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Thu-Huong Ha
Thu-Huong Ha is the culture critic at The Japan Times, focusing on contemporary art and fiction. Previously she was a reporter for Quartz, an editor for TED.com and an executive producer of TEDxNewYork. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wired, The Believer, and ArtReview, among others. Her debut novel, "Hail Caesar," was published by Scholastic/PUSH in 2007. Get in touch: [email protected] or instagram.com/whatthusee.
After his family loses its political influence, Prince Takaoka leaves his life in Japan behind and embarks on an adventure across Asia in Tatsuhiko Shibusawa’s “Takaoka’s Travels.”
CULTURE / Books
May 14, 2024
‘Takaoka’s Travels’: The fantastical romp of a real-life royal turned monk
Tatsuhiko Shibusawa’s outlandish novel is based on a real-life Japanese prince who set out for India, only to go missing along the way.
Birdhead members Ji Weiyu (left) and Song Tao, who are exhibiting “The Matrix” facing the “chikuin no ma” garden at Kondaya Genbei as part of Kyotographie 2024.
CULTURE / Art
May 3, 2024
Shanghai duo Birdhead flips photography
Artists Ji Weiyu and Song Tao play with randomness and control in their Kyotographie exhibition, "Welcome to Birdhead World Again, Kyoto 2024."
Theaster Gates' “A Heavenly Chord” lines up church pews before seven speakers and a Hammond B3 organ, a type of electric organ prevalent in Black American churches.
CULTURE / Art
Apr 27, 2024
Theaster Gates’ ambitious ‘Afro-Mingei’ brings Black Chicago to Tokyo
The largest solo show ever of a Black artist in Japan is an absorbing history lesson that draws a line between Chicago and Aichi.
Yassine Alaoui Ismaili, who goes by Yoriyas, turned to photography, shooting motion while in motion himself, after an injury forced him to give up his career as a professional breakdancer.
CULTURE / Art
Apr 22, 2024
Kyotographie's strong 12th edition shines light into the margins
This year’s installment of the photography festival highlights underrepresented groups from around the world — while avoiding anything too challenging.
The Oxford English Dictionary contains 552 Japanese loanwords in English, a small number compared to the near 25,000 borrowings from French.
LIFE / Language
Apr 18, 2024
The unexpected ways in which Japanese words 'make it' into English
Thanks to new entries in the Oxford English Dictionary, pretty soon even your grandparents will know what "onigiri" and "omotenashi" mean.
As well as its successes through director Hayao Miyazaki (right), Studio Ghibli has been equally successful with its business and marketing acumen, which are led by producer Toshio Suzuki (left).
CULTURE / Entertainment news
Apr 18, 2024
Cannes announces honorary Palme d’Or for Studio Ghibli
This marks the first time the honorary award is going to a group instead of an individual.
Yayoi Kusama during a media preview of her exhibition at the David Zwirner gallery in New York in November 2013.
CULTURE / Art
Apr 11, 2024
Yayoi Kusama was the world’s top-selling artist last year
Sales from Kusama’s auctioned works totaled $80.9 million in 2023, moving her up from the second-highest selling artist in 2022.
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.
CULTURE / Art / Longform
Apr 6, 2024
Why is the most exciting art in Japan so hard to get to?
Japan has a unique movement of public art projects and festivals that are a slog to get to — by design. A writer examines the country's “inconvenient art."
 “Time” is a mixed-genre performance, conceived by musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and artist Shiro Takatani, that depicts a struggle between man and nature.
CULTURE / Stage
Mar 30, 2024
Ryuichi Sakamoto and Shiro Takatani’s ‘Time’ is a dreamy blur
It’s been one year since the composer’s death, but his creative output carries on in Japan.
Riken Yamamoto is the ninth Japanese architect to receive the Pritzker Prize in the award’s 45-year history.
CULTURE / Art
Mar 5, 2024
Riken Yamamoto awarded Pritzker Prize for architecture
Riken Yamamoto is the ninth Japanese architect to receive the honor, making the nation again the country with the most Pritzker laureates.
An adult Natsuki (Manami Goto, center) and her husband (Hiromichi Aramaki, right) enter into a twisted relationship with her cousin (Mittsun, left) in “Earthlings.”
CULTURE / Stage
Feb 24, 2024
Sayaka Murata's 'Earthlings' is a fittingly wild ride on stage
The book’s gore and guts make for a fun, zany stage adaptation.
At the new teamLab Borderless museum, the crowd-favorite room of lamps from Borderless 1.0 has evolved into a room of light bubbles, which interact with each other and the bodies passing by.
CULTURE / Art
Feb 8, 2024
Have we reached teamLab saturation?
The art collective re-opens its Borderless museum in Azabudai Hills. But the experience is starting to feel stale.
The thick, supposedly lucky sushi rolls of Setsubun are full of it.
LIFE / Food & Drink
Jan 31, 2024
How a trendy sushi roll usurped the traditions of Setsubun
The lore around “ehōmaki” sounds just whacky enough to make it an old custom, but it turns out to be a fairly recent phenomenon.
Following the death of manga artist Hinako Ashihara, X users are going in search of clues, treating the internet as a virtual crime scene — and appointing themselves the arbiters of law and order.
CULTURE / Wide Angle
Jan 31, 2024
The internet goes in search of blame after the death of Hinako Ashihara
To piece together what happened, social media users are going in search of clues, treating the internet as a virtual crime scene.
Rie Qudan speaks to reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday after being awarded the Akutagawa Prize.
CULTURE / Books
Jan 19, 2024
Akutagawa Prize draws controversy after win for work that used ChatGPT
Rie Qudan won Japan’s most important prize for early career writers for “Tokyo-to Dojo-to,” a novel that “exposes the prophecy of the AI generation.”
In his new memoir, “Rental Person Who Does Nothing,” Shoji Morimoto describes his journey to becoming a professional blank page, citing his own posts on X (formerly Twitter), where he reflects on his transactions to nearly half a million followers.
CULTURE / Books
Jan 18, 2024
‘Rental Person Who Does Nothing’ finds value in just being
In his new memoir, Shoji Morimoto describes his unique business model: Do nothing for his clients.
“Transfer to my Account” shows dozens of "furikomi" stubs from deposits that Yasuko Toyoshima made to her own bank accounts
CULTURE / Art
Jan 14, 2024
Yasuko Toyoshima creates delight from the quotidian
A new Tokyo exhibit of the conceptual artist’s works presents a cohesive worldview about the interaction between a life of rules and deviation.
A colorful coral reef made out of wool to raise awareness about climate change, at a museum in Baden-Baden, Germany, in January 2022
ENVIRONMENT / Sustainability / OUR PLANET
Dec 31, 2023
The art world's big planetary problem
Over the last five years, it’s become increasingly clear to major art institutions in Japan and around the world that the sector has a sustainability issue.
Visitors in the last gallery of “Yves Saint Laurent, Across the Style” at the National Art Center, Tokyo, view designs inspired by fine art.
CULTURE / Art / 2023 in Review
Dec 16, 2023
Eager crowds congested Tokyo’s biggest art museums in 2023
Art fans came with wallets ready for a lineup of blockbuster exhibitions, creating bottlenecks at photo-friendly masterpieces and gift shops.
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.

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