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Yoko Hani
For Yoko Hani's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Jan 23, 2004
Izu reveals its 'silver lining'
For most Japanese, mention of the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture conjures up an image of a coast lined with onsen (hot-spring) resorts and blessed with good seafood, drawing hordes of visitors from the Tokyo area.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
Jan 4, 2004
From mourning to 'magic'
It may be only mildly surprising that Japanese translations of the first four "Harry Potter" titles have racked up 16.5 million sales to date. It is, though, quite astonishing that the publisher is not an industry giant, but a small Tokyo firm with no previous best seller to its name.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Dec 19, 2003
Candy firms jump on CD bandwagon
Giveaways attached to packets of candies and chocolate are nothing new in Japan. Recently these omake have commonly taken the form of wonderfully detailed little toys and figurines in themed, collectable sets such as animals, anime characters, dinosaurs, birds, cars or motorbikes.
CULTURE / Music
Dec 19, 2003
In praise of a 'brilliant idea'
Even a cursory check of convenience store shelves these days shows how the omake giveaways that makers once offered as lures to buy certain candies have now become the main selling points themselves. After all, how many people would pay 300 yen just for the two almond chocolates in a packet of "Time...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink
Oct 24, 2003
Poring over all tea's attractions
Kenji Takano's tea room fills the light and spacious basement of a building in Jinbocho -- an area that's best-known for its shops crammed with old books, prints and posters, and for the number of small publishing companies based there.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
Aug 31, 2003
Tips from the top
Feeling lucky? This time, you're certain, you just know the takarakuji is as good as yours.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
Aug 31, 2003
Lottery yarns of yore
For at least 300 years, lotteries in Japan have been the stuff of dreams -- and nightmares. This is most evident in the stories about tomikuji (fortune lotto), a lottery that flourished in the Edo Period (1603-1867). These tales are found in the repertoire of rakugo comic monologues.
ENVIRONMENT
Aug 21, 2003
Mars attacks
As the day draws near when Mars makes its closest encounter with Earth for 60,000 years, Japan's astronomical observatories are launching "Mars Week" on Aug. 22 in an effort to get "more than 100 million people" across the country to go outside and see for themselves Earth's planetary neighbor.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
Aug 10, 2003
Lost pet? No sweat -- except in the tub
You may think you've got just about everything for your pet -- from brand-name waterproofs and jewelry to its weekly trips to a pet cafe and yoga classes. Now, though, there's a new out-of-this-world accessory for the pet owner with everything: the no-hiding-place collar.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
Jul 13, 2003
We can work it out
"Naze hatarakunoka (Why Do We Work?)";
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Jul 6, 2003
The linden city turns over a new leaf
LEIPZIG, Germany -- German cities, even the larger ones, are associated with -- among other things German -- linden trees. In addition to the memory of Frankfurt's linden-lined streets, I remember a joyous summer evening in the city a few years ago when I had supper out in the courtyard of a local restaurant,...
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
Jun 22, 2003
Getting a taste for tofu at its silken best
If natto is a challenge to the average taste bud, tofu is a breeze -- so bland, some might say, that if humans lived on tofu alone they would long ago have dispensed with taste buds altogether.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
May 25, 2003
Soaked in the city
Though you may not have seen Hayao Miyazaki's Oscar-winning animated film "Spirited Away," which is set in an opulent bathhouse for the gods, even the most fleeting acquaintance with Japan will have made it clear that soaking in a hot tub is an almost celestial experience for the inhabitants of these...
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
Apr 6, 2003
Masters of potions past
Your interest may have been aroused by a friend's story of how, after trying kanpo (Chinese herbal medicine), their pollen allergy has not been so problematic this season. Or, on the other hand, you may have been intrigued by magazine articles with eye-catching headlines like "The Chinese medicine way...
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
Mar 9, 2003
Kissaten culture still on the boil
At 3 p.m. precisely, a staffer in meikyoku kissa Lion in Shibuya quietly announces the start of today's "concert." Silence descends as she places a record on the player. A gray-haired customer puffs on a cigarette at his corner table.
COMMUNITY
Feb 9, 2003
Hole in one: Hole in pocket
All golfers dream that -- be it only once in their lifetime -- they might, miraculously, achieve a hole in one.
COMMUNITY
Jan 26, 2003
Shot eagle gains a domain
Late last year, in the mountains of Chiba Prefecture, hikers came across an owashi (Steller's sea eagle) -- a designated special natural treasure -- that was unable to fly.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
Jan 26, 2003
Replica habitats aim to create more natural animal displays
Spending the day at the zoo isn't one of the first things families think of any more when they're looking for weekend recreation. As both new alternatives -- from the recent upsurge of interest in soccer to the rash of flashy theme parks -- as well as more familiar ones -- like the movies -- vie for...
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
Jan 5, 2003
Japan's own meals on wheels
In the early morning of Dec. 1, the first "Hayate" shinkansen left Hachinohe Station in Aomori Prefecture. Its departure for Tokyo in a blaze of publicity signaled that Japan's fastest express trains had a new northernmost limit -- some 96.6 km further on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line from Morioka in Iwate...
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
Dec 8, 2002
On the night side of life
The last trains have long gone and the stations are shuttered.

Longform

Things may look perfect to the outside world, but today's mom is fine with some imperfection at home.
How 'Reiwa moms' are reshaping motherhood in Japan