Unseen Japan is a collective of writer-translators who cover the current events, history, and culture of Japan – all based on original Japanese sources. Leading publications like Time, Fortune, NPR, Huffington Post, the LA Review of Books, Kotaku, MTV, and Anime News Network cite us for our in-depth coverage, analysis, and insight.
We emphasize quality over quantity. Our writers are all Japanese-conversant and most have degrees in Japan Studies or significant time (in some cases, a lifetime) living and working there.
See our latest posts – or, check out some of our best essays by topic below.
Our topics are as diverse as Japan itself. Here’s a small sampling of what we write about.
Japan has undergone enormous changes during its history. Our scholars delve deeply into the full range of Japanese history. From the drama of the Heian court to the reign of terror of the Japanese Red Army, we examine how the events of the past shape the Japan of today.
We also write biographies of some of the people who helped shape the course of Japanese history. How did Japan’s warrior women, Yamamoto Yae, help lead their forces to victory? How did low-ranking samurai Sakamoto Ryoma bring down the Shogun? Why do people in Japan think so poorly of the leader who brought Japan 253 years of peace? Read about all this and more on UJ!
All writers at UJ are huge fans of Japanese culture. So it’s no surprise that we’d want as many people as possible to learn the language! We publish tons of material on how to get started learning Japanese, how to pass Japanese certification tests like the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), and even how to order food at a Japanese restaurant. We also cover the lighter side of the Japanese language, such as the best (worst?) dad jokes in Japanese.
Japan is often depicted as a country of deep and unchanging tradition. While it’s certainly deep, it’s by no means static. We bring you news of the social issues that Japan debates hotly on a weekly basis, such as changes to marriage laws, its treatment of LGBT citizens, and policies and attitudes towards the homeless.
English speakers in the West often assume that “there are no feminists in Japan,” or that LGBT people don’t exist in the country. Or they repeat statistics about Japan being “ethnically homogenous” – ignoring the country’s indigenous populations, foreign residents, and non-Japanese citizens such as the Zainichi Koreans or the Japanese Brazilians.
UJ works to correct such assumptions by highlighting the issues that groups such as the burakumin face. And we dive into the history of various social movements in Japan, such as the Japanese feminist movement.
Japanese food is more than just sushi and noodles. We talk about some of the Japanese food you may never have even heard of, such as its impressive and original slate of Western foods, and the rich variety of local cuisine, such as Okinawan cuisine. And of course, we delve into the country’s rich drink menu to boot! From sake cocktails to the so-called “strong highball,” we’ve got you covered.
UJ is privileged to work with a lot of great writers and scholars. Here are a few of the members of our regular team. You can also catch us tweeting under our group handle on Twitter @UnseenJapanSite.
Editor in Chief
Serving as current UJ Editor-in-Chief, Noah Oskow is a professional Japanese translator and interpreter who holds a BA in East Asian Languages and Cultures. He has lived, studied, and worked in Japan for nearly seven years, including two years studying at Sophia University in Tokyo and four years teaching English on the JET Program in rural Fukushima Prefecture. His experiences with language learning and historical and cultural studies as well as his extensive experience in world travel have led to appearances at speaking events, popular podcasts, and in the mass media. Noah most recently completed his Master’s Degree in Global Studies at the University of Vienna in Austria.
Jay is a software engineer and technical writer by trade who has a lifelong love of Japanese language and culture. He holds a level N1 certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). He splits his time between Seattle, WA and Tokyo. His special interests areas in Japan studies are social justice movements, business/economy, and the Japanese language.
Alyssa Pearl Fusek is a freelance writer and aspiring Japanese-English translator currently haunting the Pacific Northwest. She holds a B.A. in Japanese Studies from Willamette University. When she’s not writing for Unseen Japan, she’s either reading about Japan, writing poetry and fiction, improving her Japanese language skills, reading four or more books, petting cats, or drinking copious amounts of jasmine green tea. You can follow her on Twitter at @apearlwrites.
Dr. Nyri A. Bakkalian is an author, recovering academic, raconteur, and Your Favorite History Lesbian. Her PhD thesis focused on the Boshin War in the Tohoku region. She is the author of Grey Dawn: A Tale of Abolition and Union (Balance of Seven Press, 2020). She hosts Friday Night History and the secret to her success is Arabic coffee. She misses Sendai daily.
Krys is a Japanese-fluent, English native speaker from New York City with a BA in Japanese Translation and Interpretation, a self-designed curriculum she created through the CUNY Baccalaureate Program. A former Saitama JET participant and Tokyo business eikaiwa teacher, Krys now works full-time as a remote JPN-ENG translator, author, and artist, with a focus on subjects related to Japanese language and culture. JLPT Level N1. Follow her on Twitter @SunDogGen for info about Japan, Japanese language, and the JLPT. Or check out her LitLink for contact info, services, and other works.
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Unseen Japan is published by UJ Media Services.
All UJ content is original content written by UJ writers and is the copyright of UJ Media Services.
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