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 ...

Gallant cop, reporter on quest hit right notes

Jan 29, 2012

Gallant cop, reporter on quest hit right notes

RED JADE, by Henry Chang. Soho Press, 2011, 248 pp., $14 (paper) KILLED AT THE WHIM OF A HAT, by Colin Cotterill. Minotaur, 2011, 374 pages, $24.99 (hardcover) It is pleasing to note that among the growing number of Asian-Americans producing works of fiction ...

| Jan 15, 2012

'Made in Japan' label under assault

Take a stroll through home sweet home. You’ll almost certainly see an entertainment system, refrigerator, microwave oven, rice cooker, toaster, mixer/blender, vacuum cleaner, heater/air conditioner, hair dryer, electric blanket and so on. From personal hygiene to food preparation to recreation and entertainment, electric appliances ...

| Jan 1, 2012

Japan's troubled royals put up a brave front

Bungei Shunju (“literary spring and autumn”) is arguably Japan’s most prestigious monthly magazine. Emblazoned in celebratory red across the cover of its New Year’s edition is the rather ominous headline, “The Day the Heisei (Era) Ends.” The eponymous 12-page article was written by Manabu ...

| Dec 26, 2011

A look back at the buzzwords and street slang of 2011

On Dec. 1, publisher Jiyukokumin-sha announced that the winner of its annual 流行語大賞 (ryūkōgo taishō, buzzword grand prix) for 2011 was 撫子ジャパン (Nadeshiko Japan). This of course is the name of the winners of the Women’s Soccer World Cup held last June-July, and you ...

Crime, war, and laughs unintended

Dec 25, 2011

Crime, war, and laughs unintended

Bill James, a well-known baseball authority, deviates from sport coverage to introduce some of America’s most celebrated true crime cases in “Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence.“ Many of the cases — which include Lizzie Borden, O.J. Simpson and JonBenet Ramsey — ...