Tora-san's signature fedora hat and plaid blazer were on display at the Tora-san museum in Komoro, Nagano Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Devoted Tora-san fans join forces to reopen museum in Nagano next spring
KOMORO, Nagano Prefecture--A museum dedicated to items associated with the late actor Kiyoshi Atsumi, known as Tora-san from the "Otoko wa Tsurai yo" (It's tough being a man) film series, is expected to reopen as early as next spring, thanks to his devoted fans.
Children search for "Yo-kai Watch" characters while making their way through the Yo-kai Watch the Real attraction at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka during a preview event on July 1. (Jun Ueda)
Zombies, 'yokai' monsters invade USJ summer attractions
OSAKA--Attractions based on “Yo-kai Watch,” “Resident Evil” and other popular anime, film and video game franchises will open July 3 for the summer season at Universal Studios Japan.
Customers enjoy liquid refreshment at the opening of a beer garden at the Kamishichiken-Kaburenjo theater in Kyoto’s Kamigyo Ward on July 1. Six "geiko" and "maiko" were on hand to provide the draft beer. (Noboru Tomura)
PHOTO: Suds with style as graceful geisha open Kyoto beer garden
KYOTO--“Geiko” (Kyoto geisha) and young “maiko” apprentices hovered elegantly at tables and served customers tall cold ones as an annual summer beer garden opened in Kyoto’s Kamigyo Ward on July 1.
Hideaki Hayashida, head of community development group Modal, which is behind the Sakamichi Musume project (Sei Iwanami)
Nagasaki promotes famed slopes with cute 'moe' girls
NAGASAKI--An increasing number of young people here nowadays can be seen sporting steel badges with images of cute girls, who have colorful hair and big eyes, representing the city’s famed 21 steep residential streets.
A photo taken in February 1963 shows Nishi-Jukkenbashi bridge in the Oshiage district of Tokyo's Sumida Ward. The wooden bridge was destroyed during World War II, rebuilt in 1952 and torn down in 1963. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
TOKYO NOW AND THEN: Skytree gives local businesses chance to think big on their own turf
There’s no time to pause at the watch shop in Tokyo Skytree “town”--at least not for a morning coffee or tea. Like clockwork, it’s straight down to business.
A dancer performs in front of an illuminated building during Kogen, one of the world’s largest temple- and shrine-related events, held at Zojoji temple in Tokyo on May 2. (Provided by the Kogen organizing committee)
Buddhism undergoes modern twist to attract young people
Discussing love, using social media and pouring cocktails are a few of the methods Buddhist monks and priests are now using to gain followers in modern-day Japan.
A 12.5-meter-tall clock tower designed by Hayao Miyazaki is one of the main features of the ongoing “The Haunted Tower--Perfect Popular Culture” exihibition at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, western Tokyo. (Atushi Ohara)
Gothic fans flock to Ranpo fest helmed by anime god Miyazaki at Ghibli Museum
An event dedicated to mystery-novel giant Edogawa Ranpo and curated by anime legend Hayao Miyazaki is guaranteed to be weird and wonderful.
Two cranes hoist up the KiHa 20-1303 train that arrived at Isumi Railway's Otaki Station in Otaki, Chiba Prefecture, on June 22. (Hirokazu Inada)
Local Chiba railway readies 'old school' one-car train adorned in vintage colors
OTAKI, Chiba Prefecture--A retro-style diesel train arrived at Otaki Station here on June 22, the last of five one-car trains being introduced that are popular with tourists on the Isumi Railway and trainspotters.
The Back Garden of Isuien Garden in Nara, where the landscaping borrows scenery from Todaiji temple's Great South Gate and Mount Wakakusayama (Yumi Kurita)
Foreign tourists discovering beauty of Isuien Garden in Nara
NARA--This ancient capital's famous Todaiji temple might grab all the headlines, but a garden just to the west is rapidly flowering in popularity.
A photo taken in December 1951 shows the Asahi Beer brewery in the Azumabashi district of Tokyo billowing smoke from its smokestack. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
TOKYO NOW AND THEN: Big, bold, gold and old--a Japanese beer story
To some, it appears enticing, like the frothy head of a beer. To others, it resembles a “golden poop.” But one thing everyone has to agree on is that there’s a massive metallic-looking piece of art sitting atop a building in downtown Tokyo.
