In Rural Japan, a 370-Year-Old Tradition Falls to One Child

SHITARA, Japan — More than three centuries of tradition rest on Mao Takeshita’s narrow shoulders. Mao is 6 years old and swaddled in a heavy kimono, her face covered in the thick white greasepaint of a Kabuki actor. Before her, an audience of hundreds sits on tatami mats. She steps forward, toward the footlights, and…

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How to Cook Now

Good morning. I miss restaurants. I miss the bustle of them when everyone in them is in sync, from the customers in the dining room to the cooks in the kitchen, the hosts and captains and servers seeing around corners, hospitality phasers set to stun. I miss the clatter and hum, the music of conversation,…

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Missives from My Locked-Down Friends, From Siberia to Samarkand

On a rainy day in November I dropped a postcard into the “international” slot outside the post office in Greymouth, a quiet town on the western coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It was perhaps the most ambitious of the 145 postcards I sent in 2019, not because of its content, but because of how…

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Just What Older People Didn’t Need: More Isolation

At midmorning, Lisa Carfagna, a marketing staffer for the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, took a brief break from working at home on Long Island and called the Rubins on the Upper East Side. They were doing fine, Seymour Rubin, 89, assured her over a speakerphone. “We try to have a project every day,” said…

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Cupid in Quarantine

Long ago, my man and I agreed to do what’s called “Living Apart Together,” or LAT. Even if we ever marry, I intend to keep my pad in Manhattan and spend a couple nights there alone every week. During this global tragedy, however, we are, by necessity, now living together full time. It has its…

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Damage From OxyContin Continues to Be Revealed

OxyContin, and the aggressive, misleading way that Purdue Pharma marketed it, might have been even more damaging than was previously understood. Recent research shows how the company focused its marketing in states with lighter prescription regulation — to devastating effect. Also, a new version of OxyContin introduced a decade ago — which was meant to…

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Why am I having weird dreams lately?

The question of whether “anyone else” has “been having” strange dreams (“lately”) is perennially popular online. It is a spooky yet comforting query: Has anyone else stumbled onto possible evidence that the universe possesses a finite metaphysical infrastructure occasionally detected by the subconscious? In recent weeks, however, the question has been posed with increasing frequency.…

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Managing Coronavirus Fears

Covid-19, the invisible enemy now bearing down on 328.2 million Americans, is tailor-made to induce fear and anxiety, prompting both rational and irrational behavior and, if the emotional stress persists, perhaps causing long-lasting harm to health. We’re staring down an alien virus our bodies have never before encountered and which we are currently unable to…

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To My Husband in Quarantine on Day 18

I know that you are feeling better when you are beginning to annoy me again. The moment you first noticed fever, you disappeared behind a closed door and designed a strict plan involving zero contact with our family. After 18 days of quarantine in our bedroom, where a mere five-minute FaceTime call weakens your entire…

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Children May Be Afraid of Masks. Here’s How to Help.

When you go out these days, if you must go out in this time of coronavirus, you see more and more masks — homemade fabric masks, surgical masks of all varieties, and the occasional high-tech mask that seems to have wandered out of a scuba sequence or a space movie. But for some children, even…

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