Masayuki Kusumi

The Appeal of Tokyo for Masayuki Kusumi

A good thing about Tokyo is that, since it is a city built by people not originally from there, it has many elements of the various other regions of Japan. Although there are definitely many chain stores, there are also many stores run by individual proprietors. In other regions, since cities are small, the arrival of a chain store can usually drive away individually operated stores. But this is not often the case in Tokyo. I think there is abundant variation here.

One strength of individually operated stores is that they differ from large-scale stores such as chain stores and can specialize in a specific genre. For example, although the number of book stores is dwindling across the country, in Tokyo, the number of used-book stores centered around Jimbocho that specialize in specific genres is increasing even now. In Kichijoji there are stores full of items geared toward subcultures. As the reputation of these stores spreads via word-of-mouth, their selection of goods grows even more, as does the quality of the stores. I feel that Tokyo is unique in this way.

Having said that, the number of old-fashioned public baths, which I am very particular about, as well as other aged and dilapidated stores is rapidly decreasing, even in Tokyo. It would make me happy for the younger generation to lease those kinds of places that still have that kind of charm and revive them with a new and improved sense.

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Masayuki Kusumi

Born in Mitaka, Tokyo in 1958. Graduated from the Faculty of Social Sciences at Hosei University.
At Bigakko (Art School) and Pictograph Workshop, he apprenticed under Genpei Akasegawa. In 1981, he teamed with Haruki Izumi and they debuted together as manga artists as "Masayuki Izumi." He published many works, including "Shoku no Gunshi" (Food Tactician) that was made into a TV show in 2015. The "Solitary Gourmet" manga which he drew together with Jiro Taniguchi has been translated and published in nine countries such as Italy, France and Taiwan. It was also made into a series of TV shows in 2012, and is now airing its 5th season. He composes and performs all the music in the TV shows, supervises the screenplays, and also appears as a reporter at the end. As a musician, he performs on over 60 stages mainly in Tokyo each year, including his first overseas performance in 2015 in Taiwan. In the same year, he composed and performed the song "Toy Blues" for NHK's "Together with Mother" in September. His latest publication "Tokyo Santama Primitive Man" (Asahi Shimbun Publishing) is an autobiographical collection of essays, in which he takes walks around Santama neighborhoods.

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