| Oct 2, 2011

Bikes keep the wheels of progress rolling

With the onslaught of super typhoon No. 15 on Sept. 21-22, for the second time in a little over six months Tokyo’s public transport network was snarled by a natural disaster. Several hundreds of thousands of hapless commuters found themselves stranded for hours as ...

| Sep 25, 2011

Japan's noisy neighbors keep-a knocking

Sanshoku, the word for “encroachment” in Japanese, is written with characters meaning “silkworm” and “to eat.” Imagine a mulberry leaf, being slowly consumed from the outer edges, nibble by nibble, by writhing white worms. Then overlay this leaf on a map of the Japanese ...

Print ad featuring MacArthur sends  muddled message

| Sep 11, 2011

Print ad featuring MacArthur sends muddled message

On Sept. 2, a controversial newspaper advertisement placed by Takarajima-sha, a mid-tier publisher, went viral on Japanese blogs and Web news sites. The two-page ad — widely described as nazo no kōkoku (a mystifying advertisement) — appeared in six nationally circulated newspapers: Asahi, Mainichi, ...

Sep 11, 2011

The Russians are coming!

SATORI, by Don Winslow. Grand Central Publishing, 2011, 548 pp., $7.99 (paper) 9 GOLD BULLETS, by Christopher G. Moore. Heaven Lake Press, 2011, 365 pp., $14.95 (paper) Readers of mystery and thriller fiction can be extremely loyal and publishers, knowing this, sometimes arrange to ...

| Aug 28, 2011

Rising yen, falling prices, cheap beer

Beginning last Wednesday, Aug. 24, the Ito Yokado supermarket chain announced a five-day sale at 120 of its branches in the greater Tokyo area. Among the reduced-price items were U.S. beef, Australian oranges and South African pineapples. Recently, signs reading endaka kangen sēru (yen ...

| Aug 14, 2011

A heady witches' brew of midsummer nightmares

Aside from the Summer High School Baseball Tournament at Koshien Stadium and NHK documentaries reminiscing about World War II, mid-August tends to be a quiet time and most of Japan’s weekly magazines skip an issue. Still, this is the time of the year when ...

Aug 7, 2011

Chilling Japanese tales just the thing for broiling August

KAIKI: Uncanny Tales from Japan, Volume 2: Country Delights. Kurodahan Press, 2010, 286 pp., $16 (paper) Kaiki, according to my Japanese-English dictionary, means “grotesque; bizarre; mysterious; strange.” And since August is the traditional time in Japan for telling hair-raising tales, this anthology — the ...

| Jul 31, 2011

Rail rivalry outcome hinges on speed vs. safety

Following the July 23 collision of two high-speed trains in Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province — blamed on faulty signaling equipment — that killed at least 39 passengers and injured over 200, Japan’s media, to their credit, suppressed any obvious overtones of shadenfreude. But in ...