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PachinkoJapan Glances

Pachinko is big business in Japan, with thousands of halls and parlors nationwide. The pinball variant exploits a legal loophole to offer players the thrill of gambling for money, but competition from other forms of entertainment is chipping away at its long-term popularity.

Saint Francis Xavier and the Roots of Christianity in JapanNagasaki’s Light and Shadow

Arriving in Japan in 1550, Jesuit priest Francis Xavier played a key role in the early spread of Christianity in the country. His missionary work included preaching in Hirado in the northwest of present-day Nagasaki Prefecture, where Christianity took root most firmly and “hidden Christians” preserved the faith during centuries of prohibition. Today Hirado is home to numerous historic churches, testifying to the enduring influence of Spanish and Portuguese missionaries.

A New Chinatown Emerges in Tokyo’s IkebukuroJapan’s Ethnic EnclavesYamashita Kiyomi

Chinatowns have existed as ethnic enclaves in Japan since the nation opened its borders to the outside world in the mid-nineteenth century. More recently, as Japan and China build closer economic ties, a new Chinatown is taking shape in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro.

GinzaJapan Glances

Boasting 400 years of history, Ginza in Tokyo has long been a symbol of the city’s affluence. With its high-end stores and restaurants, it showcases the best of Japan in one small area.

Japan’s Space Program Comes of AgeJapan Data

This is a busy time for Japan’s space program. The Japanese astronaut Yui Kimiya arrived at the International Space Station on July 23 for a scheduled stay of about five months; Japan’s space agency is preparing to launch an unmanned transfer craft to carry supplies to the ISS this month; and the nation has recently adopted a basic plan that provides for greatly expanded activity in space. takes a look at these and other Japanese happenings beyond Earth.

Obon: A Summer Festival for Honoring AncestorsJapan Glances

The summer festival of Obon ranks alongside New Year in its importance in the Japanese calendar. It is a time when families get together to honor ancestors and visit their graves. And it is also known for the lively dancing of the bon odori.

The Bells of Nagasaki Ring OnNagasaki’s Light and ShadowHarano Jōji

In the morning of August 9, 1945, an atomic bomb exploded in the sky 500 meters above Urakami Cathedral, which had stood in an area of Nagasaki occupied by Christian believers ever since the seventeenth century. Several dozen priests and worshippers who had been praying in the cathedral were killed instantaneously, and the building itself was destroyed. The explosion took the lives of many people in the nearby Nagasaki Medical College as well. For Nagai Takashi, who was working as a doctor in the college hospital and suffered radiation exposure and severe injuries in the bombing, it was the beginning of a struggle to record the tragedy for posterity.

A Glimpse of Nagasaki: 70 Years After the Atomic BombNagasaki’s Light and ShadowHarano Jōji

For centuries the port city of Nagasaki was a window for foreign trade, visited by ships from China, Korea, and countries as far away as Europe. At 11:02 a.m. on August 9, 1945, 374 years after the first Portuguese trader landed at its port, an atomic bomb detonated over the city, spreading death and destruction. Together with Hiroshima, Nagasaki stands as a “legacy of tragedy” and an invocation of peace.

Japanese Ramen Firms Dig Into International MarketRamen Goes Global

Ramen is increasingly popular with diners around the world. And a growing number of Japanese purveyors of the noodle cuisine are setting up shop overseas. examines the experience of two Japanese companies: a large, well-established chain that is building a market presence in Europe, North America, and Oceania and an upstart venture business that is focusing on Southeast Asian markets.

Timeline for July 2015Japan Timeline

The House of Representatives approves new security legislation, plans for the new National Stadium are scrapped, and Nadeshiko Japan reaches the final of the Women’s World Cup. Look back on the major Japan-related stories of July 2015.

“Rakugo” (The Art of Storytelling)Japan Glances

“Rakugo” storytelling dates back to the Edo period (1603–1868) and remains popular today. The often comic monologues rely on the skill of the teller, rather than scenery or complex props.

Ramen Takes Off as Global Soul FoodRamen Goes GlobalIshiyama Hayato

Ever since falling in love with ramen in his high-school days, Ishiyama Hayato has been submerged in the soupy, slurpy world of this popular noodle dish. Here he considers how ramen evolved to become a Japanese favorite that is winning overseas fans too.

“Sentō”: Japan’s Public BathhousesJapan Glances

Enjoying a long soak in a warm bath is a much-loved practice in Japan. Traditional “sentō” (public bathhouses) as well as large commercial facilities feature a wide variety of amenities for bathers to enjoy as they relax, both in and out of the tub.

“Yatai” Food StallsJapan Glances

“Yatai” stalls are a great place to find Japanese street cuisine. These mobile eateries are common at festials as well as on the streets of Fukuoka and other cities around the country.

A Guilty Verdict for the Last Aum Defendant: What We’ve Learned About Mind Control Over the Past 20 YearsA Pivotal Year: Japan in 1995Egawa Shōko

Takahashi Katsuya was the last member of the murderous Aum Shinrikyō cult to face justice. The guilty verdict returned against him in April is a watershed in the legal proceedings that followed the cult’s sarin gas attack on Tokyo subways in 1995. This is thus an apt time to think anew about how Aum transformed formerly upright young people into criminals.

Weddings in JapanJapan Glances

Traditional Japanese weddings were secular and held in the home, but today they usually involve some kind of religious-style ceremony, based on a traditional Shintō or Christian theme.

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