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Moichi Kuwahara

Moichi Kuwahara in Kyoto.

Interviewing Mr. Moichi Kuwahara in Kyoto.
For me, who was baptized by "New Music Network" and "Snakeman Show" when I was in junior high school, and was continuously inspired by "Dictionary".
I was curious about the fact that why he came to Kyoto, what he was thinking now, and if I could ask him about his younger days, so I called him with no plan at all and said, "I want to meet you”. I met him in front of the Otorii Gate at Heian Shrine and borrowed a lounge table at a café that Mr. Moichi favored.

Text : Yoshihiro Taniguchi (chignitta) Photography : Suishyu Ikeda
Support : Lignum, Masahiro Matsuda

I realized that all I wanted to do was make Tawaraya.

Why am I in Kyoto?

I think I know the answer.Tawaraya is said to be the oldest ryokan in Kyoto with a 300 year history.There was a spirit of beauty that captivated me.

It was a sleepless night.
I was annoyed by the glare of the cell phone ticking away the tiger's time. Immediately, a documentary video appeared with Mokkun (Masahiro Motoki) as theguide. leading the way, and realized that this was it! I realized that this was it!

ーYou’re talking about the BS Premium special, right?
That's right.

When I was in my thirties, I stayed at Tawaraya for one night.I had a strong memory of that time, and the documentary brought it back.For example, the moment I walked in the door of the Tawaraya Ryokan, I was struck by the sight of a National Treasure-class folding screen.

Therefore, even with 300 years of history at its core, there is an absolute beauty lurking here and there that transcends all cultures and has been carefully selected.There is absolute beauty lurking here and there. Moreover, the behavior of the people who serve these beauties is like that of a nun in a monastery.For example, take a look at the men tending to the garden. Normally, they would sweep with a broom, but they are wiping the dust off the flowers with their bare hands.
This is nothing short of love for the things that hold life in them. In other words, the gesture of sweeping is as beautiful as a painting.

Oh, this is it, this is it. That's what lured me to Kyoto.I was in my thirties when I first learned about Kyoto, and I realized it at the time of the tiger. That's what I said.Moreover, even Buddha would not have realized that my zodiac sign was the year of the tiger.

The image of Kyoto in 1988, when we started our first club activities in Japan, was my perception of Kyoto is still that of a school trip experience,
So, when I invited the Jazz Defectors from London, Naturally, I was ignorant, and I knew that the foreigners had a spiritual yearning for Kyoto. so I had no choice but to ask the driver of a black cab in front of the station to guide me around the temples of Kyoto.
I was exhausted by the unfamiliar English. "Driver, is there a more modest shrine?
And the moment I encountered the "withered garden" that I couldn't remember even if I tried to forget it…
"Life is all about saving your desires! I had a belated awakening.

As I said, in Kyoto, that would be Tawaraya. Aim for the Tawaraya. lol.
Have you ever been to Tawaraya? It costs 100,000 yen a night, but the value you get is more than that. It's a hundred times more valuable than buying a 100,000 yen jacket. There's something that you can't see that connects the power of people and their history. That's what this place is all about.

It all started rolling with Rolling Stone.

What? You want to hear a story about my youth?

If you insist, I'll tell you about my youth.
To put it bluntly, when I was 20 years old, I was involved in the Japanese version of Rolling Stone magazine.
It was a free newspaper that appealed against the war, and John Lennon appeared on the cover as a soldier during the Vietnam War. It was a wake-up call for the new journalism movement that started in San Francisco.
Rock music was not a traditional art form as we know it today, but an expression of anti-government and the energy of a deadly opposition movement, which is why it was called a counter. It was called a counter because it was an expression of anti-government and the energy of life-threatening opposition.
Rock = life. That was the time of my youth, and if I hadn't been involved with the American counter-culture magazine, I don't think I would be where I am today.

Rolling stone gather no moss.

As the saying goes, rolling stones gather no moss. I guess that's my life.

In 1969, at the age of 19, I was scouted and put in charge of a DJ bar in Nishi-Azabu.
Because many of the customers were directors from record companies, and they gave me sample records. I think I listened to most of the Western music released in Japan.
At that time, it seemed to me that all the directors in charge of selling Western music in Japan were promoting it with abandon.
The director in charge of Japanese sales of TREX, for example, would wear the same fashions as TREX, and promote the album as if he were the artist himself (lol).Sony has a director who is Bob Dylan himself.Every record company had its own artist look-alike and they competed with each other. That was how difficult it was to sell Western music in Japan.
The "Circus," a hidden bar near Arisugawa Park, was a gathering of such strong people.
At the age of 19, I was sitting in a small corner of the white basement space designed by architect Shiro Kuramata, listening to everything that happened there.

