Fumihiro Tomonaga

Managing Editor - Esquire Japan
01 December 2007
Mr. Fumihiro Tomonaga is the managing editor at "creative class" magazine, Esquire Japan.
Esquire Japan has provided Japanese men in the "creative class" with first-rate culture and fashion coverage for the last twenty years. We sat down with Managing Editor Fumihiro Tomonaga to talk about the tastes, hopes, and future of this particular demographic niche in Japan.Click on slide show above to see pictures of the actual magazine.

What is the average age of Esquire Japan readers?

Mid-30s. A range from late 20s to early 40s.

How many of Esquire Japan's readers live in Tokyo?

More than half, probably.

Most of these magazines targeting "cultured" men in their 30s seem to be very Tokyo-centric.

Yes, but I think Esquire Japan is especially so.

How much content does Esquire Japan use from the American version?

At the beginning, around half was translated straight from the American edition, but now we basically use 100% original content.

Like most American magazines, Esquire in the United States features essays and articles as well as fashion information. This is somewhat uncommon for the Japanese market. Did the format and content focus have to be changed to fit with Japanese readers?

At first, Esquire Japan was a straight culture magazine. Until recently, the American magazine always featured a lot of literature and journalism, like F. Scott Fitzgerald. The original idea for the Japanese version was "good pictures and good things to read." But after the Bubble burst (in the early 1990s), magazines mainly intended for "reading" ceased being popular. So Esquire Japan became focused on introducing an entire lifestyle. We originally did not do special issues on "Travel" or "Food," where you feature information specific places. So we started doing those and started attracting a core group of readers. Now we have value both as a source of information and as a source of reading material.

Why is specific product or store information so important for Japanese readers?

I think it has to do with the style of education in Japan. There isn't really a system where children are allowed to think about things themselves. Unlike the West, everyone learns the same things as everyone else. It's a pretty passive system. Even when Japanese become adults, they don't have enough time to think about things themselves. Instead of trying to figure out what they like, they receive information from somewhere else and go along absorbing information until finally coming to a conclusion about what they like. There are of course also people who reach 30, 40, or 50 and never "grow out" of being passive. But in Japan we just don't have an education system where people learn to think about things on their own.

The theme this month is "Travel and Literature." When you start talking about literature in such depth, this strikes me that you must have a pretty literate, educated audience.

We were originally a "culture magazine," and we try to keep the focus on culture. We are never going to be a "catalog" magazine, nor a straight fashion magazine. We take culture very seriously.
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