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Edo period
The “Yōkai” Art of the Master

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.

Sakamoto Ryōma: The Samurai Who Dreamed of a Modern Japan

Sakamoto Ryōma is one of Japan’s favorite historical figures and was a central mover in efforts to overthrow the shogunate 150 years ago. He was killed at the age of 31, however, and so did not live to see his efforts to modernize the country bear fruit. In this article we look at the life and enduring popular appeal of a low-ranking samurai who became influential at the highest level.

The Dolls that Sparked Japan’s Love of Robots: “Karakuri Ningyō”

The mechanical dolls of the Edo period, called karakuri ningyō, were the starting point of Japan’s love affair with robots. The intricate clockwork motors inside dolls create playful, realistic movements that capture the imagination and inspire affection.

Thoughts on Martial Arts, Education, and ValuesKōno Yoshinori

A new guideline requiring martial arts instruction in Japanese junior high schools has provoked considerable controversy on safety grounds. Taking a historical and philosophical perspective, martial arts instructor and scholar Kōno Yoshinori challenges the very premises of the government’s policy.

Mount Fuji in Edo Arts and MindsTakashina Shūji

Nippon.com greets 2012 with this reprinted article from Japan Echo on Mount Fuji, held to be the most auspicious object to appear in the first dream of the New Year. Takashina Shūji explores the mountain in art, culture, and history.

Samurai Spirit Still Animates JapanHosoda Haruko

In October this year, Spain’s prestigious Prince of Asturias Award of Concord was bestowed on the “heroes of Fukushima” who fought to bring the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station under control. In attendance at the award ceremony were representatives of Japan’s Self Defence Forces, fire-fighters, and police officers, all of whom worked to cool down the reactors and evacuate near…

A Metropolitan Government for Osaka?Mamiya Jun

Ambitious proposals for a major shakeup in local government administration have put my hometown of Osaka in the national spotlight recently. It is the first time Osaka has thrown down a challenge like this for many years. Mayoral elections for the city of Osaka will be held on November 27.(*1) One of the candidates is Hashimoto Tōru, who resigned as governor of Osaka Prefecture in order to run. W…

Making the Most of Serendipity

Robert Campbell is an American-born professor of Japanese literature at the University of Tokyo whose frequent television appearances have made him a well-known public figure. We talked to Campbell about the allure of Japanese culture and its potential for the future.

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