Shorter pieces shedding light on the creativity underlying Japanese culture and technology and on lives and lifestyles in Japan.

Learning and Loving the Japanese Language

Some 4 million people are studying Japanese around the world. Whether you’re an anime and manga fan who wants to get closer to the real thing, a lover of arts, crafts, and other traditional culture, or a person who wants to live in Japan or work at a Japanese company, there are many reasons to learn. In this series we present diverse approaches to the language and stories from those who have tackled it successfully.

The Fascinating World of Japanese Onomatopoeia
Kyoto’s Museum for Kanji Lovers

Other reports

“Cool Traditions” Stay in Tune with Modern Life

Traditional art forms and aesthetics can be infused with new creativity as they are passed along from generation to generation. This series looks at some of these “cool traditions” that remain relevant by perfectly suiting contemporary sensibilities.

Karl Bengs: Keeping Memories Alive
A Homecoming of the Heart: Shakuhachi Player Bruce Huebner
A Trip to Ninja Country: Three Museums Dedicated to the Master Spies
Beyond Fiction: The Real Ninja
Ōkura Shōnosuke: Innovating with Tradition
Ties of Tradition: Ceramic Artist Katō Takuo’s Campaign to Restore Persian Lusterware to Iran
Teaching the Ways of the Samurai: An Interview with Ogasawara Kiyomoto
Beyond the Great Wave: Hokusai’s “Deep Old Age” at the British Museum
The Sash Tying Japan to the West Bank: Palestinian Embroidery Inspires a Cultural Entrepreneur
Mikimoto Kōkichi: The Pearl King and His Museum
A Peek into the Pearl Culture of Mie Prefecture
Keeping the “Ama” Tradition Alive in the Seas of Mie
Nishioka Fumio: An Armorer Bringing National Treasures Back to Life
The Nippon Bunraku Project Brings Barrier-Free Performances of Classical Puppet Theater to Ise Shrine
Digitally Mastered: The Ceramic Artwork of Masuda Toshiya
The Avant-Garde in Raku Ware
Keeping Japan’s Traditional Music Alive: Koto Player Curtis Patterson
The Deep Stillness of a Raku Tea Bowl
Listening to the Voices of Trees: The Bonsai World of Kawabe Takeo
Outdoor Performances Bring Bunraku Back to Its Popular Roots
New Hokusai Museum Showcases Japan’s Most Celebrated Artist
Wood, Mold, and Japanese Architecture
Cai Guo-Qiang Makes a “Homecoming” to Japan
Tsuchiya Bag and the Art of the “Randoseru”: The Making of a Timeless Backpack
“Randoseru” Backpacks Shed Childish Image as They Win Global Fans
Craftsman Robert Soanes: Restorer of Samurai Armor
Fireworks by “Hanabishi” Masters Blossom in the Night Sky
Modern-day Artisans Carry On the “Ukiyo-e” Tradition
Glorious Fireworks Color the Autumn Sky
Ukiyo-e Prints Reflect the Popular Culture of Edo
Ōmagari Fireworks Bedazzle the World
Shunga: Japanese Erotic Art Takes London by Storm
Mining the Past for New Gold: Artist Yamaguchi Akira
Bonsai: Nature in the Palm of Your Hand

The Simple Joys of Japanese Stationery

Stationery makers in Japan offer a dazzling lineup of innovative and trendy products, including customizable notebooks, masking tape in a rainbow of colors and designs, and imaginatively shaped erasers. Whether for a gift or personal use, there is something to meet almost any taste. In this series we delve into the remarkable world of writing materials to explore the ideas behind some of Japan’s most creative stationery items.

Crafted Comfort: Hacoa Brings the Warmth of Wood to the Digital Age
A Longtime Writing Companion: Japan’s Tsubame Notebook
Japanese Firm Brightens Work and Study with Adorable Collectable Erasers
The Attractive, All-Purpose Masking Tape of Kamoi Kakōshi
Hit the Road in Japan and Abroad with the Traveler’s Notebook

The World of Zen

From its beginnings in ancient India to its efflorescence in medieval Japan and its latest Western incarnation as "mindfulness meditation," Zen Buddhism has had a profound and wide-ranging impact on human culture and spirituality. This series examines Zen's global journey, the meaning of satori (enlightenment), and the rise of meditation as an aid to psychological well-being in our age of chaos, confusion, and information overload.

Saving Edo from War: The Political Insights of Yamaoka Tesshū
Meditation and Neuroscience: New Wave of Breakthroughs in Research on Meditative Practices
Zen and Politics: The Counsel of Yamamoto Genpō
The Roots of Mindfulness: Hakuin Ekaku and the Art of Zen
Steve Jobs and the Rediscovery of Zen

Tools for the Japanese Table

Healthy and delicious, Japan’s traditional cuisine is winning followers around the world. Japanese tableware and cooking utensils are one factor supporting this unique culinary culture. From the traditional crafts that make eating more fun to the master craftsmen themselves and their innovative technologies, we introduce the backstories and the workplaces where culinary masterpieces are born.

Tōjirō Knives: Bringing the Tsubame Brand of Cutting Quality to Global Kitchens
Tea and Sake Copperware by Gyokusendō: Combining Tradition and Innovation
Bjorn Heiberg, the “Savior of the Japanese Knife”

Shodō: The Art of Calligraphy

Calligraphy began as a means of transcribing kanji—characters imported from China—using ink and brush. Today, shodō has evolved into an art form that not only conveys information but also serves as an eloquent medium of personal expression.

A Life of Prayer: Kanazawa Shōko (Video)
A Room of Her Own: Kanazawa Shōko (Video)
At Home With Calligrapher Kanazawa Shōko: Down Syndrome and Independence
Strokes of Purity: Kanazawa Shōko (Video)
Kanazawa Shōko: Woman with Down Syndrome Becomes Top Calligrapher

Water in Japan

Water is an invaluable resource for humanity. Japan is fortunate in having a bountiful supply and has developed an array of approaches for managing its water resources. In this series we look at such aspects as public water systems, agricultural and industrial uses, and measures to mitigate water-related disasters.

Japan and the Art of Making Manhole Covers (Photo Gallery)
Art Underfoot: Japan’s Top 12 Designer Manhole Covers
“Underground Temple” Safeguards Greater Tokyo from Floods
A Solution to the Global Water Shortage?
Drinking from the Tap: Tokyo’s High-Quality Water Supply

Video highlights

New series

バナーエリア2
  • From our columnists
  • In the news