An 80-year-old craftsman decorates ceramic dolls in Seto, Aichi Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Survey: Life expectancy for Japanese men surpasses 80, women maintain top ranking
The average life expectancy for Japanese males topped 80 years for the first time in 2013, moving them into fourth place globally, the health ministry said.
Elderly people attend a seminar on a tax-exemption system for educational expenses on July 29 in Tokyo. (Satomi Sugihara)
500 billion yen donated under tax-exempt system for education funds
More than 500 billion yen ($4.86 billion) has been donated in a tax-exemption system for educational expenses since its introduction in April 2013, according to the Trust Companies Association of Japan.
Kyoto’s traditional “geiko” and apprentice “maiko” serve guests at a special party on July 31 to celebrate the opening of a new beer garden next to the Miyagawa-cho district’s Kaburenjo theater in Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward. (Tomoyoshi Kubo)
New geisha beer garden toasts Kyoto's cultural heritage
KYOTO--Geisha and their "maiko" apprentices were on hand to serve up cold glasses of beer on a hot summer’s night on July 31 to celebrate the opening of a new beer garden in the ancient capital's Higashiyama Ward.
Scientists determined that this glass bowl unearthed from a Niizawa Senzuka burial mound in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, has origins in ancient Persia. (Provided by the Tokyo National Museum)
Scientists: 5th-century glass bowl in Nara has origins in ancient Persia
KASHIHARA, Nara Prefecture--A cut glass bowl excavated from a fifth-century burial mound in Nara Prefecture originated in ancient Persia, the first domestic glassware scientifically confirmed to have arrived from western Asia, researchers said.
An infrared photograph of a "mokkan" that was likely used as a shipping tag in the seventh century that was found in the ruins of Osaka's Naniwanomiya palace. (Provided by the Osaka City Cultural Properties Association)
7th-century wooden 'meat tag' found in Osaka palace ruins
OSAKA--A seventh-century wooden “mokkan” (wood document) unearthed in 2013 in the ruins of Naniwanomiya palace was likely used as a meat shipping tag.
Eriko Shiomi, a music producer in Tokyo's Tachikawa, holds a tapestry created from kimono damaged in the 2011 Tohoku disaster. (Aya Shioiri)
Tapestries created from disaster-damaged kimono near 1,000 mark
A project to create 1,000 tapestries from kimono damaged in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami is near completion, with 130 more pieces to go.
Tsunehisa Katsumata, then chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co., explains countermeasures against the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on April 17, 2011. At left is Sakae Muto, then TEPCO vice president. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Inquest panel calls for indictments against former TEPCO executives
Rejecting a decision by prosecutors, an independent judicial panel of citizens said July 31 that three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. should be indicted over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Osaka prefectural police headquarters in Osaka's Chuo Ward (Chiaki Ogihara)
To improve Osaka's reputation, police conceal 81,000 crimes
OSAKA--Prefectural police did not report 81,000 crimes over five years through 2012 in an attempt to end Osaka’s streak of being the nation’s most crime-ridden prefecture.
A computer generated image of what the exhibition space for the reconstructed version of the lost face of the "Tower of the Sun" by Taro Okamoto will look like. (Provided by the Osaka prefectural government)
Lost face of Expo '70's iconic 'Tower of the Sun' to rise again
SUITA, Osaka Prefecture--A giant face that mysteriously vanished decades ago from the famed "Tower of the Sun" designed by the late contemporary artist Taro Okamoto will be reconstructed for a permanent exhibition.
A lesser panda at the Ikeda Zoo in Okayama’s Kita Ward enjoys the cooling mist from showers set up over the panda enclosure on July 20. (Takuya Nishie)
PHOTO: Lesser pandas the really cool exhibits at Okayama zoo
OKAYAMA--It's not gorillas in the mist at the Ikeda Zoo in Okayama's Kita Ward, but lesser pandas escaping high temperatures with a new shower device in their enclosure.
