IT'S A WRAP!
Traditional Cloth Used to Combat Climate Change (October 3, 2007)
A square cloth that came into use over 1,000 years ago is basking in the limelight as a tool to combat global warming. Called furoshiki, these cloths can be used to wrap things of any shape and have even been known to transform into purses or handbags.
Have Your Gold and Eat It Too (August 30, 2007)
Tiny letters float on your cup of coffee, reading "Happy Birthday." Bright and shiny, they almost seem to be made of gold. In fact, they are!
A NATION OF LONGEVITY
(July 26, 2007)
Japan boasts the world's longest average lifespan, and as of July 2007 it is also home to the oldest person in the world. Minagawa Yone, who lives in Fukuoka Prefecture, was born on January 4, 1893, making her 114 years old. The oldest man in the world, meanwhile, is Miyazaki Prefecture's 111-year old Tanabe Tomoji.
FAST FOOD WITH A TWIST
(March 29, 2007)
Innovative varieties of fast food are making some of young people's favorite dishes more convenient and tasty. They include noodles that can be held and eaten with one hand and pizzas that can be consumed on the move.
LEARNING THE LINGO
(March 29, 2007)
The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test for non-native speakers of Japanese was held in December 2006 in 47 countries and regions worldwide, including Japan, and roughly 437,360 people took the test.
EATING IT MY WAY
(March 26, 2007)
More and more people are blending foods like rice and soy sauce themselves for the thrill of creating something new. The trend for custom blending has now spread from ingredients used in main dishes to those used in desserts.
THE BANK OF LIFE
(February 21, 2007)
In December 2006 toy manufacturer Tomy Co. came out with a piggy bank that combines saving money with the fun of a game. As users put coins into the Jinsei Ginko, meaning "bank of life," the life of a fictional character unfolds before their eyes.
LUCKY GRAB BAGS
(January 24, 2007)
One of the highlights of the New Year's season for many people in Japan is shopping for grab bags, known as fukubukuro, or "lucky bags." Every year major department stores and other businesses offer lucky bags to grab the attention of the public.
DADDIES ON LEAVE
(January 9, 2007)
A growing number of companies are introducing paid child-care leave systems in the aim of getting their male employees to play a more active role at home.
MAKING THE COMMUNITY A SCHOOL
(January 9, 2007)
An unusual university has opened in Tokyo's Shibuya district, a bustling cradle of Japanese youth culture. Named Shibuya University Network, it has made the district itself its campus.
(November 10, 2006)
White-colored foods are enjoying a surge of popularity this autumn. White versions of curry, tea, fish burgers, mushrooms, and many other foods and dishes feature prominently in this trend.
MIDDLE-AGED AND LOOKING GOOD
(September 29, 2006)
More and more Japanese men are taking an interest in fashion. This rapid in men's fashion consciousness has been sparked by such factors as the success of magazines like Leon, which targets middle-aged men who want to give off an air of sophisticated cool.
(August 22, 2006)
As more and more consumers recognize the health benefits of su (rice vinegar), vinegar bars and cafes offering beverages that combine rice vinegar with ingredients like fruits and vegetables have begun to appear in Tokyo.
(July 27, 2006)
A battle for ideas is heating up among bottled tea producers, who are engaged in a fierce competition to create tasty beverages that capture the public's imagination.
SHOPPING BY PHONE TAKES OFF
(July 25, 2006)
Shopping by mobile phone is enjoying growing popularity among young women, who are discovering the allure of being able to purchase the goods they desire anywhere, anytime.
SPARE SOME CHANGE?
(July 20, 2006)
Appearing across Japan recently is something called the "charity vending machine," which allows users to donate their change to such good causes as environmental conservation and child welfare at the push of a button.
WORKING THE SOIL
(May 25, 2006)
Young people these days are taking a new look at agriculture. Students are making efforts to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers and are playing a role in regional revitalization through their involvement in farming.
