Michael Hoffman

Michael Hoffman is a fiction and nonfiction writer who has lived in Hokkaido by the sea almost as long as he can remember. He has been contributing regularly to The Japan Times for 10 years. His latest novel is “The Naked Ear” (VBW/Blackcover Books, 2012).

For Michael Hoffman's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Is 'proactive peace' just a new term for war?

| May 30, 2015

Is 'proactive peace' just a new term for war?

“Have you ever heard the roar of a jet fighter?” Kiyokatsu Kikuchi has. “No words can describe it. When they’re flying directly over my house it feels like my head’s being split open.” For 40 years this has been going on. Kikuchi, 67, lives ...

| May 16, 2015

Weighing the human cost of industrialization

In the year the West knows as 604 A.D., one of Japan’s most revered statesmen, Shotoku Taishi, issued a “constitution,” the first of whose 17 articles states, “Harmony is to be valued.” So it was; so it is to this day — valued so ...

Giving parents credit where rent is due

| May 2, 2015

Giving parents credit where rent is due

We choose our friends but we don’t choose our parents. Nor do they choose us. It’s a pretty fraught relationship, sometimes, that between parent and child. Perhaps “love-hate” best describes it — hopefully with love dominant. Confucius said — and what Confucius said is ...

Porn is in the iPhone of the beholder

| Apr 18, 2015

Porn is in the iPhone of the beholder

“Her lips languorous like a loose-wound spool, the fragrance of her perfume reaching to the skies. And how lovely when she moves, swaying back and forth. … When compared to this creature, a man’s wife can hardly seem more than a salted fish past ...

Mastering the art of partaking in a tea ceremony

| Apr 18, 2015

Mastering the art of partaking in a tea ceremony

“Cold, withered, shrunken.” What manner of reptile are we preparing to introduce? No reptile at all. An art, rather; the art — or religion, perhaps — of tea, hopefully to surprise the reader with the depths this humble beverage contains within itself, and releases ...

Overseas observers spot something strange

| Apr 11, 2015

Overseas observers spot something strange

Is Japan a strange country? What a strange question for a country to ask itself! The question implies the answer. Merely to raise it is to invite an affirmative reply, as Shukan Gendai magazine this month is by no means the first to prove. ...

Postwar education at a vexing crossroads

| Mar 28, 2015

Postwar education at a vexing crossroads

In July 1995, a special edition of Aera magazine reflected on 50 years of postwar evolution. Education was among the topics covered. Two facts grab the viewer of a photograph showing an elementary school class settling into a brand new academic year. It’s April, ...

Sexual identity isn't as simple as it once was

| Mar 21, 2015

Sexual identity isn't as simple as it once was

All societies are repressive — some brutally, others benignly, more or less. No society allows us to fully express our true selves. Some societies squash our true selves. Even those that don’t will at least keep them in check to some degree. Society could ...

| Mar 14, 2015

Nation stiffens defenses to counter invasion

Doom was closing in. It was greeted with anxiety but without surprise. Its coming had been foreseen. Two centuries earlier — in the seventh year of the Eisho Era, 1052 by the Western calendar — humanity had entered the degenerate age of Mappo, the ...