| Feb 9, 2003

Role models for a changing nation

One welcome exception to the gloomy news in Japan last year was the unexpected awarding of a Nobel Prize in chemistry to an apparently ordinary company worker. Koichi Tanaka’s steadfastness, lack of personal ambition and open, nice-guy persona were a refreshing throwback to a ...

Jan 19, 2003

A new year in Japanese books

In a time of change and uncertainty, Japanese readers continue to seek comfort and practical advice in their reading. In particular, best sellers last year reflected the concerns of middle-aged and older individuals, with the top 10 sellers including two books on how to ...

Dec 8, 2002

Mothers under pressure

Recently much media attention has been paid to the rise in depression and suicide among middle-aged men threatened by layoffs. The Yomiuri Weekly, however, reports that stress-related illness is actually more prevalent among housewives (Nov. 24). One expert sees multiple causes of such stress: ...

| Nov 17, 2002

Sit up and beg, there's a good boy

The fatal stabbing of an independent-minded Diet member by an unbalanced ultrarightist last month raised the specter of the kind of political terrorism seen in pre-World War II Japan. If the global economy should worsen, could Japan once again fall into ultranationalism? A timely ...

| Oct 13, 2002

You're never too old to read a good self-help book

The best-seller list currently features three volumes on living and aging well: “Oite Koso Jinsei” (Nothing Is More Human Than Aging), by novelist/politician Shintaro Ishihara; “Unmei no Ashioto” (The Footsteps of Approaching Fate), by novelist Hiroyuki Itsuki; and “Ikikata Jozu” (How to Live Well), ...

Sep 8, 2002

Is life but a walk in the park?

The latest winner of the prestigious Akutagawa Prize for promising new writers of literary fiction, Shu’ichi Yoshida (born 1968), is being lauded for his light touch in portraying the loneliness and isolation of urban life today. At the Akutagawa Prize press conference, Yoshida said ...

| Aug 11, 2002

Book industry cries murder

Although everyone agrees that the Japanese publishing industry is in trouble, there is less consensus as to the causes. Book and magazine sales have been declining for five years and book revenues for last year were at roughly the same level as a decade ...

| Jul 14, 2002

Living outside the box

The days of Japan as the No. 1 business model for the world are long gone, but a new and perhaps more interesting model combining Japanese and Western elements seems to be developing. Unfortunately, the transition from a system based on lifelong employment, seniority ...

| Jun 9, 2002

In publishing, the modern girls have it

World Cup fever may have taken over the Japanese media, but the bookstores are full of books on language and education. The sales of books for learning English are perhaps connected to spring and its association in Japan with the beginning of the academic ...

| May 12, 2002

When in doubt, just say 'wakarimasen'

Violent antisocial crimes by teenagers have sent shockwaves through Japan in recent years, hinting ominously at cracks in the very foundations of modern Japanese society. On a more mundane level, older Japanese often find themselves puzzled and annoyed by the everyday behavior of young ...