Fire prevention ritual held in northern Japan
NHK -- Feb 03
Men wearing outlandish straw costumes marched through a small community in northern Japan on Saturday. They were taking part in a centuries-old ritual.

The "Yonekawa no Mizukaburi" event dates back more than 800 years. It is held annually in the Yonekawa district of Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture.

Thirty-four boys and men, clad in costumes made from rice straws, painted their faces with soot before they took to the streets.

As they walked in procession, they threw buckets of water on houses.

Spectators approached the men and pulled straws out of the costumes. Rice straws are believed to be charms that prevent fires from breaking out.

Last December, UNESCO added the Yonekawa no Mizukaburi ritual, and nine other Japanese traditional events involving costume-wearing deities, to its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

One local man in Yonekawa said he hopes the event will be passed down for many generations to come, since it is now known to the world.

News sources: NHK, ANNnewsCH
Apr 25
The Diet enacted legislation Wednesday to pay ¥3.2 million in state compensation to each person who underwent forced sterilization under the nation’s now-defunct eugenics law. (Japan Times)
Apr 25
A Japanese space probe is scheduled on Thursday to film an artificial crater made on the asteroid Ryugu in an impact experiment. (NHK)
Apr 24
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have visited the Mausoleum of Emperor Showa in western Tokyo to report his abdication on April 30. (NHK)
Apr 22
Police have arrested a 40-year-old man over the alleged stalking of his former girlfriend whose whereabouts were unknown for three days, reports the Sankei Shimbun (
Apr 22
Police in Tokyo said Sunday they have arrested Naoya Urata, lead singer of the six-member pop group AAA, on suspicion of assault. (Japan Today)
Apr 20
The world's smallest baby boy, who was born in October in Japan weighing as much as an apple, is now ready for the outside world, his doctor said Friday. (Japan Today)
Apr 20
A woman and her young daughter have died after being struck by a passenger car driven by an 87-year-old man in downtown Tokyo. (NHK)
Apr 20
A law recognizing the Ainu ethnic minority as an indigenous people of Japan has been enacted. (NHK)
Apr 20
An agreement has been reached at an international conference on managing Japanese eel resources to more effectively clarify the distribution routes of young eels. (NHK)
Apr 19
Those hoping to watch a tennis match featuring No. 1-ranked Naomi Osaka at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games will likely face long odds in the upcoming ticket lottery. (Nikkei)