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Judit Kawaguchi
For Judit Kawaguchi's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Mar 27, 2007
Masahiro Murata
Masahiro Murata, 35, is a hair and makeup artist whose salon, MaQueen, just behind the Kabuki-za theater in Ginza, is a sanctuary for both his loyal clients and staff. Murata loves people, and especially beauty in them, which he believes manifests itself in the way one treats others. As one of Japan's top hairstylists, for five days a week he works almost 15 hours a day, and he spends the other two traveling around the country doing workshops for professional hairdressers in styling, perms and cuts. As famous for his technique and style, he is more about substance than anything else.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Mar 13, 2007
Mamoru Oshii
Animation and live-film writer and director Mamoru Oshii, 56, is best known for making the animated 1995 movie "Ghost in the Shell," which was a strong influence on the Hollywood movie "The Matrix" (1999). The work Oshii is most satisfied with is the 2004 sequel to that film, "Innocence" (which was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival), mostly because it features his beloved dog, Gabriel. Both films are based on the work of manga artist Shirow Masamune. Some of the pair's visionary predictions about a still imperfect technological future where artificially enhanced humans, or cyborgs, connected by an almost infinite network of man-machine interaction in both the real and online world, are already becoming reality. Oshii likes to liken himself to a dog, so perhaps you could say they were barking up the right tree. Right now, Oshii and the studio Production I.G. are busy licking into shape a new animation, about which they will say no more.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Feb 27, 2007
Yoko Sagae
Yoko Sagae, 57, is the vice principal of the Toyomi Public Kindergarten in Tokyo's Chuo Ward. Ms. Sagae has taken care of more than 1,700 children -- and their parents -- during her 31 years in early childhood education, and she is not about to stop. Loved by generations in the neighborhood where she works, Sagae credits children and her furniture-maker husband for keeping her young at heart and always happy.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jan 30, 2007
Yoko Yamada
Yoko Yamada, 27, nicknamed Iron Beauty, is the 2005 women's arm wrestling world champion in the 45-kg weight class and has won more than 35 gold medals, in both the Left- and Right-Handed Divisions. Yamada failed to qualify for the 2006 world championship because the minimum weight was raised to 50 kg, but she is currently gaining muscle and weight for this year's world championship. She is also the undefeated All-Japan Women's Arm Wrestling Champion, a title she has held since 2002. A pioneer in a sport dominated by men, Yamada is revered by fans for her combination of awesome power and cute looks, which have given arm wrestling a much-welcomed boost in interest.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jan 16, 2007
Hiroo Onoda
Hiroo Onoda, 84, is a former member of an Imperial Japanese Army intelligence unit, an elite commando during World War II who was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines in 1944 to conduct guerrilla warfare and gather military intelligence. Trained in clandestine operations, his mission was to sneak behind enemy lines, conduct surveillance and survive independently until issued new orders. He did exactly that for the next 30 years. Long after Japan's surrender in 1945, he continued to serve his country in the jungle, convinced that the Greater East Asia War was still being fought. He lived on mostly bananas and mangoes, evading many Japanese search parties and the local Philippine police, all of whom he believed were enemy spies. In March 1974, at age 52, a Japanese man who had run across Onoda brought his former superior to the island with instructions that relieved him of his military duties. After a brief return to Japan, he moved to Brazil where he became a successful rancher. He came back to Japan in the 1980s and established the Onoda Nature School with the goal of educating children about the value of life. His incredible adventures on Lubang are detailed in his book "No Surrender: My Thirty-year War."
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Dec 26, 2006
Fumihito
The choreographer FUMIHITO (Fumihito Tanaka), 38, is the first person in Japan to make a profession out of teaching people how to pose and project themselves, whether for a photo shoot or an interview. He is behind every gesture, stare and dance move we see in hundreds of hit TV commercials. Musicians YUKI, m-flo and Rinka, and megastar Akiko Wada, rely on his coaching to keep them on top. After a childhood in which his alcoholic father beat him and his two sisters, and his abused mother constantly threatened to commit suicide, Fumihito still carries his official disabilities certificate (sho-ugai techo-), which qualifies him for full government assistance, although he no longer needs to collect it. A workaholic, he is famous for squeezing amazing performances out of everybody, especially himself.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Dec 12, 2006
Heizaburo and Reiko Kawaguchi
Heizaburo and Reiko Kawaguchi, 84 and 81, from Kobe, believe that simple meals and large servings of complex ideas from Japanese manga, anime and classical literature pave the way to a long and happy life. Trained as a fukuryu (underwater kamikaze diver), and later head of a 300-year-old family business until 1997, when the government lifted restrictions that had limited the sale of salt to just a few dozen privileged families around the nation, Heizaburo now has plenty of time to devote to books and his wife. Married for 59 years, with two children, three grandchildren and six great grandchildren, the couple hope to spend a lot more time together.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Nov 28, 2006
Keiko Hisano
Keiko Hisano, 25, is a production controller for Nakabo Japan Co. Ltd., an Osaka-based knitwear manufacturer that produces clothing for many famous brands. Hoping to eventually become a designer, she is happy now just to be at the base of the design pyramid, whether running up and down Omotesando with samples or managing supertight production schedules. Hisano isn't big on small talk, and is quick to point out that her biggest asset is speed: The faster she can finish her tasks, the more time she has left for practicing design. She says she is sure that after all the hardship, great things are in store for her.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Nov 14, 2006
