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Editorial: Top court ruling underscores the separation of church and state

The Supreme Court on Feb. 24 ruled that the Naha city government violated the constitutional separation of politics and religion by allowing a Confucian temple to use public land at no cost.    The temple is devoted to Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher who founded a system of thought and behavior known as Confucianism.   The Constitution says, “The state….Read more

  • February 26, 2021
  • , The Asahi Shimbun , 1:00 p.m.
  • English Press


Rikuzentakata boat leads to sister city ties . . . and cheese

Crescent City, CA — A long-established cheese manufacturer in Crescent City, California, is handcrafting a new cheese using salt from Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture. The two cities developed ties after a Rikuzentakata boat washed ashore in Crescent City after having been swept out to sea by the tsunami triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake. This city-to-city friendship has gone from….Read more

  • February 22, 2021
  • , Jiji , 7:19 a.m.
  • JMH Translation

SOCIETY > Culture

Former U.S. diplomat continues to spread the wonders of haiku

WASHINGTON — Abigail Friedman, 64, worked as a diplomat in charge of North Korean issues at the U.S. Embassy in Japan from 2000 to 2003. She was intensely busy, juggling work and raising three small children. “Maybe I wanted to have some time to take a break away from work and family,” she says.

SOCIETY > Culture

Embassies in Japan hold public relations events that avoid the 3C’s

By Minako Yamashita   Embassies in Japan usually are busy with parties and events during the year-end and New Year holidays. But embassies could not invite the public or hold events attended by many people for Christmas and the New Year holidays because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid many restrictions, embassies tried new ways to convey messages to cultivate an….Read more

  • January 20, 2021
  • , Nikkei evening edition , p. 2
  • JMH Translation

SOCIETY > Culture

Japan’s kanji of the year, ‘mitsu,’ reflects gloom of 2020 pandemic

Seihan Mori, chief priest of Kyoto’s Kiyomizudera temple, paints a giant version of the kanji of the year, “mitsu,” at the temple on Dec. 14. (Pool)     By Rikako Takai, staff writer   KYOTO–Japan has chosen “mitsu” as the kanji of the year, widely cited as part of a social distancing slogan, in a fitting acknowledgement of how the….Read more

  • December 14, 2020
  • , The Asahi Shimbun , 6:03 p.m.
  • English Press

SOCIETY > Culture

Vox Populi: UNESCO to soon add ‘kayabuki’ to list of intangible cultural heritage

True to its moniker, Kayabuki no Sato (Village of thatched roof homes) in Nantan, Kyoto Prefecture, is dotted with old thatched-roof farmhouses that glow gold when the sun is out, and gradually change in color from brown to black after sundown.   I visited the Miyamacho district in Nantan to interview Yuki Tomita, 25, a young woman who moved out….Read more

  • December 10, 2020
  • , The Asahi Shimbun , 1:23 p.m.
  • English Press

SOCIETY > Culture

Japan’s Muslim communities face local opposition to creating Islamic burial sites

OITA — The number of Muslims in Japan has reached 230,000 people, and while Halal and other parts of their culture and customs have become more widespread in the country, there is an issue of great concern to the Muslim community — there are almost no graves for them to be buried in as befits their beliefs.   In Oita….Read more

  • October 28, 2020
  • , The Mainichi
  • English Press

SOCIETY > Culture

Editorial: UNESCO listing can show world value of Japan’s traditional architectural techniques

This is good news to encourage people to whom invaluable techniques have been passed down in order to preserve Japan’s ancient architecture.   A UNESCO advisory body that conducts preliminary screenings has recommended that Japanese traditional architectural craftsmanship be registered on the international body’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. A decision on the registration is expected to be officially decided in….Read more

  • November 19, 2020
  • , The Japan News , 12:49 p.m.
  • English Press


UNESCO set to list 17 traditional artisan skills for cultural heritage

By Hikari Maruyama, staff writer   A UNESCO advisory panel has recommended that Japanese traditional architectural artisanship should be added to the Intangible Cultural Heritage list, the Agency for Cultural Affairs announced Nov. 17.   An inter-governmental committee will make a final decision at a meeting in France scheduled in mid-December, the agency said.   The agency had proposed 17….Read more

  • November 17, 2020
  • , The Asahi Shimbun , 5:05 p.m.
  • English Press

SOCIETY > Culture

Crown Prince’s rise to 1st in line to throne proclaimed

Tokyo, Nov. 8 (Jiji Press)–Japanese Crown Prince Akishino’s rise to first in line to the throne was proclaimed in ceremonies at Tokyo’s Imperial Palace on Sunday, the last in a series of rites linked to Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement in May last year.     The Emperor proclaimed his 54-year-old younger brother’s ascent at the palace’s “Matsu-no-Ma” state room in the core….Read more

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