TOFU WITH A TWIST
(May 8, 2006)
Brands of tofu with unusual names like "Handsome Tofu" and "Johnny the Tofu Maker, Blowing in the Wind" have been attracting attention on the Internet and around town, not just for their names but also for their exquisite flavor.
ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU CRY
(March 29, 2006)
Tearjerkers, whether they be movies, TV series, or novels, are nothing new. What is new, however, is Japan's current "crying boom" - a fashion for shedding tears.
MAKE MINE MACROBIOTIC
(February 9, 2006)
What is the secret to staying healthy? For an increasing number of Japanese people, the answer is macrobiotic food. A macrobiotic diet is a diet that emphasizes natural ingredients and is heavy on brown rice, beans, and fresh vegetables grown without artificial fertilizers.
FASHION HUB GETS A FACELIFT
(January 27, 2006)
Omotesando, one of Tokyo's most cosmopolitan and trendy districts, is seeing a number of big changes this winter. These developments herald a new era for a district that has long been one of the most fashionable places in the capital.
STONE BATHS AND GERMANIUM SOAKS
(January 24, 2006)
Young and old alike, the Japanese love baths. In recent years, two new types of bath have become popular. One is a dry form of bathing known as ganban-yoku ("stone-slab bath"), and the other is a soak in hot water infused with the mineral germanium.
SWEETS IN DISGUISE
(December 21, 2005)
With so many hamburger restaurants dotting the streets, the launch of a new outlet
is usually no cause for excitement. But Mamido's Burger is an exception. Its distinctive
offerings are all sweets made to look like hamburgers and other fast food.
(December 8, 2005)
The kasanegi (layered) look, featuring two or more layers of clothing, has become a staple of Japanese fashion in recent years, and now a culinary technique inspired by this fashion concept is gaining popularity.
GOOD BUSINESS SCENTS
(November 14, 2005)
Two companies are engaged in a battle to gain the upper hand in the Japanese market for fabric deodorant sprays, and the secret weapon they are deploying is green tea.
BACK ON THE TRACKS
(October 20, 2005)
The number of cities served by trams is set to rise. Several cities, mainly in provincial areas, have built or are planning to build next-generation tram systems. The vehicles typically run within central city areas and supplement intercity rail services.
BOTTLED TAP WATER
(October 3, 2005)
Bottled tap water has been selling well, driven by a demand for water that tastes good but doesn't cost much. Water treatment plants around the country have been scrambling to invest in cutting-edge purification equipment in a bid to stay ahead of the competition.
(September 20, 2005)
A new kind of packaging is taking the food and beverage industry by storm: plastic pouches with screw-off caps. Some people consider these pouches the greatest thing since PET bottles, the plastic bottles commonly used for mineral water and other beverages.
THE PLEASURES OF PAPER
(September 14, 2005)
Japanese paper is prized for the unique patterns of the fibers on each sheet. Today, washi is finding growing use in interior decoration schemes, reflecting a broader trend, particularly among young people, to get back in touch with Japanese culture.
ARITHMETIC FOR ADULTS
(August 24, 2005)
For many people, the word math tends to bring back unpleasant memories. Despite this, the number of adults doing math for fun has been on the rise in recent years, and many people are now eagerly snapping up math-related books. Their newfound enthusiasm stems in some cases from a desire to keep their brains in good working order.
TEACHING OLD HOUSES NEW TRICKS
(August 3, 2005)
The old townhouses of Kyoto are attracting renewed attention. Some are being used again as homes, while others are being remodeled into inns, cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.
MIDDLE-AGED MEN GET THEIR GROOVE ON
(July 25, 2005)
Middle-aged men tend to be stereotyped as wearing dull business suits, but a new breed is on the rise: the stylish middle-aged man. Fueling this trend is a growing number of men's fashion magazines.
THE TASTES OF NAGOYA
(July 19, 2005)
Nagoyan food is enjoying explosive popularity in Tokyo and other parts of Japan. Restaurants serving cuisine from Aichi Prefecture have made inroads in the capital, attracting diners with distinctively Nagoyan fare.
