Aug 5, 2012

Strange tales emanating from the jungles of Southeast Asia

Border Run, by Simon Lewis. Scribner, 2012, 240 pp., $24.00 (hardcover) Slash and Burn, by Colin Cotterill. Soho Crime, 2012, 290 pp., $25.00 (hardcover) “I’ve always loved that classic noir staple — of doomed characters trying to get away with a crime and just ...

| Aug 5, 2012

Steamy, sleepless nights grind down the nation

Sleeping-goods manufacturer Nishikawa Sangyo Co. Ltd., founded in Omi Province (modern-day Shiga Prefecture) in 1566, got its start in business selling mosquito netting. The company’s Tokyo retail outlet, on the opposite side of the Nihonbashi Bridge from the Mitsukoshi department store, has been in ...

Jul 22, 2012

Taxi facts and figures to impress your driver

Next time you’re in the back seat and tired of watching the meter clock up, use these ice-breakers to get the conversation flowing in your driver’s language. • Tokyo’s 51,950 taxis account for 20.7 percent of the national total, with the categories broken down ...

A century of Tokyo taxis

Jul 22, 2012

A century of Tokyo taxis

The year 1912 is recorded in Japan both as the 45th year of Meiji Era and the first year of the Taisho Era. After a protracted illness, Emperor Mutsuhito expired, age 61, on the night of July 29 (although the official announcement came the ...

Jul 22, 2012

Talking the talk

Taxi-business jargon is a lingo all of its own. Here’s a sample of the way those drivers think: • Baramaki: Meaning “to spread or scatter at random,” this refers to carrying several passengers who ask to be dropped off at different places. • Genkotsu: ...

| Jul 8, 2012

Attitudes hardening toward the welfare state

Last March, the number of individuals receiving seikatsu hogo (financial assistance from the government) exceeded 2.1 million people, the first time the record had been surpassed since 1951. Payouts this year are likely to exceed ¥3.7 trillion. Based on the 2007 figures, Japan’s ratio ...

Adventures and danger in the land of smiles

Jun 24, 2012

Adventures and danger in the land of smiles

Vulture Peak, by John Burdett. Knopf, 2012, 304 pp., $25.95 (hardcover) A World of Trouble, by Jake Needham. Marshall Cavendish, 2012, 356 pp., $5.09 (Kindle) “Vulture Peak” is the latest installment in John Burdett’s ongoing saga of Thai police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep. Whatever impression ...

| Jun 17, 2012

Social networking, online games in Japan media's sights

While much attention overseas has been focused on the ups and downs (mostly downs) of Facebook’s recent initial public offering, the Japanese media have been subjecting online gaming and social networks to increasingly critical scrutiny. The issues raised range from complaints over lax privacy ...

Hashimoto: A man with a plan, or dictator with an agenda?

| Jun 3, 2012

Hashimoto: A man with a plan, or dictator with an agenda?

Thirty years ago, while a program director at NHK, Nobuo Ikeda oversaw a panel discussion on the merits of adopting a federated political system. Among the panelists were several influential politicians, including Morihiro Hosokawa, then-governor of Kumamoto Prefecture and later prime minister, and Takahiro ...