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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 ...

Professor aspires toward the perfect prosthetic design

Aug 12, 2012

Professor aspires toward the perfect prosthetic design

by Tomoko Otake

“Functionality and aesthetics can co-exist.” That’s the idea Shunji Yamanaka is trying to express through his design of next-generation prosthetic limbs. Yamanaka, a product designer and professor of media studies at Keio University’s Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC), became interested in prosthetics after seeing South ...

Restoration of temple 'harder than building it'

Aug 5, 2012

Restoration of temple 'harder than building it'

by Tomoko Otake

The year was 1735, and on the plains of Menuma in present-day Saitama Prefecture, master builder Hayashi Masakiyo was going from village to village assembling a group of top-class carpenters, engravers, painters and other artisans. Having gathered his team together, 60-year-old Hayashi may well ...

'Taisho Democracy' pays the ultimate price

Jul 29, 2012

'Taisho Democracy' pays the ultimate price

by Michael Hoffman

Party politics seems as natural to many of us today as government itself, but imagine how it looked to the uninitiated 150 years ago. “A perplexing institution was representative government,” wrote Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835-1901), Japan’s great popularizer of Western civilization. In England in 1862 ...

Jul 22, 2012

Taxi facts and figures to impress your driver

by Mark Schreiber

Next time you’re in the back seat and tired of watching the meter clock up, use these ice-breakers to get the conversation flowing in your driver’s language. • Tokyo’s 51,950 taxis account for 20.7 percent of the national total, with the categories broken down ...