Tanabe Shouchiku weaves bamboo pieces at his workshop in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture. (Kazuyoshi Sako)

Bamboo artist Tanabe follows family lineage to win global acclaim

February 11, 2015

At an exhibition in Tokyo last fall, world-renowned artist Shouchiku Tanabe told an audience that his lifelong experience of working with bamboo resonates within him and helps...

Takeru Kobayashi during a recent interview in New York (Hiroko Masuike)

Competitive eating champ Takeru Kobayashi hasn't lost appetite for ...

January 01, 2015

Standing 173 centimeters in height and weighing 60 kilograms, Takeru Kobayashi looks no different from the average Japanese man, until he sits down to eat.

Akira Isogawa holds a wedding dress overlaid with delicate fabrics. (Michele Mossop)

AKIRA ISOGAWA: Using Asian aesthetics, designer becomes Australian ...

October 10, 2014

SYDNEY--Despite a hectic schedule that he juggles on his own, fashion designer Akira Isogawa took time out recently to enjoy a bowl of pho (noodle soup) at a Vietnamese...

Mechanical watches are powered by mainsprings that require winding before the watch will operate. “In an age where almost everything is automated, physical interaction with a device is still attractive to some people.” (Kazuyoshi Sako)

MASAHIRO KIKUNO: Independent watchmaker creates unique works of art

August 10, 2014

At his workshop in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, neatly lined with machine tools and implements purchased via Internet auctions, Masahiro Kikuno gently draws a file across a piece ...

A powerful stage performance belies Ichiro Mizuki's 66 years of age. “Anime songs have taught me to live with hope, courage, and righteousness.” (Kazuyoshi Sako)

ICHIRO MIZUKI: Anime song vocalist could be most famous Japanese...

July 25, 2014

Roughly 1,000 people filled the cultural center in Iga, Mie Prefecture, to hear an artist who has struggled in relative obscurity in Japan but is perhaps the most famous...

Evening rush hour in Ho Chi Minh City. “Vietnam is a sea of motorbikes. I want to change that with an urban rail system,” says rail consultant Akira Hosomi. (Naoto Ohike)

AKIRA HOSOMI: Railway consultant overcomes bike full of obstacles...

June 20, 2014

Working to change conventional wisdom in Vietnam, a Japanese railway consultant is looking to put the brakes on the swarms of motorbikes zipping through the streets of the...

Masaharu Tsubokura says: "For these three years, I have been living at breakneck speed with the help of a lot of friends." (Kazuyoshi Sako)

MASAHARU TSUBOKURA: Battling anger and criticism, young doctor...

June 06, 2014

Masaharu Tsubokura was in Paris with his fiancee when he received a phone call from his boss in Japan, who abruptly asked him: “When are you coming back to Japan?”

Yusuke Matsuda watches over the smiling faces of newly appointed teachers. “I feel an affinity with this assembled group of trusted colleagues.” (Kazuyoshi Sako)

YUSUKE MATSUDA: Power to affect positive change in Japan's...

April 25, 2014

Outside the window of a teacher training facility in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, the pink plum blossoms were in full bloom on a recent spring day.

The sea, Hideki Takahashi’s place of work, has swallowed many lives. “But I’m not afraid of the sea,” he says. (Kazuyoshi Sako)

HIDEKI TAKAHASHI: Fisherman rebounds from tsunami with Norwegian...

April 11, 2014

A sudden shower passed, and calm clear weather settled upon the twilight-bathed sea. Hideki Takahashi cut the engine on his boat, the 6-ton Hidekimaru, as it came to rest about ...

Kyoko Miyake divides her time between Japan and Britain. “I don't want to constantly hover between the two countries, I just want to be able to live in both.” (Akira Suemori)

KYOKO MIYAKE: Film director always looking for the truth

March 21, 2014

Hackney, in northeast London, is home to many low income households, immigrants and budding artists. In a corner of this borough last December, Kyoko Miyake was busy editing...

Working in silence, shadow picture artist Seiji Fujishiro continuously and intently moves his hands. “Cutting out each and every child’s facial expression is a challenge I put everything into,” he said. (Kazuyoshi Sako)

SEIJI FUJISHIRO: At 89, shadow picture artist continues to shine

March 07, 2014

With a steady hand and a razor blade grasped firmly between his fingers, Seiji Fujishiro deftly cuts numerous straight lines through a piece of paper. In late November 2013,...

