Shorter pieces shedding light on the creativity underlying Japanese culture and technology and on lives and lifestyles in Japan.

Japanese Fruit: In Pursuit of Sweet Perfection

Fruit in Japan can be startlingly expensive by global standards. Strongly associated with luxury and commonly given as a gift, flawless Japanese melons and other produce are becoming increasingly popular elsewhere in Asia, too.

Japanese Muskmelons: A Cut Above the Ordinary
Do I Dare to Eat a Peach? Behind Japan’s Freakish Fruit Prices

Other reports

Insider’s Guide to Shintō Shrines

Amid all the change that has swept Japanese society in modern times, the position of the Shintō shrine remains rock-solid. There is always something drawing local residents to the neighborhood shrine, whether it be an annual celebration like New Year’s Day or just the hope of warding off bad luck. Foreign tourists also feel the pull of these hallowed spots, which somehow instill a sense of awe in even the most casual visitor. Through images and words, this series offers information and insights that will challenge your preconceptions and make your own shrine visit that much more meaningful.

“Shōzoku”: The Shintō Vestments
“Shamusho”: The Shrine Office
“Shintai, Shinboku”: The Divine Object or Tree
“Honden”: The Main Sanctuary Structure
“Tamagaki”: Fence Around the Sacred Space
“Haiden”: The Hall of Worship
“Komainu”: The Shrine’s Guardian Figures
“Temizuya”: The Cleansing Ritual
“Shimenawa”: The Sacred Rope
“Sandō”: The Worshipper’s Path
Torii: Gates to the Sacred Spaces
Your Virtual Guide to the Shintō Shrine

New Perspectives on Miyazawa Kenji

Miyazawa Kenji was born in August 1896 in Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture. He wrote a host of poems and children’s stories before his death at the age of 37 in September 1933. He drew inspiration from the Lotus Sutra and worked to improve the lives of local farmers, while battling illness for many years. This series of articles looks back at Kenji’s life and works on the 120th anniversary of his birth.

Miyazawa Kenji: A Literary Life in Northern Japan
Miyazawa Kenji’s Answers for Japan and the World

Frightfully Fun: Japan’s Ghosts, Ghouls, and Haunted Houses

Summer in Japan is the season for scary stories—when you can’t escape the heat, you shiver with fear at tales of ghosts and yōkai. Here we introduce some of the country’s creepiest culture, from its haunted houses to its supernatural-themed art and more.

Itō Seiu Ghost Paintings Summon Up Spirits of Edo
“Baby in Hell”: The Latest Haunted House Attraction of a Horror Maestro
Gomi Hirofumi and Japan’s Scariest Haunted Houses

Rhythms of Nature

Deep interaction with nature reveals truths about the human condition and provides insight on our place in the natural environment. Explore the world as it is, and as Japanese observers have captured it, in this series. (Banner photo: Caribou ford a river in Alaska. Photograph by Hoshino Michio and provided courtesy of Hoshino Naoko/Hoshino Michio Office.)

Visions of Alaska: Remembering Japanese Photographer Hoshino Michio

The Tokusatsu Entertainment Genre that Godzilla Spawned

Godzilla first appeared on the big screen 60 years ago, with the release of the 1954 film of the same title. This anniversary coincides with the 2014 release of a popular new Hollywood film also titled Godzilla. In this series, we take a closer look at the so-called tokusatsu style of special effects that Godzilla spawned as well as the movies and TV series that emerged in the six decades that followed, while also speculating on what the future might hold for this genre.

Resurgent Godzilla Back to Trample Tokyo
“Attack on Titan” Invades Movie Theaters: An Interview with Director Higuchi Shinji
(Video) Godzilla’s Second Tour of Duty
Being Godzilla: An Interview with Nakajima Haruo, the Man Inside the Suit
Godzilla’s Analog Mayhem and the Japanese Special Effects Tradition

What’s Next on the Ghibli Storyboard?

Less than three years after Miyazaki Hayao announced that The Wind Rises (2013) would be his last feature animated film, the legendary director and animator is quietly at work on a new project. Studio Ghibli producer and chairman Suzuki Toshio, Miyazaki’s longtime collaborator, offers a tantalizing glimpse of the studio’s near- and long-term future as it grapples with the challenges of a new era. In the meantime, fans will have ample opportunity this summer to immerse themselves in the world of Studio Ghibli with the opening of the Ghibli Expo in Tokyo and a special exhibit, All Aboard! The Cat Bus to the Ghibli Forest, at the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka.

Ghibli Museum, Mitaka (Photo Gallery)
Adults Also Welcome on the Cat Bus to the Ghibli Forest
Ghibli Expo: Three Decades of Studio Ghibli Films
What’s Up at Studio Ghibli? Catching Up with Producer Suzuki Toshio

Japan’s Rail Network

Japan is a railfan’s delight, boasting not only leading-edge technologies like those featured in the Shinkansen and the maglev but also an increasing number of unique rail services in localities around the country.

“Dragon Quest” Theme Rings Out on Shibuya Trains (Video)
Tokyo’s New Restaurant Train Offers Haute Cuisine on Wheels
Kyoto Railway Museum (Photo Gallery)
Kyoto Railway Museum: A Showcase of Japan’s Rail Heritage

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