Reporters are allowed to tour the old main office of the historic Yawata Steel Works in Kita-Kyushu on June 15. (Jun Kaneko)
Old iron forge that eyes heritage status takes steps toward opening to public
KITA-KYUSHU--A historic iron mill may be opened to the public soon as part of a campaign to have it registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Customers enjoy themselves at the Takaosan Beer Mount beer garden on Mount Takaosan in the suburbs of western Tokyo on June 15. (Hiroko Saito)
Hikers on Tokyo's Mt. Takaosan cool down at beer garden marking its 50th season
After reaching the summit of Mount Takaosan in western Tokyo for the first time with a friend on June 15, Yoshiko Sugasaki rewarded herself by downing three mugs of cold beer.
The original illustrations for Fumiyo Kono's "Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni" (In this corner of the world) are on display at the Kyoto International Manga Museum in the city's Nakagyo Ward. ((c) Fumiyo Kono/ Futabasha Publishers Ltd.)
Manga exhibition in Kyoto provides insights into World War II
KYOTO--A museum here is displaying manga themed on World War II, including works by artists with firsthand experience of the conflict, to send a message to Japan’s postwar generations who have lived in peace.
More than 100 cameras are used to take photographs of a customer from all directions to produce a personalized figurine at a studio in Tokyo's Yurakucho district. (Nobuhiro Shirai)
Tokyo studio uses 102 digital cameras to create 3-D figures of customers
Shoppers in Tokyo can now have personalized 3-D statues of themselves made at a newly opened studio equipped with 102 digital single-lens reflex cameras used to create the lifelike figurines.
Cormorant fisherwoman Mariko Sawaki feeds a baby bird on June 11 at the Uji city sightseeing center in Kyoto Prefecture. (Taku Koyama)
Hungry baby cormorants on pace for traditional fishing role
UJI, Kyoto Prefecture--Two baby Japanese cormorants are rapidly gaining weight, voraciously gulping down food and showing promise as future fish hunters.
Toraya Confectionery Co.’s main store in Tokyo’s Minato Ward (Taeko Hiraoka)
Toraya offers filling experience at ‘wagashi’ sweets exhibition
A confectionery founded in the 16th century is holding its last exhibition of Japanese traditional sweets called “wagashi” before its main store closes on Sept. 30 for three years of rebuilding work.
“Seishuku-zu,” an ancient Chinese star map, on the ceiling of Takamatsuzuka burial mound will be shown to public for the first time in autumn. The picture was taken in 2007 in the village of Asuka, Nara Prefecture. (Pool)
First public viewing set for Takamatsuzuka tomb star map in Nara
ASUKA, Nara Prefecture--A star map adorning the ceiling of the Takamatsuzuka burial mound will be shown to the public for the first time in the next display of treasure from the ancient site.
A photograph taken in March 1929 shows students and other pedestrians passing by a row of secondhand bookstores in the Kanda-Jimbocho district of Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
TOKYO NOW AND THEN: From textbook town to a living museum
Paying in excess of 2.7 million yen ($21,750) for an original print from the series "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji" by famed woodblock artist Hokusai (1760-1849) might give some people pause for thought.
Vendors sell vegetables, breads, jam, cookies and other daily commodities under tents pitched between buildings. (Lisa Vogt)
Lisa’s Eye on Tokyo: Interesting treats await at farmer’s market
Every weekend, when the weather cooperates, I bicycle to the farmer’s market in front of United Nations University across the street from Aoyama Gakuin University.
A member of the "Chidori Musume" group of female guides escorts tourists in a traditional kimono costume at Matsue Castle in Shimane Prefecture. (Yohei Kobayakawa)
Feudal warriors, kimono-clad town girls adorn proposed national treasure Matsue Castle
MATSUE, Shimane Prefecture--After 400 years, swarms are invading the main keep at Matsue Castle, this time increasing numbers of tourists attracted by its planned designation as a national treasure and volunteer "cosplayers" in feudal armor and traditional kimono.

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