KANSAI SCENE back issues
When traveling abroad, one of the first things that tourists search out are free locally-published information magazines (so-called "free papers"). These publications often feature valuable local information that is not mentioned in major guidebooks, and is little known, even by local residents. Such information often covers upcoming local events, out-of-the-way restaurants (with discount service coupons sometimes attached), and drinking establishments, etc., where tourists can interact with the local population. "KANSAI Scene" (KS) is the premier free paper fulfilling this role in the Kansai Region.
KS was first published in June of 2000.It is currently published on the first day of each month, enjoying a circulation of some 25,000 copies each month. KS is mainly financed via revenue generated by the restaurant and Japanese language school advertising it carries. It is distributed principally at facilities and shops where non-Japanese people congregate. Such locations include airports, tourist information centers, bookstores that carry foreign language publications, and those hotels that cater for international backpacking clientele. Another secret contributing to KS's success is the use of a compact, easy-to-carry, B5-notebook format that offers some 64 pages of content in each issue.
A calendar with photos contributed by readers is published each January.
As expressed by KS's "Big Variety" catchphrase, KS is distinctive in that it provides non-Japanese people in the Kansai Region with as wide a variety of information as possible. For instance, the information needs of a non-Japanese traveler staying in the region for just one week differ significantly from those of non-Japanese businesspeople living in Japan. However, rather than catering to such divergent needs, KS tries to provide information for the benefit of all.
KS mainly features entertainment-related information that appeals to everyone, such including current-month movie, music event, festival, and club event information. KS covers not only box-office smash-hit movies and major live music events; it also covers locally-based festivals that remain largely unknown, even among local residents.
Mr. Joey Parker, KS Sales Manager
KS is literally the major source of information regarding having fun in the Kansai Region, irrespective of people's nationality or social status. Moreover, in addition to event information, KS has a special feature at the start of each issue that touches upon matters of Japanese culture and society. This feature aims to satisfy readers who want to understand Japan in greater detail, rather than just concentrating on the ephemeral aspects of the country. KS also offers readers seasonal tips regarding Japan, together with travel information such as flowers that may be expected to bloom in certain areas of the country at certain periods of time.Indeed, such attention to detail represents a distinct KS strength.
Since its inception, KS was produced in a small office, it being a largely-independent publication. However, it started to cooperate with Metropolis KK, a Tokyo-based company, at the end of last year. Metropolis KK is the largest publisher of English language magazines in Japan, its stable including "Metropolis" (a free paper) and "J@pan-Inc" (a business magazine), both of which are available in the Tokyo Metropolitan market. This tie-up allows KS to offer more Japan-related information to non-Japanese people, people both within and beyond the Kansai Region.
Joey Parker, who assumed the position of KS Sales Manager, commented thus, "the tie-up will hopefully further expand non-Japanese community networks both within and beyond the Tokyo and Kansai regions, for instance, in areas such as the Tokai Region." Parker also said that KS hopes to start further businesses, both within and outside publishing, in order to meet the needs of non-Japanese in Japan. One example of such businesses is the "M CALL" mobile phone service that was developed by Metropolis KK for non-Japanese people in the Tokyo Metropolitan Region. Mr. Parker, who spent some 5 years in Japan prior to his current position, was previously involved in a trading business. When asked if there was anything he found inconvenient about living in Japan, he gave the following response: "Consulting a doctor is rather tough here. Although I have only been to a doctor once since arriving in Japan, I think an ability to obtain English language medical advice is very important for non-Japanese people." Although KS does not currently focus on the provision of such medical information, the comments of Mr. Parker may indicate a future direction for KS.
The KS Editorial Department is located on the 3rd floor of a printing company close to the Osaka City Air Terminal (OCAT).
On reading KS, it is soon realized that it is not merely a publication designed to attract non-Japanese to Japan. Rather, KS also features personal columns, with each highlighting the lifestyle of non-Japanese residents. Some people also advertise clearance sales of furniture and home appliances prior to leaving Japan, while others post notices regarding international exchanges and card games. There are also personal advertisements offering haircuts and Japanese language exchanges, etc. KS is not merely an information source for non-Japanese living in the Kansai Region. Rather, it offers an opportunity for Japanese people to both make contact with non-Japanese living in Japan, and also learn something about how non-Japanese people view life in Japan. Both non-Japanese and Japanese residents of the Kansai Region are also able to submit photos portraying "Japan" to KS each month.
KS firmly maintains the principle of being a "bridge" between non-Japanese people and the Kansai Region. It continues to introduce the diverse aspects of non-Japanese people living in the Kansai Region. The tie-up with Metropolis KK will further enhance and expand the activities/perspectives of KS, both in the Kansai Region and beyond.