In July 2007 the "Arts & Entertainment" section was changed to the "Pop Culture" section.
World's Largest Comic Convention Opens Its Doors (October 4, 2007)
The largest comic convention in the world, the Comic Market is a landmark event that showcases world-renowned Japanese anime, manga, and “cosplay” (costume play). Once again reeling in a multitude of participants and visitors, this summer’s event was especially notable for the number and variety of cosplayers in attendance.
SHOWCASING JAPANESE POP CULTURE
Japan International Contents Festival Set to Open (August 31, 2007)
The Japan International Contents Festival (CoFesta) was conceived to introduce Japanese content to the world. It features a wide range of genres all in one festival, including video games, anime, and manga.
HONORING THE WORLD'S MANGA ARTISTS
(August 9, 2007)
Manga is now a global phenomenon that stands alongside anime as a contemporary art form born in Japan and then exported around the globe. The International MANGA Award was established to further promote manga worldwide.
(March 29, 2007)
Sometimes you just want to enjoy a quiet trip that lets you step back and reflect on the world and your place in it. More and more Japanese take this view, and the country is witnessing a boom, primarily among young women, in overnight stays at Buddhist temples.
CALLIGRAPHY AS ART
(March 23, 2007)
Shodo, or calligraphy with a brush and black ink, is a traditional Japanese art. Recent years have seen the emergence of a new generation of calligraphers who push the boundaries of tradition, and they are spearheading a boom in shodo.
(February 28, 2007)
The genre of books known as light novels is enjoying growing popularity among readers these days. These books are increasingly part of a multimedia strategy, as plans are afoot to make a number of them into anime movies.
EXPLORING THE HISTORY OF MANGA
(January 22, 2007)
The National Noh Japan's first museum dedicated to the full range of manga culture has opened in Kyoto. The museum was a success right from the beginning, attracting over 10,000 visitors in its first two weeks.
TRADITION GOES HI-TECH
(January 5, 2007)
The National Noh Theater in Tokyo's Sendagaya district has become the first such establishment in Japan to introduce a system for displaying both Japanese and English subtitles at each individual seat.
(November 27, 2006)
A pair of Japanese comic performers known as Gamarjobat is currently winning fans all over the world. While still relatively unknown in Japan, they often perform overseas to rave reviews and have even won awards at arts festivals in Britain and other countries.
(November 22, 2006)
The production company Sunrise, which is known for creating the legendary Mobile Suit Gundam and other robot-themed anime, has released a new animated TV series titled Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion.
(October 27, 2006)
Japan is currently witnessing a boom in short anime created by individuals on a computer and uploaded to the Internet. The Internet is providing opportunities for new anime artists to display their talents and achieve renown.
GAMERS GLIMPSE THE FUTURE
(October 26, 2006)
The tenth annual Tokyo Game Show was held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture on September 22 to 24. The biggest focus of attention was the PlayStation 3, the next-generation game console due to be rolled out in November by Sony.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
(October 10, 2006)
An animated film based on Ursula K. Le Guin's fantasy epic Tales from Earthsea has been released by Studio Ghibli, the acclaimed animated film production company whose previous releases include My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away.
FOUR DECADES OF HEROISM
(September 29, 2006)
The Ultraman series of television shows, in which giant beings from the Land of Light fight vicious monsters to protect Earth, first appeared on Japanese television 40 years ago.
THIRTY YEARS OF GAGS
(September 4, 2006)
The long-running boys' comical manga Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Koen Mae Hashutsujo (From the Police Box at Kameari Park, Katsushika Ward), better known as Kochikame, turns 30 this year.
(August 18, 2006)
From Japan, the birthplace of manga, anime, and video games, comes cosplay, another form of Japanese pop culture that is beginning to sweep the world.
BRAIN TRAINING FOR YOUNG AND OLD
(July 28, 2006)
Handheld electronic games, once the exclusive domain of the young, are acquiring a rapidly expanding fan base among the middle-aged and elderly.
(July 26, 2006)
Over the past few years Japanese movies have won new popularity, and both box office sales and the number of releases are now on the rise. Live-action movies adapted from manga comics are a major force shaping this trend.
BEAUTY AND THE GHOSTS
(June 22, 2006)
The school of Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) is an expression of Japan's artistic traditions. A young female artist called Matsui Fuyuko has caused a sensation in the world of Nihonga not only for her works but also for her striking looks.
