If you decide to venture down Omotesando in Tokyo some time in early October (I reckon around the 5th or 6th) you’re likely to see a small procession of men and women in bright jumpsuits pushing trollies stacked with magazines and carrying various bits of oak furniture. They’ll probably be putting it all gently into the back of a little Hino or Mitsubishi van and gingerly covering all items with plenty of bubble wrap and blankets so that glossy covers don’t scratch and chairs don’t receive any dents or dings. A few floors up our colleagues will be sliding the doors and windows shut and someone will be responsible for turning off the lights in a somewhat ceremonial fashion. After more than five years sitting atop Omotesando Hills it’s time to move on as our activities in Japan have expanded significantly – across editorial, publishing and retail. What started as a virtually one-woman show will soon become a seven-person operation, split between monocle and our sister company Winkreative, the branding and design agency. Instead of sitting among the branches of the zelkova trees on Omotesando we’ll be moving down to street level and following the model established in Toronto and Hong Kong with a Monocle Shop at the front and office space for all our activities in the back. Much to the relief of team Tokyo, this will include a proper conference room, fashion cupboard and dedicated radio studio.
Set in the heart of Tomigaya (just around the corner from nhk’s headquarters, down the street from Shibuya Booksellers and a stone’s throw from the fine coffee and cocktails at Fuglen), our new bureau will not only offer the complete Monocle range of products but will also see more respected commentators and correspondents popping into our studio to contribute to Monocle 24’s rolling line-up of programmes.
Alongside our editorial team, a new advertising-sales chap will be joining us from Fukuoka and Mr Atsushi Okahashi will be relocating from London to oversee the business affairs of Winkreative. Fresh faces aside, you’re also likely to see more of monocle across Japan and Asia in the coming months. At press time (2 September) we concluded a deal with Nikkei Inc. that marks our first strategic partnership since our launch in 2007. It was a six-month courtship that involved multiple clandestine meetings in dark corners of the Okura’s Orchid Bar, dinners at various lesser-known restaurants across Tokyo, much time in the air shuttling between Haneda and Heathrow and many glasses of pinot grigio and Suntory’s better brands of whisky.
We are now happy to be embarking on a deal that sees us selling a small stake to Nikkei, helping to pave the way to greater co-operation in terms of advertising, distribution and editorial tie-ups. If you’re perhaps only familiar with the Nikkei name in relation to the Tokyo stock index, it’s important to note that it is the owner of the world’s biggest-circulating financial daily (with average daily sales of some 2.7 million copies) and over 40 magazines. It also invests in TV and radio ventures and employs over 1,300 journalists in 54 bureaux in Japan and 36 outposts around the world.
In short, it is the ideal partner for monocle. Nikkei’s ceo Tsuneo Kita summed up the deal this way. “We are delighted to announce our partnership with monocle today. Under Tyler Brûlé’s leadership, monocle has grown rapidly to boast a core readership of thought-leaders around the world and through this wide-reaching partnership, the Nikkei Group will be able to further boost its global reach.” Couldn’t have said it better myself really.
As this issue makes its way down to the presses in Dorset and then ships out across the world, we hope we’ll have the opportunity to meet up with readers around Asia and North America as we embark on a book-signing tour for our new Monocle Guide to Good Business. While we will have already hit Berlin, Paris, Antwerp, KL and Singapore by the time you read this, there will still be a chance to meet up in Brisbane, Sydney, Auckland, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Taipei, Toronto, New York, Washington and Miami over the coming months. As usual, there’ll be a mixed monocle crew travelling for these signings and in certain cities we’ll also be setting up our microphones and mixing desk for special radio shows. You can keep up with the tour by checking in with our website or dropping a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, a big arigato gozaimasu to everyone involved in making this new partnership with Nikkei happen. Thanks to Ken Koyanagi for the first round of drinks. Daisuke Arakawa for his persistence and deal-making skills. Melanie Brock for her diplomacy and brilliant cultural-decoding service. Hideto Norikoshi for his excellent taste in wine and legals. Daniel and team at our London law firm. Sabine and Pauline for their tireless work on the financials – and more. Gwen Robinson for spotting the opportunity. Emily Smith for wrangling and managing the communications. Fiona, Kenji, Jun and Nanako for running the sharpest little bureau in Asia. Kristoffer and Helen for all the planning and logistics. Gillian for her film commissioning and editing. Yoshi and Kaoru for their model-making and hosting abilities. Andrew and Anders for keeping things ticking over – handsomely. Rich and Poppy for mock-up magic. All senior editors for sticking to the NDA.
And, last but not least, mom and Mats for all the cooking, baking and counselling. As ever, questions and comments can be sent to me at email@example.com.
For more from our editor in chief, read his column in the ‘FTWeekend’.