Rustic building fest spans two continents

| Sep 19, 2010

Rustic building fest spans two continents

by Winifred Bird

Back in early August, as families across Japan were beginning to plan trips to their hometowns during the upcoming Obon holidays, Hannes Schnelle of Sarenseck, Germany, and 26 fellow Europeans were preparing for a Japanese journey of their own. On their collective packing list: ...

Let's samba!

| Sep 19, 2010

Let's samba!

by Eriko Arita

Despite Tokyo’s record-breaking summer heat, half a million spectators packed downtown Asakusa on Aug. 28 to watch the 30th Asakusa Samba Carnival, with many having arrived in the morning to be sure of getting a good view. At one of the prime spots along ...

Landscapes as never before

| Aug 15, 2010

Landscapes as never before

by Tomoko Otake

Being original is crucial to any artist’s survival. In the field of realistic painting, though, there seems little left for artists to explore in an age when anyone with a camera has long been able to capture virtually any image of their choice. However, ...

Silent but deadly in the RAW ring

| Aug 15, 2010

Silent but deadly in the RAW ring

by Edan Corkill

There is a saying among pro-wrestlers that your true opponent is not the person facing you in the ring, but everyone outside the ring — in other words, the spectators in the stadium and, for some bouts, the millions watching on television. It’s a ...

Can robots be chips off the Bard's block?

| Aug 15, 2010

Can robots be chips off the Bard's block?

by Nobuko Tanaka

Actors traditionally wish each other good luck before they go on stage by saying, “Break a leg!” In the not-too-distant future, they may instead be saying — through a voice simulator — “Blow a fuse!” Indeed, as leading Japanese dramatist Oriza Hirata recently wondered ...

From grubs to kimono

| Jul 18, 2010

From grubs to kimono

by Eriko Arita

Bryan Whitehead redefines what it means to “make something from scratch.” Starting with some silkworm eggs and easily available natural resources, he eventually ends up with rolls of fine and heavy kimono silk. The textiles created by this Vancouver native are not only beautiful, ...

Will Edo Castle's tower rise again?

| Jul 18, 2010

Will Edo Castle's tower rise again?

by Tomoko Otake

What does Tokyo have as a genuine landmark? Well, there’s 52-year-old Tokyo Tower, but that’s not the draw it once was. Or there’s Tokyo Sky Tree, which, at 603 meters high, is set to be the world’s tallest broadcasting tower when it’s completed soon. ...

Bikes starlet of Bangkok rides high

| Jul 18, 2010

Bikes starlet of Bangkok rides high

by Jan-willem Paijens

“Instead of staying home, I like to meet many people — I like my freedom,” says Chiemi Svensson. It’s a feeling this 57-year-old Japanese resident of Bangkok surely has in common with most of her Harley customers. Born in Shibushi, Kagoshima Prefecture, Chiemi moved ...

Homey husky learns to live a dog's life

| Jun 20, 2010

Homey husky learns to live a dog's life

by Eriko Arita

Chaine, a friendly husky living in Tokyo, was 5 years old when her owners, Motoko Shiraishi and Yasushi Ishikawa, took her to see a sled-dog race in Gunma Prefecture in the winter of 2003. Although Chaine’s ancestors were from the harsh wilds of Siberia, ...

Towering ambition

| Jun 20, 2010

Towering ambition

by Tomoko Otake

One sunny Saturday last month, Hitachi Ltd., Japan’s largest electronics maker, made headlines when it hosted a rare tour of its spanking new elevator-testing tower — the world’s tallest — at its sprawling facility in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture. The 213.5-meter “G1 Tower,” which took ...

Mere mortal waddles on water

| Jun 20, 2010

Mere mortal waddles on water

by Edan Corkill

From a distance, Tatsuro Yokoi looks like a pirate clinging to the mast of a sunken galleon. Move closer — sorry, make that swim closer — and you notice he lacks the eye patch, the parrot on the shoulder and the hook for a ...