| 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 ...

Jul 3, 2011

Great Asian thrillers to get you through the summer

LARRY BOND’S RED DRAGON RISING: Edge of War, by Larry Bond and Jim DeFelice. Forge, 2010, 380 pp., $25 (hardcover) Future war fiction is mostly fantasy, and fortunately such stories seldom come true. But some do. One example was a book titled “Banzai!” Published ...

| Jun 26, 2011

Eastern Japan edgy as power demand soars

Back in the early 1970s, electronic signposts in Tokyo and other major cities used to display levels of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants along with the temperature. Now in addition to the weather, the media post radiation levels, and people have been scratching ...

| Jun 20, 2011

Let one character lead to enlightenment and civilization

Many of Japan’s admired historic figures were adulated for being “warrior scholars,” since they were equally adept at leading armies and composing poems. This ideal is referred to as 文武両道 (bunbu ryodō). Bun refers to writing and by extension the literary arts. Bu relates ...

Eccentric wanderer discovers
his destiny in Meiji Japan

Jun 12, 2011

Eccentric wanderer discovers his destiny in Meiji Japan

“Japan,” asserts the fictitious character Lafcadio Hearn on page 97, “has chaos at its core. The closer one approaches that core, the deeper one fathoms the world of illusion and warped contradiction. Such a country is begging for citizens such as Yakumo Koizumi, that ...

Mutant rabbits, economic meltdowns and nuclear tourism

| Jun 12, 2011

Mutant rabbits, economic meltdowns and nuclear tourism

In the first week of June, media attention shifted briefly from the Fukushima reactor calamity to skirmishes on the floor of the National Diet, where the government headed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan survived a no-confidence vote. But the Fukushima reactor troubles keep coming ...

| May 9, 2011

A further understanding of how money talks

In my previous column on the subject of 金 (kin or kane), alternatively meaning money, gold or metal, I realized that I’d barely scratched the surface of this vast subject. What forms does money take? How is it handled? Or, for that matter, how ...

May 8, 2011

Japan's ancient and modern sleuths deftly nab the culprit

THE FIRES OF THE GODS, by I.J. Parker. Severn House, Surry, 2011, 247 pp., $28.95, (hardcover), THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X, by Keigo Higashino. Minotaur, 2011, 298 pp., $24.99 (hardcover) “The Fires of the Gods,” the eighth installment of I.J. Parker’s saga of Heian ...