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Suicide in Japan

More than 27,000 people chose to end their lives in 2013 in Japan, which has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. While the number of suicides has begun to decline in recent years, figures remain high compared with other developed nations. We look at global figures and consider various factors affecting people’s decisions to take their own lives.

Thomas Noguchi, Legendary Hollywood CoronerYamada Toshihiro

Thomas Noguchi in 2013. As chief medical examiner for Los Angeles County from 1967 to 1982, Thomas Noguchi performed autopsies on so many celebrities that he became known as the “coroner to the stars.” Noguchi was the first Japanese-American to occupy such a high-profile position, but he first entered the public eye in 1962, while still deputy coroner. That was when he conducted the postmortem e…

Communing with the Dead on Japan’s Terrible MountainJames Singleton

Visitors to Osorezan, a sleeping volcano in the northern prefecture of Aomori, notice the pungent odor of sulfur well before they arrive at the grounds of the temple Bodaiji. I discovered this years ago while walking through the virgin forest that shrouds the enormous crater where the temple is located. Those accustomed to hot springs in Japan might associate the odor with relaxing dips in geother…

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