This pure white box was created by Moichi Kuwahara around 1997. SOUND OF THE ROOM", a work that could not be too wrongly called art.
Also known as "White Cube".
When you open the pure white box, it is empty. What is this? What is this? is the theme of this work, and if you take your time to explore, you will find four mini CDs hidden in the bottom of the box, in gradations from white to black. Inside, there are some international approach, but the aim is something that could be called ambient music.
It is music that does not seek to be depicted on a musical score that runs from left to right, in other words, it is not music. It is music that does not seek to be drawn on a musical score that runs from left to right.
A limited edition of 100 was sold at comme des Garcons in the Aoyama main store in 1997. List price 10,000 yen. Please forgive me if my memory is incorrect.

The first issue of Rolling Stone Japan, and...

I started helping out with Rolling Stone Japan because I was invited by the son of the president of the company where one of the customers who came to the DJ bar I started when I was 19 years old.

He had been expelled from school after a karate fight when he was a boy at Keio University,
While studying at a university in Georgia, he gained confidence through his dangerous connections and asked me, who had contacts in record companies, to help him start Rolling Stone magazine, an American counter-culture magazine.

He said, "Japanese music magazines are full of advertorial articles. Rolling Stone is the only one that writes real music reviews, so let's start a Japanese version of it.” I didn't think I could really get the rights, but at six in the morning, I got a call from New York saying they got the rights. I quit the bar and started this job.
And actually, Jinichi Uekusa was also trying to get the same copyright.but we got the rights, so he ended up starting his own magazine under the name "Wonderland".The logo was similar, too.

The first issue of the Japanese version was published in 1973.This was the year when Tatum O'Neal's "Paper Moon" was screened. Because it was my favorite movie and I thought it would be a good impression, I overcame other people's objections and got it on the cover.

In the early days of the magazine, of course, I had no experience whatsoever, so I had to go out and advertise every day. It was called an American culture magazine, and I went to sell it to magazines like "LEE" (jeans). Despite the company's cool image. The company was located in Ameyoko-area, and the person in charge came out wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses and a strong face. He came out and said, "What? Rolling Stone? I know Mick Jagger," he said to me. I can't even explain the counterculture to myself ^_^.
Even when I went to major clients, I was treated with disdain and told to leave and go home. But I didn't give up because at that time I thought that this was the only way for me to survive. I couldn't stop now that I had started. In the end, I got good grades, so I had a lot of responsibility.

Of course I wanted to be an editor, but I was told that I couldn't read or write English, so I wasn't allowed to be involved at all. Since it was a magazine that I was selling, I would read every article, but I couldn't understand what was being written because translations are not easy to read in Japanese. I had a sense of crisis that I couldn't continue like this.Eventually, the editorial staff had to be replaced several times, and there were labor union-like struggles. The editor-in-chief was always absent, and the company was in disarray.
Under such circumstances, all I could do was to keep the sales going, so I was desperate. At the time, there was an audio boom, so I consulted with an agency in that field. They said it would take some time, but they would do their best to help me, and two years later, I finally got a tie-up. Okay! Just when I thought I could publish the magazine with peace of mind, the publisher was caught in a scandal. The magazine was discontinued. I was really frustrated at that time. It was my first setback.

At the same time I was asked to select the music for the store in support of "EDWIN", which I had met through magazine sales. I asked Katsuya Kobayashi, who I also knew from my magazine days, to help me out.
The idea for a parody of the "Wolfman Jack Show" that I started out with led to the "Snakeman Show".
When I think about it now, if you work hard, someone will give you a hand. It just depends on the moment.

It's been 33 years since you started. Could you tell us about the beginning of Dictionary?

It started out as a DJ's newsletter. I approached Yabe of UFO when he was still a university student and asked him to help me out and we started "Club King" in 1987.

When I came up with Dictionary, I was trying to figure out how to convey the DJ approach to music as club culture in Japan. When we thought about how to communicate that in Japan, we realized that we had to have our own media.
I thought, "I can't do anything without my own media. Of course, the Japanese media only covers what is selling well, but if they don't know what it is, or if it's new, they won't touch it unless it has their approval. That's why when I said, "I'm starting Club Culture," I was very enthusiastic.
I went to report to Mr. Take (Takeo Kikuchi), who I admired at the time, and said, "Mr. Take, I'm going to introduce club culture from Japan. Please support us.
and he said, "Kuwahara, I'm telling you, there is no culture in this country. I was told I was like, “Gah!" But that's why I worked so hard to get Professor Take to say, "Good job.” I was also frustrated with the whole Rolling Stone thing. So, I wanted to get revenge.
But we couldn't make any money from the club culture. For example, if we were to invite artists from overseas, there was no guarantee that they would show up, and the company forbade such conversations. Because of my personality, it was natural not to start a conversation about whether or not we could make money.
Is this really good music? If you say so, then let's do it." "Then I'll go borrow money from the bank," I would conclude. But if it fails, the first person to say it quits first, leaving only debt. And the debt just keeps growing and growing. That's why, even if I wanted to quit, I couldn’t.

