Jessica Kozuka

Jessica Kozuka is a freelance writer and editor living in the exciting, interesting and sometimes perplexing city of Tokyo. Her work has appeared in Wine Spectator, CNN Travel, and The Japan Times, as well as numerous other print and online media outlets. She writes a column on NPO/NGOs and volunteer work for Metropolis, the largest English-language magazine in Japan, and specializes in EFL educational materials and travel writing. Kozuka is rarely to be found without a book or two within arm’s reach, though there's no telling if they will be serious literature or frivolous guilty pleasures, and she runs a monthly book club for other bibliophiles in the Tokyo area. She's also an enthusiastic if mediocre cook and daily laments the smallness of Japanese kitchens.

All Stories by Jessica

Japanese researcher develops glasses to replace eye contact, turn you into emotional cyborg

Japanese researcher develops glasses to replace eye contact, turn you into emotional cyborg

In the physical and mental fields, technology is constantly evolving to assist humans, but what about in the emotional realm? Technology is often blamed for deteriorating social skills, but perhaps there is some way that it could be harnessed to improve our personal interactions. Dr. Hirotaka Osawa of the University of Tsukuba has developed a wearable device called AgencyGlass that may be the first step in assisting in “emotional labor.”

Just don’t think you are going to look cool using it.

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A Maasai tribesman in Ginza: How Tokyo fashion empowers women a world away in Africa 【Photos】

A Maasai tribesman in Ginza: How Tokyo fashion empowers women a world away in Africa 【Photos】

Glitzy Ginza is a high-end shopping district in Tokyo that attracts luxury brand flagship stores, ladies who lunch, and businesspeople with cash to burn. But if you happen to be there this week, you might spot something very incongruous in this moneyed mecca: a Maasai tribesman selling shoes.

William hails from Kenya, where he is the head of a Maasai tribe, and the shoes he is here to promote are a Spanish brand called Pikolinos. So how did an African tribesman end up in the Japanese capital selling European shoes?

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Tokyo’s 7 coolest public art pieces

Tokyo’s 7 coolest public art pieces

Last week, we had a round-up of my choices for the seven stupidest art pieces in Tokyo, but lest you think I am just a negative Nelly incapable of appreciating talent and beauty, this week we’re presenting Tokyo’s seven coolest public art pieces.

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Women, money and time: Behind the scenes with Japan’s “King of Hosts”

Women, money and time: Behind the scenes with Japan’s “King of Hosts”

Meet Naoki. He pulls down US$30,000 a month, has his own TV show and music group, and is called “an ideal man” by one of his many woman clients. Is he some kind of doctor or finance wizard to be making that kind of dough? Nope, he’s a host, one of scores of men that work in the seedy bars of Kabukicho, drinking with the ladies of the capital and charging them for the privilege.

A new video by VICE Japan takes a look at Naoki’s bizarre and booze-soaked world.

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Doraemon in Nirvana: Chiang Rai’s White Temple like a beautiful, bad pop culture pipe dream 【Photos】

Doraemon in Nirvana: Chiang Rai’s White Temple like a beautiful, bad pop culture pipe dream 【Photos】

Approaching Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai’s so-called White Temple, is a surreal experience. It looks like a massive sculpture of ice and snow shimmering through Thailand’s tropical heat. But that effect barely scratches the surface of the weird at this Buddhist wat, where Doraemon hangs out with the Buddha, bushes are decorated with the decapitated heads of Freddie Kruger and Pinhead, and the penalty for smoking is eternal damnation.

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Tokyo’s 7 stupidest public art pieces

Tokyo’s 7 stupidest public art pieces

Any city with aspirations to be a vibrant international metropolis should invest in interesting, challenging and useful public art, and Tokyo has certainly done so. There are some absolutely amazing artworks scattered around our fair city, but there are also some complete abominations lurking as well.

While acknowledging that art is subjective and one person’s favorite piece is another person’s piece of crap, here are what I consider the seven stupidest public artworks in Tokyo.

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Not again! Thai insurance commercial hits us right in the feels【Video】

Not again! Thai insurance commercial hits us right in the feels【Video】

You know it’s a cynical sales technique, so you try to be sensible and hold yourself apart, but sometimes commercials really know how to pull the heartstrings. We dare you to watch this spot for a Thai life insurance company and not get a little misty eyed.

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But it’s good for the skin! Russian cheese factory busted after employees post milk bath photo

But it’s good for the skin! Russian cheese factory busted after employees post milk bath photo

To add to our gross-out file, a Russian court ruled today that the Omsk Cheeses factory be closed for 40 days after a photo of employees enjoying a milk bath in one of its vats went viral on social media.

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Tre bottoni shirt collars: for the stylish businesscat on the go

Tre bottoni shirt collars: for the stylish businesscat on the go

Even if your kitty is currently an unemployed layabout, you can be fairly sure he dreams of world domination, and since they always say you should dress for the job you want, you might was to consider getting him some of these super-stylish designer shirt collars to put him on the path to overlordship.

