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Shimoguri-no-sato: A Japanese Shangri-la

Amid the soaring peaks of southern Nagano Prefecture, a solitary hamlet clings to a mountaintop, seemingly suspended in both space and time. We visited Shimoguri-no-sato, where crops grow abundantly on steep slopes 1,000 meters above sea level, and the villagers continue to observe the ancient harvest rite that served as inspiration for Miyazaki Hayao’s Spirited Away.

Japan’s 72 Microseasons

In ancient times the Japanese divided their year into 24 periods based on classical Chinese sources. The natural world comes to life in the even more vividly named 72 subdivisions of the traditional Japanese calendar.

Soaking up the Benefits: Japan’s Hot Springs TraditionMatsuda Tadanori

Japanese people have loved onsen since ancient times for the comfort they bring to mind and body. We introduce the beauty benefits and anti-ageing effects offered by hot springs while examining the relationship between the Japanese people and onsen.

Professor Onsen’s Top Hot SpringsMatsuda Tadanori

Japan is blessed with over 3,000 onsen (hot-spring) areas, but here we look at 12 specially selected by Matsuda Tadanori, a leading expert who has been dubbed “Professor Onsen.” These are hot spring destinations whose invigorating waters and age-old traditions set them apart.

Five Places to See Autumn LeavesNippon.com Staff

Just like the "cherry blossom front" in spring, the Japanese enjoy following the "fall foliage front" as it travels down the archipelago in the fall. Here are five selected locations to see the autumn leaves at their most vibrant. Daisetsuzan, before the snow falls. Early in the fall, people start looking forward to colorful leaves. Reds and oranges spread first across the mountain Asahidak…

An Agricultural Wonder: Japan’s Vanishing Terraced Rice Fields (Photos)Kit Takenaga (Photographer)

Terraced rice fields, constructed and refined by farmers over centuries, were once a common sight on Japan’s hillsides. Today, though, they are disappearing from the landscape. These photographs document the natural, agricultural, and cultural heritage of the tanada.

Ontake Erupts, Shows Difficulty of Predicting Volcanic Disaster

On September 27, 2014, Mount Ontake suddenly erupted. The 3,067-meter peak, which straddles the border between Nagano and Gifu Prefectures, is Japan’s second-highest volcano behind Mount Fuji and is listed as one of the nation’s “100 Famous Mountains.” Many climbers enjoying the fine weather of the autumn season were caught up in the disaster, which caused numerous fatalities. This is the first ti…

The Problems of Science Management: Riken Is No Isolated CaseSven Saaler

The recent revelations concerning irregularities in papers published by a number of researchers affiliated with the research institute Riken have caused a rare surge of media interest in the state of affairs of science in Japan. In fact, the situation has exposed problems not only in Japan’s scientific establishment, but also in science and research management in general. Media coverage has nar…

Keeping Mount Fuji at the Peak of Beauty

Mount Fuji has always been spectacular at a distance. But up close an excess of garbage has tarnished its beauty in recent years. This problem sparked a movement to clean up the mountain and conserve its natural environment. It’s an effort that’s more important than ever now that Mount Fuji has become a World Heritage site.

Mount Fuji’s Servant: Ōyama Yukio

Mount Fuji was recently registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of course, all Japanese people are familiar with their country’s highest mountain—but one man has spent his life getting to know it better than anyone else. We talked to photographer Ōyama Yukio about nearly 40 years spent in pursuit of the mountain’s deepest secrets.

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