Life up in the treetops

| Jul 15, 2012

Life up in the treetops

by Eriko Arita

Imagine strolling through a forest and coming across a hut supported by four trees 8 meters off the ground. With its triangular roof, stained-glass door panels and timber decking, at first sight it’s like something in a fairyland. This is, however, the latest lofty ...

'Alien' actress at home with a robot

| May 20, 2012

'Alien' actress at home with a robot

by Nobuko Tanaka

Even today in the performing arts in Japan, gaijin (lit. “aliens”), as foreigners are called, are still often presented like something to be gawped at in a Victorian freak show. It was a bit like that when a new play called “Sayonara (Goodbye)” premiered ...

The sky's the limit

| May 20, 2012

The sky's the limit

by Brett Bull

After the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11 last year, the performance of the spectacularly tall Tokyo Sky Tree going up in the capital’s downtown Sumida Ward became a subject of heightened interest to experts, residents and the general public alike. Tobu Tower ...

Ryunosuke Akutagawa in focus

| Mar 18, 2012

Ryunosuke Akutagawa in focus

by Eriko Arita

Though he died by his own hand at the age of 35, novelist Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s accomplishments were such that, even after so brief a writing career, Japan’s most prestigious literary accolade — the Akutagawa Prize — now bears his name. As well as being ...

Lucky Dragon's lethal catch

| Mar 18, 2012

Lucky Dragon's lethal catch

by Mark Schreiber

At just over 25 meters from stem to stern, and 140 tons, the wooden long-line tuna-fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru (No. 5 Lucky Dragon) is hardly imposing. Yet despite its diminutive size for an ocean-going vessel, in March 1954 the Lucky Dragon’s encounter with ...

Plan to N-shrine reactors for millennia

| Mar 18, 2012

Plan to N-shrine reactors for millennia

by Edan Corkill

What do nuclear power plants and Shinto shrines have in common? For a start, they tend to be hidden from view — the former in remote coastal locations, the latter behind stands of trees or atop hills or mountains. They are also sources of ...

Surfing the silent waves

| Feb 19, 2012

Surfing the silent waves

by Tomoko Otake

As a young documentary filmmaker, Ayako Imamura had been wrestling with feelings of emptiness. Deaf since birth, the 32-year-old Nagoya native has shot about 30 short films documenting the lives of deaf people in Japan since 2000. But at one point in her career, ...

Graffiti brightens Tohoku housing units

| Jan 15, 2012

Graffiti brightens Tohoku housing units

by Eriko Arita

Almost all the temporary public housing units in the disaster-hit Tohoku region of northeast Japan look the same — like little, soulless boxes, in fact. But soon after graffiti artist Hamilton Yokota went to stay and work at an evacuees’ community in Ishinomaki, Miyagi ...

Danger! Nuclear waste! Keep out — forever!

| Jan 15, 2012

Danger! Nuclear waste! Keep out — forever!

by Edan Corkill

The earliest known cave paintings date from about 30,000 years ago, and the earliest bone tools found so far predate those paintings by another 40,000 years. Go back 100,000 years, and Homo sapiens — us lot — are only just emerging, though the fossil ...