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

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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.

Kanazawa Shōko: Woman with Down Syndrome Becomes Top Calligrapher

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.

Illustrating Miyazawa Kenji (Photo Gallery)
Miyazawa Kenji and the Art of the Picture Book: The Work of Kobayashi Toshiya
Miyazawa Kenji: A Literary Life in Northern Japan
Miyazawa Kenji’s Answers for Japan and the World

Japan’s Local Festivals: Spirit and Ceremony

Japan has many local festivals that bring communities together to watch and participate. In an atmosphere of tradition and ceremony, participants and onlookers are transported away from the everyday world. This series introduces the country’s lively, colorful celebrations.

Building a Dragon God (Photo Gallery)
Dragon God Brings the Rain at Saitama Festival

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

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

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

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