What matters at Christmas time is the spirit, right? For those yet to be convinced, a tiny Japanese pavilion in Paris offers to initiate Westerners to a 700-year-old gift-giving ritual known as Origata.
You could hardly be further from the push and shove of the holiday shopping season: the tiny wood-panelled cubicle in the city's Latin Quarter is like a hybrid of concept store, art gallery and miniature temple.
Opened this month by Japanese businessman Takeshi Sato together with a young Frenchman, Joan Larroumec, the Miwa pavilion is billed as an exclusive members' club, offering a gateway to Japanese high culture.
Except for the word "ori", meaning to fold, Origata bears no relation to the paper-folding craft of origami.
Since the 14th century, Keishosai Ogasawara's family have held the keys to the art as chiefs of protocol for the imperial family, handing down its codes generation to generation and -- in recent years -- sharing them with the public.
She travelled from Tokyo to witness the opening of the pavilion, which was ceremonially inaugurated by two Shinto priests.
The number of people who committed suicide in Japan in 2012 was 27,858, dropping below 30,000 for the first time in 15 years, the Cabinet Office said in a white paper on Tuesday. The figure was 2,800 fewer than in 2011. (Japan Today )
A collection of materials related to a 17th century mission sent by a Japanese feudal lord to Europe and the world's oldest autographic diary left 10 centuries ago by a Japanese regent have been selected for the UNESCO Memory of the World registry, the Japanese education ministry said Wednesday. (Global Post )
Almost 1,500 people were transported to hospitals by ambulance due to heatstroke last week, up sharply from 942 in the preceding week, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Tuesday. (Japan Times )
Among about 200,000 traffic signals nationwide, 16 percent are being used beyond the end of the expected lifetime of their electrical systems and some have even toppled over due to age, according to the National Police Agency. (Yomiuri )
In May, Akira Ikoma, the editor of a guide to men's entertainment called Ore no Tabi (My Journey), said that "Abenomics" had caused a spike in prices at high-end soapland bathhouses in Tokyo. However, the same editor tells Shukan Post (June 28) that the initiative is not impacting the low-end market in the same way. (Tokyo Reporter )