Mara Budgen
For Mara Budgen's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Containers transporting coal at a dock in Cam Pha, Vietnam. Enthusiasm for Vietnam’s renewables boom is dampened by factors such as its underdeveloped electricity grid and patchy regulatory framework, while the country’s major source of electricity remains coal.
Mar 25, 2024
With Japan’s help, is Vietnam headed for a flawed energy transition?
The climate-vulnerable nation is looking to renewables, but also questionable solutions promoted by Tokyo, for its energy needs.
Yasuhiro Otomo and Miku Narisawa during one of Odyssey Nature Japan's educational fishing programs.
PODCAST / deep dive
Feb 22, 2024
A young 3/11 survivor and her vow to protect the ocean
At 12, Miku Narisawa experienced a magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami that destroyed her home. Now she is working to protect it.
Japan Times
Dec 29, 2023
20 Questions: The best answers of 2023
Our interviewees this year gave a lot of advice for living a good life and paying attention to the things that matter most.
The Climate Action Network holds an event at the venue of the U.N. climate change conferences in Dubai on Sunday to give its 'fossil' award to countries including Japan.
PODCAST / deep dive
Dec 7, 2023
Feeling anxious? Wastewater, heat and Japan’s year in climate
In a year that saw Japan release 24,000 tons of wastewater (so far) from Fukushima No. 1 as the planet smashed heat records, it’s no wonder climate anxiety is on the rise. Mara Budgen joins us to break down the year in environment news, where we could see hope, and what we should be worried about.
"The Ones Left Behind" documents the successes and struggles of single mothers in Japan.
PODCAST / deep dive
Nov 2, 2023
Why single mothers in Japan have been left behind
Filmmaker Rionne McAvoy joins us to discuss the hidden poverty present in one of the world’s richest nations.
A surgical center designed by Shigeru Ban Architects for a hospital in Lviv, Ukraine
JAPAN / Society
Sep 24, 2023
Shigeru Ban’s humanitarian architecture reaches Ukraine
Architect Shigeru Ban is working with the mayor of Lviv, in Ukraine, to expand a hospital and serve the growing number of people displaced by the war.
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Jul 12, 2023
Japan is about to release 1.3 million tons of Fukushima wastewater. Should we be concerned?
Environmental journalist Mara Budgen joins the podcast to discuss Japan’s plan to discharge millions of tons of wastewater from the Fukushima No. 1 power plant into the ocean.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink
May 7, 2023
Bar none: Tokyo's liquor shops are where locals start their weekends
Kaku’uchi — liquor stores doubling as bars — are trending again in Tokyo. Mara Budgen provides a guide to some of the capital’s best joints, for all tastes.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink
Apr 30, 2023
Japan's ume heartland sows new prospects
If you’ve ever eaten ume, chances are it came from Minabe or Tanabe in Wakayama Prefecture.
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Apr 26, 2023
[Rebroadcast] Is it too late to save the Japanese giant salamander?
Check out this podcast from December in which we speak with environment journalist Mara Budgen about the trouble facing the Japanese giant salamander.
Japan Times
LIFE / Lifestyle
Apr 1, 2023
Ainu culture at the heart of Hokkaido’s mindful tourism pivot
As Hokkaido looks to promote responsible, community-based tourism centered on Ainu culture and traditions, questions remain as to who stands to gain.
Japan Times
Mar 26, 2023
Haruo Nishio: ‘Thatched roofs tell a story of eternity’
The ancient craft of thatching is resisting the pressures of modernity thanks to artisans like Haruo Nishio, who connects to Japan’s historic roots by preserving its original houses.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health
Jan 23, 2023
Why Japan's favorite fermented paste may hold the key to a low-carbon diet
The ancient art of fermentation, an essential part of Japanese cuisine, is helping reduce the environmental impact of the food we eat today, and will eat in the future.
Japan Times
Jan 16, 2023
The race to save the Japanese giant salamander
River infrastructure is causing the salamander's decline. To stop Japan from losing this rare species, conservationists are calling for an alternative vision of rural development.
Japan Times
Jan 12, 2023
Junji Takasago: ‘Photographers are a bridge between humans and nature’
In capturing nature's raw and mysterious beauty, Junji Takasago seeks not only to inspire awe but highlight its fragility.
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Dec 16, 2022
Is it too late to save the Japanese giant salamander?
Environmental journalist Mara Budgen comes on the show to talk about the Japanese giant salamander, which is well-protected within Japan through various laws but is still at risk of becoming an endangered species.
Japan Times
Oct 24, 2022
Battle to stop Kagoshima seawall highlights divide over coastal engineering
Seawalls are a fixture of Japanese coasts, but one beach on the island of Amami Oshima is fighting against the tide.
Japan Times
Oct 22, 2022
Psychological first aid helping ‘Ukrainians have a future’ in Japan
In the face of an ongoing war, evacuees find self-care tools are helping them manage the effects of trauma.
Japan Times
BUSINESS / Longform
Aug 15, 2022
The race to power a low-carbon future with next-generation EV batteries
The stakes are high for those competing to create the batteries needed to power the electric vehicles of the future, but even higher for a world in the throes of climate change.
Japan Times
Aug 6, 2022
Sentō Samaritans: The fight to save urban bathhouses
Were public bathhouses to vanish from Tokyo, Osaka and other cities across Japan, much more than hot water would be lost.


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