Japan's New Groove

Photograph for TIME by Andreas Seibert / Lookatonline

SSSSSSNAKE: Automotive designer Takanori Aoki took inspiration from his country's reptilian mythology to create an offbeat coupé with the sinuous lines of a serpent

Ninjas don't wear sweatshirts. Yoshiyuki Ogata, a Tokyo designer whose street fashion is stocked in upscale L.A. and London boutiques, was living in Seattle in the 1990s when he discovered a peculiar phenomenon. His friends overseas, Americans as well as other nationalities, were proud of their roots, while his Japanese mates tended to denigrate their own culture and idolize anything foreign. Ogata couldn't understand the impulse. Yes, he had traveled the world and had majored in international business. But Ogata had a black belt in karate. He loved the exquisite craftsmanship of Japan's artisans. So when he returned to...

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