TAKING JOBS FOR A TEST DRIVE
(June 14, 2005)
Many developed countries have been grappling with a common headache - how to create decent job opportunities for young people amid rising unemployment and the spread of low-paying irregular work. Japan's approach to this problem is attracting attention around the world for its focus on matching young people with jobs that suit them.
SWEET BEAN TREATS
(June 9, 2005)
More and more health- and weight-conscious Japanese, and women in particular, are eschewing sweets made from sugar and flour and turning instead to delicacies made of beans, which tend to be a lot better for one's health.
JAPAN'S QUEEN OF HOMEMAKING
(May 9, 2005)
When it comes to the art and science of Japanese homemaking, Harumi Kurihara reigns supreme. Kurihara's reputation went global in February when her English-language book, Harumi's Japanese Cooking, was selected as Best Cookbook of the Year 2004 at the 10th Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
(March 31, 2005)
The latest massage chairs are equipped with an array of sensors, pressure pads, and air bags, all designed to give back and shoulder massages that relieve the stresses of work and everyday life.
"KEEP" THE CUSTOMER HAPPY
(March 22, 2005)
Regular customers at bars in Japan often drink from "keep" bottles. The "keep" concept has been carried over to other products besides liquor. Pickles, chopsticks, and coffee cups are just some of the products now offered on a "keep" basis.
UNDERGROUND URBAN FARM
(March 17, 2005)
An underground rice and vegetable field has been planted beneath an office building in Tokyo's Otemachi business district.
LUCKY CHARMS FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
(March 15, 2005)
Every New Year's holiday, millions of Japanese head to shrines or temples to pray for good fortune for the coming year. The shrine visits would not be complete without the purchase of a good-luck charm, called o-mamori in Japanese.
GAMING ON THE GO
(February 22, 2005)
The competition for customers in the gaming industry stepped up a gear in late 2004, as two major makers of video-game systems engaged in a battle over the next generation of portable video-game systems.
STUDYING KYOTO FOR FUN
(February 18, 2005)
On December 12, 2004, nearly 10,000 people on three university campuses took exams on the history and culture of Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital.
THE PERFECT CURE FOR COLD FEET
(February 10, 2005)
For the Japanese, bathing in an onsen (hot spring) has long been a favorite way to take the edge off winter's chill. But the popularity of another way of warming the body and soul, the footbath, has been quietly heating up over the past year.
VINEGAR DRINKS CATCHING ON
(January 25, 2005)
Vinegar, known as o-su in Japanese, is considered
to be good for the health, particularly for improving circulation and countering
fatigue. Now more and more Japanese are seeking the benefits of vinegar by drinking vinegar-based beverages.
(January 6, 2005)
Of all illustrators in Japan, roughly 80% are female, and these talented artists
are responsible for creating the characters, images, and packaging that is used
to promote some of the biggest and most influential companies and events in the
(January 4, 2005)
More and more trendy bars and restaurants have been
setting up standing counters, which have proven particularly popular
among young women.
CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
(December 10, 2004)
The government of Japan has designated October 6 International Cooperation Day,
and to celebrate this, an International Cooperation Festival is held every year
at the beginning of October.
TOURISTS FLOCK TO TSUKIJI
(December 1, 2004)
Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market is enjoying booming popularity among foreign tourists,
who go there not only to take a look around the bustling marketplace but also
to lunch on some of the freshest sushi in Japan.
A NEW WORLD HERITAGE SITE
(November 16, 2004)
The Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii
Mountain Range have just been designated Japan's twelfth World Heritage Site.
WHO'S THE LOSER?
(October 29, 2004)
It was once rare for women to remain single and childless into
their thirties, and those that did were often viewed with suspicion. But now that
Japanese women are choosing from a much greater variety of lifestyles, a book
of essays by popular columnist Sakai Junko that trumpets the advantages of the
single life is flying off the shelves.
WHAT PLACES WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO FOREIGN TOURISTS?
(April 15, 2004)
Trends in Japan recently conducted a survey in which participants
were asked to recommend places in Japan to foreign tourists.
