Moss art: growing a masterpiece

| Nov 18, 2012

Moss art: growing a masterpiece

by Edan Corkill

What’s green, fuzzy and has a starring role in Japan’s national anthem? And no, it’s not Kermit the Frog, who wasn’t around when the lyrics for “Kimigayo” are thought to have been penned, sometime in the 9th century. The answer is moss — the ...

The muddy issue of cesium in a lake

| Nov 18, 2012

The muddy issue of cesium in a lake

by Tomoko Otake

Lake Kasumigaura in Ibaraki Prefecture is facing an environmental threat that has essentially turned it into a time bomb ticking away 60 km northeast of Tokyo. Experts warn that Japan’s second largest lake with a surface area of 220 sq. km is quietly but ...

'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 ...

Farmers try to fence out nasty nature

| Jul 15, 2012

Farmers try to fence out nasty nature

by Winifred Bird

I once asked a professor of agriculture in the southwestern United States what sort of fence would keep a goat from escaping. “Well,” he replied, taking a long and pensive draw on his cigarette. “If it can keep out air and keep out water, ...