© Eric Rechsteiner Sugawara-in shrine, Kyoto In Chinese astrology, 2021 is the year of the ox (buffalo), what’s more, it’s an ox made of metal. This magnificent specimen, which can be seen at Sugawara-in shrine in Kyoto, should remind us that we are entering a time of hard work. The ox – meth[...]


© Eric Rechsteiner Sai Shrine, Ikijima, Nagasaki Prefecture More than any other country in the world, Japan needs places like this shrine dedicated to fertility to help boost its birth rate that has been decreasing for nearly three decades. The events of 2020 did nothing to help matters. While the [...]


© Eric Rechsteiner   Tono, Iwate Prefecture The city of Tono, in the northeast of the Archipelago, is the centre of hop production in Japan (see pp. 20-22). Just like other rural regions in the country, there has been a large increase in its ageing population. This not only impinges on its pro[...]


© Eric Rechsteiner   Naha city, Okinawa Prefecture The spring of 2020 will be remembered by the Japanese as a period during which they found themselves alone without the sometimes noisy presence of foreign tourists for whom Japan has become a favourite destination in recent years. It’s all t[...]


© Eric Rechsteiner   Fukushimagata Nature Education Garden, Niigata Niigata, the main city of the prefecture which bears the same name, is one of those provincial cities that, despite every effort, has not been transformed into a sprawling metropolis. Designated as a port open for internationa[...]


© Eric Rechsteiner   Shinsekai, Naniwa, Osaka A veritable institution in the picturesque district of Shinsekai, in Osaka, the Kokusai Gekijo is famous for its handpainted posters that evoke nostalgia for a time that is now long gone. Built in 1930, it reminds one of the Japanese fascination fo[...]


© Eric Rechsteiner   Yurakucho, Chiyoda district, Tokyo The 88-year-old film-maker YAMADA Yoji (see Zoom Japan no.30, April 2015) is one of the most popular figures in Japanese cinema. Creator of the longest film series in the world, he opened the Tokyo Inter- national Film Festival by present[...]


© Eric Rechsteiner   Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo In the past few years, one of the most popular of the many activities enjoyed by young Japanese women has been tasting sessions. Whether it’s food or drink, nothing daunts them, not even wine, which they are discovering in increasing numbers. [...]


© Eric Rechsteiner   POLITICS Abe’s cabinet reshuffle anxious to speed up reform of japan’s pacifist constitution, aBe shinzo reshuffled his government on 11 september and altered the direction of the Liberal Democratic party. His grandfather KIsHI Nobusuke had already tried to achieve thi[...]


© Eric Rechsteiner   Shibamata, Katsushika district, Tokyo Often in competition with konbini (convenience stores), mini-markets that open 24/7, small independent neighbourhood shops are finding it very difficult to survive in large cities, particularly in the city centres. In the outlying dist[...]


© Eric Rechsteiner   Komaba park, meguro district, Tokyo With the approach of the summer holidays, one of the preferred activities of young Japanese people is to go hunting for insects, like these two boys in the heart of the capital city. Need we remind you that Japan still holds the French e[...]


© Eric Rechsteiner Port of Nagasaki, Kyushu island. This picture of a Japanese officer running by a coastguard ship illustrates in its own way the importance Japan attaches to the country’s self-defence today. In the face of China’s growing power increasingly revealing its maritime ambitions, t[...]


© Eric Rechsteiner Nakameguro river, Tokyo It’s a sight one never tires of. Every year, at the same time, the capital’s cherry trees show off their fabulous flowers, which only last a very short time. But no matter, what’s most important is to seize the opportunity to come and admire them. Th[...]


Sangenjaya, Setagaya district, Tokyo © Eric Rechsteiner   Social housing architecture in Japan has not changed much over the years, as testified by these buildings in Sangenjaya, to the west of the capital. On the right, these buildings built in the 1970s will be demolished and their inhabitan[...]


Kato Shrine, Kumamoto city © Eric Rechsteiner To devote an issue to Kumamoto Prefecture without mentioning Kumamon would be like talking about Paris without referring to the Eiffel Tower. Created in 2010 to promote the Kyushu Shinkansen in Kyoto, this mascot rapidly became the emblem of the Kumamot[...]

No.69 [PRESS] A daily in close touch with reality

Almost half the households in the prefecture subscribe to Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun.   Well-established in the region, the Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun vigorously defends its local roots. Situated around twenty minutes from Kumamoto station, the headquarters of the Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun,[...]


Since they were launched in 1995, the popularity of purikura hasn’t waned. These “Print Clubs” developed by Altus and Sega continue to attract numerous fans, particularly young girls, who often use them to have their picture taken with their friends. These booths, which can be found almost eve[...]

No67 [IN THE EYE OF ERIC RECHSTEINER] Goto, Nagasaki Prefecture

© Eric Rechsteiner Night has fallen and people are gathering in this carpark to take part in a nocturnal game of petanque. This sport is increasing in popularity in the archipelago, and is even giving gateball – a game that’s very popular with Japanese people of a certain age that needs to [...]

