Category Archive News

The Pillow Book and the Japanese Mindset

The Pillow Book and the Japanese Mindset

“The charm of The Pillow Book derives from beautiful depictions of the four seasons by Lady Sei Shonagon, who wrote over a thousand years ago in the Heian Period (794-1185),” explains professor Etsuko Akama of Jumonji University. “Starting with the famous opening line, ‘In spring, the dawn—when the slowly paling mountain rim is tinged with red…’ she incorporates seasonality by showcasing the highlights of each season, which are carefully depicted and blended in her prose.”

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A Celebration of the Arts

A Celebration of the Arts

For Japanese students, autumn’s onset not only heralds a change in wardrobe and the brilliant colors of changing leaves but also the anticipation of a special schoolwide culture festival known as bunkasai. In contrast with the school sports festival and its emphasis on athletics, the bunkasai allows students at all levels a respite from their desk studies to give performances, present arts and crafts and pursue other creative and culturally oriented activities.

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The Rise of Karaoke

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Microphone, lyrics, melody—the key elements for karaoke are simple enough. But in just half a century karaoke has become a ubiquitous part of Japanese culture and morphed into a high-tech industry with global presence. Indeed, the word “karaoke”—a compound of the Japanese words kara, or “empty,” and oke, or “orchestra”—has been adopted into English and other languages around the globe.

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From Surgeon to Japan’s First Female Astronaut

The Heisei Era (1989-) has been notable for Japan’s strides into outer space. Chiaki Mukai was the first Japanese female astronaut to join a space shuttle mission. Now the vice president of the Tokyo University of Science, she looks back on her career’s unusual trajectory.

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