Artist Yoshitaka Amano

| Feb 10, 2011

Artist Yoshitaka Amano

by Judit Kawaguchi

Artist Yoshitaka Amano, 58, is a world-famous creator of manga, anime and game characters. At age 15, he launched his professional career with the popular “Speed Racer” anime and has since worked on many hit shows, such as “Time Bokan,” “Gatchaman” (“G-Force”), “Tekkaman” and ...

Champion <em>itasha</em> drivers Rei and Cloud

| Jan 27, 2011

Champion itasha drivers Rei and Cloud

by Judit Kawaguchi

Rei Densetsu and his sister Cloud are champion itasha (decorated car) drivers. At the 2010 Fuji Speedway itasha event, where Japan’s best-decorated cars are judged on their designs, Cloud won the Impact Prize and Rei received the Special Award for their outrageously decked-out vehicles. ...

Cooking teacher Kaori Baba

| Jan 13, 2011

Cooking teacher Kaori Baba

by Judit Kawaguchi

Kaori Baba, 56, is a cooking teacher in Tokyo. An advocate of eating local foods, Baba bases her lifework around protecting Japan’s near-extinct traditional vegetables and popularizing their consumption. Whether she’s cooking long, green pumpkins that only grow in one village in Gifu Prefecture ...

| Dec 9, 2010

Hibiya Matsumotoro owner Tetsuro Kosaka

by Judit Kawaguchi

Tetsuro Kosaka, 78, is the owner of Hibiya Matsumotoro, one of Japan’s most historical restaurants. A three-story building resembling a cozy country estate, Matsumotoro was designed to sit in the center of Japan’s first Western-style park, Hibiya Koen, and it has been in business ...

| Nov 11, 2010

Aiai founder Chieko Awata

by Judit Kawaguchi

Chieko Awata, 68, is the founder of Aiai, a nonprofit organization that provides art education to autistic children and adults. For the past 46 years she has been teaching drawing, painting and social skills to children as young as 2 years old. Some of ...

Ryokan owner Kazushi Sato

| Oct 28, 2010

Ryokan owner Kazushi Sato

by Judit Kawaguchi

Kazushi Sato, 63, is the owner of Tsurunoyu Onsen, a hot-spring ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) in Akita Prefecture. Nestled within beech woods deep in the mountains, Tsurunoyu is surrounded by natural beauty — bears wander freely, feasting on mountain grapes, and edible wild mushrooms ...

Language teacher Kae Minami

| Sep 23, 2010

Language teacher Kae Minami

by Judit Kawaguchi

Kae Minami, 32, is a bilingual language teacher. For the past seven years, she has had an outstanding record as a top Japanese juku sensei (prep school teacher). Her foreign students start out with virtually no knowledge of Japanese and almost all of them ...

Endocrine surgeon Dr. Koichi Ito

| Sep 9, 2010

Endocrine surgeon Dr. Koichi Ito

by Judit Kawaguchi

Dr. Koichi Ito, 52, is an endocrine surgeon and the best-known and most sought-after Japanese authority on the management of thyroid diseases. He is also the third-generation owner of Ito Hospital, ranked as Japan’s most progressive thyroid-care medical center. Physicians all over Japan refer ...

Chef Pierre Gagnaire

| Aug 12, 2010

Chef Pierre Gagnaire

by Judit Kawaguchi

Pierre Gagnaire is one of the world’s most famous chefs, whose Michelin three-star cuisine has been dazzling diners around the globe for decades. Gagnaire’s masterpieces earned him his first Michelin star in 1976, and since then food-lovers and more stars have been gravitating his ...