Okinoshima island off the coast of Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture (Koichi Ueda)
Sacred island off Kyushu eyed for World Cultural Heritage status
The Council for Cultural Affairs announced July 28 it will recommend the "sacred" island of Okinoshima and related ancient sites in Munakata city, Fukuoka Prefecture, for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage listing in 2017.
The Great Buddha statue at Kotokuin temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, on July 28 (Tamotsu Sugao)
Great Buddha of Kamakura set for first overhaul in 50 years
KAMAKURA, Kanagawa Prefecture--The giant statue of the sitting Buddha towering over Kotokuin temple here is to undergo a complete "health checkup" next year, the first in more than half a century.
Artisan Wang Liangqing works on a dollhouse that will be used as an offering at the August festival for overseas Chinese in Japan at the Nankin-machi Chinatown in Kobe's Chuo Ward on July 27. (Yoshinori Mizuno)
PHOTO: Chinatown craftsman's splendid dollhouses are made for burning down
KOBE--An artisan is busily constructing big, lavishly colored dollhouses in Chinatown here that are destined to meet a fiery fate.
Train buffs take pictures as the  “Dr. Yellow” inspection Shinkansen is lifted during a periodic inspection at a factory in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, on July 25. (Yoshihiro Yasutomi)
PHOTO: ‘Dr. Yellow’ lucky Shinkansen shows its belly for 1st time
HAMAMATSU, Shizuoka Prefecture--Railroad buffs and children were delighted at the rare opportunity to see an inspection Shinkansen, popularly called “Dr. Yellow,” lifted above their heads for periodic servicing on July 25.
Flower images are projected onto fish in a massive water tank during the Night Wonder Aquarium 2015 event at Enoshima Aquarium in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, on July 18. (Kiyohito Kokita)
Fish flower power on display at Enoshima Aquarium
FUJISAWA, Kanagawa Prefecture--Vivid flowers are being projected on to rays and 20,000 or so other fish in a massive tank in a digital art event at Enoshima Aquarium here.
Garyu Matsumoto plays hand-made "itaru" at the Robahouse in Tachikawa, Tokyo. (Asako Miyasaka)
Musical instruments created through the imagination of children
Tin cans, nails and toilet paper are producing magical sounds at a mushroom-shaped building called Robahouse in a western Tokyo suburb.
Passengers raise a toast July 17 on the Fukui Railway train. (Koichi Hotta)
Fukui train is the toast of the line
FUKUI--Fukui Railway Co. is offering a train service in which passengers can eat and drink as if they were in an "izakaya"-style Japanese pub.
The ornate "JR Kyushu Sweet Train" is unveiled in Kita-Kyushu on July 17. (Jun Kaneko)
JR Kyushu offers Meiji Era elegance in retro-look Sweet Train
KITA-KYUSHU--A train that was the last word in elegance a century ago has been brought back to life to give travelers in Kyushu a taste of Meiji Era (1868-1912) opulence.
Panasonic Corp. can create a figurine of a customer after taking images with 120 cameras at the Panasonic Center Osaka. (Kohei Kondo)
Panasonic offers to make customers statuesque
Panasonic Corp. is offering to make small lifelike statues of its customers.
Planned site of the Toyosu market in Tokyo’s Koto Ward, foreground (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Tsukiji market’s replacement lands opening date of Nov. 7, 2016
More than 80 years of history will end on Nov. 2, 2016, when Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji market closes to make way for its relocation to the Toyosu district five days later.
Spectators on boats watch the fireworks display above the Sumidagawa river in Tokyo in July 1936. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
TOKYO NOW AND THEN: The fireworks boats are back with a bang in downtown Tokyo
Those lucky enough to book a boat for Tokyo’s most popular fireworks show on the Sumidagawa river can get a double dose of the visuals when the flowery bursts reflect off the surface of the water.
Hideo Sawada, president of the operating company of the Huis Ten Bosch theme park, stands by the reception desk of Hen na Hotel, which is "manned" by a robotic dinosaur, a female android and another bot, on July 15 in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture. (Azumi Fukuoka)
Robot-staffed 'Hotel Weird' to open in Nagasaki Prefecture
SASEBO, Nagasaki Prefecture--A vicious-looking dinosaur and a cute female android greet visitors from behind the reception desk at "Hotel Weird."
Matsumoto Castle (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
12 castles with centuries-old keeps to form alliance
Twelve municipalities that are home to castles will create a nationwide stronghold in the form of an alliance that will share expertise on maintenance, promotion and attracting tourists.
Men carrying giant torches participate in a festival held in Nachikatsuura, Wakayama Prefecture, on July 14. (Jun Ueda)
Torch carriers purify path for Shinto spirits in Wakayama festival
NACHIKATSUURA, Wakayama Prefecture--Amid the sweltering heat, men clad in traditional white robes carried blazing torches near a famed waterfall here on July 14 in a sacred annual festival.
Participants including college students clad in "yukata" participate in a “Hikizome” practice run of the Niwatorihoko float in Kyoto on July 12. (Noboru Tomura)
Kyoto students show spirit in pulling 10-ton float in trial run at Gion Festival
KYOTO--To experience traditional culture, about 120 college students in "yukata" summer kimono joined together to pull a 10-ton float here in a practice run at the Gion Festival.
“Kakizu,” ceiling paintings by famed Edo Period artist Ito Jakuchu, will open to the public at the main hall of Shingyoji temple in Kyoto this autumn. (Noboru Tomura)
Famed artist’s murals to be shown for first time at Kyoto temple
KYOTO--Rare flower murals by Ito Jakuchu, one of the most acclaimed artists from the Edo Period (1603-1867), will go on public display at a Kyoto temple for the first and likely last time this fall.
Kunio Okawara (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Giant 'Gundam' robots planned for Inagi promotion center
Two giant robotic vehicles from the highly popular “Mobile Suit Gundam” series will stand guard over a planned tourism promotion center in the city of Inagi, Tokyo.
A 1960s Peko-chan figure created for display at Fujiya Co.'s stores will be part of an exhibition at the Hiratsuka Museum of Art in Kanagawa Prefecture (Provided by Hiratsuka Museum of Art)
Hiratsuka museum chronicles 65-year history of Peko-chan
HIRATSUKA, Kanagawa Prefecture--Fans of Fujiya Co.’s iconic Peko-chan can now trace the more than half-century of history of the beloved girl mascot at a museum here housing an exhibition dedicated to her.
Goldfish swim in a lotus-shaped tank at the Art Aquarium 2015 exhibition at Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward on July 9. (Makiko Ikenaga)
Goldfish soothe the soul at Art Aquarium event in Tokyo
Thousands of goldfish swimming in uniquely shaped tanks illuminated with colorful lighting are creating a mysterious yet soothing atmosphere at an exhibition in Tokyo.
A photo taken in July 1968 shows the commercial area in front of Shimbashi Station in Tokyo's Minato Ward. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
TOKYO NOW AND THEN: Shimbashi sanctuary for 'salarymen' brings out the boy in them
A suit-wearing businessman with something hidden in his briefcase quickly ducks into a new sort of pleasure factory aimed at “salarymen” on the edge of the Shimbashi district in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.

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