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 ...

| May 1, 2011

Tabloids warn of major quake beneath Tokyo

Now that northeast Japan is gradually shifting into recovery mode and the Fukushima nuclear plant crisis is becoming more manageable, new themes have been emerging in the vernacular media. One is the life expectancy of the cabinet of PM Naoto Kan. Another is the ...

| Apr 17, 2011

Japan's food crisis goes beyond recent panic buying

The neon lights of Ginza flickered out, leaving Tokyo’s favorite playground in ominous darkness. Drivers fumed while waiting in long lines to purchase gasoline. Goods disappeared from supermarket shelves, sending housewives on forays into neighboring prefectures in search of everyday items such as toilet ...

| Apr 13, 2011

Start learning the golden rules about kin and kane

Television broadcasts of last February’s political upheaval in Egypt were regularly interspersed with scenes of the pyramids at Giza. Seeing them, I was reminded that the word for pyramid in Japanese is 金字塔 (kinjitō, “a tower in the shape of the character kin [金]“). ...

| Mar 27, 2011

Local media react to the events of March 11

For Japan’s vernacular media, the March 11 disaster and its aftermath is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla that engulfed coverage of most other news. The items that follow give some idea of the scope of reporting over the past two weeks. • Under the title ...

Mar 13, 2011

Consumed by the darkness

PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS: The Fate of Lucie Blackman, by Richard Lloyd Parry. Jonathan Cape, 2011, 404 pp., £17.99 (hardcover) This July 1 will mark 11 years since former British Airways stewardess Lucie Blackman agreed to accompany a customer at the Roppongi club where ...

| Mar 6, 2011

'Galapagos' has evolved as an analogy for Japan

English naturalist Charles Darwin put Galapagos on the map, having visited the group of islands, situated in the Pacific Ocean some 970 km west of continental Ecuador, in 1835, during the voyage of the HMS Beagle. His impressions and observations of the islands’ unique ...

Feb 27, 2011

Murder and mystery behind the burqa

CITY OF VEILS, by Zoe Ferraris. Little, Brown and Company, 2010, 393 pp., $24.99 (hardcover) One device frequently used by writers of mystery fiction is the intrusion of some force to obstruct the investigator’s job, which sometimes takes the form of a powerful adversary ...

| Feb 23, 2011

How a fine sensei began my journey with language

You’ve probably heard the famous saying, 千里の道も一歩から (senri no michi mo ippo kara, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step), attributed to both 老子, Roshi, Laozi) and 孔子 (Kōshi, Confucius). The Rosetta Stone that enabled me to take my personal ...