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With the world’s attention set to be fixated on the Far East during Olympic year, we’re celebrating all things Japan. Cover star Kumamon – the big, furry and fun mascot of Kumamoto prefecture – fires the starting gun but there’s plenty more, from J-pop’s freshest faces to devotees of the Suzuki Jimny. Elsewhere we lavish praise of Japan’s unique approach to craftsmanship and clothes-making, find out why the country’s communist party endures and go in search of the best – and biggest – Sanuki udon noodles. Plus: a Christmas gift guide and our inaugural Soft Power Awards.

Issue 129

December 2019/January 2020

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