Kinokuniya: A Hidden Gem of Japanese Culture!

There is a center for Japanese culture in Midtown that some people might be unaware of and that place is called Books Kinokuniya, but most people just call it Kinokuniya or “Kino”. Kinokuniya is a multi-level store in Midtown, which sits across from Bryant Park. This store is not the only one in the United States though. Kinokuniya has stores in New York, Los Angeles Little Tokyo, San Francisco, Japantown and Seattle as well. These are only a few of the branches, which also go into countries like Indonesia and Thailand. Kinokuniya was founded by Moichi Tanabe in January 1927. The store was located in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo and it was a simple two story wooden building with an art gallery on the second floor. Kinokuniya started selling English literature in 1949 and the official headquarters was established in Shinjuku in 1964. According to Kinokuniya, bookstores should be places where culture and art are promoted. The main store in Shinjuku has nine floors above ground and two floors that are underground. Kinokuniya claims to have two theaters in their main store, which acts as a testament to their belief on bookstores being a home to culture and the arts. The first U.S store was opened in San Francisco in1969, which had to goal of providing some aspects of Japanese culture to the local community. The first store in New York was in Rockefeller Center, which opened in 1981 and was replaced by the current store by Bryant Park in 2007.

Kinokuniya by Bryant Park is known by many “Otaku” (anime, manga, video game and idol enthusiasts) and fans of Japanese culture. The company’s philosophy states “The Company is like a stage. Books and information products are like actors and actresses. Staff are like producers and directors, and customers are like the audience. Once the customers come into contact with Kinokuniya, their theatrical experience begins. To receive a standing ovation from the customers, the Company must provide a well-designed stage. The staff must provide clear directions to the actors and actresses and they must ensure all props are in place. Actors and actresses are well cared for so that they can perform their very best before the audience.” This policy can be found on the website for Kinokuniya and experiences from shoppers reflect the positive feeling pursued by the policy. “It’s a cute store and the staff was helpful, which is always a good sign of an excellent business,” says Georgia Gelly, a new customer of the store. This claim is also supported by a few reviewers on Yelp.com, such as Mary Q. from Boston, Massachusetts. “It goes without saying that customer service is top notch at this place. I once asked a store clerk to unlock the glass case for me to pick out a blind box toy and he made sure to hold only the base so that I was the only person that touched the box that I wanted,” says Mary Q., a Yelp.com reviewer of the Kinokuniya by Bryant Park. Behind the counters are boards, which cover what is expected from each employee and the core values of the store. These core values are professionalism, the spirit of kaizen (improvement/change for the better), service excellence, pleasant ambience, welfare for employees, integrity, trust, harmony, finest range of titles and competitive pricing. The prices can vary with books going from $20 to sets with DVDs and comics costing up to $170. Kinokuniya is not surrounded by Japanese stores with imported items from Japan, so the main source of competition would be from online shopping sites for Japanese products.

The benefit of Kinokuniya is they get the same items you are likely to order online and you don’t pay for shipping and handling. The sales tax is the only addition, but it’s also a simpler process. The second floor of the building is home to a variety of “Otaku” goods, which are Japanese comics (manga) in Japanese or translated into English, anime DVDs, figures and more. This floor is also home to two special places, which are the WAZA SHOP and Café Zaiya. The WAZA SHOP is a small shop across from the café, which sells goods like shot glasses and wallets. There are other types of artistic creations for sale, but these are professionally made and they will be costly. Café Zaiya is a small café that serves hot and cold beverages, as well as sandwiches and bentos (similar to boxed lunches). The food is kept in the center of the café and it contained in a refrigerated unit. The café is near the window, so some people can get a nice view of Bryant Park while they eat or they can sit near the back to relax on the comfy sofa-like seats. Kinokuniya is a flourishing business and most of its customers in a visit will appear to be from the Japanese community, but there are plenty of non-Japanese people that have discovered Kinokuniya as well. Kinokuniya is located at 1073 Ave of the Americas (Between 40th and 41st ST) and they can be called at (212) 869-1700 or emailed at nyinfo.kinokuniya.com. 

I ❤ Dance Photo Gallery

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Founder MJ Choi (right) and 4 year dancer Ying Dong (left) are the top mentors of classes.

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MJ and Ying lead a class in learning the dance to TEEN TOP’s ‘Rocking’. 

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Mentors MJ and Ying are always involved in leading the class and displaying moves.

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Special I ❤ Dance shirts are available to those who participated in events, such as showcases. 

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The class “gets down” during their practice of TEEN TOP’s ‘Rocking’.Image

“I moved to the city from Georgia to pursue theater” says DJ Mciver (left) with a fellow showcase dancer.

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Ying and DJ strut their stuff in the studio. 

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Ying and MJ get close in TEEN TOP’s ‘Rocking’ dance practice.

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I ❤ Dance boasts an “over 90%” non-Korean attendance to their classes.

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“I started this in 2006 to help people who wanted to dance” says MJ on how the classes began.

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People of all ages and races come to learn various dance covers. 

Photo Project Picture (Special)

The growing popularity of KPOP culture and unifying characteristic of dance as an art form are the main influence of I Love Dance. I Love Dance won third place in a KPOP video contest in 2012.

