Tabloids brimming with anti-Korea diatribes

| Oct 12, 2013

Tabloids brimming with anti-Korea diatribes

For 11 consecutive days from the start of this month, every front page of the Yukan Fuji, a nationally circulated evening tabloid published by the Sankei Shimbun, was embellished with at least one negative reference to South Korea. Some headline excerpts: “S. Korea blasts ...

Amateur sleuths pursue callous California killers

Sep 21, 2013

Amateur sleuths pursue callous California killers

In “You Only Live Twice” (1964), the 12th in Ian Fleming’s series of James Bond novels, a perplexed Tiger Tanaka, MI5′s Japanese secret police liaison, informs 007 he was unaware that ninjas still existed. JAPANTOWN, by Barry Lancet. Simon and Schuster, 2013, 416 pp., ...

What's the real story behind 'Emperor'?

| Sep 7, 2013

What's the real story behind 'Emperor'?

“Emperor,” a film directed by Peter Webber that takes up the subject of Emperor Showa and the postwar occupation period, has been showing at local theaters since July. The film’s protagonist is Gen. Bonner Frank Fellers, who served as a subordinate to Supreme Commander ...

When does one's native language stop being native?

| Aug 25, 2013

When does one's native language stop being native?

A 71-year-old man in Gifu Prefecture made headlines recently when he attempted to initiate a lawsuit against broadcaster NHK. Through its excessive use of foreign derived words, the man claimed, NHK had caused him 精神的苦痛 (seishinteki kutsū, psychological pain). He demanded ¥1.41 million in ...

| Aug 24, 2013

Chilling tales are tops when trying to beat the heat

Perhaps stemming from the belief that hearing a scary story will send a chill down the spine and provide welcome relief from the summer heat, August is Japan’s favorite season for traditional tales of horror. At local festivals and in theme parks, the obake ...

Shock-and-awe art fills festival streets with fun

| Aug 17, 2013

Shock-and-awe art fills festival streets with fun

“Are you tourist?” asked the man seated beside me on the early afternoon flight from Tokyo’s Haneda airport to Kochi in Shikoku. He spoke in hesitant English. “Not exactly. I’m on my way to cover the Ekin Matsuri,” I replied in Japanese. “Ah, Ekin. ...

'Haiku killings' recall infamous horror story

| Aug 10, 2013

'Haiku killings' recall infamous horror story

Mitake, a tiny mountain hamlet located in eastern Yamaguchi Prefecture, is administrated as part of the city of Shunan (pop. 150,000). The area is so remote, cell phones don’t always receive signals there. On the night of July 21, according to news reports, two ...

| Jul 27, 2013

Tight budgets, food safety and eel inflation

The future promise of Abenomics notwithstanding, Japan’s white-collar office workers are still being squeezed in terms of their discretionary spending. Results of the annual survey of salaryman kozukai (allowance), released June 28 by Shinsei Bank, noted that this year the average monthly spending money ...