Yasuyuki Saito, the head priest at the Kamishinmei Tenso Jinja shrine in Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward, displays an anime-inspired advertisement poster for his shrine drawn by his two nieces. (Louis Templado)
Nieces' cute graffiti answer to Shinto priest's prayers at 'snake shrine'
Yasuyuki Saito has dreamed up all sorts of ways to attract visitors to his quiet Shinto shrine in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward. All of them were outdone by the cute, anime-inspired characters that his two nieces doodled on signs around the holy grounds when he wasn’t looking.
Visitors from the Philippines and Australia try out a seafood restaurant in Rausu, Hokkaido. (Provided by Hokkaido Treasure Island Travel)
JOY OF HOKKAIDO FOOD: Travel firm hooks up tourists with Hokkaido delicacies
Editor's note: Hokkaido is attracting attention for its world-class food items. This series introduces readers to delicious foods from the northern Japanese island and the people there who are producing these wonderful products. The series appears every other Saturday.
A cutting board, right, and a hot pot stand made of fine-grained, white paulownia wood (Choi Chae-soo)
OMIYAGE FROM JAPAN: Natural paulownia wood makes ideal cutting board, hot pot stand
Editor’s note: This series showcases “omiyage” (souvenirs) from around Japan. We introduce “must-buy” items available at prefecture-operated shops in Tokyo that promote local tourism products. The series appears on Saturdays.
Itsutsuji Co.'s "konbu" kelp comes in various shapes (Nanako Ito)
KYOTO GOES KAWAII: Itsutsuji's dried 'konbu' kelp taking on new and exciting shapes
Editor's note: This series showcases what we are calling "kawaii" (cute) items made locally in the iconic Japanese city.
Nebaaru-kun and his partner Natto Onii-san attend an event in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture. (Takeshi Teruya)
Natto mascot embraces weirdness to become unlikely star
MITO--Being the unofficial patron saint of "natto" has proven to be sticky for Nebaaru-kun.
A diorama on display inside the Tokyu Plaza Shibuya shopping complex depicts the area around Shibuya Station as it appeared in the mid-1960s, when the stopping complex was newly opened. (Louis Templado)
Tokyu Plaza’s farewell photo exhibit shows changing Shibuya over past 50 years
Colorful trams can be seen running on crisscrossed tracks in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward as streamers hang from lofty advertising balloons and a boxy new shopping complex opens its doors in the year just after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Six-graders eat a washoku lunch using traditional ceramic tableware at Sanya Elementary School in Tokyo's Suginami Ward. (Tomoko Saito)
Tokyo schools serve up new lessons on 'washoku' culture
Although Japanese food culture is spreading in overseas countries, schools in Tokyo are stepping up to the plate to promote the essence of “washoku” at home.
Nozomi Osada plays the drum to promote the opening of a karaoke bar with other costumed musicians as they march through the streets in Yokohama's Naka Ward. (Eiji Hori)
Young woman finds true calling as 'chindon-ya' costumed street musician
One afternoon in December, kimono-clad Nozomi Osada cheerfully played the drums and the gong to promote the opening of a new karaoke bar in an area near JR Kannai Station in Yokohama.
A bottle of Akagiyama "junmai ginjo" premium sake (Choi Chae-soo)
OMIYAGE FROM JAPAN: Water from surrounding mountains lifts Gunma sake to great heights
Editor’s note: This series showcases “omiyage” (souvenirs) from around Japan. We introduce “must-buy” items available at prefecture-operated shops in Tokyo that promote local tourism products. The series appears on Saturdays.
(Illustration by Mitsuaki Kojima)
ASAHI HAIKUIST NETWORK/ David McMurray
Cushioned in between mountains and fresh flowers--cries of a newborn
A display of Hina dolls on a red pyramid at the city office in Konosu, Saitama Prefecture, rises to over seven meters in height. (Louis Templado)
Saitama town offers safe haven for Girls' Day dolls without a home
Katsunobu Saito and his wife, Momoko, brought their 1-year-old daughter to the city office in Konosu, Saitama Prefecture, to look at a mountain of Hina Matsuri (Girls' Day) dolls. What they saw was a display of “pyramid power.”
(c) Tsuburaya Productions Co. Provided by JR East
Middle-aged Japanese men discover the child within
Ultra superheroes and "kaiju" monsters were all the rage for Japanese boys in the 1960s and '70s. Now, droves of middle-aged men are revisiting those childhood days, courtesy of East Japan Railway Co. (JR East).
The Tonkatsu Ise chain in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward is one of the first businesses to use a Tokyo Metropolitan Government website designed to write and design multilingual menus. (Louis Templado)
Menu-making website aims to help Tokyo eateries turn more visitor-friendly
Hiroyuki Oka is eager for foreign visitors to taste the breaded pork loin cutlets at his restaurant chain in Tokyo, Tonkatsu Ise. He hopes to lure them in with a menu in four foreign languages, made with a free menu-making website set up just for the task by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
The four left panels of the restored "Cypress Trees" by Kano Eitoku (Provided by the Tokyo National Museum)
PHOTO: National treasure by Kano Eitoku restored and put on display
A panel painting by a renowned 16th century Japanese artist has been restored close to its original state for display at the Tokyo National Museum.
A warehouse in Fujimi, Saitama Prefecture, is packed with 150 Internet-controlled claw cranes. (Keiichiro Inoue)
Claw cranes capturing online players
In a dimly lit warehouse in southeastern Saitama Prefecture, 150 game machines are lined up with no people in sight. An electronic beeping breaks the silence, and a mechanical claw in one machine suddenly starts moving.
Participants build a snowman in a world record-setting event in Iiyama, Nagano Prefecture, on Feb. 15. (Yukio Kondo)
1,585 snowmen line Nagano high school field in world record
IIYAMA, Nagano Prefecture--A world record 1,585 snowmen were constructed in 60 minutes on Feb. 15 in a snow-covered field at Iiyama Kita High School.
Workers at Kokuryu Sake Brewing in Eiheiji, Fukui Prefecture, cool off steamed Ginpu rice. (Yoshihiro Yasutomi)
JOY OF HOKKAIDO FOOD: Master sake brewer turns to rice from Japan's northernmost prefecture
Editor's note: Hokkaido is attracting attention for its world-class food items. This series introduces readers to delicious foods from the northern Japanese island and the people there who are producing these wonderful products. The series appears every other Saturday.
Mayukomori kudzu sweets come in different flavors. From left; plain, silk, ginger and "matcha" (green tea). (Choi Chae-soo)
OMIYAGE FROM JAPAN: Cocoon-like 'kudzu' sweets available in assorted flavors
Editor’s note: This series showcases “omiyage” (souvenirs) from around Japan. We introduce “must-buy” items available at prefecture-operated shops in Tokyo that promote local tourism products. The series appears on Saturdays.
Visitors to La Maison Franco-Japonaise in the Ebisu district of Tokyo admire the ukiyo-e prints of French artist Paul Jacoulet. (Louis Templado)
Ukiyo-e gallery displays French artist's floating world of the South Seas
Paul Jacoulet may not be a household name in Japan, but the French-born artist contributed much to renewing the traditional Japanese art of ukiyo-e woodblock printing and bringing it to unexpected latitudes.
Dishes using Mamenoka brand "natto" soybeans are served at an international food trade exhibition in Lyon, France, in January. (Provided by Ibaraki Prefecture)
Stickiness of 'natto' reduced to smooth sales abroad
MITO--Researchers have developed a less sticky brand of “natto” fermented soybeans in an attempt to prevent foreign consumers from turning their noses at the common Japanese breakfast ingredient.

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