Alexander Mackay-smith Iv

For Alexander Mackay-smith Iv's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Mar 24, 2002

De Ferranti opens the door to a musical Other

JAPANESE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, by Hugh de Ferranti. Oxford University Press, 2000, 104 pp., $13.95 (cloth) It would be perfectly possible for a foreigner to live in Heisei Japan for quite some time without ever becoming aware that Japan has an original music of its ...

Jul 20, 2001

Anpanman, the gentle hero

We had been warned in advance. It usually comes at around the age of 11/2, we heard, so at 20 months Alena was, if anything, a little late, but when it came it was with the force of religious conversion. “Alena likes Anpanman,” my ...

Jul 18, 2001

Brushes with the divine

Karma works in mysterious ways. Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (Jizo Bosatsu) What karma dictated that Pema Rinzin and Yumyo Miyasaka should meet? They were born thousands of kilometers apart, one a Tibetan exile in India, one in peaceful Okaya, Nagano Prefecture. Yet for the last five ...

Following in the master's footsteps

Jul 15, 2001

Following in the master's footsteps

During the 10th century, according to legend, there was a blind man called Semimaru who was famed as a biwa (lute) player. Tiring of the stresses of Kyoto life, he moved outside the city and lived by himself in a small house. The aristocratic ...

It's bargain time for antique lovers

Jun 3, 2001

It's bargain time for antique lovers

The atmosphere is gloomy at the Ikebukuro Folkcraft and Antiques Hall. “There’s nothing happening,” says Tokiko Furuta of Tokiwa Antiques, one of the cluster of antique shops in a large hall a few blocks from Tokyo’s Ikebukuro Station. “A lot of people are looking, ...

Apr 29, 2001

My friend, my life, my ferret

They’re furry. They’re fun. They’re portable. They’re Japan’s fastest-growing pet craze. Ten years ago they were nowhere on the pet scene; today they edge out rabbits for third place after dogs and cats. They’re ferrets. “Ferrets may be an ideal pet for Japanese apartment ...

Apr 29, 2001

Welcome to the jungle

“Why would anybody want to keep a snake?” The question is a familiar one to any reptile fancier. Similar questions are put to anyone who ventures outside the familiar confines of conventional companion animals. Why a lizard? Why a fox? Why a monkey? Why ...

Apr 22, 2001

Musicians take it back to the bridge

It’s Saturday night, and the basement rock ‘n’ roll club Penguin House in Koenji is packed to bursting. As late-coming guests crowd down the stairs, the performer, Dai Yamamoto, takes the stage and tunes up his instrument. “I’m not much for talking,” Yamamoto says. ...

Apr 22, 2001

Nurturing the next generation of traditional musicians

Many observers attribute the steep decline of Japanese traditional music in the 20th century in large part to the fact that Japan’s school system teaches Western music intensively and hogaku almost not at all. That situation is due to change as the Education Ministry ...