A magazine vacuum-packed to look like a suitcase

by Kitty Drake in June 2019
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Virge arrives in a vacuum pack, in stylish tribute to a suitcase. Technically this is a travel magazine, but it does not venture outside of Japan. Instead, every issue of the thick, book-like publication will turn inward to document just one bit of the country. The only stipulation is that it cannot be a popular bit. Hiroshi Kamada’s editor’s letter is very strict about this: no “highly reviewed restaurants” and absolutely no “trendy hangouts”. Virge is interested in what it would be like — what you would eat, and look at, and do — if you actually lived in a place.

The focus of this issue — Virge’s first — is Kanagawa, a coastal prefecture just south of Tokyo. There is mundane, practical information here, like how to buy a discount bus pass, but the bulk of the magazine is more intimate. Every pon-pon bakery, and tonkatsu restaurant, and dried fish specialist has been personally recommended by someone who lives close by and loves it. One café listing includes minute details of a particular parfait the author’s mother used to order, when she was alive.

A note at the beginning of Virge asks the reader to please not pass on details of the places inside to many people, or splash them online. This is unusual enough to feel genuine, and makes you appreciate the magazine as a singular, almost perishable object — a feeling heightened by the fact that in order to actually read it, you will have had to rip open its vacuum pack.


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