The Tokyo Shrine That Will Never Find Peace

What’s Left to Salvage in a Monument That Refuses to Accept the Sins of the Past?

The Yasukuni Shrine is an island of calm in an otherwise bustling city. Mature pines and cypress trees surround it, screening it from Tokyo’s relentless traffic noise. Shady walkways, sacred ponds and dozens of cherry trees make it a public haven for the many Japanese people who come here to honor their ancestors.

But if you look more closely, you’ll find clues to the regional rage and global controversies that plague this place. The shrine is dedicated to all those Japanese soldiers who sacrificed their lives on the battlefield since …

The Mystical, Magical, Terrifying Supernatural Cats of Japan | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

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 …

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 …