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.
For Alex K.T. Martin's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
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.
ENVIRONMENT / Earth science
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.
A woman takes her meal alone in Tokyo's Yanaka neighborhood. As the country ages, Japan's average caloric intake has been shrinking.
JAPAN / Society / Longform
Oct 9, 2023
Downsizing dinner: Aging Japan is eating less
As older citizens' shrinking appetites lead to less on the plate, businesses are having to adjust to a new market.
Katsuura in Chiba Prefecture — around 90 minutes by express train from Tokyo — has never seen the mercury climb above 35 degrees Celsius, a benchmark the meteorological agency uses to describe “extremely hot” weather, since records began in the city in 1906.
Sep 24, 2023
Japan’s endless summer pushes some toward cooler places
Amid a summerlong heat wave, more people are showing interest in moving to places like Katsuura that are known for their milder temperatures.
A child stands in front of the Hibiya Music Hall, which collapsed during the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.
PODCAST / deep dive
Aug 31, 2023
The earthquake that turned Tokyo to ash
This week we commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake.
Items from the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake are on display at the memorial museum in Yokoamicho Park in Tokyo. Here, a warped clock is frozen minutes after the quake struck at 11:58 a.m. on Sept. 1, 1923.
JAPAN / History / Longform
Aug 31, 2023
The Great Kanto Earthquake: A wall of fire, a picture of hell
On Sept. 1, 1923, a massive earthquake struck off the coast of Kanagawa Prefecture. It came to be defined by fire and vigilantism.
The color of a red torii gate in Bushidaira, Saitama Prefecture, still stands out against a vibrant green backdrop.
JAPAN / Society / Longform
Aug 18, 2023
Exploring the eerie beauty of Japan's abandoned villages
Depopulation and an aging society have turned parts of the countryside into tourist attractions for those eager to explore a forgotten era.


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