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Lucas B.B, Papersky
At work with

Lucas B.B, Papersky

Lucas B.B. moved to Japan in 1993 after graduating from the University of California. Three years later he launched the legendary Tokion magazine, putting Japanese youth culture on the global map. He sold that magazine and launched travel title Papersky in 2002.

While limited by only being available in Japanese language, Papersky has developed an international audience for what Lucas describes as, ‘unique ethno-travel content that seamlessly blends and bends time, culture and nature into a fresh new flavor for the future.’



What are you up to this Monday morning?
Happy Monday! In 2017 designer Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons declared Red as the new Black. Today I would like to declare Wednesday as the new Monday. And with a bit of Cheshire Cat logic Monday hence becomes Saturday.



If all of this has you a bit off kilter then ‘Great!’—welcome to the world of Papersky—where we are always striving to look at the ordinary in a new light and seek to add uniqueness and inspiration to everyone’s world.



We usually start our Tokyo days with a good 20 minutes of hula hooping and then spoon down some yogurt and honey in Japanese red lacquer bowls. We end our days with a bit of matcha ice cream in black lacquer bowls.



We’re pretty early risers, my wife, Kaori is up before 5:00am and I’m up from the futon around 7:00am. We live and work out of an 80 year old Japanese style house that has a few western architectural touches giving it a kinda Charles Eames meets Japan feel.



This week is definitely looking exciting! We’ll be recording our first Papersky ‘Thinking Clouds’ Podcast with one of our favorite Tokyo illustrators, Jerry Ukai. We’ve also got an interview for the next edition of Papersky’s print edition with Kaichi Sugiyama, the inventor of the Heliocompass solar system calender. We’ve teamed him up with our favorite Swedish pizza and beer makers from Omnipollos hatt to create a  regular column that we refer to as ‘Cosmic Pizza’ in which we discuss the Universe via pizza.

We also have the great fortunate to be interviewing Bienvenue Studios in Switzerland about their work ‘Designs from Nature’ for an upcoming Outdoor Gallery exhibition. Outdoor Gallery is a small gallery we’ve created with our friends from clothing brand And Wander. To wrap up the week we’ll be on the receiving end of an interview focusing on mingei (Japanese Folk Craft).



Has Covid changed your work routine?
Of course! Thanks to Covid we now spend more time in the garden and split time between the seaside and the city. Obviously, it’s made it impossible to travel abroad so we’ve been focusing our features on locations within Japan.



Describe your desk and your work space?
My desk is usually the dining table on the second floor—but sometimes I journey to the first floor.

It’s like choosing to be in a tree house or in a greenhouse. Both are good choices. Our garden’s fairly large with a pond a persimmon tree, Sakura tree, Maple tree and jasmine covering the walls and bringing into the house some excellent scents.

We’ve also got lots of mint plants to make tea and Dolce Fresca, an original Basil plant we helped create when working on a magazine we created between 2006-2009 called Planted—‘life with plants on this planted’.




Which magazine do you first remember?

The very first magazines I remember are Cricket as I was a subscriber and Playboy as my grandpa always seemed to leave it laying around the living room.



Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
Some of my all-time favorite magazines would be: Ray Gun (US), Colors (Italy), Taiyo (Japan), The Gourmand (UK), Apartamento (Spain), Far Ride (Korea), and Nieves zines (Swiss).



Describe Papersky in three words.
Past. Present. Future.



Papersky and Tokion seem such different projects; how did one develop into the other?
I founded, published, and edited Tokion from 1996 until I sold it in 2002. Tokion in Japanese means the ‘sound of now’—I was 24 years old when I began Tokion and everything in Japan was fresh, new, and untapped. And magazines were ‘hot!’

We had paper and we threw on a match and Tokion exploded both in Japan and around the world—we ended up publishing US and Chinese editions of Tokion and one could pretty well say the magazine introduced Japanese youth culture to the world.

