The changing motives behind juvenile crime in Japan

| Jan 31, 2015

The changing motives behind juvenile crime in Japan

In a thought-provoking article in the February issue of Bungei Shunju, veteran journalist Kunio Yanagida ponders changes in the patterns of crimes committed by juveniles that have taken place since the end of World War II. In the postwar years, poverty was the key ...

Mags go big for Kobe gang's 100th

| Jan 17, 2015

Mags go big for Kobe gang's 100th

This year will see the observance of various centennials, including the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign in the Dardanelles; the Second Battle of Ypres; and the sinking of the RMS Lusitania with the loss of 1,198 lives. The war in Europe had a favorable impact on ...

The Iris Fan

Jan 10, 2015

The Iris Fan

With “The Iris Fan,” Laura Joh Rowland draws to a close her long-running saga of righteous Edo Period lawman Sano Ichiro. From “Shinju” (1994), the saga has partially overlapped with the reign of fifth shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi — a superstitious eccentric who ruled Japan ...

Getting a head start on wartime stories

| Jan 3, 2015

Getting a head start on wartime stories

From the “The Dirty Dozen” (1967) to “Saving Private Ryan” (1998), cinema audiences in Japan have flocked to theaters to watch Americans and Germans killing one another. Such films continue to enjoy popularity. During the weekend of Nov. 29-30, the Brad Pitt World War ...

Christmas in Japan is not for faint of heart

| Dec 20, 2014

Christmas in Japan is not for faint of heart

“Santa’s not coming! You liar!!” What parent’s heart wouldn’t break upon hearing such a wail from a child, due to having to explain that a promised gift of video game software that was ordered online — scheduled for delivery ahead of Christmas Day — ...

Buzzwords of 2014: from killer drugs to robotic refusals

| Dec 15, 2014

Buzzwords of 2014: from killer drugs to robotic refusals

Once again, the massive reference book 「現代用語の基礎知識」(“Gendai Yōgo no Kiso Chishiki,” “The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Words”) is on sale. This annual publication that tracks additions to, and changes in, the Japanese language and various world developments over the previous year is a whopper — ...

Poverty takes on a new look in today's Japan

| Dec 6, 2014

Poverty takes on a new look in today's Japan

In the early years of the 21st century, such neologisms as nyū puā (new poor) and wākingu puā (working poor) began appearing in the Japanese media. Like their equivalents overseas, the terms were typically applied to people unable to realize a decent livelihood while ...

| Nov 17, 2014

Double up on your kanji to avoid homonym mixups

Although the Japanese and Chinese languages differ considerably in their syntax and pronunciation, one characteristic they share, along with use of kanji, is lots of homonyms. Mathews’ Chinese-English Dictionary, for example, lists 70 characters with the pronunciation shih (or shi, when transcribed in hanyu ...