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News and Photos of Japan - Dive Deeper into Japan with Japan Correspondent Kjeld Duits

1890s • Kago Bearers Taking a Break

Kago Bearers, Meiji Period

During a break, two kago bearers smoke kiseru pipes while their customer is being served tea by a waitress from a teahouse. The woman’s luggage is tied to the roof of the kago. During the Edo Period, (1603-1868) only samurai were allowed to ride horses, while horse carriages were unknown. The kago therefore was Japan’s main mode of transportation until the invention of the jinrikisha (rickshaw) around 1868. The jinrikisha quickly replaced the kago in the cities (Tokyo for example had already some 56,000 jinrikisha in 1872), but its use continued in mountainous areas where the jinrikisha was often not practical. (Source: Old Photos of Japan)

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• Monday November 10, 2008 • • Add Comment

The Ghost of Wartimes Past

Illustration by Georges Bigot

Many Japanese were surprised that a hotel chain, under a cloud for shoddy earthquake-proofing standards, should sponsor a competition for the best essay to deny Japan’s wartime role as an aggressor and sponsor of atrocities. But then the chain’s boss, Toshio Motoya, is a vigorous historical revisionist (and big supporter of Shinzo Abe, prime minister in 2006-07). More astounding, then: the competition winner, Toshio Tamogami, was none other than the head of Japan’s air force.

Mr Tamogami’s offering is a warmed-through hash of thrice-cooked revisionism. Japan, he writes, fought a war of self-defence, protecting its legal territories of Manchukuo (North-East China) and Korea against communists. Pearl Harbour was an American-laid trap. Japanese occupations were both benevolent and a liberation of Asia from the yoke of Western imperialism—indeed, neighbours (20m of whose deaths were caused by the Japanese) now look fondly on wartime Japan. Japan must “reclaim its glorious history”, Mr Tamogami ended with a barrel-rolling flourish and a want of irony, “for a country that denies its own history is destined to fall.”

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The Economist • Thursday November 6, 2008 • PoliticsAdd Comment

Obama for Obama

On November 5th, 2008 the small Japanese town of Obama celebrated Senator Barack Obama’s historical election as the next US President. Local shops sold everything from Obama t-shirts to Obama Burgers. A hula dance group did a victory dance.

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• Wednesday November 5, 2008 • PoliticsAdd Comment

Lapis Lazuli Color (Ruri-iro)

Lapis Lazuli

“The Earth was blue.” These were reportedly the words used by Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, when describing his impressions after returning to Earth. He was referring to what is known in Japan as the color “ruri-iro.” This color was used in Egypt as early as 3,400 years ago in jewelry, which came to Japan along the Silk Road.

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Japan for Sustainability • Saturday November 1, 2008 • TraditionalAdd Comment

Japanese Fans (Sensu)

Japanese Woman Holding a Fan (Sensu)

The folding fan was invented in Japan during the 8th century. Called Hiougi, they were made of thin stripes of hinoki (Japanese cypress) and used by aristocrats of the Heian Period (794-1185) as part of their formal attire. Eventually the Japanese fan was exported to China, where silk fans were used. They were transformed and re-imported as Chinese fans in the 15th century. Over the ages fans played an increasingly important role in Japanese culture.

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• Wednesday October 29, 2008 • TraditionalAdd Comment

Turmeric Color (Ukon-iro)

Turmeric

This is the color of robes worn by Buddhist monks in countries like India and Sri Lanka. This vivid yellow is the color of turmeric, an essential spice for curry foods. Not only does turmeric keep bacteria away due to strong antibacterial powers, it also believed to fight off evil spirits, so it is also used as sacred color in the religious context.

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Japan for Sustainability • Wednesday October 29, 2008 • TraditionalAdd Comment

Aantekeningen

NHK verslaat over de Japanse populariteit in het maken van aantekeningen. Verscheidene boeken over deze vaardigheid hebben meer dan 200.000 exemplaren verkocht.

NHK • Wednesday October 29, 2008 • SocietyReageer