| Nov 11, 2010

Aiai founder Chieko Awata

by Judit Kawaguchi

Chieko Awata, 68, is the founder of Aiai, a nonprofit organization that provides art education to autistic children and adults. For the past 46 years she has been teaching drawing, painting and social skills to children as young as 2 years old. Some of ...

Ryokan owner Kazushi Sato

| Oct 28, 2010

Ryokan owner Kazushi Sato

by Judit Kawaguchi

Kazushi Sato, 63, is the owner of Tsurunoyu Onsen, a hot-spring ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) in Akita Prefecture. Nestled within beech woods deep in the mountains, Tsurunoyu is surrounded by natural beauty — bears wander freely, feasting on mountain grapes, and edible wild mushrooms ...

Language teacher Kae Minami

| Sep 23, 2010

Language teacher Kae Minami

by Judit Kawaguchi

Kae Minami, 32, is a bilingual language teacher. For the past seven years, she has had an outstanding record as a top Japanese juku sensei (prep school teacher). Her foreign students start out with virtually no knowledge of Japanese and almost all of them ...

Endocrine surgeon Dr. Koichi Ito

| Sep 9, 2010

Endocrine surgeon Dr. Koichi Ito

by Judit Kawaguchi

Dr. Koichi Ito, 52, is an endocrine surgeon and the best-known and most sought-after Japanese authority on the management of thyroid diseases. He is also the third-generation owner of Ito Hospital, ranked as Japan’s most progressive thyroid-care medical center. Physicians all over Japan refer ...

Chef Pierre Gagnaire

| Aug 12, 2010

Chef Pierre Gagnaire

by Judit Kawaguchi

Pierre Gagnaire is one of the world’s most famous chefs, whose Michelin three-star cuisine has been dazzling diners around the globe for decades. Gagnaire’s masterpieces earned him his first Michelin star in 1976, and since then food-lovers and more stars have been gravitating his ...

Pharmacist Masaaki Goto

| Jul 22, 2010

Pharmacist Masaaki Goto

by Judit Kawaguchi

Masaaki Goto, 83, runs a tiny pharmacy in Tokyo. Japan has the highest number of prescriptions per capita in the world and, after the United States, it is the world’s second largest pharmaceutical market. There are about 50,000 community pharmacies in the country, and ...

The Dalai Lama

| Jul 8, 2010

The Dalai Lama

by Judit Kawaguchi

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, 75, is respected by the Tibetan people as their temporal and spiritual leader. At age 2, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be ...

Home helper Takanori Kato

| Jun 24, 2010

Home helper Takanori Kato

by Judit Kawaguchi

Takanori Kato, at age 68, is in his first year as a home helper in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward. Last December, he graduated from a 4-month nursing course and immediately got a job at a nursing home. Since then, he’s been learning the ropes of ...

Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani

| Jun 10, 2010

Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani

by Judit Kawaguchi

Toru Iwatani, 55, is the designer of Pac-Man, the classic video game that virtually kick-started the world market for the video-gaming industry. Released by Namco in Tokyo on May 22, 1980, Pac-Man made history as the first video game that appealed to both genders ...

Geisha Chikako Pari

| May 27, 2010

Geisha Chikako Pari

by Judit Kawaguchi

Chikako Pari, whose stage name is Ichizuru, is the last geisha, also known as geiko, of a small town in Kyoto Prefecture. Her unusual last name, Pari — written in kanji — refers to the city of Paris and her French ancestry, although the ...