Koenji's Awa Odori festival celebrates 60 years

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For the past few weeks, visitors and residents in Koenji have been haunted by a song — a plaintive, pentatonic melody that seems to circle endlessly, never quite resolving. You can hear it playing over speakers on the station platform just before the train doors close. It’s there again as ...

In search of Japan's essential summer festivals

Jun 23, 2016

In search of Japan's essential summer festivals

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With July just around the corner, Japan is gearing up for another sultry summer. Since the sizzling-hot days only last until early September, people make the most of the season by getting outside — that includes going to film festivals, art and fashion events ...

Drawing on the past of Osamu Tezuka

| Jun 18, 2016

Drawing on the past of Osamu Tezuka

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In 1977, American author and translator Frederik L. Schodt and three friends formed a manga-translation group in Tokyo, with the then-quixotic dream of introducing Japanese comics to a global readership. Schodt had arrived in Japan in 1965, courtesy of a father in the United ...

Viz's 30 years pack a punch in the U.S.

| May 14, 2016

Viz's 30 years pack a punch in the U.S.

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This summer, Viz Media, LLC, North America’s first-ever distributor of Japanese popular culture, turns 30. Founded in 1986 by the intrepid Seiji Horibuchi, who has since moved on to other projects, the company is now housed in the so-called Twitter building in downtown San ...

In pictures: The pageantry of horseback archery

Apr 18, 2016

In pictures: The pageantry of horseback archery

Yabusame — traditional archer on horseback — started in the Kamakura Period (1185–1333) as a way to appease the gods for prosperity and hone the Zen-like focus of samurai warriors. The eventual arrival of firearms eventually to the decline of archery as a military ...

Anime biz sings the praises of shows

| Apr 16, 2016

Anime biz sings the praises of shows

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The first time I attended AnimeJapan, the industry’s annual spring showcase in Odaiba, Tokyo, it was called the Tokyo International Anime Fair. Members of the public couldn’t enter during the first two days, amateur cosplay (costume play) was prohibited, and while there were some ...

From Cool Britannia to True Britannia

| Mar 19, 2016

From Cool Britannia to True Britannia

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In Japan, Western culture usually means American products: hot dogs, hamburgers, Starbucks and Krispy Kreme donuts, and recent boutique outlets like Blue Bottle Coffee and the Dominique Ansel bakery — not to mention the nearly 50,000 United States military personnel still stationed across the ...

CG gains a 'real' foothold in anime

| Feb 20, 2016

CG gains a 'real' foothold in anime

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Japanese audiences have long responded tepidly to the use of extensive computer graphics (CG) in anime. Even as CG has become the global standard for animation studios, anime fans prefer their homegrown artists to stick to labor-intensive 2-D illustration techniques and cel animation — ...

Glass expert digs into secrets of historic Venetian process

Feb 5, 2016

Glass expert digs into secrets of historic Venetian process

A modern-day glassblower believes he has unraveled the mysteries of Renaissance-era Venetian glass-making, a trade whose secrets were so closely guarded that anyone who divulged them faced the prospect of death. Today’s glassblowers work with methane-fired furnaces, electric-powered kilns, good lighting and proper ventilation. ...

Ultraman: 50 years battling monsters

Jan 1, 2016

Ultraman: 50 years battling monsters

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Young boys and girls jumped up in excitement shouting, “Ultraman!” when three characters from the iconic series appeared on stage during an event in Kuala Lumpur in November. The Japanese superhero, who premiered in 1966 in the live-action special effects (tokusatsu) television series bearing ...