I was recently going through my magazine pile and found what has to be the weirdest magazine I own. Unsurprisingly, it’s from Japan. If you Googled “weird Japanese magazine” you’re going to be disappointed. It’s not that kind of weird. Japanese magazines act more as catalogues, and see no problem in blurring the line between advertising and editorial content. Pretty much every subject or subculture has its own dedicated title. Lightning, one of the more famous exports, is dedicated to denim, workwear and Americana, and covers anything that could fall under that umbrella. I think it’s partly funded by The Flat Head, which is why they cover so much of their stuff over other brands. In addition to the regular monthly editions, Lighting also publish irregular supplements on specific subjects, rather than just clothes. The one I own is all about steak. It is 150 pages of pictures of steak restaurants in Japan (plus one in America). As a non-Japanese speaker, I have no idea what they’re talking about, but as it’s 80% pictures it’s possible to work out what’s going on.
Each restaurant is categorised according to type. They then feature a photo of the signature steak dish, a step by step guide to the cooking process and a couple of sides. They also give you the measurements of the meat (I know), should you want to make sure that you’re not getting ripped off. The issue is curatated, if that’s the right word, by this guy. I don’t know who he is, but he is pumped to be eating all this steak. According to an advert at the back, he also appears in magazines on burgers, yakiniku and a second steak issue. On the subject of advertising, on the back page there’s an advert for Googies Cafe, a 50s style diner in Nangano, which happens to be owned by The Flat Head. Blurring that line. His t-shirt says ‘Meat Solider’.
The only thing I can draw from the magazine is that the Japanese like steak as much as everyone else. Most of the meat on display is pinker and fattier than your typical western meat, which suggests it may be wagyu, but I can’t be sure. It’s all cooked super rare, almost raw in some cases, and there is a lot of garlic on everything. Most of the places covered are pretty classical in their approach – there’s not as much fusion as you’d expect, but soy sauce and wasabi pop up a couple of times. In conclusion, I do not know why this magazine exists, but I can say everything looks delicious. I can’t offer you any insight into Japanese steak culture, but I can offer you some poorly taken pictures.