Japanese national champion road bike racer Yukiya Arashiro (Kazuyoshi Sako)

YUKIYA ARASHIRO: Japan's peloton ace chases Tour de France dream

February 07, 2014

In the morning on Nov. 17, Yukiya Arashiro stands at the starting line of a bicycle road race in Oita in Kyushu, the southern region of Japan. When the signal is given, he...

Yasuhiro Ueki will relocate from New York to Tokyo when he retires from the United Nations at the end of January. With a new life ahead of him, he is full of confidence. “Sooner or later, I'll be doing something exciting.” (Shino Yanagawa)

YASUHIRO UEKI: Reflecting on 30 years of information work for the...

January 24, 2014

The 40-story United Nations Headquarters building stands tall in cloudless blue skies of Manhattan. This is where Yasuhiro Ueki has spent the last 30-plus years working as a...

Yuki Ota won Olympic silver in the men's individual foil in Beijing in 2008, and in the team foil event in London in 2012. Out of a desire to give back to the sport of fencing that made him into the man he is today, he holds an annual fencing tournament for elementary school students with support from his corporate sponsor. (Kazuyoshi Sako)

YUKI OTA: Olympic silver medalist plans to strike gold at Rio 2016

January 10, 2014

It was the night before the announcement of the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics. At the Colón Theatre in Buenos Aires, one of the world's three leading concert venues,...

Kaneto Kanemoto, president of the Q&A website “OKWave,” says, “people can ask questions for others to answer. I want the circle of gratitude this engenders to spread out across the world.” (Kazuyoshi Sako)

Kaneto Kanemoto: Man emerges from life of misery to create dream...

December 20, 2013

The flags of several countries line the large seminar room of OKWave Inc., an IT company that runs a free site allowing users to post questions for others to answer.

Sachiko Kuno, president and CEO of the S&R Foundation, tells young people of the importance of finding an area of specialty that they excel in, no matter how small. “It gives you a greater ability to believe in yourself.” (Yuko Lanham)

Scientist with a passion for cultivating young talent

December 06, 2013

High on a hill overlooking the center of Washington quietly stands a solitary mansion, long closed off to the public. Completed in 1802, it was built with the same bricks as...

Art restoration expert Kikuko Iwai has seen plenty of damages caused by overzealous restoration efforts. She always strives to stay true to her principles and the vision of the artist whose work she is preserving for future generations. (Kazuyoshi Sako)

A life dedicated to preserving the world's art

November 22, 2013

In a room that looks more like a laboratory than an atelier, Kikuko Iwai faces a silk watercolor painting as light gently streams through windows overhead. Rows of pipettes and ...

“I have a talent for meeting people. It’s a miracle. I am very lucky,” said Takao Kato. The friends he has made through his encounters serve as the support network for his games. (Kazuyoshi Sako)

Kato turns childhood dreams into reality with real-life game

November 08, 2013

A gang of well-known “robbers,” we had entered a bank to pull off a heist. Suddenly, an alarm sounded and we were locked inside. If we solved a series of riddles within 60...

The small office of Toru Tokushige, the president of the electric motorcycle maker Terra Motors, takes up two rooms, around 7 square meters in size, in a multi-tenant building. The books lining the walls are shared by all the employees. (Eri Goto)

Terra Motors president rises to meet a global challenge on...

October 27, 2013

It’s the beginning of September and a three-wheeled taxi is swerving its way through the stifling humidity of Ahmedabad, a city in west India. In the passenger seat, a man...

Still working to improve sleep quality, Airweave mattress pad developer Motokuni Takaoka said, “Eventually I want to create an era where individuals will choose mattresses that suit their weight and physique.” (Kazuyoshi Sako)

Inventor of special mattress eager to give athletes a good...

October 13, 2013

Whenever he can find the time, Motokuni Takaoka jets around the globe to watch athletes in action.

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As the world has become globalized, the concept of citizenship is no longer fixed in stone. In some instances, children with parents of different nationalities are faced with the dilemma of having to choose only one for themselves. Refugees forced to flee from domestic or international conflicts may pledge allegiance to the country that grants them asylum. Some people will even spend small fortunes to acquire a new nationality. This series looks into what citizenship means for these people.


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Eurasia: As China’s rise reshapes continent, Japan has a...

January 10, 2014

The Japanese archipelago lies opposite Eurasia, a huge region now morphing into one integrated economic sphere. How should Japan deal with this New Continentalism?


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GAMARJOBAT: Japanese pantomime duo spreads laughter around the...

December 06, 2013

Editor’s Note: Gamarjobat, a wordless comedy double-act who perform around the world, will now appear in The Asahi Shimbun as our “silent supporters.” Their comedy videos, inspired by GLOBE feature stories, will be...