• Granta10

    Granta: Issue 127, Japan

Publication

Publication: Granta's new Japanese-themed issue is a stunning collection of words and pictures

Posted by Madeleine Morley,

It’s common knowledge that Granta produce beautiful books, so it’s hardly surprising that their latest selection of new writing, themed around the idea of Japan, comes so prettily packaged. With exquisite illustration peppered throughout, this book is a wonderful exploration of the idea of Japan, a country so recognisable to us, and yet which can seem so mysterious and distant. 

For the cover, a scrap of aluminium foil has been carefully bent and manipulated into the shape of a mountain, part of a photo series which can be found at the book’s centre. Photographer Yuji Hamada’s shiny ranges are shot against the clear Tokyo sky, blending the natural with the artificial in a project that explores the clash between what we see and what the media says.

Personified tentacles, fungi and segments of squid meet ordinary domestic backgrounds in Yumiko Utso’s Out of Ark series, which is delightfully surreal and just a little kawaii. What is perhaps most wonderful about the publication, though, is to see great writing set alongside great images, one example being the uncannily cyber-looking photograph of Tokyo in twilight by Shintaro Sato, which accompanies Tao Lin’s magnificently meta Final Fantasy III. A stunning book that continually shifts and realigns your notion of Japan, and which explores the illusory, ambiguous and contradictory nature of the enigmatic country through stunning words and images.

  • Granta12

    Granta Japan: Issue127

  • Granta6

    Granta Japan: ‘Out of Ark’by Yumiko Utsu

  • Granta7

    Granta Japan: ‘Out of Ark’ by Yumiko Utsu

  • Granta8

    Granta Japan: ‘From Site’ by Daisuke Yokota

  • Granta4

    Granta Japan: Primal Mountain by Yuji Hamada

  • Granta9

    Granta Japan: Illustration for ‘The Dogs’ by Yukiko Motoya

  • G1

    Granta Japan: Illustration for ‘Blue Moon’ by Hiromi Kawakami

  • Granta10

    Granta Japan: Issue127

Oo-xtcya

Posted by Madeleine Morley

Madeleine joined It’s Nice That as a freelance editorial assistant in May 2014 having graduated from Cambridge University where she edited the student newspaper. In the autumn of 2014 she will begin her Masters course at The Courtauld Institute of Art where she will specialise in architecture.

Most Recent: Publication View Archive

  1. Lostmagazine-itsnicethat-list

    Modern urban living must be having a strange effect on society if the swelling number of independent travel magazines is anything to go by. The concrete confines of our respective metropoles are inspiring a wanderlust within us, sparking wave after wave of print publications with their sights set on adventure. If we’re being brutally honest there are only a few that bring anything new to the table so it’s exciting to discover a title that offers more than jet-setting anecdotes from the one percent.

  2. Offset-waysandmeans-itsnicethat-list

    Anyone who has ever been to a design conference will be familiar with the tote bag rummage, a just-arrived ritual that all too often ends in underwhelmed flyer reading. So it was with refreshing excitement that we happened upon Ways And Means in the bags at this year’s Offset festival in Dublin. The bespoke magazine – designed by Offset head honcho Bren Byrne – breathed new life into the design conference give-away with a variety of in-depth profiles of the speakers which provided genuinely interesting insight and context ahead of their talks.

  3. Atlasstudio-elephant22-itsnicethat-list

    In his beautifully-written editor’s letter for the new issue of Elephant magazine, Marc Valli laments the lack of soul in the New York art scene. The city remains, he contends, “ the richest art centre in the world,” but it no longer offers the same heady possibilities of the city’s creative apogee in the 1960s and 70s.

  4. Lencroyable-itsnicethat-main

    We’ve seen a lot of themed magazines recently. People having a whack at creating publications based around one topic or idea, a little like risky concept albums. Slightly less honed-in than, say, the magazine for redheads, dogs, or cats, this new glossy bi-annual from Paris is themed around adolescence. Created by designer and artist Clotilde Viannay and art directed by Raphaël Garnier, the magazine is centred around one big name – in this issue it is Juliette Greco – who is interviewed about her life, predominantly that sticky awkward bit around the teenage years, to see how it shaped her future.

