Luca Catalfamo, the head chef of Casa Luca, in Yokohama on May 21 (Kazuo Takagi)
It's ramen Italian-style as first foreigner opens shop at Yokohama noodle museum
YOKOHAMA--Japan's national noodle-soup dish is to get a Mediterranean twist with an Italian becoming the first foreign head chef to open a restaurant at the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum.
A photograph taken in 1936 shows the area surrounding Manseibashi bridge in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. Manseibashi Station is visible on the extreme left. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
TOKYO NOW AND THEN: Button shop separates historic Manseibashi district, Akihabara 'otaku' town
The world may be fascinated by the anime and manga "otaku" (geek) culture that has transformed Tokyo's Akihabara "Electric Town" district.
An artist’s rendition of the first floor of the main building of Kyoto Railway Museum that will open in spring 2016 in Kyoto’s Shimogyo Ward (Provided by West Japan Railway Co.)
Largest collection of historic trains planned for Kyoto Railway Museum
KYOTO--Fifty-three historically significant trains from the early days of steam power to sleek Shinkansen will be exhibited at the Kyoto Railway Museum that opens in spring 2016.
An artist’s rendition of the "Finding Nemo" themed attraction that will open in spring 2017 at Tokyo DisneySea ((c) Disney/Pixar, Provided by Oriental Land Co.)
Tokyo DisneySea to open 'Finding Nemo' submarine theater attraction in 2017
A “Finding Nemo” themed attraction based on the film and its sequel will open in Tokyo DisneySea in spring 2017, the park’s operator, Oriental Land Co., said May 19.
Three portable “mikoshi” shrines dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Minamoto no Yoritomo are paraded down the 1-kilometer approach to Nikko Toshogu shrine in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, on May 18. The parade commemorated the transfer of Ieyasu’s grave and the 400th anniversary of his death. (Takayuki Kakuno)
PHOTO: Massive procession marks 400th anniversary of first Tokugawa shogun’s death
NIKKO, Tochigi Prefecture--More than 1,000 people including those dressed as feudal warriors and Shinto priests re-enacted the transfer of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s grave here on May 18, marking 400 years since his death.
Window cleaners attract attention while working at Tokyo Skytree tower in the capital's Sumida Ward on May 18. (Sayuri Ide)
PHOTO: Window cleaners at Tokyo Skytree at top of their profession
In a job not for those scared of heights, two window cleaners were washing the windows of the Tokyo Skytree tower's observation deck on May 18, riding a platform suspended 450 meters in the air.
Local people parade through Tokyo’s Asakusa district while carrying a “mikoshi” portable shrine in the Sanja Matsuri festival on May 17. (Kengo Hiyoshi)
Portable shrines parade through Asakusa in Sanja Matsuri festival
To the accompaniment of shouts and cries from the carriers, three “mikoshi” portable shrines were paraded through the streets on the final day of the centuries-old Sanja Matsuri festival in Tokyo’s Asakusa district on May 17.
An evening of entertainment normally off-limits to first-timers (the custom of "ichigen-san okotowari") held on March 18 in Kanazawa's Higashiyama area, where foreign guests enjoyed a samisen and dance performance by geisha. (Ayateru Hosozawa)
New 'Hokuriku Route' on fast track to winning over foreign visitors to Japan
In wooing the rapidly increasing number of foreign tourists to Japan, the new Hokuriku Shinkansen is drawing attention from the so-called "Golden Route," connecting Tokyo and Osaka via Mount Fuji.
Celluloid drawings for "Heidi: A Girl of the Alps" (Taichi Kobayashi)
Exhibition shows influence of Nippon Animation studio on Tama city
Photographs along with celluloid and original drawings from famed studio Nippon Animation Co. are on display at an exhibition being hosted by the city of Tama, western Tokyo.
Local officials express their joy by shouting “banzai” after Matsue Castle's keep was recommended to be named a national treasure by the Council for Cultural Affairs on May 15. (Mayo Tomioka)
Matsue Castle's keep gets cultural upgrade to national treasure
Matsue Castle’s impressive main keep is to rise to even greater heights.
