As we swiftly make our way into 2020, we take a quick look at our favorite Tokyo Weekender stories from the last year. From interviews with Japan’s up-and-coming talents to photographers that bring unknown Japan to a worldwide audience, we are proud to revisit the people and stories that inspired us in 2019.

Photo by Allan Abani

10. Nana Komatsu

We sat down on the roof of Ginza Six to chat with the effervescent Nana Komatsu, the cover star of our November 2019 issue. In this interview, the young actress talks filming for Hideyuki Hirayama’s crime drama Closed Ward, growing up in the public eye and, in the spirit of our Shopping Special, Komatsu also shares the secret to her effortless style. Fans of Japanese cinema will particularly appreciate her fresh take on the industry.

Read TW features writer Matthew Hernon’s exclusive interview here.

Photo by Adam Isfendiyar

9. Photographer Adam Isfendiyar

We were struck by Adam Isfendiyar’s dedication to learning the way of the Ainu. While in Hokkaido for his photo series, the photographer not only scoured the prefecture for breathtaking landscapes that would look good on a gallery wall but also looked to capture the beauty of Japan’s indigenous community by immersing himself in their lifestyle. His empowering image of the archer became our March 2019 cover and this interview by TW editorial director Annemarie Luck is still one we like to revisit.

Read the full story here.

Photo by John Einarsen

8. Photographer John Einarsen

We fell in love with John Einarsen’s unique Instagram project, through which he documents Kyoto’s one-of-a-kind architecture. Meant to showcase the city’s long history and the various styles that decorate its neighborhoods, through this interview we also found that the Small Buildings of Kyoto project documents the old capital’s endangered landscape. We definitely felt inspired to hop on the shinkansen and roam the streets after this one.

Read Bunny Bissoux’s interview with Einarsen here.

Photo courtesy of 1sec inc.

7. Liam Nikuro

We still can’t get over how human Liam Nikuro looks on his Instagram profile. However, this interview by Cezary Strusiewicz is not with the influencer himself but rather with the mind behind the phenomenon, Hirokuni “Genie” Miyaji, who is an expert on the creation of “virtual humans”. This interview showcases the latest in Japanese tech and a peek into the future of AI in addition to the study of the growing world of online personalities.

Read the full interview here.

Photo by David Jaskiewicz

6. Sushi Chef Yuki Chidui

This interview with Yuki Chidui was eye-opening. Especially as lovers of Japanese food, we were fascinated by the Chidui’s challenging route to gain the title of sushi chef. Standing tall as a woman in a man’s world, she is growing in popularity as the one paving the way for Japanese young women who want to make it in the cooking world, and she’s doing it by breaking every rule in the book.

Read Zoria Petkoska’s inspiring interview with Chidui here.

Photo by Allan Abani

5. Sway

Making the cover of our September 2019 issue is Sway. Inspired by American culture, particularly Kobe Bryant and Eminem, he set off to become a successful actor and rapper contributing to the growth of the genre in Japan. Our favorite part of this interview is when Sway tells us about his epiphany, that he doesn’t have to come from such a dramatic background to write good music. We also like to think that the beautiful parts of life lie in the mundane.

Read Matthew Hernon’s exclusive interview here.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Crohin

4. Sento Ambassador Stephanie Crohin

Stephanie Crohin has is completely dedicated to sharing and preserving an important but often neglected part of Japanese culture: sento. These public baths are not only places to wash off the day, but are home to beautiful tile walls and even more beautiful landscapes of Mount Fuji. In this interview, Crohin also breaks down the most common misconceptions when it comes to sento, some might even surprise you.

Read TW editorial assistant Lisandra Moor’s interview with Crohin here.

Photos by Lonny Chick

3. Photographer Lonny Chick

In this interview by TW senior editor Lisa Wallin, photographer Lonny Chick breaks down one of Japan’s most known, coveted and controversial cultural aspects. His intention with this series of pictures featuring geisha and maiko was to show unseen aspects while paying utmost respect to these practitioners of the traditional way of life.

Read Lisa Wallin’s article here.

Photo by Stasia Matsumoto

2. Photographer Stasia Matsumoto

Our cover story featured in our May 2019 issue centered around pretty amazing ink. Stasia Matsumoto is a Tokyo-based photographer known for her compelling portraits. In her Instagram series #TattooGirlsJP, she captures beautiful and fierce tattooed women in Japan. Breaking the taboo of a permanently decorated skin, who has long been associated with crime, this photo story tells more than one inspiring story.

Read Lisa Wallin’s interview with Matsumoto here.


It’s no surprise that the most popular interview of 2019 was with none other than singer-songwriter HYDE. We caught up with our March cover star to talk about his latest album and how he finds inspiration after three decades in the music industry. It’s through his work with L’Arc-en-ciel that many found their way into Japanese music and we’re certain that many more will be inspired by HYDE’s legacy.

Read Matthew Hernon’s exclusive interview here.

Want to catch up on past issues? Browse the TW Archives.