MANGA ON THE MOVE
(May 30, 2006)
Using cell phones to view manga is one of the newest and fastest-growing applications of mobile technology in Japan.
SHOWCASING ASIAN CINEMA
(May 24, 2006)
The broadcast of the South Korean TV series Winter Sonata in Japan in 2003 ignited a boom in South Korean pop culture. Amid burgeoning interest in Asian culture, Japan's first theater specializing in Asian films opened in Tokyo in March 2006.
(May 19, 2006)
For a major Hollywood project, Afro Samurai's roots are about as obscure as can be. The soon-to-be-released movie originated as a manga created in Japan by Okazaki Takashi, who originally funded the comic out of his own pocket.
(April 24, 2006)
Japanese author Murakami Haruki, who is perhaps best known for his novel Norwegian Wood, won the Czech Republic's Franz Kafka Award for Literature in March.
GIRLS' MANGA GOES STATESIDE
(March 28, 2006)
In the United States, the latest trendy Japanese import is shojo manga (girls' manga). As its name suggests, this is a genre of comics for and about girls and young women.
The Adachi Museum of Art is not easy to get to. Even so, it manages to attract around 450,000 visitors a year. What is its secret?
EUREKA MOMENT FOR DIGITAL CONTENT
(February 15, 2006)
Kokyo Shihen Eureka Seven is a new anime series currently on the airwaves in Japan. With TV broadcasts as the main plank in the success of the series, a mix of related projects has been launched in a range of media, including the Internet, publishing, and toys.
KABUKI, A WORLD TREASURE
(January 26, 2006)
Kabuki, a traditional form of Japanese theater that originated about 400 years ago, was designated a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in November 2005.
GUNDAM PLASTIC MODELS
(January 20, 2006)
More than twenty years after the TV anime (cartoon) series Kido Senshi Gandamu (Mobile Suit Gundam) was first broadcast in 1979, it remains hugely popular. Many fans collect plastic models of Gundam characters, and limited-edition models have recently become hot items among collectors.
GERMANY IN JAPAN
(January 6, 2006)
Over 1,000 events are being held throughout Japan between April 2005 and spring 2006 as part of Deutschland in Japan 2005/2006.
MOVIES IN YOUR POCKET
(December 27, 2005)
A growing number of people have begun to take advantage of video on the go, watching movies or television programs while riding the train or relaxing in a cafe. And among the most popular devices for portable video playback are handheld gaming consoles.
MANGA FOR GROWN-UPS
(December 5, 2005)
Hachimitsu to Kuroba (Honey and Clover) is a serialized manga (comic) that follows the lives of five young people attending an art college as they deal with unrequited love and other life issues. It has recently been turned into a TV anime series, and a big-screen version is now planned.
(November 7, 2005)
A new range of novelty peripherals is aimed at injecting a bit of humor and fun into the normally staid world of IT. These products are easy to spot: just look for what appears to be a freshly fried shrimp or some other surreal-looking object plugged into a laptop or desktop.
TAKING PART IN ART
(October 25, 2005)
From September 28 to December 18, 2005, Yokohama is hosting an ambitious arts festival featuring the works of around 80 artists from around the world and located along the port city's spectacular waterfront.
IS IT A PHONE? IS IT AN OCTOPUS?
(October 6, 2005)
As mobile phones become an indispensable part of life for many people, they have developed into personalized fashion items as well. Some users customize their phones by decorating them with stickers or covers of their choosing, and these covers have evolved to take on many forms.
MICHELIN IN JAPAN
(August 15, 2005)
A Japan edition of the Michelin Guides, travel books famous all over the world for their ratings of hotels and restaurants, will be published in February 2007.
KABUKI MEETS SHAKESPEARE
(August 11, 2005)
Kabuki began about 400 years ago. At around the same time in Britain, William Shakespeare was turning out plays and sonnets. Now Ninagawa Yukio, a theater director known for his Japanese productions of Shakespeare's works, has fused the two classical styles together.
(August 9, 2005)
"Matsuken Samba II," a song and dance act by a TV star who is best known for his samurai roles, is riding a wave of popularity. The act is by Matsudaira Ken, a veteran entertainer who dresses as a samurai to perform the song.
(July 8, 2005)
Manga and anime are leading a global boom in popular Japanese culture. Now some enterprising travel agents are cashing in on this trend by organizing trips to Japan specifically for manga and anime fans.
