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 Masami Ito

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Masami Ito
Masami is a staff writer for the Life and Culture Division at The Japan Times. She is in charge of the weekly Sunday Timeout, covering various issues related to Japan, from alcohol/drug addiction and juvenile crime to female sushi chefs and kendama. Over her 15-year career, she has written extensively on Japanese politics, foreign policy and social issues.
For Masami Ito's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
Features
May 30, 2004
Sommelier serves up a vintage haunt
Shinya Tasaki is Japan's best-known sommelier. Regularly featured on television, in newspapers and magazines, he runs his own French restaurant, as well as a wine bar and a school for sommeliers.
Features
May 30, 2004
Anyone for a cocktail?
A shochu-based Bloody Mary with nam pla (a fish-based Thai sauce) and fresh coriander? You have got to be joking. But no, Bob Sliwa is not -- and he insists that such strange cocktail combinations can be real winners.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink
May 30, 2004
How shochu got its groove back
A young woman was seated at the counter, her long hair tumbling down to her shoulders and resting softly on her beige jacket. In a matching skirt and heels, her long slim legs were revealed. Classy and elegant, she looked like she was ready for a glass of Dom Perignon.
Japan Times
Features
May 9, 2004
Simultaneously interpreting both language and culture
Nelson Mandala, Eisaku Sato, Margaret Thatcher, Kakuei Tanaka and Bill Clinton are different in so many ways, but these leading politicians all have one thing in common -- their interpreter, Tatsuya Komatsu.
Features / LIFE OR DEATH
Apr 25, 2004
'I became an accessory to legal murder'
'The death penalty is legal murder, and as someone who has stood by and watched it being carried out, I am an accessory to murder."
Features / LIFE OR DEATH
Apr 25, 2004
Haunted by visions of a 'horrifying act'
It is the staircase of doom. Who knows what goes through a person's mind as they ascend those steps to the scaffold. Are they consumed with dread? Filled with thoughts of their loved ones? Or are they burdened with thoughts of their crime? No one knows because no one comes back down those stairs alive.
Japan Times
Features / LIFE OR DEATH
Apr 25, 2004
Only the noose can ease victims' pain
More than four years have passed since his 2-year-old granddaughter was murdered, yet never a day goes by without Tsuneo Matsumura mournfully remembering little Haruna, or having images of her flash through his mind whenever he sees a girl about the same age as she would be.
Japan Times
Features / LIFE OR DEATH
Apr 25, 2004
Back from the brink after living 28 years on death row
He heard the footsteps approaching down the hall outside. He sat still, barely breathing. The other cells lay equally silent. None of the other condemned prisoners moved. No one spoke. Those footsteps meant only one thing: there was going to be a hanging.
Features / LIFE OR DEATH
Apr 25, 2004
Debate heats up over legal reform
The maximum legal penalty in Japan is death. Locked alone in their tiny cells, 56 death-row prisoners are now awaiting their fate. Last year, one person was executed. No one knows how many will be this year.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Mar 3, 2004
Realist master on the prowl
Photographs capture the moment -- a second in time frozen on film. And yet, unless you're a Magnum hotshot, this most "real" of media can produce images that seem lifeless, flat and unmoving. As all visual artists know, portraying three-dimensional figures in a two-dimensional medium is extremely difficult.
Japan Times
Features
Feb 29, 2004
Caring for the canines whose job is to care
On Sept. 14, 2001, veterinarian H. Marie Suthers-McCabe arrived in New York City. Disbelief, horror and shock over what had occurred only a few days before was still so profound as to be virtually palpable, with hundreds still missing from the attacks on the World Trade Center towers. Suthers-McCabe's mission was to take care of the dogs involved in search-and-rescue (SAR) operations.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Jan 30, 2004
Explore the past in cosmopolitan ways
A walk through Kagurazaka's many narrow winding alleys is like slipping away from reality. Just a step away from the lively main road, and quietude takes over. Gone is the incessant irritant of cell-phone chatter, the barrage of electronic sounds from game centers and the gunning car and motorbike engines. In fact almost the only sound is that of your footsteps.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
Jan 18, 2004
Millions in quest for 'miracle cures'
Cocoa isn't exactly the No. 1 drink of choice in Japan, but late in 1995 you would have been hard pressed to find any at all in stores. That wasn't because of a contamination scare or anything -- but because shoppers were clamoring to get their hands on the stuff.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Stage
Dec 10, 2003
Is it a film? Is it a play? No, it's cinetheatre
Ever had a dream that was so real it made you lose your grip on reality? One that turned into hallucinations the following day? One that drove you close to madness?
Japan Times
COMMUNITY
Dec 7, 2003
Woman for the world
Back in 1957, a young woman of 23 with few qualifications, and little to sustain her but her courage and some money saved from waitressing, set off from her native England in pursuit of her dream to live and work for wildlife.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Nov 28, 2003
Peacefulness that's action-packed
Airplanes are the worst. I hate flying and avoid doing so as much as possible. But to compound my suffering, the day I flew down from Tokyo to Shikoku was also the day a typhoon was heading there, too. So, as the plane was being buffeted in midair, and I sat clutching the arms of my seat for dear life, I found myself wondering -- even if I did make it safely to Tokushima Prefecture, what on earth would I be able to do there in this kind of weather?
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink
Nov 28, 2003
Tales of new year tastes
What do you do on New Year's Day? Some people follow the custom of hatsumode and head off for their first visit of the year to a shrine; others simply stay in and have a party with relatives and friends. For almost every Japanese family, though, one of the highlights of this holiday is eating osechi ryori, the colorful assortment of traditional seasonal delicacies.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink
Nov 21, 2003
A New Year's tradition that's worth celebrating
Christmas and St. Valentine's Day may find favor in the eyes of young people, but New Year's Day is still the highlight of Japan's festive calendar. With kadomatsu pines at the doors of people's homes, New Year's cards cramming post boxes, and shrines crowded as people make their hatsumode (first visit of the year), the atmosphere is always lively.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / CLOSE-UP
Nov 2, 2003
Food for thought
Yukio Hattori, 'one of Japan's busiest men,' takes time to chew over the issue of food and other meaty social matters with staff writer Masami Ito.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Oct 31, 2003
Multitusking with talented pachyderm painters
Talk about eccentric.

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