The Misogi or Hadaka Matsuri at the Katsuragake shrine, in Gifu. The highlight of the winter festival is Misogi (purification and exorcism), the climax of which involves 100 to 150 youths, clad in loincloths, diving into the Nagara River.
Japanese show in throngs to greet the Emperor of Japan on his birthday, a lineage that dates to the 6th century B.C., making it the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world. The Emperor is flanked by the imperial family, which holds celebrity status in the public eye.
A calligraphy group for the elderly. Japan has the oldest population on the planet - with the highest median age, followed by Germany and Italy - as well as significantly low fertility rate.
A children's Noh-appreciation drama group in Tokyo, a venture to keep Japanese traditional culture alive with younger generations.
An all-female heavy metal group in downtown Tokyo, presents an extreme contrast to the usual traditional expectations for women in Japanese society.
A 'maid cafe' in Akihabara, Tokyo. A staple of Japanese popular culture, the cafes offer a distinctive atmosphere, where subservient maids in Victorian outfits role-play to please customers, who are treated and greeted as 'Masters.'
A Japanese tourist takes a cellphone picture of the Genbaku Dome in Hiroshima, one of the few buildings that survived the first atomic bomb blast.
A police band parades through a mall in downtown Hiroshima.
An aerial night-time view of Tokyo's busy skyline.
The graveyard of the 47 ronins at Sengakuji in Tokyo looms large in the Japanese imagination. Every December 14, thousands come to pay their respects on the day that marks the ronin's attempted revenge and ritual suicide.
Early morning practise at a Tokyo sumo stable.
Rising unemployment in an increasingly competitive job market and high rates of rent have created a significant class of young drifting workers almost rendered homeless, choosing to live in internet cubicles and video parlors.
With an estimated following of 17 million, 'pachinko' gambling and its ties to organized crime are a particularly Japanese fixation.
Festival participants at "Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu Night Festival) in which festive floats, each weighing more than 10 tons and decorated with rows of lanterns, are carried through town, streets are brightly lit by numerous lanterns, and fireworks are set off, turning night into day.
A 300-year old festival "Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu Night Festival) in which festive floats, each weighing more than 10 tons and decorated with rows of lanterns, are carried through town, streets are brightly lit by numerous lanterns, and fireworks are set off, turning night into day.
Baseball practice in Kyoto. Originally introduced to the region in the late 19th century, the sport is highly popular but markedly different from the US version in spirit and in certain rules.