Contributors / Fiona Wilson

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King of the mild frontier

Kozo Futagi thought he’d spotted a gap in the Japanese market: log cabins as affordable second homes. But he’s had to roll in a different direction – when people move in, they stay put.

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Inner beauty

A ryokan in the small city of Maebashi with 300 years of history has been brought up to date in stunning fashion. Now the Shiroiya is attracting premier design and hospitality talent to a quiet corner of Japan.

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On top of their games

As Tokyo gets set to host the Olympics and Paralympics after 2020’s false start, a multitude of behind-the-scenes players have long been exercising their minds to ensure a gold-standard Games. We meet some of the unsung…

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Splash of colour

Are your city’s public toilets a busted flush? Then take a stool as we tour Tokyo’s latest deposits: outdoor conveniences that set a new bog standard.

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Power tools

Japan is a nation that does many things rather well. Here we profile a few problem-solving products to tackle some of life’s trickier challenges – oh, and a banana holder.

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38. Making the case

It’s time to pack your bags (in a good way) and Japan’s Masumi Hono has just the design to get you moving.

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45. Super soaker

You might not be looking to clean up in the Japanese bathhouse game yourself but what the revival of Tokyo’s ‘sento’ shows is that some old ideas are worth considering anew. This fresh generation of baths is proving rele…

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Sense of calm

There’s something soothing about this city on the Japanese island of Kyushu. So much so that you forget there’s a grumbling volcano nearby – or wait, is that your stomach? Fear not: there are oodles of noodles.

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45. Armchair travel

Who better to guide us through our downtime than Kunichi Nomura, the host of weekly Tokyo radio programme ‘Travelling Without Moving’?

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Size matters

But bigger isn’t always better. In Japan, youngsters keen on life in central Tokyo are content in tiny apartments. Our correspondent squeezes in.

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Modern history

Facing demolition, the Dai-ichi Bank building had seen better days. But at the 11th hour, and with a nod to its illustrious past, the site has been rejuvenated as K5 hotel.

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Best of both worlds

The Halekulani hotel is a dream destination for its Japanese guests, with just one drawback: it’s in Honolulu. So the owners decided to reproduce its many charms in a paradisal landscape closer to home.

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Tipping the scales

Kiyoshi Kimura splashes out to buy the first tuna of the year but the larger-than-life methods of Japan’s King of Tuna rely on getting the small details right.

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Big in Japan

Japan is known for its wealth of high-quality fashion brands but which is leading the pack? Here are three Tokyo standouts.

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National treasures

What do you think about when you think about Japan? Fuji-san, shinkansen, tabi, kabuki, rituals, gravel gardens, shrines among the pines. Not here. Beyond the postcards are the people; a nation of unusual ingenuity, fire…

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The last detail

Tokyo’s architectural masterpieces continue to topple in the name of progress but with the painstakingly faithful recreation of Hotel Okura’s incomparable modernist lobby (albeit in a new skyscraper), a window to the past…

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50 steps to improving your city

Elevating the urban environment needn’t call for grand blueprints from city planners, nor sweeping regeneration. Small projects and individual details can make a difference. Here are a few starters from our editors.


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Blooming marvellous

The much-loved cherry blossom season is big business in Japan. But when will it hit? To find out, a private weather forecaster employs all the tools at its disposal – including people power – to pinpoint the top petal…


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Electric dreams

Japanese digital art collective TeamLab is seizing the aesthetic possibilities of technology to remaster what it means to both create and experience artworks. We took a stroll among the flowers in their brave new world.

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Always a surprise in store

Hibiya Central Market is the soul of the shopping mall, where you can wander and linger among kiosks, perfectly edited fashion stores and unpretentious restaurants with a touch of old-school Tokyo.

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Touch wood

Conde House is a sturdy presence in Japanese wooden-furniture manufacturing that’s replanting its regional roots and retaining its traditional hands-on approach.


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