Even Nike recently got the bug and produced the Rift, a trainer-sandal hybrid with a split toe. Only in the music industry have the Japanese seemed low-profile. Not, however, for much longer. Tokyo itself - a cityscape straight of the cultish Bladerunner - is home to The Liquid Rooms, a world- class nightclub which pulls in the likes of Laurent Garnier, Detroit techno divinity Jeff Mills (who recently recorded an album there) and the DJ and producer Dave Angel. But while international DJs flock East, Japanese dance music is finding a foothold in Britain for the first time, and it's not just an exchange of our kooky Shampoo for Japan's even kookier girl band Shonen Knife.
At the Clinic, Made in Japan showcases young Japanese DJ talent spinning Japanese records. As the promoter, Go Nomi, explains, "Japanese kids love music, but all the DJs in clubs over here are European. Japanese DJs have no place to go, so we started the club." Meanwhile a crop of compilation albums provide guidance for the uninitiated. Deviant Records is about to release Pacific State, a comprehensive trawl through the gold mine of Japanese dance music, from the bubbling floating freestyle of Doctor YS & The Cosmic Drunkards to Takkyu Ishino's rockin' funky techno. The collection also features a track by the Boom Boom Satellites, recently labelled the Japanese Chemical Brothers and due to make their first British appearance in November.
Sublime Records are releasing Adolescence, and Major Force has collected the best of Japanese trip hop on The Original Art Form. Hip hop DJ Krush has also just released his third album, MiLight, on UK label MoWax and React has put out International DJ Syndicate Mix 3, capturing a raw and funky minimal techno set from Fumiya Tanaka, the Japanese Jeff Mills.
Mimi Kobayashi runs Umu Productions, which introduced techno DJ and producer Ken Ishii to Britain two years ago. "Everybody is starting to talk about Japanese music now," she says. "The equipment for making electronic music was developed in Japan and is a third of the price. That has opened the field right up for young DJs."Reuse content