Bose of Nakamuraya

Ask the average person to guess Japan’s national dish and they’ll likely hazard sushi or soba. But an equally fair contender for the title is curry. The Japanese Navy even has a “Curry Friday” tradition where all navy canteens offer curry and rice as a Friday staple. Curry in Japan bears only a superficial resemblance…
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Elevating the manhole to art

The traditional way to discover Japan is to take in its shrines, gardens and museums. A less conventional method, but one with a growing number of followers, is to keep the eyes trained on the ground, and go manhole-cover spotting. In Japan, the lowly manhole is its own art form, with covers displaying intricate, occasionally…
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The boisterous coming of age in Japan

Public holidays around the world usually have national heroes, seasonal occurrences or God to thank. They are also as good a primer to a country as any expensively produced travel guide. For example, in Indonesia, they include five Islamic holidays, three Christian ones, a Buddhist break and a Hindu day of rest. Ergo: Indonesia is…
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Scripting another Asian narrative

Japan is filling the vacuum created by the U.S.’s withdrawal from the region Japan has long been an anomaly: an economic powerhouse within a geostrategic pygmy. But China’s muscular ascent combined with the capriciousness of a Trump-led U.S. is causing Tokyo to slough off its diplomatic slumber and rethink its role in Asia. From proposing…
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In Japan, Parties of little Hope

For usually staid Japan, the last few weeks have been politically rambunctious. Caught in the exchange of verbal missiles between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump, even as ballistic ones flew overhead, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suddenly announced a snap election for October 22, more than a year ahead of…
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Shinzo Abe’s high-risk gamble

With North Korean missiles flying overhead, and an economy that remains sluggish, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to call a snap election on October 20, a full year ahead of schedule, is a high-risk gamble. His hurry to corral the country to the polls with less than a month’s notice stems from a concatenation…
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Postcard From Tokyo

  Japanese has a bounty of words that recasts the mundane into the luminous. Shinrinyoku, for example, refers to taking a walk in the forest, but translates as “forest bathing”, conjuring up the feel of cleansing light pouring through tall trees on parched skin. Another instance: mon koh refers to lighting incense, but translates as…
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Shinkansen: India and Japan’s Silver Bullet for a Rising China

The inauguration this week of India’s first high-speed rail corridor between Mumbai and Ahmadabad, using Japanese technology and financing, has a geostrategic significance that transcends its economic worth. It amplifies the growing closeness between India and Japan at a time when both nations are struggling to find their footing in an Asia being re-fashioned by…
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An alliance on track: on the bullet train project

When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad this week, the bilateral agenda will range from issues of maritime security to nuclear energy and trade. But at the centrepiece of their summitry will be the inauguration of India’s first high-speed rail corridor from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, to be developed using…
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The Makings of Japan’s First Woman PM

Heralded as the new face of brand Tokyo and touted as a future Prime Minister, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike is currently the brightest star in Japan’s political firmament. Her party’s thumping win over the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly elections in July has only burnished the 65-year-old politician’s already shiny…
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