| 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 ...

| 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]“). ...