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Interviews with the figures, both Japanese and foreign, whose thoughts and actions inform the course Japan takes today.

Miyazaki Yoshifumi Explores the Healing Power of the Forest

Shinrin-yoku, literally “forest bathing,” is a Japanese term that means relaxing in the forest to improve health. The term was first coined in the 1980s, but is now attracting increasing attention around the world. Miyazaki Yoshifumi has been researching shinrin-yoku for three decades and is the author of a new book detailing the scientific evidence for this and other nature therapies.

Restoring Angkor Wat: An Interview with Japanese Scholar Ishizawa Yoshiaki

Award-winning Japanese scholar Ishizawa Yoshiaki is one of the world’s leading authorities on Khmer inscriptions of the Angkor period (802–1431). His honors include the Ramon Magsaysay Award, sometimes described as the “Asian Nobel,” for his contributions over the course of half a century in restoring to the Cambodian people a sense of pride in their cultural heritage. We spoke to him about his long career working on the monuments at Angkor and his efforts to train a new generation of Cambodian conservators.

Body and Soul: An Interview with Master Swordsmith Miyairi Norihiro

Japanese swords are admired throughout the world for their legendary quality and long tradition of craftsmanship. For centuries the symbol of samurai honor and authority, their appeal is as powerful as ever. We visit one of Japan’s leading swordsmiths to learn more about the timeless magic of the Japanese sword.

Custodian of the Cherries: Sixteenth-Generation Japanese Gardener Sano Tōemon

Master gardener Sano Tōemon has laid out and cared for countless Japanese gardens in Japan and overseas. The 90-year-old veteran landscaper is particularly revered for his knowledge of flowering cherries, earning him the honored title of sakuramori, guardian of the beloved trees. In this interview Sano shares his views of sakura, traditional landscape gardening, and cultural change in Japan.

Small Daily Pleasures: Tanaka Tatsuya’s Miniature Calendar

Tanaka Tatsuya’s photographs of miniature figures set against scenes created from food or household goods have become an Internet sensation, earning him more than a million social media followers. In this interview, he talks about the creative process, his daily routine, and his love-hate relationship with broccoli.

Filmmaker Ōbayashi Nobuhiko: War and Peace and Cinema

Veteran director Ōbayashi Nobuhiko was told he had terminal cancer just before the filming of his latest film, Hanagatami, but lived to see it completed and is still thinking about his next project. In this interview, he talks about cinema and its connections with war and peace.

Veterinarian Tokuda Ryūnosuke: Postdisaster Help for Pets and Owners Alike

Veterinarian Tokuda Ryūnosuke has worked tirelessly to improve postdisaster quality of life for both humans and animals. In addition to opening an evacuation shelter for pets and their owners after the Kumamoto Earthquakes, he has promoted TNR (trap, neuter, return) to reduce culling of stray cats in Japan and participated in a rabies eradication campaign in Bali, Indonesia. What is the driving force behind these activities?

Cooking Guru Yukimasa Rika: Spreading the Gospel of Stress-Free Excellence

An entrepreneur with extensive experience abroad, Yukimasa Rika has employed a variety of media to share her secrets for living the good life in today’s busy, cosmopolitan world. Having gained a devoted following among Japanese working women with her simple but tasty recipes, she is now eager to spread the word about Japanese cooking.

The Freewheeling Yamazaki Mari: Citizen of the World and Bestselling Manga Artist Kiyono Yumi (Interviewer)

Yamazaki Mari is best known as the author of time-travel manga Thermae Romae, about an ancient Roman architect who gets ideas for bathhouse innovations during trips to modern Japan. She first visited Italy on a solo journey when she was just 14 years old. Since then, an unconventional life has taken her to numerous countries, including Syria, Portugal, and the United States.

The “Yōkai” Art of the MasterBringing Toriyama Sekien’s Monstrous Encyclopedias to Modern Readers

Toriyama Sekien was an influential Edo-period artist who taught some of the giants of the ukiyo-e world. Today he is best known for his collections of yōkai illustrations, which he released in four books in 1776–84 as a form of mass-produced popular literature. We spoke with the translators who have made his work available to Spanish and English readers about the artist and the impact he continues to have to this day.

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