THE RETURN OF THE SAMURAI
(April 12, 2004)
Images of Japan's premodern warriors fighting a losing battle
against the tide of modernization were well represented in the most unlikeliest
of places earlier this year: Hollywood. Among the nominees for this year's Academy
Awards were Watanabe Ken, who co-starred in The
Last Samurai, as Best Supporting Actor, and The Twilight
Samurai, as Best Foreign Language Film.
HEALTHY WITH BITTERN
(April 6, 2004)
Tofu has become well-known around the world as a healthy food
processed from soybeans. It is very simple to make: All you have to do is add a coagulant, bittern
(nigari in Japanese), to heated soybean milk. What
was less well-known until recently was that this coagulant itself can also be
a healthy addition to the dining table.
KYUSHU SHINKANSEN LINE
(April 5, 2004)
A section of the Kyushu Shinkansen railway line linking Shin-Yatsushiro
Station (in the city of Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture) and Kagoshima-Chuo Station
(in the city of Kagoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture), a distance of about 127 kilometers
(74.6 miles), opened on March 13.
(March 30, 2004)
In response to the consumer desire to be able to enjoy the
taste of freshly made sushi at home, a small company in Hokkaido has developed
an original freezing technology and come up with products that are making mouths
water around the country - and overseas, too.
(March 29, 2004)
An increasing number of adults are looking for something meaningful to occupy their time and
are enjoying their "after five" lives to the maximum. By releasing their
stress and making new friends through their hobbies, they are able to go back
to work the next day feeling refreshed and revitalized.
(March 18, 2004)
Manga cafes, once seen as hangouts
for young people with nothing else to do, are acquiring a new and upgraded identity.
As their services expand, manga cafes are taking on a new name, complex cafes.
NOVELS DELIVERED TO YOUR PHONE
(March 10, 2004)
Nowadays the sight of people passing time on the train by sending
e-mail with their mobile phones is an everyday occurrence in Japan. This technology has now led to the emergence of a new and unexpected phenomenon: people reading
entire novels on their mobile phones.
JOB-HUNTING SEASON STARTS EARLY
University students due to complete their studies in spring
2005 have already begun seeking jobs for after they graduate. Among corporations
recruiting potential new employees, the trend is toward front-loading and stricter
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TOURIST DESTINATION IN JAPAN?
(February 26, 2004)
Many Japanese who travel for pleasure within Japan say that
the purpose of their trips is to enjoy good food, to go somewhere where they can
eat delicious dishes. This preoccupation with and curiosity about food was apparent
from the results of an e-mail survey recently conducted by Trends in Japan.
RISE OF THE RENT-A-CYCLE
(February 5, 2004)
More and more people are taking to two wheels to get around
cities and resort areas. Popular tourist spots and city governments
have been launching rent-a-cycle services that enable visitors to make their way
around at their own pace, stopping along the way to take in whatever sights interest
HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS
(January 21, 2004)
Modern wooden houses in Japan are said to last about 30 years.
But rather than rebuilding their homes at the end of this period, there is an
emerging trend for people to remodel their homes to suit changing family needs.
SMALL-TOWN NOODLE MAKES GOOD
(January 16, 2004)
Although a variety of noodles are eaten in almost every region of Japan, the western
half is famous for the thicker wheat-flour
noodles known as udon, while natives of
Tokyo have traditionally preferred the thin buckwheat-flour noodles called
soba. At least that's the way it was until about a
year ago, when the capital region began to go wild over Sanuki udon.
(November 21, 2003)
Japan is the country with the longest life expectancy in the
world. Within Japan itself, the longest life expectancy can be found in the Amami
Islands. When Kagoshima Prefecture looked into the reasons why its citizens live so long,
it uncovered several factors, including an abundance of minerals in the air people
breathe and the water they drink; a diet rich in seafood, seaweed, and brown sugar;
and a sense of purpose among the elderly.
