Mask maker keeping Shimane tradition alive

Aug 27, 2011

Mask maker keeping Shimane tradition alive

Hanging on the walls of Jake Davies’ home are around 20 artifacts that seem at odds with the idyllic village in Sakurae, Shimane Prefecture where his rustic abode is set. Some depict outlandish beings with horns and frightening fangs. Even those that seem more ...

Romanian woman thrives as geisha

Jul 23, 2011

Romanian woman thrives as geisha

Isabella Onou is struggling to keep her hands from shaking. As she peers into the mirror and attempts to dab away a smudge of stray lipstick, she lets out a quiet, almost diffident giggle. “I worry that customers won’t warm to me, that they ...

Inside Japan's 'Suicide Forest'

Jun 26, 2011

Inside Japan's 'Suicide Forest'

I am walking through Aokigahara Jukai forest, the light rapidly fading on a mid-winter afternoon, when I am stopped dead in my tracks by a blood-curdling scream. The natural reaction would be to run, but the forest floor is a maze of roots and ...

Suicides upping casualties from Tohoku catastrophe

Jun 23, 2011

Suicides upping casualties from Tohoku catastrophe

On June 11, a dairy farmer in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, chalked a note on the wall of his cattle shed. “If only there wasn’t a nuclear power plant,” the message read, in reference to the damaged Fukushima No. 1 plant just 45 km away, ...

Fishermen take matters into own hands

Jun 10, 2011

Fishermen take matters into own hands

The fine drizzle falling on the picturesque fishing village of Kyubun, Miyagi Prefecture, is dampening Toshikazu Takahashi’s normally sunny disposition. The unfavorable weather has scuppered plans by Takahashi and 35 fellow fishermen to start cleaning up the battered quay just 50 meters from where ...

Japan's renegade hero gives Saipan new hope

| May 15, 2011

Japan's renegade hero gives Saipan new hope

Graciano Lisua doesn’t look like someone who would get too worked up about ghosts. Yet superstition, says the broad-shouldered, barrel-chested Chomorron as he leans on his machete, is of great import for the inhabitants of the Mariana Islands. Traditionally, it seems, the aboriginal Chomorro ...

In the zone

Apr 10, 2011

In the zone

MINAMISOMA, Fukushima Prefecture — There’s a repellent stench coming from the cowshed. It’s a mixture of manure, hay and something more difficult to pinpoint — something dank, musty, unworldly. At the back, penned behind large wooden troughs, two cows stumble back and forth, searching ...

Apr 3, 2011

Crews driven by sense of mission

There is nothing remarkable about the Nissan minibus that pulls up in the tsunami-wrecked port of Onahama, Fukushima Prefecture. Nothing, that is, except its 21 passengers, who have come to be seen as heroes around the world. Three groups of seven men alight from ...

Tsunami-hit towns face dire future

Apr 1, 2011

Tsunami-hit towns face dire future

OSHIKA, Miyagi Pref. — Survivors of the March 11 magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami are expressing reservations about returning to their homes, raising the prospect of already depopulated communities turning into ghost towns. “I have no desire to live here anymore,” said Masashi Abe, ...

Survivors strive to start picking up the pieces

Mar 27, 2011

Survivors strive to start picking up the pieces

A teenage boy is walking along the muddy road holding a rusty shovel, on which is perched what appears to be a notebook. School tie slightly askew, the fringe of his thick shock of hair partly covering his eyes, he tells me it is, ...