(July 7, 2005)
The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is given annually to authors, illustrators and storytellers who help stimulate and promote interest in children's and youth literature around the world. This year, one of the two recipients was picture book author Arai Ryoji, the first Japanese to receive the prize.
SEA LIFE AS NIGHTLIFE
(June 13, 2005)
One of Tokyo's newest attractions is an amusement center on the grounds of an exclusive hotel, combining a public aquarium with a concert hall, a bowling alley, a movie theater, and restaurants.
MANGA FOR GIRLS
(June 7, 2005)
Nana is the title of the latest hit manga to take Japan by storm, and unlike in most comic success stories, a large proportion of Nana fans are female.
FULL METAL FANTASY
(May 26, 2005)
Recently the comic and anime titled Hagane no Renkinjutsushi (Fullmetal Alchemist), popularly known as "Hagaren," has gained a huge following among children and adults alike.
BATTLE OF THE BEETLES
(May 13, 2005)
An arcade game called Mushiking, in which players battle for supremacy using cards featuring pictures of fierce-looking beetles from around the world, has captured the imagination of elementary-school boys across Japan.
MAKING MUSIC THE EASY WAY
(March 31, 2005)
The path to musical proficiency has been considerably shortened in the last few years, thanks to the introduction of a new generation of instruments that make playing music a lot easier than ever before.
HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE
(March 14, 2005)
Howl's Moving Castle, the spectacular new animated film directed by Miyazaki Hayao and produced by Studio Ghibli, is breaking records at the box office.
GODZILLA TURNS 50
(February 14, 2005)
Godzilla, the world-famous Japanese movie monster, has turned 50. In November 2004, Hollywood marked this great occasion by giving Godzilla a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
CULTURAL TREASURES GO ON SHOW
(February 4, 2005)
Yokoso! Japan Weeks lasts from February 5 to 20, 2005. It coincides with the opening of Central Japan International Airport, located near the city of Nagoya, a development expected to draw significant numbers of Chinese and South Korean visitors to Japan.
A FRESH LOOK AT TRADITIONAL ART
(January 19, 2005)
Tenmyouya Hisashi is one of a group of young and highly acclaimed Japanese artists
who borrow styles and ideas from Japan's artistic history.
(January 13, 2005)
In Japan, there's no such thing as a typical film festival. A
rapidly increasing number are being held in provincial areas throughout the country.
LOCAL FESTIVALS GO NATIONAL
(December 13, 2004)
Recently festivals rich in local color are being held not only in their regions of
origin but in localities all across Japan.
(December 3, 2004)
As the physiques of Japanese people Westernize, Japanese ballet dancers are rising
up the ranks of top ballet companies of the world as principals and soloists.
(November 1, 2004)
The year 2004 marks the 401st year since the construction of
the Nihonbashi Bridge across the Nihonbashi River in Edo (now Tokyo) by the Tokugawa
shogunate. Fittingly, the area enters its fifth century boasting a large, new
commercial facility, Coredo Nihonbashi, which opened in March.
(October 14, 2004)
Japanese women are being swept up in an unprecedented craze
for jun'ai (pure, innocent love). A South Korean TV drama series titled Winter
Sonata and the novel Sekai no Chushin de, Ai o Sakebu
(Crying for Love at the Heart of the World) by Katayama Kyoichi are among the
catalysts for this boom.
TAKING A LOCAL LOOK
(April 8, 2004)
Japan is composed
of 47 prefectures, from the snowy mountains of Hokkaido in the north to the sunny
beaches of Okinawa in the south. It is no surprise that people coming from different areas
may have very different outlooks on life. Recently a wave of new books has been
focusing on this very phenomenon.
FOR MIND AND BODY
(April 7, 2004)
Herbal medicine (kampo) is becoming
increasingly popular among Japanese women and is making inroads into their lives
in several ways.
WHERE OLD MEETS NEW
(April 6, 2004)
The port city of Yokohama, located just 30 minutes southwest
of Tokyo by train, has many faces. The city's latest efforts to boost its appeal coincides with the opening
on February 1 of a new subway line, the Minato Mirai Line, which enables passengers
to travel from the central Tokyo district of Shibuya to the Motomachi and Chinatown
area of the city in just 35 minutes.
THE WORLD OF JAPANESE ANIME
(April 5, 2004)
As Japanese anime sweeps the world
(think of Pokemon and Spirited
Away), the latest movie by one of the country's most talented creators,
Oshii Mamoru, was released in Japan on March 6. The anime,
Innocence, is Oshii's first movie in nine years.
