Kiyo Nishino represents traditional puppetry in Nose, Osaka Prefecture. (Provided by Joruri Theater)
Traditional arts, local purveyors turn to anthropomorphic characters for promotional boost
As conventional businesses increasingly turn to anthropomorphic anime characters as a tool to develop new markets, the roles of these "moe" cute-looking creations have expanded to represent local specialties and even traditional arts.
The logo for the planned theme park Tokyo One Piece Tower ((c) Eiichiro Oda/ Shueisha, Fuji Television Network, Toei Animation)
Tokyo One Piece Tower to feature pirate ship, casino house
A theme park centered on the popular manga-anime franchise “One Piece” will open in a four-story amusement complex in Tokyo Tower in spring 2015.
Former professional soccer great Hidetoshi Nakata takes a sip of sake for the new Sakenomy iPhone app. (Provided by MTI Ltd.)
Soccer great Nakata returns to help pitch app that recommends sake brand
A former Japanese soccer star is hoping to bring his scoring touch to an iPhone app that delves into the enchanting world of sake.
Hatsune Miku ((c) Crypton Future Media Inc.)
Royalty-free digital diva Hatsune Miku helps everyone become music creator
Vocaloid electronic diva Hatsune Miku has been around since 2007, and the fictional 16-year-old singer and dancer with her trademark turquoise pigtails has taken the world by storm.
An “Oidashi-neko” monument in Miyawaka, Fukuoka Prefecture, on Aug. 21. The front side is believed to drive out misfortune. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Cat mascot helps drive out bad luck at every step in Miyawaka
MIYAWAKA, Fukuoka Prefecture--On almost every corner of this city, one can find a broom-toting cat traditionally believed by locals to ward off misfortune and bring good luck.
Diners enjoy lunch at Nagamitsu Farm in Sapporo’s Kiyota Ward on Oct. 5. (Hiroyuki Yamamoto)
JOY OF HOKKAIDO FOOD: Co-op turns farms into restaurants to promote local produce
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 set of five sheets of Kinokami wood paper measuring 14.5 centimeters by 14.5 cm sells for 864 yen ($8). Another set containing two sheets of A-4 size wood paper costs 1,080 yen.
OMIYAGE FROM JAPAN: Get into the origami fold with Nara cedar
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
First potatoes/ moonlight/ in the monastery garden
The Dorato shop offers various types of honey in special jars. (Nanako Ito)
KYOTO GOES KAWAII: Specialty shop offers honey for all tastes
Editor’s note: This series showcases what we are calling “kawaii” (cute) items made locally in the iconic Japanese city.
Children and their parents form a line in front of a "Yokai Watch" arcade machine at Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Ginza in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward on July 31. (Kenichiro Shino)
'Yokai Watch' newest smash craze with kids
Ever since an anime version of the "Yokai Watch" role-playing video game was first broadcast in January, products related to the game's cute, mascot-like “Yokai” (spirit) characters have been flying off store shelves.
Master thief Lupin the Third, right, and his buddy Daisuke Jigen in a scene from the anime work’s latest TV adaptation that is scheduled to air next spring in Italy ((c) TMS)
'Lupin the Third' returning to TV screens in new anime series
The first “Lupin the Third” anime series in three decades is set to return to television screens next spring.
Shiitan holds a limited-edition concert T-shirt of her favorite AKB48 member, Mayu Watanabe. (Natsuki Kawahara)
Acts of kindness change mother's view of AKB48 fans
SAITAMA--They have been disparagingly described as self-centered, obsessive nerds lacking social skills.
Entrants to the World Cosplay Summit strike a pose Aug. 3 in Nagoya. (Yuta Takahashi)
Cosplayers from around the world to appear in Tokyo film festival
Cosplayers from around the world are set to inject some fun and flair into this year's Tokyo International Film Festival. The costume-clad special guests will appear as characters from the works of acclaimed anime director Hideaki Anno.
A scene from the "Bima Satria Garuda" superhero show broadcast in Indonesia. On screen is the logo for Suzuki, a sponsor of the program. (Provided by Itochu Corp., (c)2013 RCTI/Ishimori Production Inc.)
Japanese TV shows created for overseas audiences make inroads in Southeast Asia
It's not unusual for Japanese TV variety shows and dramas to be rebroadcast overseas, but starting next spring, as many as 10 Japanese shows designed with foreign audiences in mind will be televised in Southeast Asia.
Caya brand shawls (Choi Chae-soo)
OMIYAGE FROM JAPAN: Traditional mosquito nets given fresh life as stylish shawls
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.
Haruki Murakami fans at a cafe in Tokyo react after the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature is announced. (Louis Templado)
‘Harukists’ stay positive after Murakami overlooked by Nobel again
The news came hard for a coterie of hard-core fans packed inside a Haruki Murakami-themed cafe in Tokyo. Their beloved writer would not receive this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature.
Lars Vargo, the former Swedish ambassador to Japan, talks about his love of haiku in Tokyo. (Shigetaka Kodama)
Haiku saves people, says retired diplomat
The former Swedish ambassador, who spent 20 years in Japan as a university student and later in the diplomatic corps, is known for his haiku.
Akio Nakanishi supported Haruki Murakami in the author's failed bid for leadership at their junior high school. In the background is the Shukukawa River in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. (Louis Templado)
Rooting for the boy in their midst who became literary giant Haruki Murakami
Editor's note: This article is part of The Asahi Shimbun AJW's series on internationally acclaimed writer Haruki Murakami.
Curator Kyoko Setani, who organized the Hani-1 contest, helps children make their original haniwa in May in Wakayama. (Haruhiro Hirahata)
Ancient art of ‘haniwa’ undergoes modern twist at Wakayama museum
WAKAYAMA--Terracotta clay "haniwa" figures representing horses, humans and other everyday objects once adorned ancient graves, but today a museum here is showcasing modern designs such as monsters, pop idols and even a potato.
The cover illustration of the first volume of “Naruto” ((c) Masashi Kishimoto, Scott/ Shueisha)
Best-selling ‘Naruto’ ninja saga to reach finale next month
Ninja manga series “Naruto” is coming to an end after a phenomenal 15-year run that saw its popularity soar both at home and abroad.

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