No66 [IN THE EYE OF ERIC RECHSTEINER] Toyosu Market, Tokyo, Koto district

the world-famous tsukiji Fish market has closed down to make space for redevelopment linked to the olympic Games. it has moved into more modern premises in the new location of toyosu. this move was not without difficulties due to the numerous delays as a result of work to remove contaminated soil fr[...]

No65 [SERIES] Mayumi is a hope builder

After arriving in Niigata as a volunteer a few days after the tragedy of 11 March 2011, Nishimura Mayumi decided to live here. The tsunami that followed the earthquake on 11 March 2011 did not only destroy buildings. The region’s inhabitants were dispersed, and communal life almost fell apart. Whe[...]

No65 [IN THE EYE OF ERIC RECHSTEINER] Tokyo Korean School, Kito district

The detente between North and South Korea since the beginning of 2018 has aroused contrasting reactions in Japan. though the Japanese government remains very suspicious of North Korea, maintaining that it should be fully de-nuclearised and also return all the Japanese citizens abducted by Pyongyang,[...]

No63 [IN THE EYE OF ERIC RECHSTEINER] The Isumi line, Chiba Prefecture

While in some regions, notably Hokkaido, railway lines that are considered unprofitable are being closed down, elsewhere there are attempts to keep them going. Such is the case for the Isumi Railway company, which maintains a 26.8 km stretch of line between Isumi and Kazusa Nakano, in Chiba Prefectu[...]

No62 [SERIES] A new lease of life for objects

Not wanting to be shut up in an office, this young entrepreneur chose a career in recycling. By creating Geppi Kosaku-sha, Yamauchi Takeshi has found a excellent way of establishing links with other people in the city.   Though the earthquake in 2011 brutally destroyed so much, it also highligh[...]

No61 [SERIES] Expressing oneself through rap music

Gakudan Hitori, aged 30, has found his life has been enriched by choosing to place music at its heart. Since the age of 15, Gakudan Hitori has found that rapping has given his life meaning.   GAKUDAN Hitori was born in the city of Higashi-Matsushima, a municipality near Ishinomaki, where he’s[...]

No61 [IN THE EYE OF ERIC RECHSTEINER] Meguro district, Tokyo

Springtime might be synonymous with cherry blossom, but it’s also the start of the academic year for schools and universities, as we see here at the Komaba campus of Tokyo University. This is where students take their first steps in discovering not only the best teachers in the country but also su[...]

No60 [POLITICS] Edano Yukio ready for combat

As leader of the main opposition party, the former minister dreams of changing the rules governing the country. Edano Yukio (53), is president of the centre-left Rikken Minshuto CDP (Constitutional Democratic Party). The party won more than 50 seats in the general election in October 2017, and has e[...]

No60 [IN THE EYE OF ERIC RECHSTEINER] Chiyoda ward, Tokyo

© Eric Rechsteiner The newspaper revelations about the falsification of official documents in which the names of politicians have appeared, including that of Prime Minister Abe, have prompted some Japanese to demonstrate in front of his residence to call for his resignation as well as that of the M[...]


© Eric Rechsteiner   JR Senmo Line, between abashiri and kushiro This is one of the most pleasant railway journeys in Hokkaido. After leaving Abashiri, the train runs beside the Sea of Okhotsk as far as Shiretoko Shari. Whatever the season, it’s worth spending some time at the little station[...]

[PRESS] The voice of the North resonates

The competitive selection process for Hokkaido Shimbun journalists is among the toughest in the profession.   The Hokkaido Shimbun is the leading daily newspaper on this northern island and this is a position it knows how to foster. ituated in the heart of Sapporo, the principal city and politi[...]


© Eric Rechsteiner   Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto Opened in 2006 in part of a former primary school, the Kyoto International Manga Museum aims to demonstrate the diversity of this form of expression, which is a hallmark of contemporary Japanese culture. The museum is located on three floors and resembl[...]
No57 p3 SERIES Snapshots of life

No57 [SERIES] Snapshots of life

Furusato Hiromi has discovered her reason for living in this port city.   Aged 29, Furusato Hiromi has chosen to stay in Ishinomaki where she can indulge her passion. Since the earthquake in March 2011, many people have visited Ishinomaki with their cameras to record the damage sustained by the[...]
Tokyo 東京 高層ビル building

No56 [ECONOMY] Industry is riding high

The confidence of japan’s large industrial groups reached a ten year high in september, according to the Bank of japan’s quarterly “tanken” survey, which is a sign of accelerating economic recovery. It’s basic price index rose 22 points in september compared to a rise of 17 for the three p[...]
サラリーマン ビジネスマン business man

No56 [SOCIETY] Working too hard harms your health

The number of cases of death from excess work (karoshi) have not come to an end. on october 6th, it was announced that a journalist from the public TV channel NHK had died of exhaustion in 2013 due to working 159 hours overtime in a month. This reveals that the phenomenon affects many sectors includ[...]

No56 [IN THE EYE OF ERIC RECHSTEINER] Akasaka mitsuke district, Tokyo

© Eric Rechsteiner It’s quite evident that the Japanese like eating fish. But many of them also like to fish, and not just in the countryside. In Tokyo, there are multitudes of fishing enthusiasts, and one can find numerous places where they can indulge their passion.To understand this enthusiasm[...]

