Junpei Kanazashi, a member of the Takumi Project, makes “washi” traditional paper in Minamata, Kumamoto Prefecture. (Photo by Masako Imaoka)
Crisis in vanishing traditional Japanese crafts prompts new push in Europe
Fourth-generation tatami shop master Yoshiaki Kagami shares Japanese craftsmen's sense of crisis as fewer people are engaged in traditional industries.
(Illustration by Mitsuaki Kojima)
ASAHI HAIKUIST NETWORK/ David McMurray
Acorn drop first kiss of New Year ten seconds
Visitors to Himeji Castle can view repairs from an observation deck by looking through its acrylic panels. (Takumi Fujii)
Getting up close and personal as Himeji Castle undergoes repairs
Visitors to feudal-era Himeji Castle can now observe repairs to preserve roofed passages in the fortification turrets of the World Heritage site.
Kumamoto Prefecture’s mascot, Kumamon, center, is flanked by dance duo Egu-Splosion and joined by two members of the Kumamoto Castle Omotenashi Busho-tai wearing samurai armor. (Provided by the Kumamoto prefectural government)
Kumamoto Castle video goes viral with 400,000 views
KUMAMOTO--A YouTube video to promote Kumamoto Castle starring popular dance duo Egu-Splosion has become an online hit, garnering more than 400,000 views since its release in late December.
Takaya creates a floral headdress for a model during a live performance in Kyoto, arranging flowers as he “feels the power of flowers.” (Azumi Fukuoka)
Kyoto floral hair artist has his career in full bloom
KYOTO--With his impeccable floral hairdressing style, you might assume that 40-year-old artist Takaya’s background is in the art of ikebana, or Japanese flower arrangement--but you’d be way off.
(Illustration by Mitsuaki Kojima)
ASAHI HAIKUIST NETWORK/ David McMurray
My shadow runs On untouched Snow
Huis Ten Bosch Revue Entertainment (Provided by Huis Ten Bosch Co.)
Troupe to widen appeal beyond Huis Ten Bosch theme park
SASEBO, Nagasaki Prefecture--A musical theater troupe based at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park here plans to take its show on the road to Tokyo, Aichi Prefecture and eventually overseas.
Rum aged at the bottom of the sea in the waters off  Hahajima in the Ogasawara island chain south of Tokyo in July 2015 (Yumi Nakayama)
Ogasawara rum aged 10 months on sea floor offers a mellow treat
On the south side of Hahajima, in the Ogasawara island chain nearly 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo, rest 1,200 bottles of rum on the sea floor in an inlet lapped by gentle waves.
Love, left, has taken over from the elderly Bus as “honorary stationmaster” at Aizu Railway Co.'s Ashinomaki Onsen Station in Aizu-Wakamatstu, Fukushima Prefecture. (Takuya Ikeda)
Love rules as new feline 'stationmaster' in Fukushima
AIZU-WAKAMATSU, Fukushima Prefecture--A young male cat named Love has taken the oath of office as “honorary stationmaster” at the train stop here.
A special Hello Kitty-themed train car (Provided by Seibu Railway Co.)
Hello Kitty goes choo-choo for Chichibu
CHICHIBU, Saitama Prefecture--She’s the "kawaii" cartoon that gets everywhere, and now Hello Kitty is traveling even farther, thanks to a special train operating in the Chichibu area from Jan. 16.
(Illustration by Mitsuaki Kojima)
ASAHI HAIKUIST NETWORK/ David McMurray
Foggy mountain road a monkey on the guardrail foggy mountain road
Miniature models of the old Kojak railway go on sale on Jan. 16. (Amane Shimazaki)
Miniature model Kojak trains from the past just the ticket for train buffs
OTSU--Railway buffs lined up in the early hours to buy the first-ever commercial miniature models of the diesel cars that graced the now-defunct Kojak railroad along Lake Biwako’s west side.
Samples of curry dishes that use the stomach of the Japanese amberjack as an ingredient are brought together in Himi, Toyama Prefecture. (Nobuhiro Hatta)
Toyama restaurants team up to promote yellowtail for curry dishes
HIMI, Toyama Prefecture--“Buri” (Japanese amberjack) is a local specialty in this coastal city facing the Sea of Japan, but including buri in menus for moderately priced restaurants has been difficult because of the high prices the fish commands.
Firefighters in loincloths point their fire hoses skyward in an annual New Year ceremony in Kanazawa on Jan. 10. (Nahoko Kyotani)
Spectators in awe as firefighters show off acrobatic skills
KANAZAWA--Firefighters dazzled thousands of spectators with traditional circus-like acrobatic stunts atop bamboo ladders as part of New Year festivities here on Jan. 10.
The "Shonan no Hoseki" illumination event held on Enoshima island in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Nov. 27 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Majority of Tokyo urbanites crave escape to coastal Kanagawa area
With its scenic coastline and beautiful natural setting, the Shonan area south of Tokyo, along with the old capital of Kamakura, is the preferred living environment for the majority of Japanese living and working in central Tokyo.
Tsutomu Murashima on Jan. 6 (Photo by Junji Murakami)
Rice 'master' invited to spread his cooking techniques in China
SAKAI--The fame of an 85-year-old restaurant founder known as “the wizard of rice cooking” has led to an invitation from the Chinese government to share his expertise in Beijing on Jan. 12.
"Mobile Suit Gundam" ((c) SOTSU・SUNRISE)
The great 'Gundam' debate: Where is Amuro Ray from?
Thirty-seven years after the “Mobile Suit Gundam” anime series premiered, fans are engaged in a heated online debate over whether the main protagonist Amuro Ray hails from Tottori Prefecture.
The 4.5-meter high statues of Char’s Zaku, left, and Gundam are set up in front of the Gundam Square specialty shop in Suita, Osaka Prefecture. (Takafumi Yabuki)
‘Gundam’ bridges generations to continue decades-long success
With 36 years of continuing popularity under its belt, the “Mobile Suit Gundam” robot anime series appears headed for immortality.
(Illustration by Mitsuaki Kojima)
ASAHI HAIKUIST NETWORK/ David McMurray
Riverside a crocodile waits in a monkey shadow
Yoshikazu Yasuhiko holds a model of Haro, his favorite character from the “Mobile Suit Gundam” series, at his home in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture. (Naoyuki Himeno)
INTERVIEW/ Yoshikazu Yasuhiko: ‘Gundam’ led to misunderstanding that ‘war is cool’
TOKOROZAWA, Saitama Prefecture--The “Mobile Suit Gundam” anime series for young boys had an unintended consequence: Some fans felt that the message was “war is cool.”

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