Nobuo Hara

| Jul 10, 2007

Nobuo Hara

Nobuo Hara, 80, is the leader of Nobuo Hara and His Sharps and Flats, a 17-member big band formed in 1951 that helped to make jazz popular in Japan after World War II. Their sweet rhythms, which took the country by storm, have not ...

Minoru Inaba

| Jun 26, 2007

Minoru Inaba

Minoru Inaba, 63, is the director of the Meijijingu Shiseikan Dojo, a martial arts facility located in Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. He is a master of budo, an ancient Japanese fighting style that taught samurai to be versatile and supposedly invincible. Learning budo requires ...

Horiyoshi III

| Jun 12, 2007

Horiyoshi III

Horiyoshi III is revered by tattoo enthusiasts as possibly the world’s greatest horishi, or full-body tattoo artist. (Horimono are tattoos done purely for fun, while irezumi are tattoos that mark criminals.) Friendly and too cool for words, the 61-year-old loves digging his needle into ...

Haruko Iino

| May 22, 2007

Haruko Iino

Haruko “Big Momma” Iino, an independent public relations consultant, became one of Japan’s first female advertising account executives back in the 1980s. Even before working at advertising agencies Chuo Senko and Dentsu Eye, the now 63-year-old Iino had understood the potential of the luxury ...

Naoki Sakai

| May 8, 2007

Naoki Sakai

Naoki Sakai, 60, is a designer whose revolutionary ideas have made him an industry powerhouse. After designing Nissan’s Be-1, the vehicle that in the late 1980s started the round-and-cute car boom, Sakai came up with concepts for three more popular cars from Nissan — ...

Yuji Sato

| Apr 24, 2007

Yuji Sato

Marine, a 5-and-a-half year-old black Labrador retriever, just might be one of the world’s most unexpected heroines in the fight against cancer. Marine’s nose is capable of detecting 18 different types of cancer on a person’s breath and has already been mechanically replicated as ...

Takashi Yamada

| Apr 10, 2007

Takashi Yamada

Takashi Yamada, 59, is an official at Shikoku’s Kagawa Products Association, a public entity with offices in Takamatsu City’s beautiful Ritsurin Park. Yamada promotes the prefecture’s arts and products, including its famed bonsai, udon, olives and the artwork of more than 100 local artisans. ...

Masahiro Murata

| Mar 27, 2007

Masahiro Murata

Masahiro Murata, 35, is a hair and makeup artist whose salon, MaQueen, just behind the Kabuki-za theater in Ginza, is a sanctuary for both his loyal clients and staff. Murata loves people, and especially beauty in them, which he believes manifests itself in the ...

Mamoru Oshii

| Mar 13, 2007

Mamoru Oshii

Animation and live-film writer and director Mamoru Oshii, 56, is best known for making the animated 1995 movie “Ghost in the Shell,” which was a strong influence on the Hollywood movie “The Matrix” (1999). The work Oshii is most satisfied with is the 2004 ...

Yoko Sagae

| Feb 27, 2007

Yoko Sagae

Yoko Sagae, 57, is the vice principal of the Toyomi Public Kindergarten in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward. Ms. Sagae has taken care of more than 1,700 children — and their parents — during her 31 years in early childhood education, and she is not about ...