Lifestyle

Swimming gives your brain a boost – but scientists don't know yet why it's better than other aerobic activities

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It’s no secret that aerobic exercise can help stave off some of the ravages of aging. But a growing body of research suggests that swimming might provide a unique boost to brain health. Regular swimming has been shown to improve memory, cognitive function, immune response and mood. Swimming may also… Read

Lifestyle

'Kotodama': the belief in the magic power of words

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Kotodama (言霊) refers to the belief that words have mystical powers. It combines the word for "speech" (言 koto) and the word for "soul"(霊 tama). Kotodama presupposes that sounds can magically affect objects and that the ritualistic chanting of words can affect both the individual and her environment. For example, if you call out someone's… Read

Lifestyle

Pompom girls: Japan seniors find joy in cheerleading

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Cheering is frowned upon at the virus-postponed Olympics, but training continues at a Tokyo gym for an energetic squad of cheerleaders whose average age is 70. To the beat of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off", Fumie Takino, 89, twirled and waved her pompoms as her fellow cheerleaders showed off their… Read

Lifestyle

Capsules from Nakagin Tower find new life at museums and accommodation venues

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Designed by celebrated Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa in 1972, the Nakagin Capsule Tower Building is a once-futuristic, now retro-and-deteriorating nod at the Metabolism Movement which started in Japan following the war. Inspired by the movement which fused architectural ideas with organic biological growth, the tower consists of two concrete shafts… Read

Lifestyle

Japan's hikers return to Mount Fuji

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For a year, the peak of Japan's iconic Mount Fuji has been off-limits because of coronavirus, but now hikers are flocking back to catch the spectacular sunrise above the clouds. The active volcano's symmetrical slopes were closed to the public last summer due to the pandemic, and only reopened this… Read

Lifestyle

Olympic characters face stiff competition in mascot-mad Japan

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Tokyo 2020's cutesy Olympic mascots are plastered across the host city, but they have competition in mascot-mad Japan, where cuddly characters promote everything from prisons to health screenings. In the land of Hello Kitty and Pokemon, adorable creatures give a friendly face to private businesses and public institutions alike, and… Read

Lifestyle

Time to start tipping taxi drivers in Japan? Cab company now gives passengers option in Tokyo

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Taxi operator Sanwa Kotsu is always looking for new ways to innovate. Among the services they’ve offered are ninja drivers and, in honor of the Tokyo Olympics, drivers outfitted in fencing gear. As of this month, though, Sanwa Kotsu is doing something that’s arguably even more unusual for a Japanese cab company by introducing a system… Read

Lifestyle

Japan’s honor system unstaffed produce stands get a stylish upgrade

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When traveling through the Japanese countryside and in some smaller neighborhoods, it can often come as a surprise to some to encounter unmanned produce stands. Many of these staffless stations operate relying on the honor system as well as the hope that communities will opt to support each other with… Read

Lifestyle

Let the fashion policing begin on opening day of Tokyo Games

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Let the fashion policing begin. The Olympics in Tokyo open Friday, when the world's athletes will march behind their flag-bearers. And when they do, the peanut gallery on what they're wearing will be open, too. Olympic gear makes for lively social media fodder, starting with the hours-long Parade of Nations.… Read

JAPAN YESTERDAY

William Elliot Griffis resists temptation in feudal 1871 Japan

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In 1871, Japan was still being introduced to the United States as a country with an actual civilization. “The population of Japan,” wrote a Missouri Republican journalist in September 1871, “has been variously estimated from twenty-five to forty million. Hitherto we have had no reliable statistics upon which to base… Read

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