The world last turned its attention to Japan during its devastating tsunami and nuclear disaster. But the country is rebuilding, and its culture remains among the most fascinating and quirky on earth.
Paige Ferrari found that out in Tokyo, where she got a strange job opportunity. "For Americans, Hooters, with more than 460 restaurants nationwide, needs no introduction. Big burgers, cold beer, and top-heavy waitresses poured into short-shorts add up to the chain's slogan of 'delightfully tacky, yet unrefined,'" she writes. "In Japan, however, food portions are small, women's shoulders are modestly covered, and Pamela Anderson's breasts are not a certified national obsession. This makes Hooters' innuendo-heavy version of family dining an odd fit that the chain's Japan team had to coach into reality."
John Bradley found outdoor adventures aplenty in the island nation. "Japan's got more going for it than bright lights and temples—namely, some of the best places in the world to ski, climb, kayak, bike, and surf," he writes. "Bow down to the wild, wild East."
Daniel H. Pink explored the nation's comic culture. "To understand manga's place in Japan, you must begin with its ubiquity," he writes. "Even though the popularity of manga has fallen in recent years, it still comprises about 22percent of all printed material in Japan. In many parts of Tokyo, you can't walk more than two or three blocks without encountering comics."
And David Samuels looks at the darker side of the island nation. "Why is anonymous group suicide so popular in Japan?" he asks.