Workers install a ridgepole on the roof of the main hall of Kasuga Taisha shrine in Nara on Feb. 4. (Yumi Kurita)
Heavy ridgepoles installed on rooftop at Kasuga Taisha shrine in Nara
NARA—Workers installed repaired ridgepoles on the main hall of Kasuga Taisha shrine here on Feb. 4 as part of “shikinen zotai,” or reconstruction work conducted every 20 years on the eighth-century World Heritage shrine.
Japan's Meteorological Agency said Sakurajima on the southern island of Kyushu erupted at around 7 p.m. on Feb. 5. (Provided by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism)
Sakurajima volcano erupts spectacularly in southern Japan
One of Japan's most active volcanos erupted spectacularly Friday evening with a fiery blast that sent lava rolling down its slope.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda replies to a question from Seiji Maehara, a lawmaker of the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan, in the Lower House Budget Committee on Feb. 4. (Shinichi Iizuka)
BOJ governor doesn't exclude possibility of negative interest rates on individuals' deposits
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda refused on Feb. 4 to rule out a possibility that negative interest rates are applied to individuals' deposits, but added that it is not "realistic."
The Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki (Mahito Kaai)
Japan pulling nomination of Christianity-related sites in Nagasaki for World Heritage list
Japan will withdraw its nomination of Christianity-related sites for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site this year after U.N. experts called for a sweeping review of the recommendation, government sources said Feb. 4.
Tourists check out a gigantic “Attack on Titan” snow sculpture at Odori Park in Sapporo’s Chuo Ward on Feb. 5. (Kotaro Ebara)
‘Attack on Titan’ colossus invades Sapporo Snow Festival
SAPPORO--A gigantic snow sculpture of a man-eating humanoid from “Attack on Titan” is one of the many attractions at the popular 67th Sapporo Snow Festival, which kicked off on Feb. 5.
A crowd gathers to witness the unique view called “Diamond Fuji” from Meijijingu Gaien, Tokyo, on Feb. 4. (Tatsuya Shimada)
Crowds gather for rare ‘Diamond Fuji’ view from central Tokyo
The “Diamond Fuji” phenomenon of the sun setting over Japan’s emblematic mountain drew a large crowd to Meijijingu Gaien on Feb. 4.
An "oni" goblin performer frightens a local boy during this year's "setsubun" festival in the Ogori district in Yamaguchi on Feb. 3. (Kae Terao)
Scary ‘oni’ goblins kids' video posted by Asahi Shimbun goes viral
YAMAGUCHI--With humorous videos featuring frightened kids being a staple of YouTube, The Asahi Shimbun’s footage of a traditional Japanese “setsubun” festival found a wildly popular home there.
Snow huts are illuminated during the Shinhotaka Onsen Nakao Kamakura Matsuri festival in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, on Feb.1. (Minako Yoshimoto)
PHOTO: Snow huts festival is a winter warmer in chilly Takayama
TAKAYAMA, Gifu Prefecture--People wanting to escape the winter chill of this mountainous city could do worse than the illuminated snow huts of the Shinhotaka Onsen Nakao Kamakura Matsuri festival.
The Yamayuri, the "Lady of Shonan," in Fujisawa (Kiyohito Kokita)
SOS sent out to save Yamayuri yacht that played symbolic role at 1964 Olympics
FUJISAWA, Kanagawa Prefecture--Once a proud symbol of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics sailing event, the wooden yacht Yamayuri today is a vessel whose glory days have long since sailed.
Cranes seem to make ballet-like moves at the Setsurigawa river in Tsurui, Hokkaido, on the morning of Feb. 3. (Masatoshi Narayama)
Choreographic cranes enjoy a 'Swan Lake' moment
TSURUI, Hokkaido--It wasn't exactly "Swan Lake," but it was close, when several cranes stretched their long legs in ballet-like moves at a mist-laden river here Feb. 3.
Earthquake shakes Tokyo, no tsunami risk
An earthquake has struck close to Tokyo, shaking much of the metropolitan region. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, and no tsunami risk.
Jose Canseco talks with reporters in Washington in June 2010. (AP File Photo)
Ex-MLB slugger Canseco tees off on Japan bank plan
A Japanese economic plan has prompted Jose Canseco to jump into a whole new field--financial advice.
Japan to deport maker of Oscar-winning dolphin documentary
The star of an Oscar-winning documentary that showed how dolphins were hunted in a Japanese village will be deported to the U.S. Friday, after his entry was barred and he was held in detention for more than two weeks.
The Asahi Shimbun
What's that swastika doing on Japanese maps, foreigners ask
Standard map symbols for foreign tourists to Japan ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are undergoing a redesign in light of complaints they are hard to read and that the centuries-old icon for Japanese temples is often mistaken for a Nazi swastika.
The "passport" for the Minato City Embassy Trip Stamp Rally event is available at the Minato Ward office, libraries and other public facilities throughout the ward. (Provided by Minato ward office)
Minato stamp rally offers rare visit to embassies, experience dynamic cultures
Tokyo’s Minato Ward, home to many diplomatic missions, has kicked off a stamp rally campaign that allows participants’ entry to 32 embassies to get their “passports” stamped.
The Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe aquarium in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, is celebrating the opening of a new Shinkansen line with a display featuring a moray eel playing the role of a bullet train. (Hiroyuki Yamamoto)
Eel trained to slide through tunnel like a Shinkansen at Hokkaido aquarium
An eel acts out the role of a bullet train and is surrounded by bears, penguins and a demon soaking in a hot spring.
Ice sculpture illuminations are tested beside Shikotsuko lake in Chitose, Hokkaido, on Jan. 28, a day before the start of a winter festival featuring them. (Kuratoshi Yokoyama)
Rainbow of ice sculptures brightens up Hokkaido winter
CHITOSE, Hokkaido--The shore of Shikotsuko lake here has been transformed into a spectacular open air museum of ice sculptures glowing in the colors of the spectrum to create a dream-like effect.
A zoo attendant feeds Hanako the elephant at Inokashira Park Zoo on the outskirts of Tokyo on Jan. 27. (AP Photo)
Move sought for Japan's oldest elephant may be too late
In the humble zoo in a Tokyo suburb, among the small cages of owls, guinea pigs and raccoons, Japan's oldest elephant stands in a concrete pen about the size of half of a basketball court. She drinks sugar water from a bucket and munches on bananas with her last remaining tooth while a debate is being waged about where she should live out her final years.
Children from the local Sensoji kindergarten hold cups filled with soy beans to toss at "oni" demons during the annual “setsubun” bean-throwing festival at Tokyo's Sensoji temple on Feb. 3. (Hiroki Endo)
'Demons' meet their match in annual bean-throwing festival
Squeals of delight and alarm echoed in the grounds of Tokyo's Sensoji temple as 300-odd kindergarteners gathered to throw soy beans at demons in a traditional festival on Feb. 3.
Former Yomiuri Giants player Kazuhiro Kiyohara rides in the back of a police van at 2:15 a.m. on Feb. 3 after being arrested for drug possession. (Hiroki Endo)
Police bust ex-Giants slugger Kiyohara on suspicion of drugs
Former Yomiuri Giants star Kazuhiro Kiyohara was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department on suspicion of possessing narcotics on Feb. 2.

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