Japan’s gone from military superpower to economic superpower to cultural superpower:

A cultural superpower needs a healthy economic base but not necessarily a healthy economy. Perversely, recession may have boosted Japan�s national cool, discrediting Japan�s rigid social hierarchy and empowering young entrepreneurs. It may also have loosened the grip a big-business career track had over so much of Japan�s workforce, who now face fewer social stigmas for experimenting with art, music, or any number of similar, risky endeavors. �There�s a new creativeness here because there�s less money,� said Tokyo-based architect Mark Dytham, a London transplant. �Good art is appearing, young strong art. Young fashion is appearing.� Graphic designer Michael Frank, who shares a flourishing downtown studio with Dytham, agreed: �A lot of interesting smaller magazines appeared in the last four or five years. A lot of small little businesses, people running their own shops, people running their own music labels, people running their own clubs. Bigger companies are starting to pick up on those little things and support them.�

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