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Japan Glances Index

Discover Japan by picking a theme from the list below and exploring the related topics. Each short overview is illustrated with colorful photographs.

“Omikuji” and “Ema”

Shrines and temples offer paper fortunes known as omikuji that predict the purchaser’s luck for the year ahead. Visitors may also write their prayers for exam success or other favorable outcomes on wooden tablets called ema.

Fortune Beckons: Japan’s Lucky Cat FigurinesRichard Medhurst

One cat with its paw up beckoning you forward can be cute. When you’re up against a whole army, though, it’s disconcerting. These cats, known as manekineko, are said to bring good fortune and are a common sight in Japan at the entrance to shops and restaurants. They come in many different varieties, which is one reason why it’s unsettling to find a uniform group differentiated only by size. It’…

Customs, Festivals, and Observances: The Japanese Year

The year in Japan is characterized by the passing of the four seasons, but every month features its own traditional festivals and other customs—some ancient and some with more recent origins—that give a sense of the time of year. Here is a month-by-month guide to some of the most significant events in the Japanese calendar.

Ukiyo-e Prints Reflect the Popular Culture of EdoBrigitte Koyama-Richard

Japanese woodblock prints had a major influence on the development of European modern painting. Ukiyo-e continue to be extremely popular around the world, but few people know much about the original uses to which these prints were put back in the Edo period. Brigitte Koyama-Richard, a French expert on Japanese art, provides an introduction to the world of ukiyo-e.

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