The changing face of Tokyo's 'red-light' district

| May 23, 2015

The changing face of Tokyo's 'red-light' district

“How would I describe Kabukicho? Frankly, I’m not sure,” popular author Hirokatsu Azuma was quoted as saying in the now-defunct monthly Gendai magazine back in January 1999. “If you say it’s a scary place, you could be right; and if you say it’s a ...

The golden arches lose their luster

| May 9, 2015

The golden arches lose their luster

The sharp downturn in business at McDonald’s — which has thrived for most of the past 44 years in Japan — has got everybody talking. This past January alone, revenues at existing outlets, the company announced, had fallen year-on-year by a whopping 38.6 percent, ...

U.S. towns pulled into Japanese politics

| Apr 25, 2015

U.S. towns pulled into Japanese politics

A recurring news story over the past several years concerns claims of the harassment of Japanese nationals residing on the East and West coasts of the United States. Most appear to have originated from municipalities where South Korean immigrants and Korean-Americans have successfully campaigned ...

Magazines fixate on the roots of poverty

| Apr 4, 2015

Magazines fixate on the roots of poverty

The oft-seen expression ichioku sō-chūryū translates roughly as “the perception of ‘the 100 million,’ i.e., the entire nation, as belonging to the middle class.” This perception was never meant to be all-inclusive — certainly Japan has individuals with extreme wealth and others who suffer ...

Don't say you haven't been warned

| Mar 16, 2015

Don't say you haven't been warned

I must confess, I never paid a great deal of attention to the warning messages and disclaimers that adorned packaging in Japan until 1972, when tobacco companies first got around to printing health warnings on packs of cigarettes. This was six years after the ...

Seeking blame in a Kawasaki teen's death

| Mar 14, 2015

Seeking blame in a Kawasaki teen's death

On the morning of Feb. 20, police were summoned to the grassy, elevated bank of the Tama River, which forms the boundary between Tokyo and Kawasaki. They found the naked body of 13-year-old junior high school student Ryota Uemura, dead of multiple stab wounds. ...