日本の魅力、再発見をテーマにした雑誌 Discover Japan の編集長、高橋俊宏さんは、「内向き」といわれる現代の若者から学ぶことは多いと話す。国内外の人々が一緒になって日本の魅力を再発見できるようなコミュニケーションの場を提供したいと考えている。
Leafing through a magazine with a beverage of choice is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but a steady decrease in bookstores and print publications is making this simple pastime rather hard to come by. Still, Japan is known for a sturdy publishing industry and a widespread love of reading. It’s part of the reason why a monthly magazine like Discover Japan, from Ei-Publishing Co., continues to thrive.
Producer and editor Toshihiro Takahashi says: “Now that the internet has become so ubiquitous, many people are turning to paper publications that allow them to dig deeper into subjects of interest. That’s where a magazine comes in handy. A good magazine doesn’t necessarily provide more information, it offers a chance to use the imagination and bask in the joy of seeing or learning something new.”
Takahashi joined Ei-Publishing at the age of 26. As it was then, the company is dedicated to producing high-quality magazines for hobbyists, covering every subject from motorcycles to mountain climbing to food to beauty/fitness.
“I’m an outdoors man from way back,” says Takahashi. “I loved skiing, climbing, camping … and I really fell in love with the idea of working on magazines that dealt exclusively with all that I loved.”
Now in his mid-40s, Takahashi says being the editor of Discover Japan presents a different sort of challenge.
“I think my generation was the last to aggressively seek out foreign experiences and study abroad. Now, young people are apt to think Japan is the best place to be, and they have a real love for their country of birth. I have a lot to learn from that mindset. At the same time I want Discover Japan to be a forum where foreign and Japanese readers can connect over the wonders and quirks of Japan, and discover what makes it so unique.”
Never one to waste time, Takahashi has launched Discover Japan’s English-language version on the web. Among the many projects on his to-do list is a book based on tweets from Japanese and foreign readers about traveling in and discovering Japan.
“I get the feeling many Japanese aren’t that well-versed in the culture of their own country,” says Takahashi. “If we could all ‘discover Japan’ more, and have the skills to communicate all this goodness or turn it into businesses, it would enrich this nation so much more. This conviction keeps me going. That and the wish to inspire Japanese and foreign readers to enjoy this country more. There’s so much to appreciate here and be grateful for.”
Takahashi says he wants Discover Japan to be a publication in a league of its own.
“Even casual foreign travelers are aware that this country is NOT (just) about Mount Fuji and geishas,” he laughs. “Rather, the allure of Japan is in the everyday experiences and little details that make up life.”
For example, says Takahashi, there’s a wealth of knowledge and self-awareness to be had in a single cup of tea; there’s an entire universe swirling inside a bag of Koshihikari rice.
“As for dashi, volumes have been written about it but there’s still more to discover,” says Takahashi. “I was talking to a Japanese chef and he told me a little story about a conversation he had with a French chef. The Frenchman boasted that a fond de veau (brown sauce) took hours and hours of patient simmering over a stove, while the Japanese replied that a simple dashi stock took just 10 minutes. But the ingredients of that dashi, like konbu and dried bonito flakes, took years to cultivate. So the dashi takes many years AND 10 minutes!”
Takahashi is a collector and connoisseur of such stories, and he also likes to experience everything firsthand.
“Whether it’s dashi, rice, tea or zazen in a mountain temple, it’s crucial to taste and feel everything physically. Life in Japan is so layered, and not all of it can be described in words. My job, though, is to convey the texture of the Japan experience through words and photographs. Our magazine has great appeal to the reader who wants to go in-depth and really discover what this country is about.” (Kaori Shoji)
Words I tell myself
1973年岡山県生まれ。1999年枻出版社入社。建築やインテリアなど幅広いジャンルのムックや書籍の出版を手がけ、2009年に Discover Japan を創刊、編集長を務める。高岡クラフトコンペティション審査員、やまなし大使ほか、経産省・農水省関連のアドバイザーも務める。
Discover Japan 英語版：