| 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 ...

Aspiring animator comes to Japan to chase her dreams

Feb 20, 2011

Aspiring animator comes to Japan to chase her dreams

It’s fun to walk down the street or get aboard a train with Tracey Seals and watch how Japanese people react. Once they notice the blue-eyed, bespectacled 21-year-old redhead from Mississippi in their midst, some break out in smiles. And others do double-takes, as ...

When criminals bask in the media spotlight

| Feb 13, 2011

When criminals bask in the media spotlight

“Before I committed that incident, I was given many opportunities from my parents and others close to me. But I disregarded these. I never gave any consideration to my privileged situation.” With this display of contrition, Tatsuya Ichihashi — who will soon go on ...

| Feb 6, 2011

There be all kinds of monsters among us

An old saying goes “Issun no mushi ni mo gobu no tamashi” (even a one-inch worm has a half-inch soul); i.e., even the most humble and powerless creature can put up with only so much before turning on its tormentor. As if to confirm ...