Brian MacDuckston poses with a bowl of his favorite ramen at Gamushara in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward in May. (Susumu Sakamoto)
American ramen fanatic publishes book of Tokyo's top noodle joints
An American expat has reached a milestone in his quest for the perfect ramen dish by publishing a guidebook featuring reviews of his top 50 noodle shops in Tokyo.
Tokusaburo Takakura binds up sorghum to produce his company's trademark "Nanbu Houki" brooms at a workshop in Kunohe, Iwate Prefecture. (Naoaki Terasawa)
Iwate father and son hoping for clean sweep with handcrafted brooms at Japan Expo
KUNOHE, Iwate Prefecture--Just as Nanbu Tekki ironware from Iwate Prefecture is globally popular, a father and son from this small village could start cleaning up across the world with their high-end “Nanbu Houki” brooms.
Sri Lankan monk Thalangalle Somasiri shows the Shinhalese version of volumes 1 and 2 of “Hadashi no Gen” (Barefoot Gen) at Lankaji temple in Katori, Chiba Prefecture. (Ko Iwaki)
Buddhist monk promotes peace through release of anti-nuclear manga in Sri Lanka
With his home country of Sri Lanka having been embroiled in decades-long conflicts, Thalangalle Somasiri felt moved after reading the manga series “Hadashi no Gen” (Barefoot Gen), which depicts the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Video footage of Shigeru and Sakie Yokota, the parents of North Korean abductee Megumi Yokota, was filmed by Nobumichi Tanabe. (Provided by Nobumichi Tanabe)
Tokyo man captures parents' decade-long crusade to rescue daughter from N. Korea
For the past 10 years, Nobumichi Tanabe has trained his video camera on Shigeru and Sakie Yokota to chronicle their quest to bring their daughter Megumi back to Japan.
Yoko Hayashi (Photo by Kazuo Yamamoto)
U.N. panel leader's long road for equal rights
Even as a teenager, Yoko Hayashi was never shy about challenging the traditional norms in Japanese society.
Toshiro Mifune in the 1961 Akira Kurosawa film "Yojimbo" (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Toshiro Mifune to get star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
SAN FRANCISCO--Japanese movie star Toshiro Mifune (1920-1997) will join the ranks of globally renowned legends at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced June 22.
Psychologist Minako Fujiki giving a lecture at a women's shelter in Osaka (Mari Endo)
Victim of domestic violence turns psychologist to help scarred women
OSAKA--A woman who suffered repeated domestic violence while growing up and again in married life is now a psychologist reaching out to others through lectures and seminars.
Ayumi Uekusa works out along with current members of the Teikyo University karate team. (Shiro Nishihata)
Fresh face packs a wallop in campaign to include karate at 2020 Tokyo Games
At first, Ayumi Uekusa hesitated about becoming the public "face" of karate's bid to become a medal sport at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Hidechika Nomi with his drawings of Audrey Hepburn in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture (Sachi Otsuta)
No holidays for an artist drawn in by Audrey Hepburn
TOYONAKA, Osaka Prefecture--Hidechika Nomi has been sketching pencil portraits of his first love for 40 years.
The image of “Diamond Fuji” as captured by Shoshin Shinbayashi from Kawakami, Nara Prefecture, on June 4 (Provided by Shoshin Shinbayashi)
Monk awed by spectacle of iconic ‘Diamond Fuji’ from distant vantage point
KAWAKAMI, Nara Prefecture--A Buddhist monk known for his photographs from afar of Mount Fuji recently captured spectacular images of the sparkling phenomenon known as "Diamond Fuji" from 277 kilometers southwest of Japan's iconic peak.
Singer Hikaru Okuno performs at a meeting hall of a temporary housing facility in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, on June 9. (Yosuke Fukudome)
'Diva of temporary housing facilities' to perform landmark 400th show in Tohoku
RIKUZENTAKATA, Iwate Prefecture--Hikaru Okuno may be from distant Osaka Prefecture, but she's about to give her 400th performance for evacuees in the disaster-stricken Tohoku region.
Author Yu Miri interviews local guests in a radio program in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture. (Masakazu Honda)
Away from home but where the heart is--novelist moves to Fukushima
MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture--“Many people who know me think this is another abrupt and off-the-wall act,” said award-winning author Yu Miri. “But it's not. I have been planning this for a long time.”
Keiko Kato sings opera with a piano accompaniment at Nagoya College of Music in Nagoya's Nakamura Ward. (Photo by Nana Ogawa)
At 73, oldest freshman ever at Nagoya College of Music singing opera
NAGOYA--Despite her advanced years, Keiko Kato handily outshines singers decades younger than her.
Nobuyo Tada and her husband, Degenhard von Twickel, watch children play on a swing donated from Germany to an interim elementary school in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, on April 22. (Yoshitaka Ito)
After spontaneous remark, gifts from Germany lift spirits of Fukushima children
AIZU-WAKAMATSU, Fukushima Prefecture--Nobuyo Tada beamed at the sights and sounds of disaster-affected pupils swinging on playground equipment here, the result of a spur-of-the-moment comment she had made in Germany.
Tatsumi Hayashi at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii in March (Yusuke Ogawa)
Tokyo native creates database of Japanese-Americans interned in Hawaii
HONOLULU--A retired airline employee from Japan has completed a database detailing the names, occupations and personal histories of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii who were forced into internment camps during World War II.
Mimasaka Higuchi, former chairman of the Japan Muslim Association (Photo by Akira Fujiu)
Elderly Japanese Muslim offers message of peace as Islamic extremists create misery
He's the "face" of Japanese Muslims and he's got a lot of explaining to do. That's why Mimasaka Higuchi, despite being 79, is still a very busy man.
Shinto priest Mitsutaka Inui congratulates an American couple during their silver-wedding ceremony at Kamigamojinja shrine in Kyoto on April 28. (Moeka Moriizumi)
In Kyoto, foreign couples tying the knot in Shinto rites in English
KYOTO--It was just another traditional wedding ceremony at a famous Shinto shrine in Kyoto except for one odd thing--the priest was speaking in English.
Akemi Arimura, a Shiseido makeup therapist, teaches an elderly woman how to pencil in her eyebrows at a session in Yokohama’s Kohoku Ward on April 8. (Makoto Kaku)
Shiseido makeup therapist says taking care of elderly women is her calling
Makeup therapist Akemi Arimura leaned in so she could gently talk to an elderly client, their faces almost touching.
Rie Saito communicates through writing in a waiting room of the Kita Ward assembly on May 12. (Junichi Bekku)
Kita Ward assembly scrambling to remove barriers for new hearing-impaired member
Newly elected assemblywoman Rie Saito, a popular former Ginza bar hostess with a hearing impairment, wants a barrier-free society for all, but she must first overcome obstacles in the municipal assembly chamber in Tokyo's Kita Ward.
Osamu Konishi photographs a stray cat on the banks of the Tama River in late April. (Aya Shioiri)
Photos of stray cats along Tama River a reflection of human society
On the banks of the Tama River, a freelance photographer is documenting the daily lives of a colony of stray cats on his popular weblog, believing their community is a microcosm of human society.

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