Alyssa I. Smith
Two people try to take a selfie under the illuminated cherry blossoms in Kyoto’s Gion district last year.
PODCAST / deep dive
Mar 25, 2024
Sakura stories revisited: Getting in the mood for hanami
We are revisiting some past content on the science, economics and culture of cherry blossom season.
Masaki Takahashi, Takashi Yamazaki, Kiyoko Shibuya and Tatsuji Nojima celebrated winning the Oscar for best visual effects on the Dolby Theatre stage in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday.
Mar 11, 2024
Oscars 2024: A night to remember for Japanese cinema
Filmmaking peers in Hollywood honor the excellence of two Japanese titans: Studio Ghibli and Godzilla
Naoko Motooka began hunting 10 years ago. Her hobby is one way Hokkaido hopes to curb a current boom in the deer population.
PODCAST / deep dive
Feb 15, 2024
Hunting in Hokkaido; Taylor Swift comes to Tokyo
You probably don’t think of guns when you think of Japan, but Hokkaido’s hunters do.
A still from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
PODCAST / deep dive
Dec 14, 2023
Big in Japan 2023: Anime, Murakami and The Legend of Zelda
Our guests tell us why anime dominated in 2023, which books stood out among a lackluster crowd and why the Zelda franchise is experiencing a renaissance.
The incoming and outgoing presidents of Johnny & Associates, Noriyuki Higashiyama and Julie Keiko Fujishima, bow at a press conference on Sept. 7.
PODCAST / deep dive
Sep 14, 2023
Johnny’s talent agency has admitted to a past of abuse. What next?
Karin Kaneko joins the show to update us on how the story is unfolding.
Japan Times
May 18, 2023
Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ennosuke found collapsed after suspected suicide attempt
Ennosuke’s parents were also found collapsed and both were later confirmed dead. The incident came the same day a report alleged Ennosuke harassed staff at his theater collective.
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Mar 23, 2023
The cherry blossoms are here and business is blooming
Kathleen Benoza explains what's at stake during the hanami season, while Thu-Huong Ha and Alyssa I. Smith discuss the science, symbolism and culture of sakura in Japan.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / 2022 in Review
Dec 31, 2022
Japanese stories captivated overseas audiences in 2022
This year marked increased recognition for female Japanese authors, while Japan-based stories provided the inspiration for Hollywood adaptations such as 'Bullet Train' and 'Tokyo Vice.'
Japan Times
Dec 29, 2022
Answers in 2022 encouraged activism, recommended books and provided advice
The 20 Questions section discusses people's experiences of Japan in their own words. As we emerge from the pandemic, an underlying theme in 2022 was fighting for change.
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Dec 21, 2022
Culture in 2022: Good books, outdoor art and 'Tokyo Vice'
Culture editor Alyssa I. Smith talks to culture critic Thu-Huong Ha about the books they read, the festivals they went to and how Japanese stories are currently capturing Hollywood's attention.
Japan Times
Dec 11, 2022
Yuki Tejima: 'Women have always had a place in the literary world, but now there’s a new generation with really strong voices'
Yuki Tejima runs the Instagram account Book Nerd Tokyo. She uses the platform to discuss books and cafes she loves — a simple formula that has proven very popular.
Japan Times
Aug 6, 2022
Fuji Rock offers escapism once again
The summer music festival's 2022 edition marks a return to an event resembling 'normal.'
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Jan 26, 2022
From 'Spirited Away' to 'Demon Slayer': The meteoric rise of anime
Since 2002, Japan’s anime industry has doubled in size to become worth over ¥2.4 trillion annually.
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Dec 29, 2021
So long, 2021
We hear from listeners about their high points in 2021.
Japan Times
Oct 11, 2021
Maxwell Powers: 'You have to be competent, yet invisible'
According to his bio, Maxwell Powers is the 'voice guy in Tokyo.' He explains a few of his roles and the perks of being widely heard.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Entertainment news
Aug 17, 2021
Mary Fujishima, J-pop matriarch of Johnny & Associates, dies at 93
Johnny & Associates Inc. announced today that its honorary chairperson, Mary Yasuko Fujishima, sister of music mogul and company founder Johnny Kitagawa, died of pneumonia at a hospital in Tokyo on Aug. 14. She was 93 years old.
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Dec 24, 2020
How has COVID-19 changed Japan's pop culture? Episode 4: Rebuild
Two anime films — ”Demon Slayer” and “Violet Evergarden” — offer a dash of optimism to end 2020, as Japanese pop culture moves towards the beginning of a new era.
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Dec 23, 2020
How has COVID-19 changed Japan's pop culture? Episode 3: Adapt
Pop group NiziU's “Make You Happy” became the song of this very strange summer and the government changed its tone from stay home to Go To.
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Dec 22, 2020
How has COVID-19 changed Japan's pop culture? Episode 2: Isolate
When COVID-19 brought about a stay-at-home spring, Animal Crossing provided us with a digital island escape.
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Dec 21, 2020
How has COVID-19 changed Japan's pop culture? Episode 1: Collapse
In Episode 1 of Recultured, we look at how 2020 ground to a halt through the lens of "Terrace House," and hear from stars of the show about its dramatic ending amid the arrival of COVID-19.


Things may look perfect to the outside world, but today's mom is fine with some imperfection at home.
How 'Reiwa moms' are reshaping motherhood in Japan