After Aum, post-9/11 lull, weeklies rediscover faith

| Jan 18, 2014

After Aum, post-9/11 lull, weeklies rediscover faith

March 20 will mark the 19th anniversary of the toxic nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway system by members of the Aum Shinrikyo (Supreme Truth) doomsday cult. That attack, which shook Japanese society to its very foundations, resulted in 13 deaths and thousands of ...

Imagining Edo Period intrigue from the U.S.

Jan 4, 2014

Imagining Edo Period intrigue from the U.S.

At the climax of “Shinju”(1994), Laura Joh Rowland’s first mystery novel, gallant yoriki (police sergeant) Sano Ichiro rescues the shogun from an assassination plot and earns himself a big promotion. It’s a pyrrhic victory leading to what Sano immediately realizes will be a thankless ...

| Dec 22, 2013

This year's buzzwords show how Japanese is evolving

Last month I shelled out ¥2,980 for my 2014 edition of 現代用語の基礎知識 (“Gendai Yogo no Kiso Chishiki”, “Encyclopedia of Contemporary Words”). It’s a 1,660-page monster that’s well worth the outlay, and this year publisher Jiyu Kokumin-sha, as an extra bonus, included a 74-page booklet ...

TV sports broadcasts as a language-learning tool

| Nov 24, 2013

TV sports broadcasts as a language-learning tool

Another exciting grand sumo tournament ended yesterday, and brought back memories of my first encounter with sumo, in Okinawa back in September 1965. Within a couple of weeks after my arrival there, I was enrolled in Basic Japanese classes at the University of Maryland’s ...

'Black' firms exploit staff, 'black' state taxes them

| Nov 23, 2013

'Black' firms exploit staff, 'black' state taxes them

Burakku kigyō" refers to companies where management has no desire to reward workers, and where labor laws are intentionally violated. Wages tend to be low, working hours long — with unpaid overtime — and employees are often subjected to "power harassment" at the ...

Nov 16, 2013

Fifty years later, conspiracy theories live on

“Any concerted plan that placed Lee Harvey Oswald in the gunner’s seat,” wrote Norman Mailer in “Oswald’s Tale: An American Mystery,” “would have had to have been built on the calculation that he would miss.” Yet Mailer, whose research took him back to the ...