The Kyoto Imperial Palace opened to the public on April 9 (Noboru Tomura)
Kyoto Imperial Palace starts spring exhibition
KYOTO--The Kyoto Imperial Palace started its annual spring public exhibition on April 9, allowing visitors to see the Kenreimon gate open for the first time in 17 years.
Hiroshi Jinkawa, back, who operates a “ninjutsu” program, performs a sword-fighting exercise in a tatami room of a traditional house in Akiruno in western Tokyo on March 25. (Motooki Hayasaka)
Ninja master: Essence of 'ninjutsu' still relevant today
A man wearing a dark outfit as stealthily as the night performs an incantation in a candle-lit room to expel evil spirits at the start of a program.
Life-size panels of popular anime characters welcome fans at the entrance of a booth at the AnimeJapan 2014. (Atsushi Ohara)
AnimeJapan 2014 leaves its mark with 111,000 visitors
AnimeJapan 2014 ended its two-day run at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center in the capital's Ariake district with a sell-out crowd. The event wound up March 23.
Byodoin temple priests head toward Phoenix Hall on April 2 to take part in a religious ceremony celebrating the completion of repair work. (Noboru Tomura)
World Heritage site Phoenix Hall reopens after major repairs
UJI, Kyoto Prefecture--Byodoin temple’s Phoenix Hall, a World Heritage site home to a number of national treasures, reopened to the public on April 3 after about 18 months of major repairs and restoration.
Geisha and apprentices rehearse an ensemble dance on March 31 at the Gionkobu Kaburenjo theater in Kyoto's Higashiyama Ward ahead of the annual Miyako Odori performances. (Noboru Tomura)
PHOTO: Geisha open Miyako Odori performances in style in Kyoto
KYOTO--Geisha and “maiko” apprentices performed annual spring dances April 1 to kick off the 142nd Miyako Odori event at the Gionkobu Kaburenjo theater in the ancient capital’s Higashiyama Ward.
Visitors to Tsuruma Park in Nagoya enjoy cherry blossom viewing after the rain stopped on March 30. (Yuta Takahashi)
PHOTO: Cherry blossoms enjoyed under clear skies in Nagoya
NAGOYA--Just in time for an afternoon of fun, the rain let up on March 30, allowing nature lovers to get out and enjoy a relaxing few hours under the cherry blossoms in Tsuruma Park in Showa Ward.
Members of the Takarazuka Revue's Moon Troupe line-dance on stage at the Takarazuka Grand Theater in Hyogo Prefecture on March 21. (Mihoko Takizawa)
PHOTO: Famous all-female theater troupe marks 100 years in show business
TAKARAZUKA, Hyogo Prefecture--The famed, all-female Takarazuka Revue kicked off its centennial anniversary series of shows on March 21 with a total of 100 dancers taking to the stage at the Takarazuka Grand Theater.
Snorkelers get up close to ocean sunfish at a fish preserve in Susami, Wakayama Prefecture, on March 2. (Takuya Isayama)
PHOTO: Wakayama reels in visitors with ocean sunfish swim
SUSAMI, Wakayama Prefecture--Fish aficionados have gotten hooked on swimming with ocean sunfish in an enclosed area of Susami port.
Statues of Kichijo-ten, left, and Bishamon-ten owned by Horyuji temple (The photo of Kichijo-ten was taken by Kinji Morimoto and provided by Nara National Museum)
Horyuji treasures go on the road to pray for reconstruction
To pray for recovery from the 2011 disaster, a major exhibition of Horyuji temple treasures will be held in Tokyo from April 26 through June 22 for the first time in 20 years at the University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts.
Byodoin temple’s Phoenix Hall on March 17 in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, after restoration work (Kazunori Takahashi)
PHOTO: World Heritage Phoenix Hall restored to splendor
UJI, Kyoto Prefecture--A nearly 1,000-year-old temple hall here has undergone a major facelift to show its true colors.
