Comprehensive series of articles on themes too broad or complex to be addressed in a single post.

Feature series

Latest articles

Giants Roam Fukui at Prefectural Dinosaur MuseumMuseums Off the Beaten PathJulian Ryall

Fukui Prefecture, on the Japan Sea coast, is home to Japan’s leading museum focused on dinosaurs. Some 80% of the dinosaur fossils discovered in Japan come from Fukui, and this prefectural facility has attracted national—and even global—attention since opening in 2000. With millions of satisfied visitors to date, the museum offers a full day’s worth of fun to dino-loving kids and adults alike.

Japanese Perceptions of LifeRemarkable Recovery: The Modern History of Japan’s EnvironmentIshi Hiroyuki

A complete examination of wildlife in Japan must include consideration of the Japanese people’s views of the fauna. In this article, Ishi Hiroyuki examines Japanese attitudes towards animals and the historical origins of those attitudes.

Golden Crimes: Growing Smuggling Problem Exposed by High-Profile RobberiesThe Yakuza Landscape Today

Gold smugglers who evade consumption tax requirements at Japanese customs can make large profits by selling the precious metal at tax-inclusive prices. The trade has expanded since the 2014 hike in consumption tax to 8%, and the huge sums of money involved have led to robberies of gold and cash.

“Nabe”Japan Glances

On a cold day, nabe (hot pot) is perfect for warming both body and soul. Here we introduce some of Japan’s most popular varieties.

Timeline for January 2018Japan Timeline

A volcano erupts in Gunma Prefecture, the Aum Shinrikyō trials end after more than 20 years, and Kyoto University admits falsification in an iPS cell research paper. These are the leading Japan-related stories of January 2018.

Seeking Balance with the BearRemarkable Recovery: The Modern History of Japan’s EnvironmentIshi Hiroyuki

The Japanese black bear (Ursus thibetanus japonicus) has vanished from the islands of Shikoku and Kyūshū in southwestern Japan, but on the main island of Honshū they remain plentiful and in some areas pose a serious threat to farm crops and human life. We see here a conflict between humans and wildlife that runs deeper than the simple dichotomy of hunting and preservation.

Rebellion of the WildRemarkable Recovery: The Modern History of Japan’s EnvironmentIshi Hiroyuki

So far, this series has focused on wild bird species and their recovery from near-extinction. But protection can at times go too far, upending the natural balance and sending animal populations to dangerous levels. Japan’s deer offer a prime example of this.

A North Korean Spy Ship in Yokohama: The Japan Coast Guard MuseumMuseums Off the Beaten PathJulian Ryall

The Japan Coast Guard museum displays the day-to-day operations of the JCG, although the incident it was opened to showcase—the sinking of a North Korean espionage boat—resembles a spy thriller more than real life.

Kawase Naomi’s “Radiance” Featured at Tokyo International Film FestivalAt the Movies

Kawase Naomi is one of the best-known Japanese film directors at work today. Her latest movie Hikari (Radiance), recipient of the 2017 Ecumenical Jury award at the 2017 Festival de Cannes, was picked for screening in the prestigious “Japan Now” program at the thirtieth Tokyo International Film Festival. Kawase discussed her distinctive approach to filmmaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

Timeline for December 2017Japan Timeline

The date of Emperor Akihito’s abdication is fixed, NHK fees are ruled to be constitutional, and baby panda Shan Shan makes her public debut. A review of Japan’s news stories for December 2017.

Rediscovery and Recovery of the Crested IbisRemarkable Recovery: The Modern History of Japan’s EnvironmentIshi Hiroyuki

In the early 1980s, when bird conservationists around the world feared that the crested ibis was in danger of extinction, Japan’s Environment Agency (now Ministry of the Environment) launched a program to breed and raise the birds in captivity. But the birds died, one after another. Finally, when only one was left, good news arrived from China: crested ibises had been rediscovered in the wild.

A Year of Japanese Searches: The Top Internet Keywords of 2017This Year in Japanese

The top Japanese search terms for 2017 as announced by Google and Yahoo. All the personalities, products, and news stories that got Japan’s web-surfers looking for more information.

Storming the Dictionary: The Top New Japanese Words for 2017This Year in Japanese

Two of Japan’s leading dictionary publishers announce their top new words of 2017. An overview of the some of the most popular vocabulary to enter Japanese in recent times.

“Eto”Japan Glances

The eto are zodiacal animals that form a 12-year cycle. Around November and December, the animal connected with the upcoming year starts to appear in stores on New Year nengajō cards and a range of seasonal products on sale in Japan’s stores.

Kanji of the Year: “Kita” the Northern Winner for 2017This Year in Japanese

In a year of political action at home and uncertainty on the international front, the Japanese public decided that 北 (kita or hoku), meaning “north,” was the kanji best expressing what 2017 meant to them. Read on to learn why and to see the top 10 finishers in this year’s Kanji of the Year competition.

The Upstart Gangs Filling the Yakuza Power VacuumThe Yakuza Landscape Today

As tightened legislation increasingly limited yakuza activity from the 1990s, new criminal groups emerged to fill the gaps. The most notorious of these hangure gangs was Kantō Rengō, whose name resounded through Tokyo streets in the 2000s and early 2010s. One of its former bosses, Shibata Daisuke, presents an inside view.

Video highlights

New series

  • From our columnists
  • In the news