  5. Mrc1-itsnicethat-main

    Last week redheads all over the world got really hacked off at the announcement of a bunch of new ethnically-diverse Emojis on the iPhone, angered that the flame-haired 2% of the world is still being underrepresented, nay disrespected. In the same week, MagCulture announced its faultless magazine of the week feature bearing a new publication entitled MC1R: A magazine for redheads.

  6. Karlanders-heavybirthday-itsnicethat-list

    I don’t know how much of it can be attributed to the wonders of Google translate, but the “About” paragraph for Karl Anders’ new issue of Der Zirkel, der macht is a hoot. “The worst party of the city follows naturally an equally weighty magazine,” it states. “Divided into the categories of ‘cake, card, candles,’ we penetrate horrible-beautiful and forgotten photo albums of the nineties.”

  7. List

    When we meet for coffee at 9am on a Wednesday morning Dan Stafford is buzzing. He speaks at speed but with accuracy, gulping down his coffee between momentary pauses and flicking his eyes from side to side like a shifty bird. He makes eye contact and breaks it in an instant, searching in the distance for his next thought. It seems he’s been awake for days; He’s definitely been awake for days – he launched his magazine only a day before.

  8. Nic-natives-int-list

    What happens when you take five very talented artists and makers, and send them all off together to a a stone barn in the Lake District to draw, make music, write poetry, take photographs and generally spend time exploring together? Beautiful things, that’s what, as Nicolas Burrows (who is one third of brilliant collective Nous Vous) soon found out.

  9. Jeroensmeets-thejaunt-int-list

    On the spine of The Jaunt book there’s a Latin phrase printed in white capital letters – “qua patent orbis,” which translates as “as far as the world extends.” It’s a fitting motto for this interesting project, which began life as a blog back in 2013. The idea is simple enough, curator Jeroen Smeets sends an artist (Mike Perry, Jordy van den Nieuwendijk, David Shillinglaw) off to an interesting city (Istanbul, Riga, Porto, Los Angeles) in the hope that the trip will “take the artist outside of their comfort zone and let them experience completely new surroundings.”

  10. Johnny-ryan-angry-youth-7

    In 2008 the fourteenth and final issue of Johnny Ryan’s Angry Youth Comix was published and all of a sudden some of the world’s greatest fart jokes, cock drawings, and narratives set inside vaginas disappeared from publication. The world got a little less crude that day. Realising that people crave this kind of horrible filth, Fantagraphics and Johnny have compiled all 14 stinking, degrading, borderline unpublishable issues into one great big compendium of poop and smut. What more can I say? If you’ve got the brain of a 12-year-old boy, if you love needless swearing, repellant characters, bad puns and diarrhea then Angry Youth Comix may be the last book you’ll ever need to buy.

  11. Emilyoberman-snl-int-hero

    One of the undoubted highlights of this year’s Design Indaba conference in Cape Town was hearing Pentagram partner Emily Oberman detail her long-running work on Saturday Night Live. Emily has worked with the programme for 20 years, creating three separate versions of its identity, various title sequences and even spoof adverts to run in the breaks (like this). Now Emily has teamed up with writer Alison Castle to produce Saturday Night Live: The Book, a 500-page paean to the show which coincides with its 40th anniversary this autumn.

  12. Snask-printing-friends-int-list

    “Oh for Christ’s sake how many more independent food magazines could there possibly be?” someone is probably asking right now as they look at this article – and to be fair to them, they’d have a point. But fret not, we aren’t here to herald the arrival of another culinary periodical geared towards the aesthetically-minded foodie. This is in fact Issue 8 of the litho-lover’s fanbook, Printing Friends and the food theme is just a one-off.

  13. Craigoldham-int-main

    Last week a book arrived in our office via the hands of It’s Nice That director Alex Bec. He told us all it was created by Craig Oldham, who he had just seen give a brilliant talk about the creation of the publication. It’s called In Loving Memory of Work, and it is a spectacularly well-designed, excitingly and refreshingly well-informed book documenting the UK miners’ strike between 1984 and 1985. For something so long, violent and shocking that happened in recent history, I’ve sometimes felt that the miners’ strike hasn’t really been talked about as much as it should have been. But I can see why: it’s hard to get to grips with something that horrible happening to so many people and so nearby.