Best of 2013 #10: PingMag

Dear wonderful PingMag readers!

Incredibly, 2013 is nearly over. It seems like just a moment ago that we re-launched PingMag back in March, and all your fantastic messages since then have kept us going as we get back into the swing of things. Thank you all so much!

It’s been whirlwind of a year, and we have lots of exciting plans for Ping next year too – new projects, new ideas — so look forward to more and more over the next few months.

We’re going to take a break for the New Year now, to catch our breath before we dive in again, so to keep you going over the next couple of weeks here’s a rundown of my favorites from 2013.



Perhaps the biggest news in Japan this year was the announcement that the 2020 Olympics will be held here in Tokyo. We had a look at the incredible, iconic designs from 1964, which helped bring a smile back to Japanese faces after WWII. And also we found some designs from the phantom 1940 Olympics which never went ahead.

Hobonichi Planner

hobonichi-planner04Photo: tada (YUKAI)

In September, Japan’s favorite day-planner, Hobonich Techo, was released in English. We spent lots of fun Wednesday afternoons with the Hobonichi team, and a wonderful couple of days in Beppu, too, and brought you a few behind-the-scenes stories along the way. Big thanks to the Hobonichi team!



Mano is PingMag’s main man at the editing desk, and his regular round-ups of Japanese packaging from the supermarket shelves are always super popular. My favorite is canned foods from back in May. Look out for that “pink” salmon!



Japan is the land of manga. The big guys still top the sales charts — ‘One Piece’ kept its title as the best selling manga in 2013, with 18 million copies sold this year. But there’s a whole lot more to manga than One Piece and Naruto. The guys from MangaNight have written us some fantastic articles each month, finishing with a great interview with Ken Niimura which highlights some of the differences between the US, European and Japanese comic industries.

Tokyo Posters

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japan

It’s often difficult to tell which articles will be the most popular. We love the manners posters on Japan’s subways, but to be honest never expected you would all enjoy it as much as you did!!



Yuko Matono has written us some great articles from Fukuoka, down south in Kyushu — thanks, Yuko! My favorite is the Shoes Like Pottery interview. Fancy baked sneakers, any one?


tenjo sajiki terayama shuji poster[Left] Poster for German performance of Shuji Terayama’s ‘Der Gott der Hunde’ (Inugami, The Dog God) (1969), Kiyoshi Awazu, silkscreen [Right] Poster for ‘The Little Prince’ (Hoshi no ouji-sama) (1968), Aquirax Uno, silkscreen

Ever our trusty workhorse, besides all the mind-twangling translation work, William Andrews has brought you some treasures from the pre-bubble days in late twentieth century Japan. His piece on the Tenjo Sajiki poster show was just a very quick dip into the angura scene, but we’re looking forward

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to much more next year!


roguesgallery_nouminsya07Photo: Ai Nakagawa

Now that EVs are beginning to become an everyday part of life, we think it’s time to take another look at cars and mobility, and remember just how fun they can be! PingCars editor Shogo Jimbo has worked away all year to bring you a slightly different look at the wonderful worked of automobiles. And we’ve got BIG plans for 2014, too — so watch this space!

Tom Interviews

hosokawa-san03Morihiro Hosokawa’s tea bowls. (c) Yoshihiro Saito

As for me, PingMag has given me the opportunity to talk with some fascinating people all year. For the very first article after we re-launched in March, I was lucky enough to get a chance to sit down with ex-prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa, who is now a potter and calligraphy artist. Hosokawa-san’s stories about how he became prime minister were fascinating (and hilarious) but the image of the retired politician heading into the mountains to study pottery in a drafty, bat- and dog-filled old house will stay with me for years to come.

Strange Watermelon

And finally, one from the archives. Who would have thought that one of the most popular articles ever on PingMag would be this one? …God bless the internets, and all who sail in her!

Happy holidays to you all, thank you so much for your support this year, and look forward to much much more in 2014!

  • Nathan

    Thanks for the great year, PingMag! Looking forward to what 2014 has in store!