Unseen Japan

The Japan You Don't Learn About in Anime.

A composite picture of the suspect in the 300 Million Yen Incident.
Akutagawa Ryunosuke
Stage / performance

What Makes Japan's Idol Culture Unique?

Essay   By Emma Ford  ·  October 08, 2018 • Tagged with idols, people, culture, AKB48, Morning Musume, Hello! Project

How did Japan become the birthplace of a plethora of manufactured girl groups? Emma Ford looks into how "idol" came to mean something very different in Japan than it does in the West.

Manhole cover of Chibi Maruko-chan.

Remembering Sakura Momoko: The Very Japanese Life of the Creator of "Chibi Maruko-chan"

News   By Emma Ford  ·  September 12, 2018 • Tagged with news, people, manga, entertainment

The life of the legendary cartoonist and essayist Sakura Momoko was one of juxtaposition between traditional and modern Japan. A look back at the creator of Chibi Maruko-chan.

An inlet in the mountain-cradled town of Suou-Ooshima

Meet the Bad-Ass 78-Year-Old Japanese Man Who Rescued a Lost Toddler in 20 Minutes

News   By Jay Andrew Allen  ·  August 18, 2018 • Tagged with news, people, culture, disaster

A 78-year-old rescue worker told a camera crew he had come to the town of Suou-Ooshima to join the search for a lost toddler. 20 minutes later...

Iijima Ai, from the cover of her CD.

Platonic Sex: The Wild Ride of Japanese Porn Star Iijima Ai

Essay   By Jay Andrew Allen  ·  July 30, 2018 • Tagged with entertainment, people

Middle school dropout. Troublemaker. Hostess. Porn star. Author. Media darling. The wild journey of Japan's Iijima Ai.

Kasamori Osen, in a classic Japanese pin-up shot.

Kasamori Osen: The Idol Star of Edo Japan

Essay   By Jay Andrew Allen  ·  July 05, 2018 • Tagged with essay, history, people, Edo era

Before AKB48, there was Kasamori Osen, the original idol star of Edo Japan.

Kuroki Nana (left) and Kobayashi Mao.

A Tale of Two Cancers: The Short, Full Lives of Kobayashi Mao and Kuroki Nana

Essay   By Jay Andrew Allen  ·  July 02, 2018 • Tagged with essay, culture, health, people, cancer, wellness

The very similar lives of two Japanese women and their battles against a terrible disease.

Fukuda Kazuko, in an arrest photo.

The Strange, Sad Case of Fukuda Kazuko (福田和子), The Woman Who Nearly Got Away with Murder

Essay   By Jay Andrew Allen  ·  April 16, 2018 • Tagged with true crime, people

The story of a woman who (nearly) evaded a murder rap for 15 years. (And she woulda gotten away with it too if it weren't for you meddling kids!)

A sign in the Aokigahara Forest

Logan Paul and the Casual Racism of "Weird Japan"

Essay   By Jay Andrew Allen  ·  January 03, 2018 • Tagged with news, people, society

What a YouTuber's dreadful appearance in Japan tells us about the way we talk about the country.