Catastrophe revisited 12 months on

Mar 11, 2012

Catastrophe revisited 12 months on

The Ground Self-Defense Force troops have gone. So too the old blackboard with sheets of paper taped to it. I still remember a few of the names written in long lists there — the names of those whose muddied bodies could be identified after ...

Island fortresses floated for Tohoku

Mar 6, 2012

Island fortresses floated for Tohoku

The idea of building raised stadium-size “islands” to accommodate tsunami-ravaged communities might sound like a bad joke, but that’s exactly what one architect is urging devastated towns in Tohoku to consider. Keiichiro Sako of Sako Architects has formulated a blueprint incorporating groups of such ...

Fukushima farming hard row to hoe

Feb 15, 2012

Fukushima farming hard row to hoe

When Takahiro Nagakura set off for distant Okayama two years ago, his plan was to complete his degree at the prefecture’s agricultural university and then return to Fukushima and work his family’s peach orchard. His plans, however, went awry last March 11. “My father ...

Subtle aid for women facing abuse in disaster-hit areas

Oct 1, 2011

Subtle aid for women facing abuse in disaster-hit areas

At a glance, it appears to be nothing more than a hand massage. In a corner of a shelter for survivors of the March disasters in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, members of the NPO Miyagi-Jonet are trying to provide some respite for stressed-out female survivors. ...

Fukushima man opts to be guinea pig

Sep 14, 2011

Fukushima man opts to be guinea pig

Nobuyoshi Ito is skeptical of the reported effects of radiation from the leaking Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. So skeptical, in fact, that he decided to put himself on the front line of radiation research. Ito, whose home in the village of Iitate, Fukushima ...

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, ...