Tsurutokame is a fashion magazine for senior citizens in Japan

by Grace Wang in March 2018

I was waiting for a friend at a bar in Tokyo last week, a tiny place covered wall to ceiling with shelves of reading material. Among volumes of Japanese literature and manga, I came across an unsmiling, closeup portrait of an elderly Japanese woman donning hair curlers on the front of a magazine (above). The odd cover choice, and a custom sticker slapped on off-kilter, tickled my independent magazine radar.

Tsurutokame (鶴と亀), translating to ‘Crane and Turtle’, is a Japanese magazine covering fashion and lifestyle for senior citizens. As the bartender explained to me, the two animals are considered mythical creatures in Japanese culture, and are believed to have very long lifespans. Japan is also known for its ageing population, with the highest life expectancy in the world according to the WHO. And that’s definitely visible around the country, especially in rural areas, where elderly cashiers, restaurant managers, or station attendants work well into their 70s.

They often exude a warm, joyous liveliness too, which Tsurutokame enshrines beautifully. On one page, a grandma grins like a rapper, showing off her gold tooth; on another, a wink is thrown at the reader from a staunch cruiser of a mobility scooter. On top of this humour, the thing that got me the most is the popping photography, which, though extremely intimate at times — nude bathing and hospital visits — never feels exploitative or done without respect. Take a look for yourself in our flick through below.



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