Kengo and Tomoko Fukai are among the hundreds of Japanese who visit Jamaica regularly and become immersed in the country’s dancehall culture.
In December, the husband and wife revisited their ties with Jamaica and its music by releasing HARDEST, a magazine with photographs of top artistes, producers and sound system selectors.
The publication is produced by their AnSWeR company, which manufactures a clothing line worn by acts like Sizzla, Bounty Killer, Ninjaman, selector Rory Gilligan of Stone Love fame and producer Stephen McGregor.
“AnSWeR have to show respect to all Jamaican friends and Japanese living in Jamaica. 2015 was our 10th anniversary year so AnSWeR wanted to try to do something new,” said 37-year-old Kengo.
The Fukais, who are from Osaka, were eager to introduce their products to Jamaica. A good marketing strategy would be to get major artistes to endorse their wares.
They took most of the photos in HARDEST which captures reggae/dancehall personalities in AnSWeR wear which includes shirts, T-shirts and merinos.
The pics are accompanied by Japanese text. A double CD with songs from dancehall’s biggest sound systems was also released to mark AnSWeR’s 10th anniversary.
According to Tomoko, 41, they have sound systems to thank for introducing their clothes to the dancehall elite.
“Many of his (Kengo) friends helped him; Rory Stone Love, Yumi Hi-Power, Labrish Crew and Akemi…” she said.
The Fukais began production on HARDEST in early 2016. They plan on returning to Jamaica in 2017 with a new line of AnSWeR wear.