Kay Itoi


It's been another busy day at the office. Your feet hurt. Your neck is stiff. Who has time to get a massage? Busy Japanese are now turning to high-tech massage chairs for relief.


This summer, keyboards the size of a pack of gum are replacing cumbersome fold-ups and tiny PDA keyboards--perhaps for good. These keyboards are virtual--bright-red laser beams project QWERTY characters on any surface, like a desk or an airplane tray table, and a tiny camera watches which keys your fingers tap.


Eisei Miki, the head monk of Kakurinji Temple in the western Japanese city of Kakogawa, still shivers with anger when he describes the robbery the temple suffered in 2002.

The Gold Rush

On the right as one enters the gallery hangs Gustav Klimt's "Nuda Veritas" (1899), a monumental picture of a sensual female awash in glorious gold and blue.


One hundred nineteen hours, 41 minutes and 16 seconds. That's the amount of time Adam Rappoport, a high-school senior in Philadelphia, has spent talking into his silver Verizon LG phone since he got it as a gift last Chanukah.

Seeing How The Other Half Lives

Osaka housewife Tomomi Taguchi cautiously opens the door to Lee Won Tae's cozy three-bedroom apartment. Lee, 43, is a middle-class bureaucrat who lives in Seoul with his wife, mother and two children.

Japan's Forest Ire

Hidden behind a white surgical mask and a pair of goggles, Misako Onishi declares in a feeble voice, "This is a living hell." For the usually perky 32-year-old Tokyo resident, the onset of spring means a runny nose, a sore throat, twitchy eyes and constant sneezing.

Hideo Kojima

If Hideo Kojima were a novelist, he would be Jonathan Franzen. If he were a television producer, he'd be David Chase. And if he were a filmmaker, he would be Peter Jackson.

If You Smoke, Don't Tell Dr. Abe

From the moment Kayoko Ito took her first drag on a cigarette, she felt she could quit anytime. But she never did. Then she signed up for Sotsuen Net (QuitSmokingNet), a mobile-phone-based service for those who wish to break the habit.

The Betting Connection

For decades, gamblers helped finance small-town Japan. Take the city of Hiratsuka just outside Tokyo, where the local government sponsored betting on bicycle races to help fill the coffers.

Dancing Into Exile

Ryuichi Sakamoto gazes out the window at the homeland he abandoned more than a decade ago. With his jeans and long hair, he plainly does not belong here, in this staid and proper teahouse on the 41st floor in Tokyo's Shinjuku district.

Japan's Martha Stewart

Harumi Kurihara insists she is just an ordinary housewife. Seated in the tastefully decorated living room of her central Tokyo house, she grants an interview as several assistants quietly prepare lunch.

Mutual Feelings: Japan Falls For Asia

Back in 1979, Koichi Yasunaga had to see an Asian art show flop. He and other curators launching the Fukuoka Art Museum had planned a trendy opening on 20th-century American art, only to be overruled by the mayor.

The Virtual Pet Goes Postal

Sachio Takahashi dotes on Blue, his beloved tortoise. After a year of e-life together in the central Japanese city of Aichi, the systems engineer says he still checks on his pet every 15 minutes.

Japan's Face Fetish

With a click of the mouse, Misa Kondo gives herself bigger eyes. Click, click. Now she has a smaller nose. The 11-year-old stands back and admires her new image on the computer screen inside Tokyo's National Science Museum. "I could look this cute with only a few changes!" she exclaims.

I Take Thee, For Weekends Only

Last March families and friends gathered to celebrate the all-too-brief union of Hitomi Yoshida and Kenichi Ando. After an elegant wedding in the northern city of Hakodate and a short honeymoon at a hot-spring resort, the newlyweds went their own ways.

Reversal Of Fortune

It's just a few minutes to curtain, but Ryoko Hirosue, Japan's hottest young actress, has her mind on something other than her lines. Ryoko's ditzy hairdresser stops fussing with the star's coif and takes a peek.