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In the News

Metro Tokyo ordinance on sexually explicit manga walks fine line on freedom of speech
The Mainichi Daily News, 12/13/2010
SDP head criticizes Kan's possible dispatch of SDF to Korean Peninsula
The Japan Times, 12/13/2010
2 Japanese local assembly members visit one of Senkaku Islands
Associated Press, 12/13/2010
Why Japan is ready for anything Pyongyang might want to throw at it
Guardian, 03/01/2010
Japan disputes racism allegations at U.N. panel
Kyodo, 02/26/2010

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Japan's 1st Comprehensive Buddhism Museum

Kyoto 1930s • Buddhist Monks

Ryukoku University of Kyoto has announced a plan to open a comprehensive Buddhism museum in the spring of 2011 to showcase a wide range of Buddhist cultural assets from Japan and overseas.

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KIPPO • Wednesday January 7, 2009 • Add Comment [1]

Looking Back at 2008

2008

It is the end of the year and time to look back at what kind of year it was. This has turned into the most depressing year that I can remember. There is doom and gloom everywhere and it now takes extraordinary amounts of energy and effort to remain positive and optimistic. Crises are times to learn, to reconsider your priorities and options and to start on a new path. They offer infinite pain, but also infinite opportunities. Let’s embrace all what this crisis has to offer so we can re-invent ourselves and our society. To learn our lessons for 2009, let’s look at what 2008 has wrought:

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• Wednesday December 31, 2008 • Add Comment

Ainu Fishermen

Ainu Fishermen

Four Ainu fishermen stand in log boats, two of them holding spears as if ready to catch fish. Fish was, together with venison and other game, a very important part of the Ainu diet. It was actually so important that in the many Ainu tales recalling famines, the cause is usually the absence of fish. The very Ainu word for fish, chep, is a contraction of chi-ep, which means food. “Coming from Japan,” one 19th century European observer wrote, “the first thing that strikes a traveller in the Ainu country is the odour of dried fish, which one can smell everywhere.” The primary catch was trout in summer, and salmon in autumn. Salmon was often called kamui chep, or divine fish. Other fish, like itou (イトウ, Japanese huchen) and ugui (ウグイ, Japanese dace), were also caught.

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• Tuesday December 30, 2008 • Add Comment

The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi: Detective Stories of Old Edo

Hiroshige - Bridge in Rain

From Dec. 2, The Japan Times is serializing one of Japan’s early detective novels, The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi: Detective Stories of Old Edo, in which author Kido Okamoto (1872-1939), offers entertaining and thrilling stories set in Edo Period Japan.

Consecutive installations from the book appear in The Japan Times every week, from Tuesday to Saturday. For context and background of the book’s setting, as well as the time in which Kido wrote his work, it offers the introduction of The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi, written by the book’s translator Ian McDonald.

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The Japan Times • Sunday December 21, 2008 • Add Comment

Poverty in Japan

1890s • Woman Carrying Charcoal

With Japan’s frightening economic decline and news of massive lay-offs by the country’s most respected companies in the news headlines daily, this description of poverty in Japan more than a century ago is sobering:

A road, at this time a quagmire, intersected by a rapid stream, crossed in many places by planks, runs through the village. This stream is at once “lavatory” and “drinking fountain.” People come back from their work, sit on the planks, take off their muddy clothes and wring them out, and bathe their feet in the current. On either side are the dwellings, in front of which are much-decayed manure heaps, and the women were engaged in breaking them up and treading them into a pulp with their bare feet. All wear the vest and trousers at their work, but only the short petticoats in their houses, and I saw several respectable mothers of families cross the road and pay visits in this garment only, without any sense of impropriety.

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• Friday December 19, 2008 • Add Comment [1]

Only Third of Japanese Think U.S. Ties Healthy

Obama Loves Obama

Only a third of Japanese think ties with the United States, Tokyo’s most important security ally, are in good shape, according to a poll released just weeks before President-elect Barack Obama takes office.

The level of Japanese dissatisfaction — the worst since 2000 — reflects unhappiness at Washington’s removal of North Korea from its terrorism blacklist and declining confidence in the U.S. economy in the wake of the global financial crisis, the Yomiuri daily, which published the poll, said on Thursday.

Many Japanese also fear Washington may focus on building stronger ties with a rising China while losing interest in Japan.

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Reuters • Friday December 19, 2008 • Add Comment

Will Japan's Streets be Filled with Homeless?

A homeless man sells the Big Issue on the streets of Osaka

Japanese union members demonstrated in front of the gate of a large Canon factory in Southern Japan last week. The camera producer laid off some 1,100 workers. The same day Sony announced that by 2010 it will cut 16,000 employees. For many Japanese employees, still used to the idea of lifetime employment, the news is devastating.

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• Wednesday December 17, 2008 • Add Comment