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Uncharted waters: exploring the untapped potential of Tokyo’s waterways

22 Apr

If the color of the taxi I have boarded is anything to go by, I could be in New York or Chicago, maybe even Kolkata. Instead, this particular yellow cab is ferrying me around Tokyo and rather than vying for lane space with trucks, buses and passenger vehicles, it’s chugging along some of the little-traversed […]

Toddlers playing with touchscreens sleep less

22 Apr

PARIS – The more toddlers play with touchscreen devices, the less they sleep, according to a study released on April 13. For every additional hour using a touchscreen phone or tablet during the day, children aged 6 months to 3 years slept nearly 16 minutes less in each 24 hour period, researchers reported in the […]

Japan’s traditional blues for bright and cheery kids

16 Apr

‘It’s stinky!” shouts my 4-year-old daughter, jumping up and down with an expression of pure glee on her face. The object of her fascination is a large vat containing a dark, murky substance that does indeed have a distinctly earthy aroma. Its contents? Pure indigo dye, made from plants, into which my daughter is about […]

Pursuing peculiar passions: the wacky world of Japan’s offbeat groups

15 Apr

Play it safe. Follow the rules. Respect authority. And, above all, don’t stick out like that silly proverbial nail. That’s Japan’s recipe for social harmony. Student, salaryman, office lady, homemaker — everyone has a role to play in society, so just fit into the mold and get with the program, OK? But Japan also has […]

Disputatious legacies: examining the historic ties that bind Okinawa and China

8 Apr

Commenting on the pervasiveness of his own culture while on a trip to Indonesia, the Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote, “I see India everywhere.” A traveler to Okinawa today from continental Asia, might well say, “I see China everywhere.” When coins made during the Chinese Kingdom of Yan, a feudal dynasty that fell in […]

Allowing the arty side of kids to blossom

25 Mar

Spring is a season of art. As winter recedes, the air fills with creative energy. Tokyo’s art fairs at this time of the year can be fun with kids, but the crowds and sheer volume of exhibitors can be overwhelming. The city does, however, offer plenty of other art opportunities if you know where to […]

Akitas in Japan give a dog a good name

11 Feb

What do Russian President Vladimir Putin, French-Swiss actor Alain Delon and U.S. political activist Helen Keller have in common? They have all known the joy of owning an Akita, a breed of dog originating from the northern region of Tohoku. The Akita is one of the oldest breeds in Japan and are believed to have […]

Let kids seize the day, and an opponent

11 Feb

It’s an all too familiar sight: my two young children, exhausted after a long day at nursery, return home and proceed to jump up and down, bounce off walls and throw toys at each other’s heads in a rush of post-containment energy. For a long time, I’ve wondered how to help them temper their over-tired […]

Adult swaddling therapy may help mothers overcome post-labor pain

1 Feb

Wrapped up from head to toe in a white bag and gently rocking from side to side, five Japanese mothers are hopeful Tokyo’s latest health trend can cure their post-pregnancy aches and pains. According to its exponents, otonamaki, which translates as “adult wrapping,” was devised by a Kyoto midwife who thought replicating how children are […]

When pollen attacks! Experts reveal new approaches to combating hay fever

21 Jan

About a quarter of the population is bracing for an attack from a seemingly innocuous source — pollen. The perennial release of cedar pollen, which hits much of the archipelago between February and May each year, triggers an allergic reaction in about 1 in 4 of Japan’s population of 123 million people. Fits of sneezing […]