I Was No Tourist: My Travels Through Tokyo's Sex Underworld

After Tokyo's bubble economy burst, the Roppongi district—once an upmarket quarter with exclusive nightlife—became known for its massage parlors and sex clubs, largely staffed by foreigners. It was here that I found myself, one steamy August night, sitting in a darkened strip joint while the police knocked on the door. » 4/07/15 12:10pm 4/07/15 12:10pm

The Face of Japan Is Changing, But Some Aren't Ready 

Change happens slowly in Japan, but it does happen. You wake up one day, and things that weren't possible years ago are happening today. Nowhere is that more evident than in the woman who will represent Japan in the Miss Universe pageant—but that's to the chagrin of some who wanted a more "Japanese" winner. » 3/13/15 10:03am 3/13/15 10:03am

Tokyo Municipality Plans Vote On Recognition Of Same-Sex Couples

Tokyo's Shibuya ward, a municipality which is part of the larger Tokyo metropolis, is best known for its shopping and having the busiest crosswalk in the world. It is now taking steps to become even more notable: the ward government proposes to issue certificates to same-sex couples which it calls "equivalent to… » 2/12/15 4:00pm 2/12/15 4:00pm

The Disappearing Ama: Japan's Tough, Topless, Free-Diving Mermaids

In the 1920s, a young law school graduate named Yoshiyuki Iwase left Tokyo and returned to his hometown of Onjuku, a fishing village in eastern Japan. With an early Kodak camera, he began documenting the traditions of the ama, women who dove for seaweed, shellfish, and most famously, pearls. What remains of Iwase's… » 1/16/15 9:05am 1/16/15 9:05am

This Over-the-Top Marriage Proposal Is a Giant Red Flag

There's a lot of scoffing and scorn out there for theatrical marriage proposals, but viral videos or hidden cameras are usually harmless. Cheesy and annoying to observers, perhaps, but ain't no thing between the betrothed. In Japan, however, we are faced with something quite different. » 12/05/14 9:02am 12/05/14 9:02am

Lonely? This Creepy Chair Will Wipe Away Your Tears and Hug You Tight

You know that feeling you get when you come home to an empty house with nothing but the TV to keep you company and a delicious Swanson dinner with reconstituted brownie in the fridge? Well, your problems are solved. No matter how lonely you are, there's now a chair that will make your life a joy. » 10/07/14 4:45pm 10/07/14 4:45pm

Body-Positive 'Chubby' J-Pop Groups Will Eat Whatever They Want

Earlier this year, Chubbiness, an all-girl group consisting of girls bigger than your average Japanese starlet stormed the J-Pop scene. The Chubbiness girls love to talk (and eat) food and their favorite "chubby" body parts. They've been quite the sensation, and they're not the only puniko ("Marshmallow girl") group. » 10/01/14 3:15pm 10/01/14 3:15pm

Here's the Strangest Piece of Exercise Equipment You've Ever Seen

Forget the Shake Weight, forget Sauna Suits and forget Tony Little's Gazelle, because there's a new piece of fitness equipment on the scene that's so ridiculous that just by looking at it you will descend into a shame spiral that will rival anything you've ever felt in tenth grade. Allow me to present the glory that… » 8/21/14 7:15pm 8/21/14 7:15pm

Parenting: Are You Doing It Right? Depends on Where You Live.

Parenting is hard, no newsflash there. Know what can make it harder? Having too much information about various approaches, all with conflicting supporting data. Add to this that our entire sense of community has shifted, and many parents live nowhere near their families of origin, leaving most of us to wing it in a… » 8/19/14 1:40pm 8/19/14 1:40pm