| Nov 18, 2012

Yoshiwara busts send message: 'Keep it clean'

On May 24, 1956, the Diet voted Japan’s anti-prostitution statute into law, effective from April 1, 1957; but enforcement was postponed a year to give sex workers time to seek new livelihoods. “On its last night of business, after the 106 houses — with ...

It's a bad time for Sapio to downsize

| Nov 4, 2012

It's a bad time for Sapio to downsize

Japan’s first two shūkanshi (weekly magazines) appeared so closely, their arrival could be described as analogous to a “photo start” as opposed to a photo finish. The Asahi Shimbun launched Junkan Asahi on Feb. 25, 1922. Rather than appearing weekly, however, it was issued ...

Halloween in Japan: no trick or treat, but scary spots galore

| Oct 29, 2012

Halloween in Japan: no trick or treat, but scary spots galore

Japanese people generally have a well developed appreciation for the supernatural, and while the American practice of ringing doorbells in the neighborhood to demand “trick or treat” has yet to take root, Halloween-related events continue to grow in popularity. Seasonal parties, variously called 仮装パーティー ...

In search of the fearsome Onibaba

Oct 21, 2012

In search of the fearsome Onibaba

“Here’s as close as I can take you,” said my taxi driver, a charming fellow named Ishii whose pronounced zuzu-ben (Tohoku accent), was strong enough to cut with the proverbial knife. “Just follow the path down the hill there — you can’t miss it.” ...

| Oct 21, 2012

Watching the wealthy, a popular spectator sport

Twenty-five years ago, in what was to became known as the bubble economy, many Japanese suddenly found themselves awash in money. In a book published that year titled “Hokokuron” (“The Theory of National Affluence”), business pundit Taiichi Sakaiya gleefully extolled Japan’s newfound wealth, remarking, ...

| Oct 7, 2012

Tabloids return fire, urge China business pullout

On Sept. 29, the 40th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, Sankei Shimbun editorial writer Ryutaro Kobayashi asked how it would be possible for Japan to continue discussions with a China that had “lost its national dignity.” Kobayashi was ...

Timely fictional war scenarios that play out in Asian waters

Sep 23, 2012

Timely fictional war scenarios that play out in Asian waters

Tiger’s Claw, by Dale Brown. William Morrow, 2012, 432 pp., $26.99 (hardcover) Red Cell, by Mark Henshaw. Touchstone, 2012, 336 pp., $24.99 (hardcover) Future war fiction — also known as alternate history or military science fiction — has been around a long time. Occasionally ...

Getting food on tables is increasingly difficult

| Sep 16, 2012

Getting food on tables is increasingly difficult

The cover of Nikkei Business of Aug. 27 carried a photograph of a sirloin steak atop a sizzling platter. The meat was artfully trimmed to form the shape of the Japanese archipelago. Atop this mouth-watering graphic are words clearly aimed at curbing the reader’s ...

Will the Takeshima dispute break the Korean wave?

| Sep 2, 2012

Will the Takeshima dispute break the Korean wave?

“There’s something sad, when a political problem goes so far as to spill over to the entertainment industry,” rues journalist Kaoru Kikuchi in Sunday Mainichi (Sep. 9). Kikuchi reported that on Aug. 21, Korean male actor Song Il Gook, who was slated to appear ...