Welcome to Jacques Lhuillery's Japan
PARIS, January 19, 2015 - Long-time Agence France-Presse correspondent Jacques Lhuillery, who has died aged 61, was one of the most entertaining, and prolific, contributors to the AFP blogs. After a string of tough postings that took him from Iran to Nigeria via Ivory Coast and Lebanon, he found reason to marvel in everything he saw during his final AFP posting as Tokyo bureau chief.
From the strange choreography of Tokyo metro workers, to the sounds and silences of the Japanese capital or its bewilderingly complex recycling system, from sitting out an earthquake in a pseudo-Bavarian tavern to pondering the likenesses between sumo wrestling and and corrida, here are his collected posts for the blog.
In praise of the ‘Konbini’
Decades on, ageing POWs face their past in Japan
"What could they be feeling? What was going on in their elderly heads? Questions swirled through my mind as I made my way through a heavy October rain to attend a dinner with former US prisoners-of-war who had escaped Japanese camps in World War II and who only now were coming to the Japanese mainland for the first time," writes Jacques Lhuillery, AFP's Tokyo bureau chief who attended an emotional pilgrimage for former POWs visiting Japan. "I forgive but I don’t forget,” one of them tells him.
Pricey pickings in Japan's fruit shops
"When I first arrived in Japan, in April 2012, I brought with me two kilos of cherries that I'd bought in a French supermarket, having stuffed them by the handful into a plastic bag. I didn't know it at the time, but I was carrying treasure," writes AFP's Tokyo bureau chief Jacques Lhuillery as he explores the country's curiously expensive fruit fetish.
Sumorrida: The ‘qi’ of bull fighting and sumo
The mysterious dancers of the Tokyo metro
Three-month hustle yields 10-minute interview
A year after arriving in Tokyo, bureau chief Jacques Lhuillery is still grappling with the intricacies of Japanese customs. During his previous postings in Africa, speaking to presidents was often as simple as picking up the phone. Not so in Japan, where it took him three months of intense schmoozing and maneuvering to score a 10-minute chat with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
A harmonic interview with Ozawa
Tsunami: the art of grieving in Japan
Breaking the law, one sushi roll at a time
Unbearable lightness: walking on air
AFP’s Tokyo bureau chief Jacques Lhuillery stays grounded as he talks to Japanese artist Natsumi Hayashi, whose sometimes-spooky images capture her seeming to float across the most banal of city scenes. Mid-air leaps have long been captured in goofy snapshots the world over, but Hayashi has pushed the concept to new heights and now seems able to transcend gravity itself. (”Today's Levitation” © Natsumi Hayashi, courtesy MEM, Tokyo)