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:

Bilingirl has plenty to teach you

Dec 5, 2014

Bilingirl has plenty to teach you

Chika Yoshida, aka Bilingirl, wears many hats. She teaches English, sings, dances and makes costumes. She could be dressed up as Malificent with horns sticking out of her head, have her face painted white and talk in a squeaky voice like comedian duo Nippon ...

Seizing the initiative for women at work

Nov 22, 2014

Seizing the initiative for women at work

Faced with a domestic economy that is sputtering, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has in recent months attempted to promote a sector that has long been underutilized in Japan — women. Speaking before the U.N. General Assembly in New York last year, Abe pledged "to create ...

Japan helps too few refugees: UNHCR chief

Nov 18, 2014

Japan helps too few refugees: UNHCR chief

The ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq have produced more than 12 million refugees and internally displaced people. They are flooding across borders in the region, and some neighboring states have reached their limit. One-third of Lebanon's population now comprises refugees. Meanwhile, Japan, a signatory ...

Kendama: a whole new ball game

Nov 8, 2014

Kendama: a whole new ball game

Almost every child that has grown up in Japan has seen a kendama, a wooden traditional Japanese toy consisting of a ken (sword) and tama (ball) connected by a length of string. The ken has three cups and a spike that fits into a hole ...

Kendama: spin doctors

Nov 8, 2014

Kendama: spin doctors

On the streets of Tokyo, Zoomadanke's "Kodaman" (Takeshi Kodama) and "Easy" (Hiroki Iijima) look like any other young men in their 20s or 30s. The second they start playing kendama, however, the pair will put on a performance that completely redefines the traditional wooden ...

Antique fair offers a hunt for treasure

Nov 6, 2014

Antique fair offers a hunt for treasure

When you see an antique, what catches your attention? Some people imagine the history or story behind it, perhaps there's a bit of romance or mystery involved. Some people look at the object and see dollar signs, and some see a piece of art. ...