Japanese snack obsession

by Steve Watson in September 2023
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Food & drink Travel

Independent magazine makers tend to be fairly obsessive people, but even by those standards, new launch 08-12 magazine stands out as an unusually intense publication. The magazine is presented as a ‘research dossier’, and we’re told at the start that each ‘archive’ (not ‘issue’) will be dedicated to a different subject.

This first archive is all about ‘dagashi’, or cheap Japanese sweets and snacks, and creative director and editor Kara Zwaanstra provides a huge amount of information about each one, including tasting notes, the history of the companies that make them, and her own personal memories of eating them. I found myself flicking happily through the pages, carried along by her enthusiasm for her subject and the strange and lovely details she includes along the way.

I also found myself getting slightly sidetracked by the imagery in the magazine, most of which seems to have been created on a flatbed scanner and has a slight blurriness to it. The effect is increased for the blurry cover image and the contents pages, which show the sweets in blurry negative, in contrast to the extensive detail that’s provided in the texts throughout. The magazine’s strapline is ‘collection obscura’, and there seems to be a tension set up between clarity and opacity. I don’t feel like I’ve exactly understood the idea behind it, but I enjoyed this energetic first issue and I’m looking forward to seeing which subject Kara is going to dive into next.


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