Past and present on Route 66

Apr 22, 2012

Past and present on Route 66

“Ah, there’s nothing like a Polish sausage smothered with jalapenos to settle a queasy stomach,” I said to my skeptical traveling companion Bob Allen, adding a squirt of mustard for good luck and taking a humongous bite. There’s something about driving the length of ...

Apr 22, 2012

Fascinating facts along the way

One of the original long-distance paved U.S. Highways, Route 66 always had about it an aura of romance born of wide-open horizons and travel on it that spanned not just a country, but a continent. Then, during the 1930s, it became the major and ...

Espionage and mystery  in modern-day China

Apr 22, 2012

Espionage and mystery in modern-day China

Don’t Cry Tai Lake, by Qiu Xiaolong. St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2012, 272 pp., $24.99 (hardcover) An American Spy, by Olen Steinhauer. St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2012, 400 pp., $25.99 (hardcover) Qiu Xiaolong’s mystery novels, featuring Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department, have ...

Sky Tree to offer world's highest bungee jump

| Apr 1, 2012

Sky Tree to offer world's highest bungee jump

Tokyo’s newest and biggest visitor attraction, the 634-meter-high Tokyo Sky Tree in Sumida Ward, will open to the public on May 22. And if 11th-hour contract negotiations bear fruit, visitors to the Sky Tree may soon have the opportunity to plummet 430 meters (over ...

| Mar 19, 2012

Excuse me, but aren't you so-and-so's whatchamacallit?

According to a dispatch by the French news agency AFP, France on Feb. 21 officially banished use of the term Mademoiselle when referring to unmarried women. Henceforth, Madame will be used irrespective of marital status. The Germans phased out Fraulein four decades ago. And ...

Yu Darvish under the magnifying glass

| Mar 18, 2012

Yu Darvish under the magnifying glass

Barring a major natural catastrophe, war or government upheaval, the vernacular news headlines for the next several months are almost certain to be dominated by baseball. Specifically, former Nippon Ham Fighters hurler, Yu Darvish, who on April 8 is scheduled take the mound in ...

Lucky Dragon's lethal catch

| Mar 18, 2012

Lucky Dragon's lethal catch

At just over 25 meters from stem to stern, and 140 tons, the wooden long-line tuna-fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru (No. 5 Lucky Dragon) is hardly imposing. Yet despite its diminutive size for an ocean-going vessel, in March 1954 the Lucky Dragon’s encounter with ...

Anti-yakuza laws are taking their toll

| Mar 4, 2012

Anti-yakuza laws are taking their toll

Five months after tough new ordinances cracking down on the activities of organized crime syndicates went into effect, it’s not yet clear what impact, if any, they’ve had on gang activities. “We are resigned to the new antigang regulations, but they have not interfered ...

| Feb 27, 2012

The first rule of writing ate-ji: There are no rules

As a general rule, kanji (Sino-Japanese ideographs) are classified in dictionaries according to two readings: kun-yomi (native Japanese) and on-yomi (approximation of the original Chinese pronunciation). For example, 東, the tō in 東京 (Tokyo), meaning “east,” is an on-yomi that came from the Chinese ...