Alex K.T. Martin


Alex K.T. Martin
Alex K.T. Martin is a Tokyo-based journalist and senior writer at The Japan Times, primarily focusing on feature stories. Previously he was a Tokyo correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.
Father's Day is said to have come to Japan around 1950, shortly after the establishment of Mother's Day.
JAPAN / Society / Longform
Jun 15, 2024
The evolving nature of fatherhood in Japan
Meiji Era fathers were stern, those from Showa had to be productive for the nation. Heisei dads were told to get involved at home. What will the "Reiwa Dad" look like?
The view from the top of one of the five 70-meter-deep shafts spread across the tunnel system of the ¥230 billion Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel.
JAPAN / Society / Longform
Jun 3, 2024
Tokyo underground: Exploring what lies beneath the world’s largest city
Tokyo has developed a massive network of underground infrastructure to support its population, a system being put to the test by extreme weather.
A couple looks out onto the Fukuoka nightscape. Due to its distance from Tokyo and its close proximity to South Korea and China, professor Tomoya Mori believes that Fukuoka is one of the few metropolitan regions of Japan that will see some form of growth in the decades to come.
JAPAN / Society / Perspectives
May 20, 2024
Why half of Japan's cities are at risk of disappearing in 100 years
Professor Tomoya Mori believes depopulation will alter the urban landscape of Japan in an unexpected way.
When trying to trace your lineage in Japan, the "koseki" is the most important form of document you'll encounter.
JAPAN / Society / Longform
Apr 29, 2024
Climbing the branches of a Japanese family tree
Among official records in Japan, the "koseki" is key to discovering where you came from. However, it's not without controversy.
Later this month, author Shogo Imamura will open Honmaru, a bookstore that allows other businesses to rent its shelves. It's part of a wave of ideas Japanese booksellers are trying to compete with online spaces.
CULTURE / Books / Longform
Apr 22, 2024
The story isn't over for Japan's bookstores
Shops without staff, shelves for rent, cafes and meetups are some of the ways the country's dwindling bookstores are trying to survive.
A site in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, that formerly belonged to the British Embassy, was discovered to have artifacts and dwellings from the city's past.
JAPAN / History / Longform
Apr 1, 2024
The complications in digging up Tokyo's ancient past
When traces of history are found at construction sites, businesses need to sport the cost of removing them. But then, the build goes on.
Hideo Takayama (front) and Nama Yoshimura head down a narrow alley where a small stream used to run.
LIFE / Lifestyle / Longform
Mar 9, 2024
Tracing Tokyo’s hidden rivers
Underneath the pavement are remnants of the way the city used to look. Discovering them is a challenge that increasing numbers of locals enjoy.
Hideo Shimoju points to a possible site that his fellow neighbors may relocate to. Such relocations have happened before, but not preemptively.
ENVIRONMENT / Climate change / Longform
Feb 24, 2024
In disaster-prone Japan, some communities consider major moves
Rural communities are considering collective relocation as a means to deal with worsening climate disasters.
Specimen M831 stored at the National Museum of Nature and Science’s Tsukuba Research Departments in Ibaraki Prefecture
Feb 22, 2024
How a 13-year-old discovered a possible Japanese wolf specimen
A new paper by Hinako Komori and two academics says a specimen she found could be one of two Japanese wolves kept at Ueno Zoo in the late 19th century.
Collapsed homes in the town of Noto, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Jan. 12. Ever since breaking off from the Eurasian continent 20 million years ago and opening the Sea of Japan, the archipelago has always been at the mercy of nature’s seismic whims, its landscape and ecology undergoing perpetual transfiguration.
Feb 4, 2024
For Japan, earthquakes are an existential matter
The New Year's Day quake was a stark reminder of how Japan has been shaped by rumbling, grinding and often deadly convulsions and volcanic activity.
A mid-19th century ukiyo-e woodblock print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi depicts Xu Fu’s voyage in search of the elixir of life. He can be seen near the left side of the image, with what looks to be Penglai, or Mount Fuji, in the background.
JAPAN / History / Longform
Jan 20, 2024
Eternal pursuits: A history of Japanese quests for immortality
Whether it's a permanent state of meditation or feasting on mermaid, the quest for immortality in Japan isn't too far off from those in other cultures.
Cars drive past a damaged road, in the aftermath of an earthquake, in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture.
PODCAST / deep dive
Jan 18, 2024
Japan rings in 2024 with an unwelcome disaster
Join us for the first episode of 2024 as we recap the massive New Year’s Day earthquake and its impact on the people of Ishikawa Prefecture.
Snow falls on collapsed buildings in the city of Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Jan. 7, as the area began to look toward recovery from the massive earthquake that struck on Jan. 1.
JAPAN / Society / Longform
Jan 17, 2024
'Noto is kind, right down to its soil': A community's long road to recovery
Volunteers are coming together to help each other in the wake of disaster. However, eventually isolated rural villages will need rethinking.
Shinjuku's Kabukicho is filled with colorful individuals that give the neighborhood its character.
LIFE / Travel / Longform
Dec 22, 2023
Christmastime in Shinjuku Golden Gai
One of Tokyo's most storied watering holes gets a little quiet during the holidays now that it relies quite a bit on tourists.
A pair of wolves carved from wood exhibited at Mitsumine Shrine’s museum in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture
ENVIRONMENT / Wildlife / Longform
Dec 15, 2023
In praise of wolves
Premodern Japan's reverence of wolves mirrors its close bond with nature, a state eventually disrupted by the ecological impact of industrialization.
Tokyo Healthcare University professor Takayuki Mifune explains how he is trying to re-create bonito broth from 1,300 years ago.
JAPAN / Science & Health / Longform
Dec 4, 2023
The quest to re-create what the Japanese ate 1,300 years ago
Professor Takayuki Mifune and his team are hoping to understand, in minute detail, the culinary habits of our Japanese ancestors.
Bears doing yoga? If you’re in the city, why not?
PODCAST / deep dive
Nov 16, 2023
Bear goes the neighborhood? Japanese wildlife is on the move.
This week, Alex K.T. Martin joins us to discuss why people are encountering bears, boars and other wildlife in the most unlikely of places.
If you spot a wild animal in the city, it's likely lost. Still, alert authorities immediately to prevent any unpleasantness.
ENVIRONMENT / Wildlife / Longform
Nov 13, 2023
The concrete forest: Bears, boars and more head to the cities
Warmer winters, less food and an aging society all play a part in why wild animals are increasingly venturing into human-populated areas.
There are a lot of reasons for why the Pacific saury is becoming scarcer, including overfishing in international waters and changing ocean conditions.
LIFE / Food & Drink / Longform
Oct 23, 2023
A saury state: How the price of 'autumn's fish' skyrocketed
A fish so cheap and abundant that even the cats would ignore it, the Pacific saury is becoming a sought-after dish as stocks dwindle.
A woman takes her meal alone in Tokyo's Yanaka neighborhood. As the country ages, Japan's average caloric intake has been shrinking.
PODCAST / deep dive
Oct 20, 2023
Table for one? What depopulation in Japan means for dinner.
As Japan’s population ages and more people find themselves isolated, solving their dietary needs is shaping the way the country feeds itself.


Father's Day is said to have come to Japan around 1950, shortly after the establishment of Mother's Day.
The evolving nature of fatherhood in Japan