No56 [SERIES] The one who wants to forge links

Sasaki Mai has discovered the best way for her to succeed and flourish.   At the age of 29, Sasaki Mai has discovered a sense of purpose thanks to her clothes shop, which helps her weave connections. The idea of “connection” has gained importance after the events of 11 March 2011. Might it [...]

No55 [SERIES] He who succeeded in settling in

This Jack-of-all-trades has found his feet in this city in the throes of reconstruction.   After coming to live in Ishinomaki in April 2011, Iwata Shota has helped in the city’s recovery in many ways. Since the earthquake in 2011, when Iwata Shot came to live in Ishinomaki, he has become “a[...]

No53 [SERIES] The keeper of memories

Masuda Hirofumi and his famous black camera   Since December 2011, Masuda Hirofumi’s mission has been to photograph daily life. The small glass studio in a street in the heart of Ishinomaki is occupied by artist Masuda Hirofumi, originally from Sayama in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo. Af[...]

No52 [SERIES] The will to live never fades away

Oka Yasufumi uses flowers to bring colour back to the region. Unenthusiastic about taking over his parents’ shop, young Oka Yasufumi nevertheless became a florist. Since the disastrous earthquake of 11 March 2011, the region of Ishinomaki has become a shadow of its former self. Though food, clothi[...]
No.51 NEWS

No51 [SERIES] A book lest we forget

The testimony was imagined and created by the city’s junior and senior high school students. After five years of work, the town’s students have put the final touches to a document for future generations. Six years have past since the 2011 earthquake. With the progress of the reconstruction w[...]

No50 [EXPERIENCE] Pokemon rules

To revive their tourist industries, some local councils have enlisted the help of the game Pokemon GO – with mixed results. Last year, from the 12th to the 22nd of November, an event based on the globally successful game Pokemon GO took place in the vicinity of Nakase Park in Ishinomaki, in an[...]
Chugoku-shinbun, Hiroshima

No49[PRESS] Courage on a daily basis

Opened in 1969, the current headquarters of Chugoku Shimbun faces the Peace Memorial Park. For 125 years the Chugoku Shimbun has served the population, with whom they’ve shared both the good times and the bad. If there’s one word to describe Hiroshima, “courage” would undoubtedly be the most[...]

No48 [Report] The new battle of Okinawa

Despite the challenges, residents peacefully demonstrate to stop the work continuing. For many years, residents have opposed the American bases and their expansion here. All their attempts have been in vain so far. As a Buddhist drum sounds, everyone sits down as though participating in a ritual. Ar[...]
Ishinomaki, tohoku

No47 [Series] The ending of a temporary set-up

Set up on a former parking lot, the temporary shopping centre closed down at the end of October. The closure of a shopping centre built in the aftermath of the 2011 disaster signals the start of a new chapter for Ishinomaki. In late October the “Tatemachi human-scale shopping centre for the recons[...]

No46 [Series] The final curtain for Hana House

The farewell ceremony concluded with a large banquet shared by many residents. After more than five years of loyal good service, this community café has closed. It is time to pay it a fitting tribute. The end of September saw the closure of Hana House, a community cafe where, after the 2011 earthqu[...]

No45 [Series] The hospital’s wounds healed

Five years after its destruction, a hospital has reopened its doors in the heart of a port city. The Ishinomaki Municipal Hospital located in the district of Minamihama suffered severe damage during the earthquake of 2011. Almost completely destroyed, it was rebuilt near the station, 2km from the se[...]

No44 [Series] Bad days for the fishermen

Despite concerted attempts to revive production, the fishing industry still faces setbacks. Rich in minerals, sea squirts, or ‘sea pineapples’ as they are called in Japan, get their name from their appearance. The preferred way to serve these delicacies of the sea is as sashimi accompanied with [...]

No43 [Series] New trains lead to revival

A year after service resumed on the Senseki line between Sendai and Ishinomaki, the revival of the area is now in full swing. The 2011 North-East Japan tsunami had badly damaged the Senseki railway line between the stations at Nobiru and Tona, meaning that many connections were maintained by buses b[...]

No42 [Series] Ishinomaki is fishing for youth

The municipality is trying to encourage more young people to take up careers in fishing. In Japan there is a serious lack of people wanting to work in agriculture. Although the fishing industry in the Sanriku coastal region of Ishinomaki has known great success in the past, over the past few decades[...]

No41[Series] In favour of multiculturalism

No less than 32 nationalities live in Ishinomaki. This presents a great opportunity if the city knows how to take advantage of it. After the earthquake, the slogan “helping oneself” spread across Japan to encourage people to protect and look after their own safety and wellbeing. However, the ide[...]

No40 [Series] Ishinomaki’s recipe for success

After attempting to start a new life elsewhere, many are returning to their hometowns to take part in their renewal. In the region around Ishinomaki, laid waste by the earthquake of 2011, there were those who left after losing everything. However, there are also those who have been coming back to he[...]