An artist’s rendition of the exterior of a designer Resort Shirakami sightseeing train that will be introduced by JR East around July 2016 (Provided by East Japan Railway Co.)
JR East to introduce designer Resort Shirakami sightseeing train in 2016
East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) announced on May 14 that it will replace one of its Resort Shirakami sightseeing trains on the JR Gono Line with a special designer model that will offer local specialties.
An “Oyoyo” float carrying the “Saio-dai” queen played by Yusa Shirai departs Kyoto Imperial Palace in Kamigyo Ward in the Aoi Matsuri festival on May 15. (Noboru Tomura)
Venerated Kyoto shrines hold Aoi Matsuri festival
KYOTO--About 500 people clad in traditional costumes made a colorful procession in the nation’s ancient capital on May 15 to celebrate the annual Aoi Matsuri festival.
A traditional dance is performed at Shimogamojinja shrine’s "buden" theater as a part of the Mikage Matsuri ceremony in Kyoto on May 12. (Noboru Tomura)
Shinto mountain spirits invited to famed Kyoto shrine for Aoi Matsuri festival
KYOTO--Dozens of Shinto priests and local residents trekked to a mountain shrine on May 12 to invite the spirits there to Aoi Matsuri, one of the city’s three main festivals.
The Beatles, clad in "happi" coats, wave upon arrival at Haneda Airport in June 1966. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Day trippers can check out Beatles Museum with 2,500 items in Oita
NAKATSU, Oita Prefecture--The Beatles Museum is expected to come together later this year with thousands of items related to the Fab Four, including a piano played by John Lennon and a Japanese "happi" coat he wore during the group's visit to Japan in 1966.
A baby kotokurage bred at Aquamarine Fukushima in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, is seen at the aquarium's Seas of Fukushima exhibit. (Provided by Aquamarine Fukushima)
Fukushima aquarium succeeds in breeding ctenophore discovered by emperor
IWAKI, Fukushima Prefecture--Researchers have successfully bred for the first time a mysterious heart-shaped, jellyfish-like creature known as “kotokurage,” according to officials at Aquamarine Fukushima.
A pod of killer whales swims in waters off Rausu, Hokkaido, on May 9. (Kotaro Ebara)
Huge gathering of more than 30 killer whales seen in Shiretoko World Heritage site
RAUSU, Hokkaido--In a rare sighting of large pods of killer whales, more than 30 of the mammals on May 9 delighted passengers on a cruise ship off the coast here, a part of the Shiretoko World Natural Heritage site.
A set of three shelves is on display at the marriage trousseau of Tokugawa Chiyohime exhibition at the Tokugawa Art Museum in Nagoya's Higashi Ward. (Yotaro Okamoto)
Wedding trousseau of Edo Period princess on display
NAGOYA--An exhibition featuring the wedding trousseau of Chiyohime, a daughter of the third shogun of the Edo Period (1603-1867), is being held at the Tokugawa Art Museum here.
The Tokyo Monorail from Haneda Airport approaches Hamamatsucho Station in Tokyo's Minato Ward. This photo was taken in September 1964. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
TOKYO NOW AND THEN: Nearly an Olympic white elephant, monorail ready to welcome new Games
Mahito Kikuchi's parents took their boy to Tokyo's Haneda Airport to satisfy his fascination with airplanes. But it was the glistening new means of transport to get there that left the most lasting impression.
Black-light art featuring scenes from a Japanese myth is seen along a path around Kaike Kaihin Koen park in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, on April 28. (Tadashi Sugiyama)
PHOTO: Scenes depicting ancient story emit dreamy glow in Tottori park
YONAGO, Tottori Prefecture--Fluorescent paintings depicting scenes from an ancient Japanese myth have been creating a mysterious nighttime atmosphere along a path here near the Sea of Japan.
Polar bear Milk tosses around a plastic water tank at the Kushiro City Zoo in Hokkaido on April 23. (Yasushi Sato)
Hokkaido's playful polar bear goes viral, gets 'standing' ovation
KUSHIRO, Hokkaido--Polar bear Milk's habit of skillfully playing with her toys while walking about on her hind legs has turned her into an Internet sensation and a famous Japanese animal.

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