February 7, 2016

As Japan gears up to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and caters to a surging influx of foreign visitors, the country faces a cultural dilemma: Should it stop identifying Buddhist temples on maps with the traditional “manji” symbol that is often confused with a Nazi swastika?

Japan and South Korea have very close alliances with the United States. They also have had diplomatic relations with each other for 50 years, not to mention considerable trade back and forth during that time. At a popular level, many Japanese are wild about Korean bulgogi and soap operas while many Koreans love Japanese sushi and anime. That doesn’t mean, however, that the two countries are particularly close. 

A new position at Kyoto University, research on nation branding and propaganda, and an upcoming book on Japan’s struggle to “go global.”

The festival has struck a multi-year deal with the Japan Foundation’s recently created Asia Center to help it bring in Asian films and film-makers to Tokyo and also to expand Japanese cultural influence in Asia.

October 24, 2014

The more Japan’s global relevance in economic, political and military terms seems to decline, the more it cares about projecting soft power. 

After a week or two in the South Korean capital of Seoul, newcomers often harbor extreme views on the city. They either love it or absolutely despise it. The first cohort can’t get enough of this Asian metropolis of almost 10 million people. They find endless fun in its pulsating nightlife, surfeit of palaces and temples, and cheap vodka-like booze called soju. Hiking up its peaks (yes, Seoul has peaks), they are mesmerized by its never-ending skyline.

Emperor Akihito, on the occasion of his 80th birthday on Monday, repeated his intention to do his best amid expectations that he will hand over some of his official duties to the younger generation in the year after next. “While accepting the limits arising from age, I hope to continue to fulfill my role as best I can,” the Emperor said at a customary press conference Wednesday ahead of his birthday.

The vast Tsukiji Market in Tokyo is where the country's finest delicacies are sold and auctioned, not only fish -- for which the market is famous -- but also fruit and vegetable. Earlier this month, UNESCO, the U.N. cultural organization, added traditional Japanese cuisine, or "washoku," into its Intangible Cultural Heritage list. "'Wa' means Japanese, 'shoku' means 'to eat' or 'meal' or anything food-related," explains cooking instructor and "washoku" enthusiast Reiko Yoshikawa.