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Sad news: 1,266 famous Tokyo plum trees get the axe to prevent spread of “plum pox”

Sad news: 1,266 famous Tokyo plum trees get the axe to prevent spread of “plum pox”

It’s cherry blossom time in Tokyo, which means that the plum blossom season is just coming to a close, and one of Tokyo’s most popular spots to see plum blossom, Umeno Park in Ome, has finished the season with a sad announcement: it is chopping down all 1,266 of its famous plum trees to prevent the spread of a disease called plum pox.

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7 things that surprise a visitor to Laos 【Photos】

7 things that surprise a visitor to Laos 【Photos】

If you are visiting Laos, this is probably not your first rodeo in Asia, so I’ll skip the squat toilets and fleets of bicycles and get to seven things that this little SE Asian gem has to surprise even seasoned travelers.

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Mr. Sato sacrifices his hands on the altar of all-you-can-eat shrimp

Mr. Sato sacrifices his hands on the altar of all-you-can-eat shrimp

We all have foods that we love perhaps a little more than we should, but for Mr. Sato, a man whose love of food in general has taken him on many a colorful, abdomen-abusing adventure risking his health and even his sanity, the gustatory passion that tops all others is shellfish. So when he headed off to report on an all-you-can-eat shrimp restaurant for us, we feared for his life.

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Infant cosplay: It’s-a me, Mario-bambino! 【Photos】

Infant cosplay: It’s-a me, Mario-bambino! 【Photos】

For any parent that’s ever thought, “My child is super cute, but I wish he looked a bit more like an Italian-American plumber,” do we have news for you.

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Japan ratifies child abduction treaty, but some parents may still be left behind

Japan ratifies child abduction treaty, but some parents may still be left behind

This week, Japan became the 91st signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which provides protection for children under 16 from being taken from their country of residence by one parent against the wishes of the other. However, the convention does not work retroactively, so parents whose children have already been taken are urging the Japanese government to stand by provisions of the treaty in their cases as well.

A group of left-behind parents organized a march in Washington, D.C., on Monday to hand-deliver 28 applications for assistance reuniting with their children to the U.S. Department of State and to submit a petition for the return of abducted children to the Japanese embassy.

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Japan’s 7 most beautiful views in blue

Japan’s 7 most beautiful views in blue

If you try to think of a natural vista featuring the color blue, chances are the first image to pop to mind is a tropical ocean view or maybe a glacial ice-scape. Despite being somewhere in between those to climate extremes, Japan has some beautiful blues to offer as well. Here are seven of the most impressive blue landscapes in the Land of the Rising Sun.

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You won’t believe what’s at the end of this 4-hour line

You won’t believe what’s at the end of this 4-hour line

April 1 marks the beginning of the new fiscal year in Japan, and this year it also marks a big change for Japan: the consumption tax jumped from 5% to 8% starting at midnight. With that hike on the horizon, many Japanese spend March 31 stocking up on daily necessities, making big purchases and otherwise trying to save a few yen.

Twitter user @TYudai snapped this picture at Shin-Yurigaoka station that day. The sign reads, “The wait from this point is 4 hours.” Can you guess what high-demand item these people were patiently waiting to get their hands on?

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Tokyo shop makes ramen for foreigners by adding sugar, something called “Japanese sprit!!”

Tokyo shop makes ramen for foreigners by adding sugar, something called “Japanese sprit!!”

With the 2020 Olympics on the horizon, restaurateurs in Tokyo are already thinking about how they can appeal to the crowds of foreign tourists set to descend on the city. Most of them are focusing on spiffing up their English menus and adding pictures, but some eateries are actually cooking up new menu ideas to appeal to the non-Japanese palate.

We got word that a ramen shop in Shinjuku had concocted just such a dish, so we naturally went to check it out.

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Werewolf cat! Spooky new feline equal parts cute and creepy 【Photos】

Werewolf cat! Spooky new feline equal parts cute and creepy 【Photos】

You might have seen something—or someone?!—like the guy above prowling in the moonlight, but I’m afraid he’s not proof of the supernatural, he’s just a new breed of cat called a Lykoi, or “wolf” in Greek. Of course, most people are just calling the breed what it looks like: a werewolf cat!

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Chocolate kakigori may be delicious, but looks like flaming pile of poo

Chocolate kakigori may be delicious, but looks like flaming pile of poo

A restaurant in the trendy Shimokitazawa neighborhood of Tokyo thought they would get into the spirit of Valentine’s Day by offering a limited edition chocolate kakigori, a traditional Japanese snack that involves putting toppings on shaved ice. There was only one small problem…

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Manila offers couples free train tickets for PDA on Valentine’s

Manila offers couples free train tickets for PDA on Valentine’s

Generally speaking, it’s considered bad form to suck face on public transportation, particularly in socially conservative countries like the Philippines, but perhaps lovers get a little extra leeway on St. Valentine’s Day, because the Manila Light Rail Transit is offering free tickets to couples bringing the romance today.

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