Julian Ryall

Documenting an earth-shattering event

A man and his sister stand before their broken house, destroyed by the tsunami at Rikuzentakata in Iwate prefecture. Photo: AFP

When a massive earthquake struck Japan on March 11, 2011, David McNeill and Lucy Birmingham experienced the terrifying sensation of the earth moving uncontrollably beneath their feet.

Monday, 3 December, 2012, 6:03pm

Quake puts young men on shaky ground

This time last year, Keiko wanted to meet a man who met the three traditional 'high' requirements of the perfect Japanese husband: He needed to be tall, have a high level of education and a high salary.

13 Feb 2012 - 12:00am

Lost and found - ties that bind

ORIZA HIRATA started to cultivate a broad view of the world as a teenager. At 17, he cycled 20,000km on a journey that took him to 26 countries in 18 months.

26 Feb 2007 - 12:00am

Asashoryu to answer allegations of fixing

Mongolian-born grand champion Asashoryu has been summoned to appear before a panel of the Japan Sumo Association to explain media reports claiming he has been arranging for bouts to be thrown.

Asashoryu won his 20th career title at the New Year Grand Tournament this month in typically resounding fashion, losing only one of his bouts.

27 Jan 2007 - 12:00am

Mind your own business

Wandering the streets of the Marunouchi district - the business heart of the city - on a typical weekday evening would have been like walking through a ghost town a few years ago. Sandwiched between Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace, the district is today shaking off its dull image and becoming the place to be seen.

23 Dec 2006 - 12:00am

Off the wall

With a barely audible hiss and a final flick of his wrist, the artist completes his spray-painted work of art. It is bright, aggressive and on public display.

The problem is that it is too public; daubed on a station wall, it is the kind of art that passers-by cannot fail to see.

9 Dec 2006 - 12:00am

Rail rage

In the not-so-distant past, staff on Tokyo's myriad railway and subway lines would think nothing of waking a slumbering passenger with a friendly yet firm shake of the shoulder. Particularly prevalent in July and December - traditionally the bonus seasons at Japanese corporations - drunks could be relied on to be of the happy variety rather than the belligerent kind.

9 Sep 2006 - 12:00am

Indecent exposure

I am fortunate to have a very large park close to where my family and I live. A stroll past the pond and through the trees is the ideal way to work off a Sunday lunch. Part of the park is given over to a playground for youngsters, and I found myself there with my two young children last Sunday.

2 Sep 2006 - 12:00am

Voice of hope

Kim Seong-min has stopped hiding. Eight months after his Free North Korea Radio station went live on shortwave, the 44-year-old says he no longer worries about assassins being sent from Pyongyang to eliminate him. Nor does he fear the left-wing students and union activists who have assaulted him in the past over his broadcasts.

11 Aug 2006 - 12:00am

Would-be gigolos left red-faced

Thousand of embarrassed would-be gigolos who fell victim to a job offer scam have failed to file complaints with Japanese police, despite losing an estimated 300 million yen ($20 million) to the fraudsters.

More than 10,000 men replied to a job advertisement offering pay of 30,000 yen for a date with a 'quality woman' and 70,000 yen for spending the night with her.

13 Jul 2006 - 12:00am

Rush to rudeness

The man in the business suit beside me on the train probably couldn't help his reaction. It was a slight intake of breath combined with a clicking of the tongue and an involuntary crossing of the arms. In isolation, one action would have expressed displeasure; the three together meant disgust.

8 Jul 2006 - 12:00am

Touchy subject

Urban yet deeply rural. Conservative yet forward-thinking. Traditional and still incredibly innovative. Japan is truly a nation of contradictions - particularly when it comes to its menfolk.

24 Jun 2006 - 12:00am

Feudal folly

For sale: one castle built in the traditional Japanese style atop a small hill in the sleepy hamlet of Yatsuo, Toyama prefecture. With a gracefully curving roof and intricately linked stonework, the imposing structure may, at first glance, appear to be a throwback to the years when feudal lords roamed this land. In fact, it is a relic of a far more recent era of upheaval in Japan.

10 Jun 2006 - 12:00am

Ageing disgracefully

They're angry, alienated - and taking their revenge on Japanese society. No, they're not street-corner hoods or petty criminals looking for a fight; instead, it is retirees who are behind Japan's present crime wave.

27 May 2006 - 12:00am

Unclaimed riches

To lose the odd 10,000-yen ($695) note or two might be considered unfortunate, but to lose 31 million yen - and then not try to find it - can be considered utterly incomprehensible.

Yet police in the Japanese prefecture of Saitama are not the only force in the country sitting on wads of unclaimed cash that have turned up in the most unlikely places.

13 May 2006 - 12:00am