Tetsuya Kudo, president of Daruma Shokuhin Honpo Corp., tries "natto" that is made from the Tamafukura variety of soybean, in Hakodate, southern Hokkaido, on Oct. 17. (Kotaro Ebara)
JOY OF HOKKAIDO FOOD: Farmers producing a new, sweet ‘big’ soybean
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.
The special fan features the kanji character for "dai" (great or big) written with a brush and ink, representing the Nara Daimonji bonfire festival. (Choi Chae-soo)
OMIYAGE FROM JAPAN: Especially for fans of Daimonji bonfire festival in Nara
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.
Hello Kitty fans pose for photos in a giant tea cup at the Hello Kitty Con, the first-ever Hello Kitty fan convention, held at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA Oct. 30 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)
Crowds, cuteness overwhelm first Hello Kitty Con
LOS ANGELES--Hello Kitty cuteness is taking over Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles as the city hosts the first Hello Kitty fan convention.
(Illustration by Mitsuaki Kojima)
ASAHI HAIKUIST NETWORK/ By David McMurray
Waiting--/ scarecrows gather/ ripe rice fields
Styles of earrings available at the Kazari Kobo Shiozawa metal-working studio (Mariko Nakamura)
CRAFTED IN TOKYO: Traditional metal-working techniques applied for modern earrings
Editor's note: This series showcases cool and special souvenirs made in Japan's capital of Tokyo, formerly known as Edo.
Bandai in joint venture to launch overseas online anime streaming service
Bandai Namco Holdings Inc., Asatsu-DK Inc. (ADK) and Aniplex Inc. will jointly set up a new company to stream Japanese anime content overseas via the Internet.
Cross-dressing men who won praise from judges at an audition for the Propaganda event in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward in August (Ryosuke Kamba)
Freedom to be themselves the big turn-on for Tokyo's cross-dressers
Even away from Tokyo's well-known gay quarter, the Shinjuku 2-chome district, boys will be girls sometimes.
Pippi and Mr. Nilsson, her pet monkey, feast on a big meal. ((c) 2014 Hatake Jimusho / Nibariki / Yoichi Kotabe Pippi Longstocking (TM) (c) Astrid Lindgren)
Book reveals artwork for canceled animated adaptation of ‘Pippi’
An art book has been published featuring sketches and other illustrations by Studio Ghibli Inc. co-founders Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki for a canceled “Pippi Longstocking” animated adaptation project.
A miniature doll modeled after the famous papier-mache tiger at Chogosonshiji temple (Choi Chae-soo)
OMIYAGE FROM JAPAN: Papier-mache tiger from Nara brings good luck
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.
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.

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