Tomoko Sato looks at morning glories that were grown from seeds that belonged to her deceased son, Kenta. Her son was killed in the tsunami that was triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. (Satomi Ono)
Mother cherishes flowers from seeds left by young son killed in 2011 tsunami
ISHINOMAKI, Miyagi Prefecture--Tomoko Sato takes special care of the morning glories that she has planted under the eaves of her small house, feeling that they are gifts from her young son.
Participants in the Collective Action for Mobility Program of University Students in Asia are seen here in a photo taken at the CAMPUS Asia Cafe at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto's Kita Ward. From left, Xie Jiena from China, Jung Da-yeon from South Korea and Sumire Yamamoto from Japan. (Tsuyoshi Sato)
University program boosts China, S. Korea, Japan understanding through student exchange
KYOTO--In a lecture room at Ritsumeikan University's Kinugasa Campus in Kita Ward, students from Japan, China and South Korea were discussing some of the finer points of Japanese culture.
An estimated 1,500 tons of illegally disposed tombstones are seen at a site in Minami-Awaji, Hyogo Prefecture, on June 16. (Junko Saimoto)
Abandoned tombstones piling up across Japan in shadow of rapidly aging population
Some 30 minutes by car from JR Takamatsu Station in Kagawa Prefecture, a lonely site on the side of a mountain is where abandoned tombstones go to their final resting place.
Fathers and mothers hold a banner celebrating Japan's decision to join the Hague Convention during a rally in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park on March 29, while demanding a "society where parents can meet their children." (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Hague child abduction treaty applied for 1st time to Japanese child at British court
A court in London ordered a Japanese woman living in Britain to return with her child to Japan to sort out custody issues under the terms of the Hague child abduction treaty.
The tarantula found on the campus of Kagoshima University (Kunihiro Hayashi)
Tarantula takes unwelcome tour of Kagoshima campus
KAGOSHIMA--Students and professors at Kagoshima University have been warned to avoid touching any tarantula they may come across after one was found on the campus.
The more comfortable wig-like cap developed by the National Cancer Center and medical wig maker TGS for cancer patients who experience hair loss (Tokiko Tsuji)
Comfortable wig developed for cancer patients is light as a scarf
The National Cancer Center in Tokyo and a medical wig maker have developed a lightweight, less constrictive wig-like cap for cancer sufferers experiencing hair loss.
Visitors check out blooming spider flowers at Awaji Hanasajiki park in Awaji, Hyogo Prefecture, on July 29. (Mari Endo)
PHOTO: Awaji Island awash in vivid colors as thousands of spider flowers reach full bloom
AWAJI, Hyogo Prefecture--A hillside that forms part of the Awaji Hanasajiki prefectural park here was ablaze in pink, white and purple July 29 as tens of thousands of vibrant cleome came into full bloom.
Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, second from right, and other crew members of the Enola Gay while in Tinian, one of the Northern Mariana Islands, in August 1945 (American National Archives)
Last U.S. crew member of Hiroshima bomber dies
Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, the last surviving member of the Enola Gay plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, has died at a retirement home in Georgia at age 93.
Tourists crouch as they explore the lava cave called "Saiko Komori Ana" (Saiko lake bat cave) in Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture, on July 26. (Hiroshi Kawai)
Tourists beating the heat in cool lava cave at the foot of Mount Fuji
FUJIKAWAGUCHIKO, Yamanashi Prefecture--Wearing helmets, vacationers are taking a respite from the sweltering heat here, venturing into a cool, narrow cave that is designated a national natural treasure.
The memorial on the island of Tahiti, which is dedicated to those who suffered as a result of French nuclear tests, is seen in this June photo. (Provided by Peace Boat)
Tahiti memorial commemorating those impacted by French nuclear tests in danger of removal
The French Polynesian government’s decision to remove a monument on Tahiti dedicated to those who suffered from repeated French nuclear testing in the South Pacific is facing growing opposition, including from survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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