Artist Yoshitaka Amano

| Feb 10, 2011

Artist Yoshitaka Amano

Artist Yoshitaka Amano, 58, is a world-famous creator of manga, anime and game characters. At age 15, he launched his professional career with the popular “Speed Racer” anime and has since worked on many hit shows, such as “Time Bokan,” “Gatchaman” (“G-Force”), “Tekkaman” and ...

Champion <em>itasha</em> drivers Rei and Cloud

| Jan 27, 2011

Champion itasha drivers Rei and Cloud

Rei Densetsu and his sister Cloud are champion itasha (decorated car) drivers. At the 2010 Fuji Speedway itasha event, where Japan’s best-decorated cars are judged on their designs, Cloud won the Impact Prize and Rei received the Special Award for their outrageously decked-out vehicles. ...

Cooking teacher Kaori Baba

| Jan 13, 2011

Cooking teacher Kaori Baba

Kaori Baba, 56, is a cooking teacher in Tokyo. An advocate of eating local foods, Baba bases her lifework around protecting Japan’s near-extinct traditional vegetables and popularizing their consumption. Whether she’s cooking long, green pumpkins that only grow in one village in Gifu Prefecture ...

Part-time salesman/cleaner Seiji Date

| Dec 23, 2010

Part-time salesman/cleaner Seiji Date

Seiji Date, 60, is a part-time clothing salesman and a part-time cleaner. He has 38 years of experience in the fashion business, but six months ago, the economic slump forced his employer to retire him at the company’s mandatory retirement age of 60. Having ...

| Dec 9, 2010

Hibiya Matsumotoro owner Tetsuro Kosaka

Tetsuro Kosaka, 78, is the owner of Hibiya Matsumotoro, one of Japan’s most historical restaurants. A three-story building resembling a cozy country estate, Matsumotoro was designed to sit in the center of Japan’s first Western-style park, Hibiya Koen, and it has been in business ...

Nov 28, 2010

Summiteering with Nobel peace laureates

Hiroshima is a beautiful city with cute trams cruising along its tree-lined streets. From Nov. 12-14, this City of Peace — as it was proclaimed by the Diet (Japan’s parliament) in 1949 — hosted the 11th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. Held during ...

| Nov 25, 2010

Showa Women's University President Mariko Bando

Mariko Bando, 64, is the president of Showa Women’s University in Tokyo. She is also a best-selling author with more than 30 books under her belt, including “The Dignity of a Woman,” which has sold over 3 million copies. An advocate of women’s rights, ...

| Nov 11, 2010

Aiai founder Chieko Awata

Chieko Awata, 68, is the founder of Aiai, a nonprofit organization that provides art education to autistic children and adults. For the past 46 years she has been teaching drawing, painting and social skills to children as young as 2 years old. Some of ...

Ryokan owner Kazushi Sato

| Oct 28, 2010

Ryokan owner Kazushi Sato

Kazushi Sato, 63, is the owner of Tsurunoyu Onsen, a hot-spring ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) in Akita Prefecture. Nestled within beech woods deep in the mountains, Tsurunoyu is surrounded by natural beauty — bears wander freely, feasting on mountain grapes, and edible wild mushrooms ...

Fashion retailer Choichiro Motoyama

| Oct 14, 2010

Fashion retailer Choichiro Motoyama

Choichiro Motoyama, 89, is a pioneering Japanese retailer who has brought some of the most famous European fashion brands to the Far East. In the 1960s, he was the first to import Gucci, Hermes, Loewe, Ferragamo, and then later Etro, to Japan. Through constant ...