December 5, 2001 |
Newspapers in Japan have written extensive articles about the stores Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn prefers when he goes suit shopping. Hundreds of photographers at the recent Tokyo Motor Show jammed to the front of the stage when Ghosn introduced the new Nissan Z--not to take pictures of the car but to grab some candid shots of the heavy-browed executive.
November 17, 2001 |
On the wedding day of Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako in June 1993, a trained monkey named Tsurusuke peered into a crystal ball before a television audience of millions and predicted that the couple would bear three children, the first a girl. After an eight-year wait, a highly publicized miscarriage, endless speculation and a lot of hand-wringing, the nation is eagerly awaiting the royal couple's first child, expected any day now.
November 7, 2001 |
It can cost as much as $10,000 and as little as 80 cents. It's essential for emperors and paupers, those buying a $20-million house or a $20 newspaper subscription. It's a 5,000-year-old technology with deep security flaws but even deeper cultural roots. It's the hanko, Japan's version of the signature. "I don't exist in this society without my hanko," said Kyuyoh Ishikawa, a calligrapher and director of Kyoto Seika University's Institute for Writing and Civilizations.
October 2, 2001 |
In his sixth month in office, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is trying to rescue a moribund economy, mend tense relations with China and South Korea, and stamp out persistent corruption. But he's a player in a far more personal drama as well. Koizumi's 18-year-old son, Yoshinaga Miyamoto, longs to see his politician father, a man he has never met. The closest he has come was at a rally a few months ago, when he managed to get within about a dozen yards.
September 3, 2001 |
Come late summer, when northern Japan has finally shaken the memory of the frigid winter that piles snow up to windows, the giant taiko drums begin to beat, the bamboo flutes start to twitter and the spectacular handmade floats of heroes and warriors come a-rolling. Thousands of dancing men and women frolic along in the streets in a nightly parade, chanting a rhythmic "Ra Say Ra, Ra Say Ra, Ra Say Ra Say Ra Say Ra."
August 2, 2001 |
When Shiiko Kumagai's grandfather, a legendary craftsman who made exquisite handmade cast-iron teapots, died, she was making jewelry in Tokyo, a few hundred miles and light-years away. A few years later, her father died, and the family teapot-making business, which had survived for 15 generations, was in danger of collapse. "This family has a long history," she says. "Someone had to take over."
July 18, 2001 |
The art of every civilization is a mixture of tradition, observation and imagination. Maybe that's why a special exhibition at the Pacific Asia Museum is, initially, a little puzzling. Titled "The Nature of the Beast," about 50 drawings, scrolls and screens set out to show us how traditional Japanese art depicts animals. Earlier Japanese artists copied Chinese art. They were less interested in what animals really looked like than what they symbolized.
July 2, 2001 |
From women in colorful kimonos to schoolgirls in plaid skirts and "salarymen" in conservative ties, all heads in this city's fashionable Ginza district seem to be turning to take a gander at the long lines snaking out of a salon called Shampoo. With good reason: The eye-poppingly cheap price of just 1,800 yen (about $14) per haircut stands out as much in high-priced Tokyo as would a geisha strolling Malibu Beach.
June 26, 2001 |
Imagine Japan 50 years from now with a third fewer citizens. Or a child born today reaching age 100 in a country with only half its current inhabitants--the same number of people it had in 1928. Would Japan be a gloomy place mired in a semi-permanent recession, where the voices of children were rarely heard?
June 25, 2001 |
For more than three decades, Masako Shimano has been the perfect wife, dutiful daughter-in-law, self-sacrificing mother and tireless nurse. Now she works to spare other Japanese women the same fate. In this farming exurb about an hour's train ride northwest of Tokyo, women like Shimano, a 58-year-old grandmother, are still referred to as yome, or brides. But these brides are not wrinkled women in wedding kimonos. In rural Japan, "bride" is a job description for the wife of the eldest son.