Interview with Masato Tsuruta editor of Wooly magazine by Yuri Ishii
Wooly is a cultural magazine about fashion, art, music, and movie which is published not only in Japan, but is also launched to the world. Its target is the people in their twenties and thirties and creators who make our fashion. It offers one theme for each issue and they create each issue in respecting this theme. Wooly is a magazine which its readers feel like always bringing with them and reading again and again. The biggest speciality of wooly is to be offered not only in Japanese, but also in English and in Chinese, as a trilingual magazine. They launched this culture magazine in Shanghai in June, 2011. It is surely a big, remarkable step to the world and will offer us a new Wooly. We had an interview with Masato Tsuruta, the editor in chief of Wooly.
YI: When did you start this art cultural magazine, Wooly?
MT: The opportunity was that I had an event in design hotel in Tokyo 10 years ago, and that I wanted to keep this event with visual image, and the description in letters. So we made up a report of this event on one big paper, and it became a first Wooly, as a volume ''0''.
YI: Could you tell us the concept of Wooly as an art cultural magazine?
MT: Our concept is to offer Japanese new art, music, fashion and culture to the world and to create a new connection, inspiration and the opportunities of collaboration.
YI: SInce the las issue, Wooly has been launched in Shanghai, in China, after NY, London and Paris. What made you motivated to have this new step to China?
MT: Actually, this year is a kind of anniversary year for us, because it's been 5 years since we created Wooly for the first time and it's also 10th year of the event which led Wooly volume ''0''. So we wanted to have some new action as celebration of these anniversaries and as a new step for Wooly.
YI: How was the reaction in China?
MT: We had an opening event in a club in Shanghai, but the reaction there was awesomely great. I had the impression that Chinese readers had biggest energy and interest, cause we welcomed some TV stations from over Beijing and Hong Kong also. I'm not sure yet if these big energy and interest come originally from Chinese people themselves or because of the big interest in Japanese culture. Anyway, Wooly published there were all sold out only in 3days (of course they were for free though!) and I am really proud of this big success we had.
YI: Since that latest issue, Wooly has changed to trilingual magazine from the bilingual one, with adding Chinese translation to Japanese and English. Why did you decide to add the Chinese translation, which is supposed to be offered only for Chinese people?
MT: When I am in Tokyo, I do feel kind of strong fever of interchange with China, which comes from our close intellectual distance. It's true that English is already enough when it comes to with people from Thailand, Indonesia or Malaysia, but with Chinese people, understanding ifs remarkable economic growth and huge population, I though this translation into Chinese was necessary. And as we'd love to have some events in Shanghai and Beijing as well, like we have often in Tokyo, we finally decided to change to trilingual magazine. There's also another reason. Actually, from the visual point of view, we find the mixture of Japanese, English and Chinese very cool.
YI: I suppose printing these three translations should be very hard to edit, but will you continue this trilingual translation?
MT: As you said, it became more difficult and harder. And we found this trilingual translation made the magazine more difficult to read. So always we are trying to find the best way and solution with our art directer, but yes. We'd love to continue as much as possible.
YI: Once, you changed to digital Wooly instead of Wooly magazine as a paper, but you came back to the normal Wooly as a paper magazine. For that, I guess you appreciate more to be a paper magazine than the digital one. You attach big importance to being a paper magazine?
MT: I do feel the quality of being a paper. Data can be vanished, but ''papyrus'' isn't. But we don't want to be conservative. As you can see right now we have additionally Web page, (digital wooly: wooly-web.com) with respecting the quality and the speciality of analog, we want to offer Wooly in both ways, as the analog and the digital one.
YI: I think in Japan, in comparison with european big cities, especially for example Berlin, we have much less free cultural magazine. Even though, as an international cultural magazine, do you try to make a difference from other good quality magazines?
MT: Yes. We want to keep Wooly as a Tokyo based cultural magazine. And we offer this magazine in Japanese, English and even Chinese, which necessarily let us have wider readers. So to make them enjoy our magazine as much as possible, we try to put ''Japanese service spirit''.
YI: And as a Japanese magazine, do you pay attention to put some kinds of ''Japanese essence'' or ''Japanese flavor'' in your magazine?
MT: Yes. The Japanese culture like Anime, Manga, Akiba culture (geek culture) and Kawaii culture are well known as ''Japanese cool'', but we'd like to offer Japanese culture which is not in this category. Up to now, for example we introduced the Japanese artist from Kyoto, the Japanese artist who is supported by Rockefeller and so on.
YI: I have the impression that you have a lot of event which are launched by Wooly like Hoxton college and gutara night. They are because of that Wooly started with an event or to offer the opportunity to communicate with readers?
MT: These events are often organized, because to keep being interface is important for us. Imagine, if there are the editor in chef or the fashion models in that magazine in front of you saying 'Hello guys, I am..', the thing which is held in the magazine becomes more 'real'. Through these events, we can offer this reality to our readers. Even though we are in the digital age today, this approach, this 'reality' should be even more important I think.
YI: Do you have any project which are about to be launched?
MT: As we had a fashion snap shooting in London and in Harajuku at the same time before last issue, we have a collaboration with NYLON JAPAN for this kind of fashion shooting. And we are now recruiting fashion models and bloggers for Wooly.
YI: Do you have any ambition for the future of Wooly?
MT: We'd love to have wider audience for our magazine to give them our culture. This interview was a very nice occasion for us as we haven't had any occasions to offer our magazine in Berlin which is a big city playing an important role in art scene today. We must be very happy if our magazine will be in the cafes, boutiques,..in Berlin also!
Interview and translation by Yuri Ishii.
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