Train fans' passion something that can't be explained to a non-enthusiast


There’s something about trains. There always has been. In February 1854 seven U.S. Navy “black ships” were in Edo (now Tokyo) Bay to open a closed country, by force if necessary, hopefully not. An exhibition on the beach, designed to show the Japanese the  wonders that would be theirs if they… Read


Resettlement woes affecting female Ukrainian refugees


On Aug 16, the Ukrainian embassy in Tokyo received a frantic email. "Please assist me in getting back to Ukraine as soon as possible," it read. "I don't want to be in this country any more. I'm on the verge of a physical and mental breakdown. I can't stand the… Read


More kids showing signs of premature aging


Myopia. Fatty liver. Lumbago. High blood pressure due to obesity. Skeletal problems. Yes, as the petals are plucked from our flower of youth, these are among the multitude of complaints of encroaching middle age. The problem, says Spa (Sept 20-27), is that they're occurring with increasing frequency among young children.… Read


Growing number of people working into their 80s and 90s


“When I first came into this world” – at age 15 – “it was understood: your foot must not  tread on the master’s shadow.” A stern code governed the world of sushi. Kazuo Morita, now 91 and still active as one of Japan’s very best sushi chefs, learned two things under… Read


Political worries, low yen attracting more Chinese buyers to Japan's real estate market


"The number of people accessing our site is up by 30% over this time last year," Zhao Kiyoshi, representative director of Shenjumiaosuan, a real estate platform based in Tokyo's Roppongi district, tells Spa (Sept 13). "I get the impression that sales contracts are also on the rise," Zhao continues. "A… Read


Japan is hard on gifted children


Imagine you’re a 10-year-old kid and everyone thinks you’re weird. Your parents. Your teachers. Your friends. It’s a rare child who will say, “I’m not weird, you’re weird, the world is weird.” Rarer still: “I’m not weird, I’m gifted.” But maybe that’s it. Maybe you’re gifted. Japan is hard on its gifted children, says Shukan… Read


These days, reality can be more frightening than made-up stories


While tradition in Japan holds that August is the time for spine-chilling tales of the supernatural, Shukan Jitsuwa (Sept 15) contradicts this formula, choosing instead to serve up types of supposedly true phenomena that may be scary in completely different ways. Take the 5-channel online bulletin board, formerly known as… Read


'2024 bug' to wreak havoc on Japan's logistics


"Up to now, distribution has managed to overcome several crises, but this time, there's real concern that the industry might not be able to move goods." That is how Hiroaki Oshima, who heads the specialty think tank NX Logistics Research Institute and Consulting Inc puts it. The headline in Weekly… Read


Internet buzzes with sympathy, support, understanding for Abe's accused killer


Spa (Aug 30 – Sept 6) begins with a disclaimer: “There is no justification for Yamagami’s heinous crime – but,” it adds,  “as details of the suspect’s past emerge, an outpouring of sympathy” has overwhelmed revulsion. Misfortune dogged Tetsuya Yamagami. Born in 1980, he came of age as the bubble economy… Read


Greasy spoon eateries to avoid like the plague


This summer, Sendai City was abuzz with a leak by a former employee of the Osaka Osho gyoza restaurant chain. "On July 24, the employee tweeted images of an infestation of namekuji (slugs) on the wall behind the refrigerator and around food preparation equipment," a reporter for a food industry… Read

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