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Smoke signals: Can Tokyo ever go smoke-free?

by Masami Ito

Japan has long held a reputation of being something of a paradise for smokers. Tobacco is, at least by Western standards, relatively cheap and people can still light up in many of the country’s restaurants and bars. In fact, before the turn of the century smokers could pretty much puff ...

Don't fight trips to the gym: Take it outside

Jan 9, 2015

Don't fight trips to the gym: Take it outside

by Sophie Knight

It’s January. The bars are empty and the gyms are full of people with good intentions. By February or March, of course, that situation will reverse, as new year resolutions begin to flag and it becomes increasingly difficult to justify that extortionate gym membership. ...

'Kawaii' gets a landmark

Dec 25, 2014

'Kawaii' gets a landmark

by Mike Sunda

While Japanese cool hunters might lament the lack of pop cultural exports in recent years — all the more conspicuous when compared to K-Pop’s successful forays westward — kawaii (cute) culture has quietly permeated into global consciousness with all the effortless grace of singer ...

Shonan complex offers a curated lifestyle

Dec 12, 2014

Shonan complex offers a curated lifestyle

by Danielle Demetriou

A discreet black sign, concrete floors, industrial-style ceilings, wooden shelves filled with design toys and gourmet treats. This may sound like the minimal interior of an urban lifestyle store in some hip corner of Tokyo, but the reality is more surprising. It is, in fact, ...

Brightening your holiday mood

| Dec 12, 2014

Brightening your holiday mood

by Jason Jenkins

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — well, that’s what the song says, anyway. For many, December is a flurry of tinsel, wrapping paper and anxiety, while for others it as a time to reflect on the year ahead. Yes, the Christmas ...

Bilingirl has plenty to teach you

Dec 5, 2014

Bilingirl has plenty to teach you

by Masami Ito

Chika Yoshida, aka Bilingirl, wears many hats. She teaches English, sings, dances and makes costumes. She could be dressed up as Malificent with horns sticking out of her head, have her face painted white and talk in a squeaky voice like comedian duo Nippon ...

Designers illuminate us on their winter wonders

Dec 4, 2014

Designers illuminate us on their winter wonders

by Teru Clavel

When you think of Japanese art forms, many cultural pursuits will come to mind. The grace of ikebana, perhaps, or the beauty of ukiyo-e woodblock prints. At this time of year it becomes clear, though, that holiday lighting displays — referred to simply as ...