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Street dance sweeps young Japan

Sep 23, 2012

Street dance sweeps young Japan

by Eriko Arita

The cool, wild and powerful movements of rhythm-heavy hip-hop dance are gripping the body and soul of ever more Japanese children and young people. For several years there have been commercial lessons offered and hip-hop competitions held around the country. Since April, though, this ...

Hip-hop zooms into schools

Sep 23, 2012

Hip-hop zooms into schools

by Tomoko Otake

The CD player is switched on and a mellow male voice singing a pop tune fills the hot and humid school gymnasium, seeming to soften its ambience like a breath of fresh air. On stage, a woman in an oversize T-shirt and baggy pants ...

'Cheating' robot poses tech and ethical issues

| Sep 16, 2012

'Cheating' robot poses tech and ethical issues

by Rob Gilhooly

Like a child eagerly trying to win some trading cards during a playground huddle, I scrunch up my fingers behind my back before unleashing my hand in time-honored fashion with the Japanese phrase: “Saisho wa gu, janken … pon!” Me: paper. Opponent: scissors. Result: ...

Sex samaritan keeps walking the walk

| Sep 16, 2012

Sex samaritan keeps walking the walk

by Tomohiro Osaki

Self-styled “sex helper” Shingo Sakatsume has lost count of the abuses he claims the media and the authorities have heaped on him. At first, after graduating in sociology from the University of Tokyo and freelancing as a “listening-and-talking” person with the often-lonely elderly, he’d ...

Lover of detail strives to keep a kimono-dyeing art alive

| Sep 16, 2012

Lover of detail strives to keep a kimono-dyeing art alive

by Tomoko Otake

As an expert dyer of Edo-komon-style kimonos whose repeated, especially intricate patterns are often so tiny as to be almost microscopic, Emika Iwashita is a mistress of subtlety and the tiniest detail. The independent Tokyo-based artist’s specialty is stencil-dyeing, which requires just the right ...

Tohoku fisheries fight back from 3/11

Sep 9, 2012

Tohoku fisheries fight back from 3/11

by Hillel Wright

“The facts about much of Japan’s social, political, and financial life are hidden so well that the truth is nearly impossible to know,” writes Alex Kerr in his acclaimed 2001 study “Dogs and Demons: Tales from the Dark Side of Japan.” He continues, “A ...

Sea changes set in motion

Sep 9, 2012

Sea changes set in motion

by Hillel Wright

Between 20 and 30 percent of Japan’s marine fisheries production was lost in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake that struck the Tohoku region of northeastern Honshu on March 11, 2011, followed by huge tsunamis and explosions and reactor meltdowns at the ...

Flashback to the sandy beaches of Izu

Aug 26, 2012

Flashback to the sandy beaches of Izu

by Skye Hohmann

Once, after the wet, green month of June — which every year waters the newly planted rice, turns the landscape lush, and makes us long for sunlight and clear skies — my boyfriend and I drove all night just to swim in the ocean. ...

Material girls: Japan's preteen model boom

Aug 26, 2012

Material girls: Japan's preteen model boom

by Ayako Mie

AKB48 has reshaped the landscape of youth culture in modern Japan. The pop-idol group’s rapid rise to stardom across a wide array of formats has provided the country’s children with a fairly straightforward path to commercial success: fame is ultimately achieved by attracting a ...