The Mystical, Magical, Terrifying Supernatural Cats of Japan

From Shapeshifters to Demonic Corpse Eaters, Centuries of Catlore on the Prowl

Japan loves cats. A quick glance at anything related to Japanese pop culture will show you this: Hello Kitty. Cat cafes. Wearable electronic cat ears that respond to your emotional state. Massively popular comics like What’s Michael? and A Man and His Cat. The popular tourist destination Gotokuji, a temple in the Setagaya ward of Tokyo that claims to be the original home of the ubiquitous Maneki Neko, the “Lucky Cat.” The famous cat shrine Nyan Nyan Ji in Kyoto that has an actual cat monk with several kitty acolytes. …

Are the Tokyo Olympics Cursed? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Are the Tokyo Olympics Cursed?

Canceled in 1940 and Postponed for 2020, Japan’s Bad Luck Highlights a Bigger Problem Plaguing the Games: Outsized Ambition and Subpar Leadership

This spring, as the coronavirus pandemic flared across the globe, pressure mounted on Olympics organizers to cancel or postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games. At first, the International Olympic Committee, the …

The World War II “Wonder Drug” That Never Left Japan | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The World War II “Wonder Drug” That Never Left Japan

For Workers and Soldiers, Taking Methamphetamine Was a Patriotic Duty That Hooked a Generation

Amphetamines, the quintessential drug of the modern industrial age, arrived relatively late in the history of mind-altering substances—commercialized just in time for mass consumption during World War II. In fact, …

Excavating the Future City

Through His Camera, Naoya Hatakeyama Reimagines and Rebuilds Our Human Environment

Japanese photographer Naoya Hatakeyama, who was born in Japan in 1958, has spent decades exploring and documenting the human-made environment, with a particular emphasis on cities. He has explored everywhere …

How Robot Laborers Could Restock Italy and Japan’s Dwindling Workforce

The Sci-Fi Scenario May Sound Ominous, but Droids Could Help Countries with Low Birth Rates

Ask experts about the future of Italy and Japan, and you won’t hear many hopeful opinions. One is destined to fall out of the Euro. The other is condemned to …

What Losing a War Does to a Nation’s Psyche

70 Years After World War II, Japanese Elites Are Still Haunted by Despair and Shame

In the spring of 1976, while visiting the Tokyo Zoo, I was confronted with the unforgettable sight of an aging former Japanese soldier, wearing a ragged army uniform and cap, …