ーIt's amazing that you've been able to keep Dictionary going as a free paper, isn't it?

I was wondering what to do, so I even took a questionnaire asking, "Would you be okay with changing from free to paid sales? But that would mean changing the business.

Besides, if you want to sell magazines, you have to go through an agency to get them on the street. The agency system was originally a censorship system from the war era, It's the root of conservatism, and the most profitable ones are the first to go.

At the time of Rolling Stone, we printed 85,000 copies, sold only 20,000, and returned 80% of the books. The office was filled with piles of returned books and we were stuck. I've had such bitter experiences, and I don't have the capacity for marketing, and our company always rob Peter to pay Rob, so we couldn't afford it.

But, thankfully, there was a bubble economy at that time, and people who knew what we had been doing helped us out. We were able to keep going because of their advertising. I didn't think I felt the benefits of the bubble, but I think there were still some.

It's really a tightrope walk.

I think it's normal to make various preparations before starting things. But no matter how carefully I plan things, they don't always go as planned, and when I go off track, I feel deflated and distorted. Getting off track negatively affects my chances of success.
But if I hadn't made the right decision in the first place, I'd have to keep the tension because I'd always have to go with my feeling. This method may be good for people like me. That's just my personal opinion.
You just have to choose.

Again, when I came to Kyoto this time, I didn't have the time to carefully choose a place to live. I did have a chance to look around, but I just assumed that they would do a perfect job of restoring the rooms, and I didn't expect the townhouse to be so cold. Laughter. That's my personality and it will never change. I'm always desperately trying to make things interesting. It's good to prepare carefully, but in the end, I think we all end up at the same place.

freedom dictionary

The cover of issue #197 of "freedom dictionary" is by Jonio (Jun Takahashi), right?

A long time ago, there was an extraordinary joint exhibition between Jonio and Masaaki at Fumiya Fujii's studio in Nakameguro. I was blown away by his intense talent at that time. I told Jonio how impressed I was, and told him passionately that I wanted to leave a legacy for the future, since I didn't have much time left in my life. That's the brazenness of a fan, isn't it? And then Jonio said, "The only thing I can do is hand-draw.
It's all hand-drawn. I heard that he had some difficulties along the way, but he worked hard until the end. It's cool!I think Jonio might have regretted being forced to do something like this, But I think it's important to know that what everyone worked so hard on is here.
After that, I was feeling kind of guilty.But then, by chance, we bumped into each other on the approach to Heian Jingu Shrine, and we had a chat.
I felt refreshed and happy. Maybe it's thanks to God.

420 This is a message from me. 
When I die, I want to be free from all pain.
I want to protect that freedom.
That's what 420 is for.

Being in Kyoto, that is.

The new issue (#198) comes out on February 10th. April will be the first "freedom dictionary" to be created entirely from the scratch in Kyoto.
How will things change after coming to Kyoto? I don't know that for sure. If I change.
I think that if I change, the "Freedom dictionary" itself will also change.Because what I'm feeling is different now that I'm living here.The stimulation I get when I walk around every day is many times more than when I'm in Tokyo, so I'm hoping that something will come out of it one after another.
It's so cold in my room! Laughing. Even when I'm sleeping, I'm outside from my face up. I wonder where the wind is coming from. Even though I'm in Kyoto
I'm basically the same as before. I'm just hanging out, and if you have any questions, send me an e-mail. lol

The latest issue of "freedom dictionary" was released on February 10.
Since last year, the name has been changed to "freedom dictionary”. The system has been changed from a free paper to a pay-per-view system at the discretion of supporters. For the price of one copy of each issue plus shipping, two copies of the "freedom dictionary" will be delivered in even-numbered months. Sales
or distribute them freely at the discretion of the supporters. We will not stop publishing. We will not give up publishing. For messages from "Freedom dictionary" and to apply for support, please click here.

http://freepaperdictionary.com

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Moichi Kuwahara

Music selector, producer.
He has been a founding member of the Japanese edition of Rolling Stone since 1973,
In 1977, he produced the “Snakeman Show” and performed with YMO. In the same year, he was in charge of music direction for the “Comme des Garçons” Paris Collection.
In 1982, he opened Japan’s first club “Pitekantropes” in Harajuku. In 1988, he launched the free newspaper “Dictionary”. In 2010, he opened an art school, Dictionary Club, in Jinnan, Shibuya. Since 2015, he has been running “Media Club King (WEB)”, which is a combination of Dictionary, interFM_PIRATERADIO, Space/Dictionary Club, and Kuwahara’s office.At the end of 2020 he moved his base to Kyoto.

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