| May 21, 2012

Save face when taking the expressway

Foreigners in Japan often encounter conversations in which Japanese terms or concepts are expressed in English in ways that, while not necessarily idiomatic, still get the meaning across effectively. One such example would be the Japanese expression 強い (tsuyoi, strong), which in addition to ...

| May 20, 2012

Japan faces a long, hot, nuclear-free summer

Is Japan — and particularly the Kansai region — going to have enough electric power to get it through peak summer demand? The Meteorological Agency’s three-month projection for May through July, posted on its website (www.jma.go.jp/jp/longfcst/000_1_10.html) hedges its bets. For the four main islands, ...

| Apr 23, 2012

For a challenge guess unknown kanji

A mastery of written Japanese comes not through rote memorization, but by developing your inductive reasoning so as to nurture a “kanji-oriented thought process.” Soon after I began my study of kanji I acquired a book titled “Pictorial Chinese-Japanese Characters: A New and Fascinating ...

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 ...