HELLO KITTY, WAY TO GO!
(April 2, 2004)
Hello Kitty, the little white cat from Japan who is getting
right up there with Mickey Mouse in terms of worldwide name recognition, turns
30 this year. Hello Kitty is unique in that her physical appearance has not changed a bit since
she made her debut.
90 MAGICAL YEARS OF TAKARAZUKA
(March 17, 2004)
Takarazuka, the world's only all-female musical performance company, has long
been established as a uniquely Japanese form of popular entertainment. This year
the company marks its ninetieth anniversary of its first performance.
(March 1, 2004)
Many corporations nowadays are working to develop theme-park-like
showrooms where visitors can experience cutting-edge technology and learn about
new products while having an enjoyable time.
(January 14, 2004)
Ningyo Johruri Bunraku Puppet Theater, one of Japan's best-known
classical art forms, was officially declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible
Heritage of Humanity on November 11 by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization).
MUSEUM IN THE SKY
(December 17, 2003)
Never in Japan's art history has so much fanfare accompanied
the opening of an art museum as the launching of the Mori Art Museum on October
18, 2003. Perched on the fifty-second and fifty-third floors of the spectacular
new Mori Tower in Tokyo, MAM hovers 250 meters above sea level.
(November 18, 2003)
Popular in Japan over the past decade or so, ¥100 shops
offer a variety of goods for the same low price. In the same mold, a number of
leisure facilities that charge for their services in units of ¥100 ($0.91
at ¥110 to the dollar) have recently emerged.
SILVER SCREEN SUCCESS
(November 7, 2003)
Kitano Takeshi received the Silver Lion award for best
director at the 60th Venice Film Festival on September 6. His award-winning work,
Zatoichi, is an unconventional and entertaining period film that tells the tale
of a blind master swordsman, played by the director himself.
GIFU LOOKS TO THE FUTURE
(October 2, 2003)
Gifu Prefecture, located in the middle
of Japan's main island of Honshu, has undertaken a number
of unique projects, including one designed to foster the information technology
industry and another to turn the prefecture into a center of culture and fashion.
(September 22, 2003)
Japan has three national museums, one each in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nara, and this
year these establishments are competing to see which can put on the most impressive
temple-themed exhibition. These exhibitions have offered the public chances to
view precious artifacts never previously displayed.
(August 25, 2003)
this summer are showing up in some unusual places; especially popular are yukata
(informal summer kimono) with goldfish patterns, but there are many other goldfish-related
DANCING IN THE STREETS
(August 13, 2003)
August is a time when Okinawa basks in tropical sunshine and when the people of
the islands participate in spectacular dance parades. Eisa
festivals are thrilling summer events that blow away the heat and excite the souls
of the Uchinanchu, as the people of Okinawa call themselves.
MIDSUMMER NIGHTS' REVELRY
(July 22, 2003)
The Nebuta Festival in the northern city of Aomori is in a class by itself. From
August 2 to 7 every year, the city comes alive as huge illuminated floats are
paraded through the streets.
TIME TESTED RELATIONS
(July 8, 2003)
The years 2003 and 2004 mark the 150th anniversary of pivotal events in Japan-United States relations,
and both countries have various commemorative activities planned for between January
2003 and December 2004.
RITES OF SUMMER
(June 27, 2003)
Hakata Gion Yamakasa is a traditional festival marking the beginning of summer
in Fukuoka City. It comes to an end with a dramatic race on the final day.
(June 2, 2003)
For most of Japan, June sees the arrival of the annual
rainy season and a spell of miserable weather, but in Hokkaido, which does not
have a rainy season, it is the most pleasant time of the year.
ASEAN-JAPAN EXCHANGE YEAR 2003
(May 30, 2003)
This year Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) are coming closer together. A number of events have already been
held to celebrate ASEAN-Japan Exchange Year 2003.
(April 24, 2003)
Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) is one of the most famous
swordsmen in Japanese history, and he is known to many people outside Japan as
well. Though he lived long ago, there is a Musashi revival underway at present
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ASTRO BOY!
(April 21, 2003)
Many Japanese adults grew up with the cartoon character Astro Boy and are celebrating Astro Boy's fictional birthdate in April 2003.
EDO BIRTHDAY BASH
(April 16, 2003)
2003 marks exactly 400 years since Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616) established the
shogunate in Edo in 1603. Various events will be held throughout the year to celebrate
the 400th anniversary of this important juncture in Japanese history.