ROAD TO RECONSTRUCTION
(November 6, 2003)
The reconstruction of Afghanistan continues, and an array of support is
being extended from Japan, at both the government and grass-roots levels. Meanwhile,
a new film set in Japan and Afghanistan carries hopes of bringing the
two countries closer together.
TIGERS ROAR AT LAST
(October 17, 2003)
The Hanshin Tigers pro baseball team clinched the Central League
pennant for the first time in 18 years on September 15, ending a long slump during which the team earned a reputation
as the also-rans of Japanese baseball.
THE SOUND OF SILENCE
(October 17, 2003)
Located in the middle of big cities yet shut off from the noise,
some Japanese restaurants are becoming popular as oases of peace and quiet. The customers come both for the atmosphere and the
excellent food, which is mainly Japanese cuisine prepared using select ingredients.
RESCUING IRAQ'S HERITAGE
(October 16, 2003)
Immediately following the recent war in Iraq, the National
Museum of Iraq in Baghdad was looted. The Japanese government contributed $1 million in emergency funds to UNESCO
for the purpose of securing and protecting Iraq's cultural assets and another
$1 million for assisting Iraq in the field of education.
KOIZUMI LAUNCHES RESHUFFLED CABINET
(October 3, 2003)
After winning reelection as president of the Liberal Democratic
Party, Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro in the afternoon of September 22 launched his second reshuffled cabinet.
(September 30, 2003)
At a dinner at the state guesthouse
in Prague on the evening of August 21 hosted by Czech Prime Minister Vladimir
Spidla, the humanoid robot ASIMO walked in and offered a toast in the Czech language,
saying, "To friendship between Japan and the Czech Republic and humans and
BUILDING MOMENTUM TOWARD TICAD III
(September 25, 2003)
Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD III, will
take place for three days from September 29 to October 1. Japan initiated the
TICAD process, and the conference is held in Tokyo every five years to discuss
and promote African development.
"I WANT TO BE A CRAFTSMAN"
(September 2, 2003)
Recently, the number of youngsters entering the
trades has been on the rise, in part because of changes in the younger generation's
ideas of what constitutes a good job. This is good news for the traditional industrial
arts professions, which have been suffering from a shortage of young people willing
to take over the mantle from older practitioners.
IN THE ZONE
(July 10, 2003)
The goal of Japan's special zones for structural reform is to stimulate local economies, and a
major characteristic of the plan is that it utilizes the wisdom and skills of
both public organizations and the private sector.
BEATING STRESS WITH MEDITATION
(June 24, 2003)
More and more people are turning to ascetic pursuits to
relieve the stresses of modern life. Two such activities are sutra copying and Zen meditation.
CENTRAL TOKYO REBORN
(June 19, 2003)
Central Tokyo is enjoying a renaissance as massive redevelopment
projects transform little-used sections of town into shopping and entertainment
TAKING EVERY PRECAUTION
(June 9, 2003)
The Japanese government
has been busy taking measures to prevent an outbreak of SARS from occurring in Japan.
As a result of these efforts, as of June
9, there have been no confirmed or probable cases of SARS in Japan.
DOES JAPAN'S WATER TASTE GOOD?
(May 9, 2003)
While nearly 80% of Japanese people are pleased with the stability of Japan's
water supply, a majority of 60% said they would not drink water straight from
the tap because of the taste or for some other reason.
WHAT IS THE IDEAL MARRIAGE?
(April 30, 2003)
Nearly 90% of single Japanese men and women in their twenties
and thirties hope to marry someday, with motivations including love, the wish
to create a home, and the desire to have children.
(April 18, 2003)
One element of the Tokyo streetscape that is hard to miss is the giant black-and-yellow
coaches of Hato Bus Co. Although Hato experienced a slump
in business for a time, its daytrips around the city and its environs have recently
been making a comeback.
A TIME WHEN CHILDREN BLOSSOM
(April 17, 2003)
Japanese educational institutions hold their graduation ceremonies in March and their entrance
ceremonies in April. The cherry trees that line most schoolyards come into full bloom around