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Stereos in the corners of the room allow for the music to reach everyone in the class.

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I ❤ Dance preparing to dance to CL’s “Baddest Female” at the 2013 Korean Food Festival.

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I get to perform with some of the better dancers” says MJ on professional performances.

Photo of My Day!

Photo by Lore Croghan 

     Shakespearean culture now has a new place to call home. I love interesting buildings with sleek designs and shiny glass windows, so this picture caught my eye. I also love Shakespearean culture, so the image made me interested. Lore Corghan and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (paper associated) did not get back to me, but I have comments I can make that match to the questions I was going to ask.

If you look in the window on the side of the building, you can see a sign that says “Theater for a New Audience” and it is close enough to the top left area where the important focus point of a photo should be located. The window and banner reach down to the other important point, so it pretty much hits both points. I was going to ask if the photo was edited in any way, The photo does not appear to have any heavy editing done to it, if any was done at all. I can see the reflection of another building in the wall of the main building and there is not indication anything was changed or staged.  Nothing major is happening in the photo and the story is not a very thrilling story. Construction is still going on, so there are not likely to be many shots that are fitting to the the theme. I feel that Lore Croghan just adjusted him/herself a bit and took each photo at a time. The building is stationary and the focus of the story, so there is no need to make the main photo about a group of people around the building. 

The photo might seem boring to most people, but it makes sense and works for me. The main focus of the story is the building, so making the main photo the building is logical. Lore Croghan got a good angle on the photo, since it shows off the unique shape and shows a bit of the area around it. He/she managed to get two people in the shot, so that shows there are some people interested in the area. Overall, I like the photo and it gets the point of the article across well. 

Social Game Plan: How I Use Social Media?

 I find myself watching CBS News as I wake up, then BBC World News as I get ready to go out. I watch BBC World News again as I come home, then CBS News in the evening. I do not watch news stations like Fox News or MSNBC because I prefer to avoid stations with obvious or extreme biases when reporting the news. When I’m on the go, I occasionally read updates from the various Twitter accounts the BBC has, such as World News or Breaking News. I don’t use Facebook because I focus on personalizing it for other purposes. I can receive news on Facebook though, but it is either through a sort of digital ‘word-of-mouth’ or from links people are sharing to other sites. An example would be when I heard of the Boston Bombing Incident from people saying they were worried about their friends in Boston and saying something terrible had happened. I don’t use Tumblr at all, but that’s only because I don’t want too many social media accounts to manage.

      I don’t really listen to radio too often, but I do visit BBC News website when I am at a computer and the NY Times. I tend to avoid tabloid websites because I’m not interested in celebrity news I find useless or news I find clearly twisted for the reader’s entertainment. I do read news on my cellphone, which is how I access the BBC’s various Twitter accounts to read news on the go. I would say 45% of my news comes from the BBC, 40% from CBS News and 15% from the NY Times. 55% of my news consumption is through television, 40% of it comes from social media and 5% from news websites. I try to split things up as much as I can.

BBC and CBS: Social Media Showdown!

Social media is very important to new organizations and how they use it has a major effect on their rank. Various ways these organizations can use social media is uploading links quickly on sites like Twitter or Facebook, responding to posts on the sites they upload news to or allowing for free discussions on news in some section of the site. Most news organizations tend to ignore that last option, but it does not appear to have bad effects on the organization overall. The two news organizations I will be looking at will be BBC News and CBS News.

BBC News has sharing options to many social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, in all of the articles it puts up online. Other sites included in the sharing options include Digg, StumbleUpon or Reddit. The BBC has multiple Twitter accounts for various areas of coverage, such as BBC News (UK) and BBC Breaking News (BBCBreaking). The BBC has something called “RoundTable”, which uses a Google Hangout-type video chat to have a panel of guests talk on a topic. Regular people sometimes get involved, but they usually have some standing in the area. The BBC also has multiple accounts on Facebook for various areas as well. All accounts are verified, but I find no responses by the organizations or page admins at all. I believe the BBC has a policy of not interfering with the discussions of the commentators. It is unfortunate, but it does show a level of professionalism I admire. That’s not to say being involved in discussions with commentators would be unprofessional, but it does show professionalism to me. You go to the site for serious news and not to chat with the reporters like friends. 

CBS News seems to have similar options with sharing. I found the Facebook and Twitter share options available on their articles. There are also options for LinkedIn and Google+. I found that to be a bit disappointing, but it’s not a total loss. CBS News also has Twitter accounts for CBS News and CBS Evening News. I noticed that both Twitter accounts have re-tweeted people, usually associated with them.  That is something that shows some level of interaction with others, but it’s not that big of a stretch with those people being related to CBS News.

Overall, both sites use social media well. CBS News seems to try and be a little more personal. I suppose this is due to the BBC having a name as a world news coverage organization. There is BBC UK, but I don’t recall any reference to social media posts during broadcasts. CBS News sometimes reads off comments made about news stories on their Facebook page or tweets to their accounts. This makes things a bit more personal, which may matter to some people. It makes no difference to me because I mainly care about the quality of news and not the level of interaction the news organization has with me. This can vary from situation to situation, but that tends to be my stance on news overall.