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

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.

Shedding Light on “Formosa’s Betrayal”: Kabira Chōsei on George Kerr and Taiwanese History

Soon after World War II ended, the February 28 Incident rocked the island of Taiwan. The diplomat and scholar George Kerr explored this bloody chapter in Taiwanese history in his book Formosa Betrayed. We spoke with Kabira Chōsei, an Okinawan broadcaster raised in Taiwan under Japanese rule, about George Kerr—who taught him English in his school days—and his take on Taiwan’s past and present.

Japanese Natural Farming Guru Kawaguchi Yoshikazu

For decades now, Kawaguchi Yoshikazu has been challenging conventional agricultural wisdom by rejecting not only chemicals but also machinery, organic fertilizer, and tillage. We asked Kawaguchi to share his wisdom on natural farming and stewardship of the planet.

Josh Grisdale and Accessible Japan: Helping Disabled Visitors Follow Their Travel Dreams

Canadian-born Josh Grisdale has used a wheelchair since he was four years old. For the past decade, he has been living and working in Japan, where he gained citizenship last year. His website Accessible Japan encourages disabled tourists to visit the country by providing information on accessibility and reviews of attractions.

Akahoshi Takayuki: Leading Innovator in Cataract Surgery

Cataracts—the clouding of lenses in the eye—remain the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Although the condition can be cured with surgery, many patients in developing countries cannot receive treatment. In March 2017 Dr. Akahoshi Takayuki, developer and practitioner of a safe and quick procedure for cataract surgery, received the Kelman Award, presented by the Hellenic Society of Intraocular Implant and Refractive Surgery to ophthalmologists who have contributed internationally to this field.

Kunō Sachiko: Fostering Talent to Change the Future

Earning her fortune with a startup drug company, Kunō was recently named among the top 50 foreign businesswomen to have succeeded in the United States by the prestigious US business magazine Forbes. Currently based in Washington DC, Kunō is now pouring her boundless energy into supporting the work of young artists and social entrepreneurs.

Alex Kerr: A Taste of a Better Japan Kiyono Yumi (Interviewer)

Alex Kerr has spent more than a decade restoring traditional houses in remote parts of Japan and using them to revive local economies. In recent years, he has written acerbic critiques about the destruction of the Japanese landscape, rooted in his expert knowledge of East Asian arts and culture, and continues to work to develop a new approach to Japanese tourism that will tap the potential of the nation’s rich traditions and help to keep them alive for future generations.

Speaking the Language of Medicine: Egyptian Physician Osama Ibrahim

Egyptian-born Osama Ibrahim came to Japan determined to earn his Japanese medical license and become a practicing ophthalmologist. To do this, however, he first had to overcome the language barrier by mastering Japanese. In this interview, he shares what brought him to Japan and the trials he faced in achieving his dream.

A Life in Music: An Interview with Composer and Producer Murai Kunihiko Matsuki Naoya (Interviewer)

Composer, producer, and founder of Alfa Records Murai Kunihiko played a leading role in laying the foundations for J-pop in the 1970s. This included bringing the band Yellow Magic Orchestra to a global audience. In this interview, he shares his musical journey.

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