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Russell Thomas
For Russell Thomas's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
CULTURE
Jun 12, 2020
Video gamers have pandemic entertainment figured out
Video games Final Fantasy VII Remake and Animal Crossing: New Horizons have engaging storylines, graphics that are worthy of Hollywood and now — a captive audience
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
May 2, 2020
What is Golden Week and why does it matter?
Due to COVID-19, this year's Golden Week has all but been called off. We take a look at the history behind this cluster of national holidays and why its effective cancelation is a big deal.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Apr 25, 2020
Where we want to go in Japan once this is all over
COVID-19 has put a pause on travel, but that doesn't mean we can't plan. The Japan Times' Escape page regulars write about where they want to go in Japan once we see the back of COVID-19.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Apr 9, 2020
Yumiko Morioka: A good time to find refuge in a reissue of her ambient sounds
Yumiko Morioka's first and only album, 1987's 'Resonance,' gets the reissue treatment, allowing fans to hear the musician's ambient sounds once again.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Apr 4, 2020
When you can’t travel in actual reality, go virtual
During these strange days, the idea of online anything is proving more attractive — and vital. Families experience first-time conference calls, while musicians around the world put on internet gigs for locked-down audiences. Travel, too, is just a tap away, thanks to virtual reality.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Apr 2, 2020
The unstoppable rise of Regal Lily
Regal Lily is supposed to be on tour at the moment. But instead of enjoying what the band’s members like about touring — eating hotel breakfasts, trying local dishes or simply exploring new towns — they’re staying put. There will be no early April show at Mynavi Blitz Akasaka, Tokyo, wrapping up what would have been a tour promoting their first full album, “bedtime story,” released early February.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Mar 4, 2020
Seigen Tokuzawa and Masaki Hayashi form a musical duo from the 'roots of soul'
Cellist Seigen Tokuzawa joins forces with pianist Masaki Hayashi to create new album 'Drift.'
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Feb 29, 2020
Staying in style: Tokyo's best and brightest hostels
Hostels are no longer on the lower rung of the accommodation ladder. Tokyo's burgeoning hostel scene is brimming with new additions, from the cutting-edge to the repurposed and timeless.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Feb 8, 2020
Escape from Tokyo: Day trips from the capital
Got a spare day and not sure what to do? Russell Thomas suggests some easy day trips from Tokyo, whether you're after sake, art, history, mountains, shrines, festivals or flood defenses.
Japan Times
CULTURE
Feb 1, 2020
Back to the future: The world celebrates the 50th anniversary of Doraemon
As the blue robot cat turns 50, we examine the past, present and future of a Japanese icon.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Dec 28, 2019
Hatsuhinode: Where to see the first sunrise of the decade
There's never a better time to catch sunrise in Japan than at new year. From Tokyo Tower to the coast of Chiba Prefecture, here are 10 of the best places to see the first sunrise of the year near Tokyo.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Dec 14, 2019
Winding back the years in Yokohama’s Yamate district
One of Japan's '100 Cityscapes,' Yokohama's Yamate district — also known as 'The Bluff' — preserves some of the city's elegant European structures and international heritage.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink
Nov 2, 2019
Portals of the past: Peering into Tokyo's traditional kissaten coffee shops
"Sorry, we're full," I hear someone say as I open the door to Ladrio, a pre-eminent kissaten (traditional coffee shop) situated in a tumbledown alley in Tokyo's Jimbocho neighborhood.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Oct 18, 2019
Top 10: A local's guide to where to see the autumn leaves in Tokyo
From the mansions of former barons to riverside forests, here's Russell Thomas' pick of Tokyo's best autumn leaf-viewing spots.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Sep 20, 2019
Why Kamakura is bigger than its Buddha
Kamakura, capital of Japan's first shogunate (1185-1333), once angled for a UNESCO-shaped stamp of approval. Under the title "Kamakura, Home of the Samurai" there were a number of landmarks included in the proposal. It was roundly rejected by UNESCO in 2013, who concluded that "tangible testimonies of the places of shogunal power, other than the temples, are few in number and are often rather inexplicit.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Jul 26, 2019
Kinugawa Onsen: A dilapidated hot spring town in Tokyo's backyard
Kinugawa Onsen may have had its heyday in the 1980s, but this retro hot spring town still has plenty to offer Tokyoites looking for a weekend getaway close to home.
Japan Times
LIFE / Lifestyle
Jun 15, 2019
Departure melodies: Celebrating the jingles' contribution to the rail experience in Japan
Like the ubiquitous neon signs and abundant convenience stores scattered throughout Tokyo, departure melodies at train stations are probably something many residents don't give much thought to as they travel around the city each day.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
May 28, 2019
All aboard: the art of sampling Japan's railways
In the rest of the world, trainspotting is something of a niche hobby, but in Japan it is much more mainstream. Combine a natural predilection for hobbies with a massive proliferation of railways and you naturally get train enthusiasts.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
May 14, 2019
Embracing the Japan of the past through music with Meitei
As the Reiwa Era begins, Japanese music producer Daisuke Fujita, aka Meitei, is looking forward while sticking to the traditions of the past. Fresh from last year's spook-summoning album "Kwaidan," which featured in "Best Albums of 2018" accolades curated by the likes of Pitchfork and Bandcamp, the Hiroshima-based music maker has just released a follow-up, titled "Komachi."
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Mar 13, 2019
Aaamyyy whips up a synth-heavy soundscape for the year 2615
"Body," the much-anticipated debut album from music maker Amy Furuhara, aka Aaamyyy (stylized as AAAMYYY), opens with an instrumental of tumbling beats, skittering hi-hats, wonky nighttime synth and pitch-shifted samples of a Spanish monologue — the portal of sound aims to transport the listener to a world 596 years in the future.

Longform

Yayoi Kusama’s “Pumpkin,” once the victim of high waves that dragged it into the sea, sits at the end of a pier on the south side of Naoshima.
Why is the most exciting art in Japan so hard to get to?