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 ...

Antique dealer Kunihiro Iida

| May 13, 2010

Antique dealer Kunihiro Iida

by Judit Kawaguchi

Antique dealer Kunihiro Iida, 66, specializes in tea ceremony utensils. His tiny corner shop, Iidakojitsudo, is just 500 meters from Tokyo Station’s Yaesu side, in the historical district of Kyobashi. Built in 1971 by the famed carpenter Kisaburo Fujii — who studied under Ogi ...

Nail artist Chieko Ishijima

| Mar 25, 2010

Nail artist Chieko Ishijima

by Judit Kawaguchi

Chieko Ishijima, 25, is the manager of Brilliant Nail Shibuya, a salon next door to the Marui and Seibu department stores, smack in the middle of one of Tokyo’s hubs of young fashion. She quickly painted and sculpted her way to the top of ...

Rights activist Chiyoko Tanaka

| Feb 11, 2010

Rights activist Chiyoko Tanaka

by Judit Kawaguchi

Chiyoko Tanaka, 81, is a volunteer lobbyist for the rights of disabled people in Japan. For the past 49 years, together with her daughter, Mariko, she has been working tirelessly to ensure that all people — regardless of the nature of their disabilities — ...

Fruit vendor Takahiko Takahashi

| Jan 28, 2010

Fruit vendor Takahiko Takahashi

by Judit Kawaguchi

Come rain or shine, Takahiko Takahashi, 69, is outdoors joking with customers and packing delicious peaches, mikan (mandarins), nashi (Japanese pears), apples and melons into their shopping baskets. Though he’s a Tokyo fruit vendor, he knows and loves his vegetables, too. He even grows ...

Ice cream man Tokuya Hirose

| Jan 14, 2010

Ice cream man Tokuya Hirose

by Judit Kawaguchi

Tokuya Hirose, 82, is the second-generation owner of Ze-roku, a tiny ice-cream shop in Osaka city’s Hommachi area. Established in 1913, Ze-roku served traditional Japanese sweets till 1952, when Tokuya’s father and this three sons came up with a brilliant combination that melted everyone’s ...