The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 14 December 2015

Image: Alamy

Work it out

At Monocle we consider Tokyo, Kyoto and Fukuoka to be among the most attractive places to live in the world. A new survey of non-Japanese workers reveals that living in the country as an employee at a Japanese company is a different story. According to the Japan Association for the Promotion of Internationalisation poll, 82.7 per cent of respondents felt that living in Japan had appeal but about half said the idea of working at a company there did not. The reasons noted include long hours at the office, unequal treatment of non-Japanese employees, cultural difficulties and slow promotion rates. The survey results, which were delivered on 11 December to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, suggest that Japanese firms have their work cut out as they look to expand their presence and recruit talent in growing markets overseas.

Image: Image Catalog

Bricking it

It’s not always been seen as the most modern thing around town but let’s hear it for the humble brick that is becoming, well, a little less humble. The shortlist for the biannual Wienerberger Brick Award has just been announced, with some 50 building-block stars making it past the international panel of judges from a long list of some 600 entries (you’ll have to control your excitement until May 2016 to find out which brick hit-house takes the biscuit). From Burundi to Brazil and Belgium (and also places not beginning with “B”) the cast of hopefuls is glorious and they use bricks in hues from earthy red to crisp white. There are bricks for simple houses, for culture centres and for libraries but what unites them all is that they evoke something deep and emotional; they are sometimes warm, sometimes austere but always have the edge and pull that no plate-glass tower could ever elicit. The brick: it’s back.

Image: Matthew Novak

Everything is recommended

Upstate New York continues to get more intriguing as creative residents from the city are establishing new ventures up north. Lit lovers have been anticipating one in particular: One Grand, a new bookshop in Narrowsburg, which was founded by Out editor in chief Aaron Hicklin. It stocks a shortlist of books chosen by celebrated artists and creative types, from chef Alice Waters to actress Tilda Swinton, as their personal desert-island selections – the books they can’t live without. The project started this summer with a pop-up shop in Manhattan; now the collections will rotate every few weeks in its upstate home, with Hicklin manning the fort and serving tea on weekends.

Image: Alamy

Culinary convoy

New restaurants in Hong Kong come and go so quickly they might as well be food trucks. But until now only ice-cream vans in this food-loving city have been licensed to sell food on four wheels. That’s about to change. Entrepreneurial chefs are being given the chance to take part in a government-led programme aimed at emulating the mobile gourmet scene found everywhere from San Francisco to Sydney. Mindful of dwindling tourist numbers, the government wants to pep up Hong Kong’s bland outdoor dining scene, which lacks Singapore’s lively open-air hawker centres or Taipei’s late-night street markets. Applicants for one of the 12 trucks must submit business plans and van designs by early next year. Shortlisted chefs will then face a food-tasting cook-off judged by government officials, tourism representatives and food critics.

From Monocle 24

Image: Chris Close

Interview: Simon Garfield

Author and polymath Simon Garfield has collected 60 years of diary manuscripts from one person – Jean Lucey Pratt – and has published them in the book A Notable Woman. He explains why the personal thoughts of this bookseller from London paint a picture of the 20th century that we should all know more about.

From Monocle Films

Alaska – life at sea

Monocle climbs aboard Alaska’s 50-year-old state-run ferry system. It’s more than just a mode of transport for its users: it acts as a vital link to the rest of the world and an icon of the state’s beautiful solitude.

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