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

The World of Zen

From its beginnings in ancient India to its efflorescence in medieval Japan and its latest Western incarnation as "mindfulness meditation," Zen Buddhism has had a profound and wide-ranging impact on human culture and spirituality. This series examines Zen's global journey, the meaning of satori (enlightenment), and the rise of meditation as an aid to psychological well-being in our age of chaos, confusion, and information overload.

The Language of Zen: Words for a World of Change
The Roots of Mindfulness: Hakuin Ekaku and the Art of Zen
Steve Jobs and the Rediscovery of Zen

Other reports

Public Bathhouses: Take a Dip in Everyday Japan

Local bathhouses—known as sentō—used to be a familiar part of everyday life in Japan. But their numbers have declined steadily over the past few decades. Recently, efforts have begun to pass on the traditions of sentō culture to the next generation. What are the attractions of a traditional neighborhood bathhouse?

Tanaka Mizuki: The Young Woman Keeping the Tradition of Bathhouse Paintings Alive

Japan’s Robots: Becoming More Human

Japan has long been a leader in robotics technology, particularly in the industrial sphere. Today, though, there is a growing focus on the “human side” of robots, such as their relationship with the people who use them and even their forms. In this series we introduce a wide spectrum of examples, from popular humanoid robots to the latest original research.

Robot Runway: Pepper’s Fashion Show Debut (Video)
Remembering AIBO
The Dolls that Sparked Japan’s Love of Robots: “Karakuri Ningyō”
Japan’s First Robot
Fukushima’s Radioactivity-Proof Cleanup Robot
Robot Soccer
Building a Bear of a Robot
Famous Faces
The Robot that Won’t Help You
Leading the World in Humanoid Robotics

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.

Europe Embraces the Japanese Citron: One Village’s “Yuzu” Crusade
Soaking and Seasoning: The Aromatic Pleasures of “Yuzu”
Seeking Peach Immortality in Fukushima
Japanese Muskmelons: A Cut Above the Ordinary
Do I Dare to Eat a Peach? Behind Japan’s Freakish Fruit Prices

Shodō: The Art of Calligraphy

Calligraphy began as a means of transcribing kanji—characters imported from China—using ink and brush. Today, shodō has evolved into an art form that not only conveys information but also serves as an eloquent medium of personal expression.

Strokes of Purity: Kanazawa Shōko (Video)
Kanazawa Shōko: Woman with Down Syndrome Becomes Top Calligrapher

Exploring Japanese History

A country’s past reveals a lot about its present and future. This series delves into Japanese historical events and developments along the path to now.

Siebold: A German Naturalist in Nineteenth-Century Nagasaki

Shapers of Japanese History

Look back on the lives of the people who have influenced Japan and its culture over the years.

Natsume Sōseki: Japan’s Foremost Modern Novelist

Water in Japan

Water is an invaluable resource for humanity. Japan is fortunate in having a bountiful supply and has developed an array of approaches for managing its water resources. In this series we look at such aspects as public water systems, agricultural and industrial uses, and measures to mitigate water-related disasters.

A Solution to the Global Water Shortage?
Drinking from the Tap: Tokyo’s High-Quality Water Supply

A Capsule History of the Japanese Tattoo

Westerners have long admired the elaborate, richly colored designs of the traditional Japanese tattoo, or “irezumi”. But attitudes toward tattooing in Japan are complicated and ambivalent. In this series we explore the multifaceted culture of “irezumi” yesterday and today.

“Irezumi”: The Japanese Tattoo Unveiled

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