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How the Media Shaped Sumō’s Modern TraditionsJames Singleton

Sumō boasts an impressive history that by some accounts stretches back 2,000 years. Nearly every aspect of the sport—from the dress and customs of wrestlers to the elaborate rituals performed at tournaments—appears to date from antiquity. However, many facets of sumō familiar to fans today emerged in modern times. Waseda University Professor Lee Thompson, during a recent talk at the Internation…

Cold, Hard Cash: Worshippers Look to Giant Tuna for a Prosperous New Year (Japan in Photos)

Visitors to Nishinomiya Shrine in Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Prefecture, place small money offerings on a 2.3-meter long, 230-kilogram frozen tuna on January 8, 2018, as part of an annual New Year event. The shrine is dedicated to Ebisu, one of the Seven Gods of Fortune, who is closely associated with business success. Worshippers put coins on the large fish, enough for around 1,200 portions of sashim…

Ball-Juggling Ritual Marks New Year at Kyoto Shrine (Japan in Photos)

Members of the Kemari Preservation Society play the ancient ball game at Kamo Shrine in Kyoto on January 4, 2018. Kemari (kickball), a game where players cooperate to keep a ball in the air for as long as possible, was popular with aristocrats in the Heian period (794–1185). The society holds a ritual game at the start of each year with members showing off their nifty footwork while wearing co…

Shaking Off the Dust: End-of-Year Cleaning at a Kyoto Temple (Japan in Photos)

Buddhist priests and adherents take part in ritual cleaning at Nishihonganji in Kyoto on December 20, 2017. Susuharai, literally “sweeping away the soot,” is a traditional activity at the end of each year. At the headquarters of the Jōdo Shinshū school, 700 people beat tatami mats with sticks to shake up a year of dust before fanning it away. (© Jiji)

A Homecoming of the Heart: Shakuhachi Player Bruce Huebner

California native Bruce Huebner fell in love with the shakuhachi flute as a young man, and in the subsequent decades he has become an accomplished composer, performer, and teacher of the traditional Japanese woodwind instrument. A long-time resident of Japan, he spent many years in Fukushima, where he developed a deep affinity for the prefecture’s people and natural surroundings. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, he has used his music to aid in recovery efforts and connect with people affected by the disaster.

Youngest Pro Shōgi Player Fujii to Advance to High School (News)

Tokyo, Oct. 26 (Jiji Press)—Fujii Sōta, the youngest professional shōgi player, who grabbed the spotlight by setting an unprecedented winning streak earlier this year, has decided to move on to high school. Fujii, 15, plans to study at Nagoya University Affiliated Upper Secondary School in the city of Nagoya, the capital of Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, from April 2018 after graduating from …

Ōkura Shōnosuke’s Beat of Life (Video)Otome Kaita (video production and editing)

The tsuzumi hand drums used in Japan were originally instruments of prayer and invocation, and their natural timbre expressed a longing for a bountiful and peaceful life. The sound of the ōtsuzumi (hip drum), produced by those fully absorbed in their performance have, throughout history, been both electrifying and calming.

Ōkura Shōnosuke: Innovating with TraditionMiyazaki Yukio

Ōkura Shōnosuke is a virtuoso ōtsuzumi drummer in the tradition-bound world of the nō theater, but he is also an innovative artist whose powerful, pulsating rhythms resonate with nature and with life itself. Nippon.com explores the allure of this creative genius who continues to innovate with tradition.

Japan to Promote Active Tourism Use of Traditional Buildings (News)

Tokyo, Sept. 6 (Jiji Press)—Japan's tourism ministry plans to urge local governments to set ordinances to exempt historic buildings, such as kominka (traditional folk houses), from the building standards law, to better promote the use of such structures for tourism. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism will compile guidelines, including know-how for making such ordinance…

Japanese Castles

Many castles were built in Japan during the Warring States period (1467–1568), when regional leaders vied for power. Although a large number were destroyed in the centuries that followed, there are still several fine structures to visit today, including those that have been reconstructed.

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