Jazz Age" will return, but in the meanwhile, here's tale of two fellers who built a giant clunky spage-age robot in their own backyard. Okay, to be correct it's a "mecha" and not a robot, but I think the Steampunk/Dieselpunk aesthetic still holds.
Two enterprising Japanese engineers have taken their robomania to its logical conclusion and built…Continue
When Tomoyoshi Murayama returned to Japan in 1922 after a year's study in Germany, the avant-garde movement in Taisho period Tokyo gained one of its most flamboyant and energetic artists.
Murayama had been in Germany to ostensibly study philosophy, but he quickly gave that up and threw himself into the Dada and Futurism movements, meeting…Continue
At the same time as the Dada movement was finding followers in Japan, the Futurists were also gaining ground. The leading exponent, the artist Tai Kambara, published the first Japanese Futurist poem, “The Dynamism of the Automobile”, in Shincho magazine in 1917. One translated excerpt reads:
Yesterday was the 89th anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake, the seismic event that destroyed Tokyo at the end of the Taisho Period. At the beginning of the Emperor Taisho's reign, however, 12 years before, the nation was rocked by shock waves of a different kind - the radical cultural ideas and avant-garde art movements that were sweeping through Europe. Just…Continue
One hundred years ago this month (almost), the reign of the Emperor Taisho began in Japan and ushered in a new wave of Modernism. The gates to the West had been cautiously opened during the Meiji era, leading to rapid industrialization; now, with a new, Liberal-minded Emperor, there came a flood of new ideas, fashions, artists, and writers. It lasted for 14 years until the Showa era and the military government - and I hope to write more about it in the weeks to…Continue
Dieselpunk doesn't really exist as a genre in Japan. There are some anime that suit the genre aesthetics (I'll write about them some other time) but the historical period itself is a fascinating and singular one in the nation's history.
The Taisho period lasted from 1912 to 1926 and was a time of liberalism and…Continue
The Mechanical Hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back in a dark corner of the firehouse. The dim light of one in the morning, the moonlight from the open sky framed through the great window, touched here and there on the brass and the copper and the steel of the faintly trembling beast. Light flickered on bits of ruby glass and on sensitive capillary hairs in the nylon-brushed nostrils of the creature…Continue