Akiko Kashiwagi

When The Sommelier's A Machine

For anyone who's at a loss when it comes to choosing the perfect bottle of wine for dinner, the Tokyo-based supermarket chain Daimaru Peacock has developed an electronic sommelier.

A Post-Car Society

A gadget-crazy people show no interest in new cars, dismiss the four-wheeled horse as 'so 20th century.'

Technology: Will Japan Buy the iPhone?

The Japanese mobile industry is on Apple alert. This is the year CEO Steve Jobs said Apple would launch the iPhone in Asia. So far, Apple isn't saying when the introduction will come to Japan.

Creating Product Buzz

Plug "Shinkansen N700" into a search engine and back come scores of photos and comments about the smooth ride, dizzying speed and comfortable work areas of Japan's newest bullet train.

Learning Game

If you see someone on the Tokyo subway fiddling with a Nintendo DS handheld, chances are he's not just playing videogames, but engaged in self-improvement.

What's Next For Japan's Opposition

To understand Ichiro Ozawa—whose Democratic Party of Japan thumped Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party in upper-house elections last week—it helps to consider where he kicked off his campaign: in Shinjoson, a small farming community of just over 1,100 nestled away in mountainous western Japan.

Japan's Abe Turns Off Voters

It's election time in Japan again, yet Kazuyoshi Arima, a 25-year-old systems engineer, still doesn't know whom he'll vote for—if he goes to the polls at all on July 29. "I know I should be more engaged, feel more strongly about exercising my right to vote.

The Rise of Japan's Lazy Youth

On a recent Sunday, thousands of young people from across Japan rallied in central Tokyo, fighting for an unexpected cause in a city known for political apathy.

Ski Japan: The Birth of an Industry

Tourists head to Japan for many reasons: the shopping and night life of Tokyo, the temples of Kyoto, the scenic beauty of Hokkaido. But skiing? That's not something most travelers immediately associate with Japan.

Architecture: Tokyo's New Downtown

In Tokyo's new Suntory Museum Of Art, centuries-old paper screens, ceramics, glassware and Noh costumes are on elegant display under subtle, high-tech lighting in tranquil rooms designed by the renowned architect Kengo Kuma.

As Seen on TV: Japan's Corporate 'Vultures'

"Are 'vulture' funds simply looters? Or can they be saviors?" an anchorwoman asks herself, having reported on successful corporate buyouts. This isn't a script from the evening news, but a scene from a new hit Japanese TV show called "Vultures," or "Hagetaka," which chronicles the wheelings and dealings of a Western buyout fund in Tokyo.Private equity is top of mind these days, and not just on the small screen.

Gray Matters

When my sixtyish mother went back to school last month, she assumed she would be the oldest person in her current-affairs seminar. It turns out she was one of the youngest.She shouldn't have been surprised.

Tokyo Makes Waves

Visitors to Roppongi, Tokyo's posh entertainment district, come for a taste of the latest trends in fashion, food and fun. But increasingly, the tree-lined neighborhood is offering up opportunities for more-highbrow culture: last month the dazzling new National Art Center, Tokyo--called the Big Wave--became the latest museum to open.

The Wrong Plan For Schools?

For Ayumi Yabe, now 18, the agony started back in first grade. A boy in her class singled her out for harassment. "Go die!" he'd scream at her--and a crowd of others soon joined in.

Japan: Devoted Dads

Until recently, Kouji Yamaguchi was the classic Japanese salaryman. Totally devoted to his job as the manager of a home design/construction company in Tokyo, the 45-year-old Yamaguchi worked about 60 hours a week--not counting the hours he spent commuting.

Tokyo's Own White House

Just days after Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test, sparking what some politicians in Japan called an unprecedented national-security crisis.

Interview: New Channels of Diplomacy

Yuriko Koike, 54, could become Japan's Condi. A former member of Parliament and Environment minister, she was recently appointed the country's first national-security adviser.

Cell Phones: Mobile Manga

You might think that comic books wouldn't go over well on mobile phones, but Japanese apparently don't mind following dialogue balloons on tiny screens. Consumer demand for manga (the Japanese word for print comics) has surged in recent months, thanks to high-speed 3G phones, the proliferation of fixed-rate plans, and high-quality LCD displays.The growth in manga shows how hard is it to predict what effect new technologies will have on old markets.

The Good Life

By Ginanne BrownellWhatever your reasons for going shooting--for sport, food or simply the thrill of the hunt--now is the season to enjoy the call of the wild.

Our Cellphone Future

A great majority of the world's 2 billion mobile-phone users would probably blink in jealous awe at an advanced Japanese mobile phone like Sharp's recent hit, the 905SH.

Japan Takes a Dive

America isn't the only place that wows summer audiences with blockbuster disaster flicks. Japanese--never shy of self-flagellation--have been flocking to a new movie that features the destruction of the country.

Asia's Mystery Man

When Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the controversial Tokyo war memorial known as Yasukuni Shrine last month, the story made headlines around the world and triggered indignant protests in Seoul and Beijing.