A man celebrates after scoring a goal as he participates in a soccer video game competition projected on a large monitor at the E-Sports Square in the Akihabara district in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Takaharu Yagi)
Japan's first 'e-sports' facility scores big in Tokyo's Akihabara
Japan's only facility exclusively dedicated to electronic sports has been drawing crowds to Tokyo's Akihabara since its opening on Jan. 25.
National important cultural property “Butsunehanzu” is shown here being hung from the ceiling March 13 at Honpoji temple in Kyoto’s Kamigyo Ward. (Noboru Tomura)
PHOTO: Kyoto temple to show treasured Tohaku painting
KYOTO--One of Japan’s biggest and most renowned paintings by feudal era artist Hasegawa Tohaku is being exhibited for a limited time at Honpoji temple in the city’s Kamigyo Ward.
“Tezuka Osamu: The Biggest Creator on Earth” exhibition at the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture (Yutaka Suzuki)
Osamu Tezuka museum marks 20th anniversary with a tribute to 'Astro Boy' creator
TAKARAZUKA, Hyogo Prefecture--Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum here is holding a major exhibition of the profound works of "Astro Boy" creator Osamu Tezuka, one of Japan’s most renowned manga and anime artists.
A sign, foreground, in the Nara City Sightseeing Information Center explains that wireless LAN is available free of charge. (Yoshito Watari)
Free Wi-Fi to be offered for visitors to Nara Park
NARA--Free Wi-Fi services will soon be available to help visitors to Nara Park access online information about sites of interest more speedily.
Singer Kiyoshi Hikawa shows off his latest single in Tokyo's Nakano Ward. (Katsutoshi Saito)
Town turns to anime to revive classic gangster tale 'Tenpo Suikoden'
TONOSHO, Chiba Prefecture--Local officials are trying to revitalize the popularity of classic gangster tale “Tenpo Suikoden” to promote the town of Tonosho.
Masaki Shingu and his wife, Akiko, run Haruka, a railway-themed cafe in the Tetsumeidori district in Gifu. (Yuka Takeshita)
All aboard for train buffs at Gifu model railway cafe
GIFU--Japan has its share of maid cafes, cat cafes and even bunny rabbit cafes. It was only a matter of time until someone came up with a railroad cafe.
Bottles of ume apricot juice, front, and "umeshu" liqueur feature characters from "Attack on Titan." (Michiya Ofuji)
'Attack on Titan'-themed ume juice, liqueur offered from author's hometown
HITA, Oita Prefecture--A planning and distribution company is using bottles featuring manga characters from “Attack on Titan” to help peddle juice and liqueur made from ume Japanese apricots in the city’s Oyama area.
Alien Baltan stands in the left corner while Dada carries glasses of beer on a tray in a concept image of the interior of the Kaiju Sakaba bar. But during its business hours for "earthlings," there will be no monsters in the bar, according to the operators. ((c) Tsuburaya Productions Co.)
Kaiju-themed bar to open for humans in Kawasaki
KAWASAKI--Earthlings will soon be able to sip on out-of-this-world drinks at a bar here devoted to space aliens and "kaiju" monsters.
A previously undiscovered air pocket greets divers at the end of an 800-meter dive in the Inazumi Underwater Stalactite Cave in Bungo-Ono, Oita Prefecture, on Feb. 6. The gaping cave hole in the center is the entrance to additional interiors. (Provided by Hitoshi Miho)
PHOTO: Divers find deep cavern in Japan's longest underwater cave
BUNGO-ONO, Oita Prefecture--Divers have discovered a cavern of great proportions within the Inazumi Underwater Stalactite Cave here in southwestern Japan, believed to be the longest of its kind in the country.
Matsue Vogel Park employee Takeshi Notsu and an amorous African penguin named Sakura enjoy a stroll together on Feb. 10 in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture. (Takuya Miyano)
Love-stricken African penguin wants handler to be her valentine
MATSUE--She’s an African penguin and he’s a Japanese man, but 10-year-old Sakura is determined not to let their differences get in the way of her love for her sweetheart, particularly on Valentine’s Day.

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