Teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony

Jun 22, 2005

Teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony

When Kazufumi Miyazawa, vocalist of the Japanese rock band The Boom wrote the song titled “Shima-uta” about 15 years ago, no one imagined the path it would take, starting as a huge domestic hit and then gaining a life of its own abroad. Shima-uta ...

Shima-uta singer takes listeners on sonic journey

Jun 22, 2005

Shima-uta singer takes listeners on sonic journey

Yasukatsu Oshima, a native of the Yaeyama Islands, southwest of Okinawa’s main island, is a stubborn man. Since emerging as a solo artist in the early 1990s, he has recorded and performed only songs known as shima-uta (island folk songs). However, Oshima is not ...

Shotengai

Jun 12, 2005

Shotengai

When sumo elder Futagoyama, the father of former grand champions Takanohana and Wakanohana, died of cancer two weeks ago, many sumo fans were deeply saddened at the loss of the charismatic, 55-year-old former ozeki. Many people prominent in varied walks of life expressed their ...

Seeds of employment

May 22, 2005

Seeds of employment

There, in the heart of the concrete jungle that is Tokyo’s Otemachi financial district, in the second-floor basement abyss of a 27-story building, is nothing less than . . . a farm. But, as it’s neither a food company’s test bed for cutting-edge agritechnology, ...

Retirees lead the way back to nature

May 22, 2005

Retirees lead the way back to nature

Yoshishige Nagayama started farming when he retired nine years ago at age 60. He had no experience in agriculture except for the time he spent helping out on a vegetable patch in Nagano Prefecture, where he spent several years as an evacuee during World ...

Heading for the stars on high

May 1, 2005

Heading for the stars on high

KONA, Hawaii — The big white 4WD driven by Yasuhiro Nishida left the hotel in Kohala Coast at 2:50 p.m. with 13 people on board. It was another windy afternoon on the west coast of the island of Hawaii — “the Big Island,” as ...

Can machines can care

| Mar 20, 2005

Can machines can care

Whether selling Scarab beetles for kids or punctuating the path up Mount Fuji, vending machines are one of Japan’s most idiosyncratic features. Although some question the “waste” of energy involved in the ubiquitous mechanized retail outlets — about 2.6 million alone are hawking beverages ...

Issey Ogata: Comic chameleon

Mar 6, 2005

Issey Ogata: Comic chameleon

Issey Ogata is nothing if not versatile. Alone on an empty stage, he has audiences in fits as he performs his seriously funny one-man shows portraying characters as diverse as a classic sarariman (office worker) and a folk-song diva — one after another. In ...

| Feb 20, 2005

Operation Evacuation

Not only are they a biodiversity disaster, but the millions of sugi (cedars) planted as official policy in the postwar years to yield cheap timber — but which are now more expensive to harvest than the cost of imports — have become a serious ...

Counselor counters the blues through chanson and jazz

Jan 30, 2005

Counselor counters the blues through chanson and jazz

Junko Umihara turned up a bit late for our interview at a cafe in Tokyo’s Hiroo district one afternoon recently. She had been with a patient at her Umihara Mental Clinic in nearby Minato Ward, she said, “and counseling took a bit longer than ...