Masatoshi Uchiumi
Masatoshi Uchiumi, 64, is a landlord in Tokyo's trendy Jiyugaoka area. Divorced and living alone, six years ago he lost most of his eyesight due to a hormone imbalance. Although despondent at first, he soon focused on enriching his life, through lessons in karaoke, voice-activated computers, haiku, English conversation and ballroom dancing. At the Japan Blind Dance Championships 2006, the world's first such competition for the blind, held in Tokyo on Aug. 27, he sashayed into the semifinals. He says that with effort, and humor, for him things are always looking up.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Aug 22, 2006
Kazuaki Ohashi
Kazuaki Ohashi, 37, is a philosopher whose love of a challenge has propelled him from studying the fear of death to a life of business and parties. CEO of Web design firm Koo & Co., and EN, an English language school, he is also the volunteer organizer of events that introduce traditional Japanese dance abroad and foreign folk dance to Japan. Despite working from 8 a.m. till 2 a.m., six days a week, he thinks that so far he hasn't done much more than maybe taken a few steps in the right direction.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Aug 8, 2006
Setsuko Hashimoto
Setsuko Hashimoto, PhD, 52, is Director of Marketing at Biacore K.K., a global supplier of instruments for academic, pharmaceutical and biotechnology research. A top class scientist with keen business sense, she formed the Swedish company's Japanese subsidiary, and has been the driving force behind it's success ever since.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jul 25, 2006
Mariko Sakaida
Mariko Sakaida, 33, is a supermarket cashier in Tokyo and the 2003 Best Checker Concours champion, a title she competed for with about 2,000 of the Kanto region's other checkout aces. She won hands-down with polished greetings, flawless scanning, speedy and accurate cashing, and artful packing. She also puts on a winning performance after work with Koto Ward's Fukagawa Tokkuriza Theater, whose six members adapt the most hilarious rakugo (comic storytelling) tales to the stage.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jul 11, 2006
Yoshiko Sakurai
Yoshiko Sakurai, 60, is known as Japan's bravest and most responsible journalist. Her in-depth investigations have unnerved members of the establishment for decades. After 16 years as the nation's top newscaster, she quit television in 1996 to dedicate herself to writing. Sakurai has published more than 45 books, among them "AIDS Crime: The Tragedy of the Hemophiliacs," which, in 1994, exposed the government's failure to prevent the use of HIV-tainted blood products, which led to the infection of 40 percent of Japan's hemophiliacs.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jun 27, 2006
Tadanobu Tsunoda
Tadanobu Tsunoda, MD, 79, is the author of "The Japanese Brain" (now in its 38th Japanese edition), and the inventor of the Tsunoda Key Tapping Machine. He developed this simple analog system in the 1960s, and claims it is still the most accurate machine in the world for measuring the brainstem's switch mechanism, which determines which side of the brain processes sounds. He first presented his findings about connections between the brain, language and culture to an international audience at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Meetings of Experts on the Concept of Race in History, held in Montreal in 1978. Still researching, he is as mesmerized by the beauty of the brain as ever.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jun 13, 2006
Suzue Akashi
Suzue Akashi, 74, is a folk musician who plays traditional Japanese songs on shamisen with taiko drum accompaniment. Her insatiable desire to learn took her from a Tokyo dairy to the education center at Haneda Air Force Base, to university in Tennessee and work in Texas during the 1950s. Back in Japan, she sold Avon cosmetics before deciding to commit herself to playing shamisen, which she ultimately did at the prestigious Matsubaya restaurant. A winner of countless music competitions, and the 2002 recipient of the Prime Minister's Award, she is proudest of having always done the right thing, even when it was painful to do so.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
May 23, 2006
Yoshimasa Saito
Chef Yoshimasa Saito, 85, is the founder of Kitchen Country, a Hungarian restaurant in Tokyo's Jiyugaoka area. His goulash was once so famous that even celebrities were happy to stand in line for a place at one of his tables. Saito is a true optimist: Neither five years of hard labor in Siberia's notorious war camps nor the past five years of battling throat and lung cancer have broken his strong spirit.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
May 9, 2006
Kae Wakita
Kae Wakita, 35, is a dermatologist and owner of Skin Solution Clinic in Shintomicho, not far from Tokyo's Ginza area. A confessed workaholic, she is perfectly happy with her life but not with the state of the Japanese medical system. She does, however, have a few good ideas about how to treat this ailing patient.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Apr 25, 2006
Toshie Kobayashi
Toshie Kobayashi, 76, has been working six days a week, since she was 14 years old. As a highly skilled typesetter, she made a good living until the 1980s, when digital systems replaced her and analog typesetting machines. At 54, she registered with a cleaning service, and ever since then she has been mopping and sweeping and emptying garbage at department stores, publishers, insurance companies and so on. Currently, she works at a luxury high-rise in Tokyo. In her free time, she is an enthusiastic gourmet, and on most afternoons she can be found roaming department-store food sections, searching for tasty new treats.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Apr 20, 2006
Rei Torii Exhibition
Baijuan Teahouse in Setagaya Closes in 8 days
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Mar 28, 2006
Takao Tsue
Takao Tsue, 80, is the Honorary Chief Priest of Osaka City's Imamiya-Ebisu Shrine, famous for the Toka Ebisu festival held every January, which attracts over 1 million people over three days. According to legend, the shrine was established in AD 600 by Shotoku Taishi, and written records show that Tsue's ancestors have been priests here for the past 800 years. Recently his son, Akihiro, became the 19th-generation master of the shrine, which is dedicated to the worship of the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu-Omikami, and Ebisu-sama, the sea bream-carrying god of business, and three other deities.

Longform

Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on