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 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
For Thu-Huong Ha's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron” follows a young boy who enters a strange realm on a quest to find his missing stepmother.
Sep 4, 2023
‘The Boy and the Heron’ hype ramps up ahead of English release
Pairs of tickets to the Hayao Miyazaki film’s international debut at the Toronto International Film Festival are reselling for as much as ¥45,000.
Saou Ichikawa won Japan's Akutagawa Prize for her novella "Hunchback," which takes place in a group home in present day and centers on a woman diagnosed with myotubular myopathy.
Sep 2, 2023
Saou Ichikawa’s 'Hunchback': A darkly funny portrait of disability
The winner of the second 2023 Akutagawa Prize is a sardonic commentary on the utility of bodies, both abled and disabled.
Reader opinions have been mixed on Haruki Murakami's latest novel, “The City and Its Uncertain Walls.”
Aug 20, 2023
Haruki Murakami’s latest has readers and reviewers perplexed
Following the arrival of the renowned author’s first full-length novel in six years, critics and readers have been left scratching their heads.
The protagonist of Yu Miri’s “The End of August” is a fictionalized version of the author’s maternal grandfather, a long-distance runner who lived in Japanese-occupied Korea.
Aug 6, 2023
Yu Miri’s new book is a bleak, dizzying epic in colonized Korea
In “The End of August,” the Akutagawa Prize-winning author excavates her own family history and traces multiple generations living under Japanese rule.
Visitors to the "Henri Matisse: The Path to Color" exhibition at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum face tough decisions in the gift shop.
Aug 5, 2023
Matisse gachapon, Hockney parfaits: Japan’s next-level art merch
A Tokyo art exhibit doesn’t feel complete without a room filled wall-to-wall with custom trinkets.
A woman takes a picture of the poster for the new Hayao Miyazaki film, “The Boy and the Heron.”
PODCAST / deep dive
Aug 2, 2023
Hayao Miyazaki’s confusing new masterpiece
Our critics Thu-Huong Ha and Matt Schley discuss what they thought of the new Hayao Miyazaki film, “The Boy and the Heron.”
A cinema employee checks on a display showing a digital poster for Oscar-winning animator Hayao Miyazaki's latest film, "The Boy and the Heron," on the first day of its premiere in Tokyo on July 14.
Jul 21, 2023
For his last movie, Hayao Miyazaki recycles himself
While visually and technically stunning, "The Boy and the Heron" might give some viewers an unsatisfying sense of deja vu.
Japan Times
Events / Art
Jul 7, 2023
The world’s premier explosion artist buttons up for Tokyo
Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Ramble in the Cosmos ― From ‘Primeval Fireball’ Onward” at the National Art Center, Tokyo gives the artist’s fans something to linger over.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink
Jul 7, 2023
Why you may never see a permanent In-N-Out in Japan
Did you miss out on June’s In-N-Out Ebisu pop-up? Well, either get ready to wait until 2026 or book a flight to California.
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Jul 5, 2023
Would you spend the night in a coffin … for art?
Want to know what it’s like to spend the night in a coffin? Culture critic Thu-Huong Ha joins us to discuss her night in artist Marina Abramovic’s nightmare-inducing Dream House.
Japan Times
Events / Art / Longform
Jul 3, 2023
Sixteen hours in Marina Abramovic's nightmare hotel
In rural Niigata Prefecture, you can stay overnight in an artwork dreamed up by the world’s most infamous performance artist. If you don’t mind sleeping in a coffin.
Japan Times
Events / Art
Jun 25, 2023
How (and why) to enjoy a 700-year-old painting of Buddhist suffering
A Kamakura Period depiction of Buddha’s death, on view at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, is surprisingly relatable even today.
Japan Times
Jun 13, 2023
Losing and finding my cool in Gwangju
Located in a city imbued with a fighting spirit, art festival Gwangju Biennale 2023 provides a backdrop for contemplation about action, strength and inner calm.
Japan Times
May 11, 2023
Yu Yamauchi gets very comfortable in isolation
The photographer, whose exhibition "Jinen" is on display at this year"s Kyotographie photo festival, gets in touch with himself and the world with long, lonely stints immersed in nature.
Japan Times
Apr 29, 2023
DJ Nobu: The face of Japanese techno is ready to break free
Japan’s current king of underground techno leaves the pandemic years with a renewed desire to defy the status quo... and maybe even skip the country.
Japan Times
Apr 22, 2023
A new music festival shakes up Kyoto's staid atmosphere
Kyotophonie, a sister event to photography festival Kyotographie, succeeds in its uniqueness and use of storied spaces, but it’s not clear who the event is actually for.
Japan Times
Apr 18, 2023
‘The Great Reclamation’ details the horrors of the foreign occupation in Singapore
Rachel Heng’s dazzling coming-of-age novel, set before the island country’s independence in the 1960s, chronicles the tragedy of progress with a vivid cast of characters.
Japan Times
Apr 13, 2023
Haruki Murakami’s first novel in six years hits shelves in Japan
The bestselling author spent three years working nonstop on his new novel, "The City and Its Uncertain Walls," which reworks the story of the same title from 1980.
Japan Times
Mar 31, 2023
600 pages all at once: What readers are saying about Mieko Kawakami’s new novel
Initial reviews of “Sisters in Yellow” say the hefty book is a fast read that leaves an almost painful impression.
Japan Times
Mar 23, 2023
In Japan, cherry blossom forecasting is a big deal. Warming is making it harder.
A robust system of forecasting has built up around Japan’s sakura festivities, but climate change is disrupting the former and threatening the latter.


Hideo Shimoju points to a possible site that his fellow neighbors may relocate to. Such relocations have happened before, but not preemptively.
In disaster-prone Japan, some communities consider major moves