Unseen Japan

The Japan You Don't Learn About in Anime.

Noah Oskow

Noah Oskow is a professional Japanese translator and interpreter who holds a BA in East Asian Languages and Cultures. He has lived, studied and worked in Japan for nearly seven years, including two years studying at Sophia University in Tokyo and four years teaching English on the JET Program in rural Fukushima Prefecture. His experiences with language learning and historical and cultural studies as well as his extensive experience in world travel have lead to appearances at speaking events and popular podcasts. Noah is currently working on his Masters Degree in Global Studies at Leipzig University in Germany.

Happy Science logo

The Lord of the Nine Dimensions: Inside "Happy Science", Japan's Far-Right Religious Movement

By Noah Oskow  ·  August 12, 2019 • Tagged with religion, history, shinto, buddhism, cults, politics

In the mid-1980s, a Japanese salaryman declared himself the reincarnation of Buddha and Hermes. Now his religious organization claims millions of adherents.

View of Mount Bandai, in better days.

Cataclysm: The 1888 Eruption of Fukushima’s Mount Bandai

By Noah Oskow  ·  June 25, 2019 • Tagged with history, disaster, humanitarianism, fukushima, meiji, volcanoes, earthquakes, tourism

In 1888, "the Mount Fuji of the North" erupted so fiercely that it remade the local landscape. The incredible story of how Meiji Japan suffered - and recovered - from the worst volcanic disaster in modern Japanese history.

Mishima Yukio

Blood Oaths and Seppuku: The "Beautiful Death" of Author Mishima Yukio

By Noah Oskow  ·  June 18, 2019 • Tagged with history, biography, literature, nationalism, extremism, far right

What drove one of Japan's most acclaimed authors to raise a personal militia, and take a high-ranking general hostage in an attempted nationalist coup d'état?

Mishima Yukio

Man of Masks: The Strange Life of Author Mishima Yukio

By Noah Oskow  ·  June 12, 2019 • Tagged with history, biography, literature, WWII, Showa, LGBT, nationalism, extremism, far-right

A youth who found excitement only in books, Mishima Yukio became a brilliant author who challenged his country's sexual mores - until the day his life became stranger than fiction.

Sugihara Chiune

Japan's Schindler: How Sugihara Chiune Saved Thousands of Jewish Refugees

By Noah Oskow  ·  May 30, 2019 • Tagged with history, wwii, judaism, russia, heroism, lithuania, poland

The story of how a Japanese diplomat went against the dictates of his own government in order to issue Jewish refugees with visas to Japan.

Red Square, Moscow.

How The Kremlin Saved Kurosawa

By Noah Oskow  ·  April 19, 2019 • Tagged with film, movies, akira kurosawa, russia, culture

Japanese film maestro Akira Kurosawa was at his lowest point - and then the Soviets stepped in.

Japanese lighthouse on Sakhalin (a.k.k. Karafuto)

Karafuto: Japan's Lost Prefecture

By Noah Oskow  ·  April 03, 2019 • Tagged with history, hokkaido, sakhalin, russia, meiji, russo-japanese war, WWII, indigenous, ainu

The story of how, for a brief period of time, an island controlled by Russia became an official part of Japan.

Russia, Japan, and Sakhalin/Karafuto

Sakhalin Island: Japan's Final Frontier

By Noah Oskow  ·  March 25, 2019 • Tagged with history, hokkaido, sakhalin, tokugawa, russia, meiji, indigenous, ainu

How Japan's discovery of a large northern island devastated the island's native population - and how Japan lost control when Russia muscled in.

Samurai on horses

The Fall of Ezo, Japan's "Samurai Democracy"

By Noah Oskow  ·  March 04, 2019 • Tagged with history, hokkaido, tokugawa, samurai, meiji, meiji restoration, war

How Japan's samurai resistance fell to the pressure of history - and how its founder went from hatred traitor to respected leader.

Samurai on a horse

The Last Samurai: Enomoto Takeaki and the Warrior Democracy of Ezo

By Noah Oskow  ·  February 20, 2019 • Tagged with history, hokkaido, tokugawa, samurai, meiji, meiji restoration, war

The story of the samurai who fought the rise of modern Japan to the end - and who, when all else failed, founded his own nation-state.