Master brewer: the woman excelling in Japan’s male world of sake

Miho Imada has won international acclaim as a tôji, or master brewer of the traditional Japanese tipple As a child, Miho Imada promised herself she would never perform “women’s work” to support her family’s sake brewery. She saw how her mother juggled looking after five children with cooking three meals a day for groups of […]

‘My favourite Christmas abroad’: readers’ travel tips

From meditation in Japan to romance in snowy New York, readers tell the stories of their Christmas travels One Christmas, I went to a zen meditation retreat in Oita, on the southernmost Kyushu island, because I was feeling very burned out. The meditation retreat, as you would imagine, was pretty relaxed and the resident monk […]

‘I’m pleased it is being used for people’s safety’: QR code inventor relishes its role in tackling Covid

Masahiro Hara came up with black and white pattern to optimise inventory in automotive industry The eureka moment that helped Masahiro Hara perfect the Quick Response, or QR code, sprang from a lunchtime game of Go more than a quarter of a century ago. He was playing the ancient game of strategy at work when […]

Tree of the week: ‘This black pine represents how nature forces change on to living things’

This tree in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, cultivated according to the traditional practice of niwaki, inspired Rod Hardingham so much he has tried to grow a similar one in his B&B in Kent Rod Hardingham’s favourite tree, a black pine in Tatsuno, embodies not only his love of gardens and nature, but also a decades-long affinity […]

The artisan talent behind a Japanese watch collection that adapts ancient traditions for the modern world

Centuries of knowledge and decades of skill combine to create timepieces that are true works of Japanese craftsmanship Though Switzerland may come to mind first, watch wearers should also consider Japan a centre of quality timepiece manufacture. Seiko, pioneers of the Japanese wristwatch, remain faithful to the design philosophies and traditions that have made Japan […]

From ceramics to anime: how a watchmaker is being inspired by Japan’s cultural riches

Seiko’s Presage collection brings Japanese arts to life, celebrating everything from the ancient technique of enamelling to the modern artistry of Studio Ghibli From porcelain production techniques that date back centuries to the peerless animated films of Studio Ghibli, Japan has offered much to the world of art and craftsmanship. This, in turn, has been […]

Weatherwatch: the extreme nature of Japan’s climate

The weather varies across the island nation, with everything from long cold winters to mild summers and tropical cyclones Japan may appear, geographically, to be a mirror-image of the British Isles – a group of islands on the edge of the vast Eurasian landmass – but climatically it is very different. Whereas Britain and Ireland […]

Japan’s young musicians rally to save dying art of shamisen music

The makers of this ancient instrument were near to closure. But could it get a new lease of life? Katsuhiro Otaki confesses he can’t play a note on the shamisen, a three-stringed instrument whose sound has been the backdrop to Japanese traditional theatre for centuries. But tens of thousands of men and women who do […]

Japan trade deal is small beer – but a welcome distraction

Agreement offers more for its symbolism than what Britain stands to gain economically The international trade secretary, Liz Truss, said it was a historic moment and in a way it was. For the first time since leaving the EU, Britain has struck a free trade deal and with the world’s third biggest economy – Japan […]

Geisha life in the shadow of coronavirus – in pictures

Though the number of geisha – professional entertainers famed for their witty conversation, beauty and skill at traditional arts – has been falling for years, many have now been without work for months due to Japan’s state of emergency and now have to operate under awkward social distancing rules Continue reading…

How we made: the Nolan Sisters on I’m In the Mood For Dancing

‘Going to Japan was crazy. When we took the bullet train, the army had to protect us’ We did 10 years in working men’s clubs as children before we were famous. I remember my sister Bernie singing Where Is Love? from Oliver! in Hull while an absolute free-for-all was breaking out in the crowd. She […]

Which countries can UK holidaymakers visit without restrictions on arrival?

A guide to countries that UK tourists can now visit, in light of the government’s updated travel corridor list Last week, the government announced the countries that UK nationals could take holidays to without facing quarantine on return, also known as travel corridors. However, confusion remains over which countries Britons can visit without facing restrictions […]

How we met: ‘When I first saw him I knew he was the man I would marry’

Steve and Susie Zaleski, 48 and 47, met on a diving course in Thailand in the summer of 2000. Almost a decade later, and with two children, they travelled the world. They now live in Devon Susie Wood had been living in Japan for 18 months when she went on holiday to Thailand in August […]

Japan floods leave dozens dead, including nursing home residents

Record rainfall triggers landslides in western Kumamoto region, stranding hundreds Deep floodwaters and the risk of further mudslides have hampered search and rescue operations after heavy rain in southern Japan, including at elderly home facilities where more than a dozen residents died and scores were left stranded. Helicopters and boats rescued more people from their […]

10 of the best books set in Japan – that will take you there

These great novels – featuring Murakami and Murata – uncover the mystery of Japan in a way ‘documentarists about families living with robots’ never will • In the series: Ireland | Spain | Portugal | India When Japan was forced to “open up” in 1853 following more than 200 years of its sakoku policy, the […]

Better with age: the enduring fashion philosophy of Margaret Howell

This year, Howell celebrates 50 years in design, from postwar austerity and men’s shirts for women to becoming a British national treasure It’s half a century since Margaret Howell first ran her fingers over the cotton of the white shirt she is holding, but it still elicits a grin. “It’s that I was excited about,” […]

‘Comfort women’ crisis: campaign over wartime sexual slavery hit by financial scandal

South Korean survivor claims support group failed to spend donations on welfare It began with a call by a South Korean former “comfort woman” to end protests outside Japan’s embassy in Seoul – a rare attempt at reconciliation that has quickly spiralled into the biggest crisis the campaign for justice for survivors of wartime sexual […]

From near disaster to success story: how Japan has tackled coronavirus

Criticism of government reaction has given way to plaudits for public’s virus-challenging habits Coronavirus – latest updates See all our coronavirus coverage A little over a month ago, health experts were saying Japan risked becoming one of the world’s coronavirus “disaster zones”. Its government was already facing criticism over its decision to quarantine passengers and […]

Fruity and irresistible: male lemurs’ wrist scent seduces females

Perfume wafting ruse of ring-tailed lemurs to attract mates may be first finding of primate sex pheromones say scientists An irresistible floral scent dabbed on the body may sound like a cliche from a perfume advert, but it appears to play a role in how male ring-tailed lemurs attract a mate. Researchers in Japan say […]

Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish attack British Cycling in Instagram chat

Wiggins questions competence of governing body Cavendish queries qualification process for Tokyo Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish have aimed stinging criticism at British Cycling, the sport’s national governing body, in a Q&A session on Instagram. In Sunday’s broadcast, the now-retired 2012 Tour de France champion Wiggins and Cavendish, who has won 30 stages at […]