For me magazine making has always got to be ‘real’ and ‘true’ and ‘honest’ it’s got to speak and show the ‘pure heart’ and mind of the people creating it. As I got older I couldn’t make a youth culture magazine anymore—but I still loved magazines and still loved culture & nature both here in Japan and everywhere in the world.

So my wife and I thought why not make an ethno-travel lifestyle magazine that explores locations in ‘a different way’ using our unique viewpoints to go deep into a cultures lifestyle. In the Spring of 2002, Papersky was born from a concept of being a door to the world and a means to journey within oneself. Since then, Papersky has steadily amassed a sophisticated, creative, well cultured, outdoor oriented and progressive readership drawn to the magazine’s distinctive celebration of life on ‘Spaceship Earth’.



Explain to the non-Japanese reader how Papersky differs from other magazines about travel.
We have many heroes and one of them is Buckminster Fuller, an American architect, systems theorists, author, designer, inventor and futurist. On the cover of Papersky we use an icon of Fuller’s ‘Dymaxion Map’ because it is the only flat map of the entire surface of the Earth which reveals our planet as one island in one ocean, without any visually obvious distortion or the relative shapes and sizes of the land areas, and without splitting any continents. In short, Papersky is an inflight magazine for Spaceship Earth.




It’s National Geographic + Outside Magazine + Apartamento with a Japanese twist: constantly seeking freshness, a light heart, intelligence, inspiration, and unique takes on culture and nature while always taking into account time and space and place: past, present, future.

My wife and I always travel to each destination first hand bringing along a ‘special guest’ to add yet another viewpoint on the journey. Recent issues, due to Covid have focused on domestic destinations in Japan. We always create a theme and a mission to explore each destination.



So for instance in our Swiss Landscape Art issue (above) we took along a Japanese painter, Ai Sasaki San, and visited locations that various Swiss Artists had painted. For each location we were able to talk about both the original Swiss artist as well as the locations culture and nature. In addition, we had our guest artists create a ‘new landscape’ painting for each location and once the magazine was published we held a gallery show and sold these pieces while also selling many magazines.

Each issue follows a similar formula as we think hard about themes that we can delve into to create an interesting portrait of a place. In Sweden we were able to capture the essence of the country via their unique custom of Fika, in Brazil via Bosa Nova Music, in Taiwan via Hiking and Cycling, In New Mexico we walked in the footsteps of Georgia O’Keeffe and in Hokkaido, Japan we toured Japan’s final frontier with artists Yoshitomo Nara. Another exciting feature of Papersky is that each issue comes with a free soundtrack that anyone can listen to on our Papersky Japan Stories website simply by visiting the Papersky Magazine section of the website.



Papersky has been published for almost 20 years now; how has it changed over that time? What's next for the magazine?
Yah, almost 20 years! And our company, Knee High Media, 25 years! It’s a miracle! Papersky is always changing from adding soundtracks to adding a series of hike and bike events called Papersky’s Tour de Nippon that offers readers an active way to not just read the magazine but to physically experience the Papersky world.



We’ve just started a new gallery called the Outdoor Gallery, and we continue to add product to our Papersky Store featuring ‘travel tools’ that are light, compact, simply designed and inspiring. And our newest addition is our upcoming Papersky ‘thinking Clouds’ podcast due to start in early July.

Oh, and for our English speaking fans we’ve totally updated the Papersky Japan Stories online website to feature all of our content in English!!!!


What will be your highlight of the coming week?
Besides having the honor to both work and live with my wonderful wife the highlight of this week will likely be a bicycle event/ride that we are taking part in.




The ride will take place in the mountains of Nagano and Niigata. I mostly ride on road but this course will take us in some deep forest and up and down some steep hills. Besides participating in the ride we’ll also set up a Papersky Store booth to show off our new BikeTrip T-shirt, Zen Hiker T-shirt and our Merino Wool pocket Multi-T.




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