Actor Ken Takakura during a news conference after receiving the Order of Culture award in November 2013 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
'Tough guy' actor Ken Takakura dies at 83
Ken Takakura, who played “tough guy” characters in yakuza movies as well as a reticent cop in “Black Rain” opposite Michael Douglas, has died. He was 83.
Nao Ikeyama shows off her WBO atomweight championship belt at a citizens' sports honor award ceremony in Okayama on Oct. 16. (Ken Hasegawa)
Japan's oldest world boxing champ ready to rumble in her hometown
OKAYAMA--Nao Ikeyama was already two years over the age limit when the Japan Boxing Commission recognized women’s boxing as an official sport. Seven tough years later, Ikeyama is the oldest Japanese boxer ever to hold a world title.
Hayao Miyazaki holds his honorary Academy Award at a news conference in Los Angeles on Nov. 8. (Ari Hirayama)
Anime giant Miyazaki receives honorary Oscar for lifetime of work
LOS ANGELES--World-renowned anime creator Hayao Miyazaki has added another accolade to his formidable career--an honorary Academy Award for his lifetime contribution to motion pictures.
Haruki Murakami receives the Welt International Literary Award in Berlin on Nov. 7. (AP Photo)
Murakami receives literary prize, sends message of hope to Hong Kong protesters
BERLIN--Renowned writer Haruki Murakami sent a message of encouragement to pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong in their struggle to overcome one of the many “walls” that serve as barriers around the world.
Hisahiko Okazaki (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Okazaki, conservative adviser to Abe, dies at 84
Hisahiko Okazaki, a former diplomat, staunch conservative and close aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, died on Oct. 26. He was 84.
Rapper Kang Chun-hyuk, a North Korean defector, in Seoul (Atsushi Hiroshima)
Defector turns to rap music to tell reality of his former life in N. Korea
SEOUL--When Kang Chun-hyuk first arrived in South Korea, the 15-year-old left behind a life under the terror of a totalitarian regime, where friends and neighbors would seemingly vanish in the night.
Takumi Sato makes his "karakuri-ningyo" doll weave textiles during an event at Miwajinja shrine in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, on Oct. 25. (Yumiko Baba)
Kiryu man produces first textile-weaving 'karakuri-ningyo' to honor city's history
KIRYU, Gunma Prefecture--Mechanical "karakuri-ningyo" dolls have for centuries served tea, shot arrows and performed other amusing feats, but a local doll-making enthusiast may have crafted the first one that can weave textiles with a loom.
Lee Yea-da (Izumi Sakurai)
S. Korean conscientious objector finds new life in France
Lee Yea-da couldn't stomach the thought of mandatory military service. So he fled South Korea and sought asylum in France, an action that is almost unheard of in his country.
Yuta Minagawa, right, at his junior high school’s judo club in Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture on Oct. 14 (Shintaro Egawa)
2-year-old miracle survivor of 2004 quake seeks career saving people
UONUMA, Niigata Prefecture--When 12-year-old Yuta Minagawa sees TV coverage of natural disasters in Japan, he prays that every victim will be rescued. Ten years ago, it was Yuta at the center of a miraculous rescue shown on live TV after being trapped for 93 hours in a landslide triggered by the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake.
Eiko Kawasaki (Photo by Ryuichi Kitano)
Defector seeks return of Japanese from North Korea
Eiko Kawasaki hid her true identity and face for years in Japan to protect the family members who remained abroad. But by the time she became 70 years old, she asked herself, “Is it OK for my life to end while keeping such things secret?”
Photographer Makiko Ui stands next to her pictures of Ainu people. (Hiroki Nishida)
Making 'invisible' Ainu visible is photographer's labor of love
Makiko Ui has made it her life's work to capture the indigenous Ainu people in photographs under a project called "My portrait Myself."
Bruce Campbell's home in Oregon is a converted Boeing 727 jetliner. (Provided by Bruce Campbell)
American living in Boeing 727 hopes jetliner home project finds wings in Miyazaki
MIYAZAKI--Bruce Campbell's home in the woods of the Pacific Northwest looks as if it is set to take off for the friendly skies.
Iwao Hakamada and his sister, Hideko, shortly after they started living together in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, in late June. (Cho Tsuin)
Sister of freed death-row inmate says family’s half-century battle continues
HAMAMATSU, Shizuoka Prefecture--The sister of a former death-row inmate vowed to officially clear his name in hopes that he can become the man he was before 48 years behind bars shattered his mental state.
Yuji Miyamori, who exhibited his collection at the recent Milan Fashion Week, shows off his works at his workshop in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture. (Natsuki Edogawa)
Fukushima fashion designer rebounds from 2011 disaster to shine at Milan Fashion Week
MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture--Up-and-coming local designer Yuji Miyamori hopes his recent exhibition at Milan Fashion Week will draw attention to the fashion he believes is still waiting to be discovered in the Great East Japan Earthquake-devastated region.
Morisuke Makino talks about his years serving as a personal attendant to Emperor Showa. (Ayako Nakada)
Long-time personal attendant reveals human side of Emperor Showa
Emperor Showa emerges as a thoughtful and forgiving man who kept a tight rein on his emotions and found humor in the most unlikely situations, according to those who worked closely with him.
Akira Isogawa holds a wedding dress overlaid with delicate fabrics. (Michele Mossop)
AKIRA ISOGAWA: Using Asian aesthetics, designer becomes Australian ‘legend’
SYDNEY--Despite a hectic schedule that he juggles on his own, fashion designer Akira Isogawa took time out recently to enjoy a bowl of pho (noodle soup) at a Vietnamese restaurant in western Sydney with a reporter.
Haruki Murakami fans at a cafe in Tokyo react after the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature is announced. (Louis Templado)
‘Harukists’ stay positive after Murakami overlooked by Nobel again
The news came hard for a coterie of hard-core fans packed inside a Haruki Murakami-themed cafe in Tokyo. Their beloved writer would not receive this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature.
Akio Nakanishi supported Haruki Murakami in the author's failed bid for leadership at their junior high school. In the background is the Shukukawa River in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. (Louis Templado)
Rooting for the boy in their midst who became literary giant Haruki Murakami
Editor's note: This article is part of The Asahi Shimbun AJW's series on internationally acclaimed writer Haruki Murakami.
Participants on a Sept. 28 walk through the Hyogo Prefecture cities of Nishinomiya and Ashiya, both connected to the early life of Haruki Murakami, pause in front of a clock that was stopped by the Great Hanshin Earthquake on Jan. 17, 1995. (Louis Templado)
DRAWER OF MEMORIES: Retracing Haruki Murakami's steps through the quake-damaged past
Editor's note: This article is part of The Asahi Shimbun AJW's series on internationally acclaimed writer Haruki Murakami. The article is titled "Drawer of Memories," intended to depict his younger days and places associated with his works.
Nakamura’s painting featuring a dinosaur and Mount Fuji (Provided by Shuhei Nakamura)
Disabled artist uses thumb, toe to pursue dream
HAMAMATSU--Shuhei Nakamura watches the computer screen as the big toe on his left foot moves the trackball of his mouse. When the cursor reaches the right place, his right thumb clicks the touchpad controller.

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