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Mountains, Mummies, and Modern Art: Ascetic Practice in Yamagata PrefectureDavid McMahon

For over a thousand years, Yamagata Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan side of the northern Tōhoku region, has drawn pilgrims and mystics to its mountains. As the native Shintō faith intertwined with imported Buddhism, Yamagata became the site for scores of shrines and temples, some of which remain to the present day. The holiest of all the sites in the region are the three sacred mountains of Dew…
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Scarecrows Stand Watch over Village on Borrowed TimeHarano Jōji

At first glance, they look much like people, and the village seems to be full of residents going about their daily business. These particular locals are not people, though, but scarecrows. The mannequins outnumber the village’s 40 or so human residents by more than two to one, and on the surface—with their own distinctive personalities—do create a rather cheerful atmosphere. But in the context of …
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Kyotographie: An International Photo Festival in Japan’s Ancient Capital

French photographer Lucille Reyboz launched the Kyotographie International Photography Festival in 2013 with Nakanishi Yūsuke as a way of drawing attention to the world of photography. Now in its second year, the festival is helping to raise the profile of photography in Japan and encourage dialogue among photographers around the world.
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Modern-day Artisans Carry On the “Ukiyo-e” TraditionBrigitte Koyama-Richard

The Adachi Institute of Woodcut Prints has reproduced around 1,200 masterpieces by artists such as Hokusai and Utamaro. Brigitte Koyama-Richard, a researcher in Japanese fine arts from France, visited their Tokyo studio to report on how they are using techniques unchanged since the Edo period.
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Shinohara Ushio and Noriko: A Couple Wrestles with the Demon Called Art

The Shinoharas, a Japanese couple pursuing art careers in New York since the 1970s, are the subject of Cutie and the Boxer, a documentary nominated for a 2014 Academy Award. We spoke to them about their art and lives during their recent visit to Tokyo.
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Ukiyo-e Prints Reflect the Popular Culture of EdoBrigitte Koyama-Richard

Japanese woodblock prints had a major influence on the development of European modern painting. Ukiyo-e continue to be extremely popular around the world, but few people know much about the original uses to which these prints were put back in the Edo period. Brigitte Koyama-Richard, a French expert on Japanese art, provides an introduction to the world of ukiyo-e.
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Shunga: Japanese Erotic Art Takes London by StormTony McNicol

Most people with even a nodding familiarity with Japanese art have marveled at the subtlety and liveliness of woodblock prints. But besides the famous scenes of rural and urban life, many of the best-known artists produced large numbers of sexually explicit pictures. Known as shunga, these works are marked by tenderness, humor, and biting satire. As a major exhibition at the British Museum draws big crowds, writer Tony McNicol takes a look at this most intimate of artistic genres.
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Comic Connections: Urasawa Naoki Talks with Top European Artists

The first International Manga Fest saw several panel discussions that thrilled audiences with talk and insight from top Japanese and foreign artists. Urasawa Naoki sat down with the famous combination of Benoît Peeters and François Schuiten, leading European creators of bandes dessinées.
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Emmanuel Lepage: Bringing Something New to BDs

A prizewinning French creator of the comics known as bandes dessinées, Emmanuel Lepage came to Japan for the first time in late 2012. There he met his hero of the manga world, Ōtomo Katsuhiro, and spoke to us about his art and sources of inspiration.
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Nailing a Fashion Trend

The past decade has seen an explosion of interest in nail art among Japanese women. The number of nail salons and schools to train the “nailists” (as they are called) has skyrocketed. Here we take a look at this growing fashion trend.
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