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:

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 ...

| 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 ...

Where will 'proactive pacifism' lead us?

| Mar 7, 2015

Where will 'proactive pacifism' lead us?

Seventy years after World War II ended, should we be thinking about war or about peace? World War I, in its day, was called “the war to end all wars.” It was not. Would World War II be? Two nations, in its aftermath, went ...

Goto's stories put Japan woes in perspective

| Feb 21, 2015

Goto's stories put Japan woes in perspective

“More than diamonds, I want peace.” Kenji Goto knew hell as well as anyone who doesn’t have to live there. He was a journalist. His place, he felt, was where suffering was greatest, misery deepest, evil ugliest, cruelty most feral. He covered genocide in ...

Kafu the Scribbler

| Feb 14, 2015

Kafu the Scribbler

“A querulous, self-righteous man, whose social criticism rarely rose above the level of personal complaining … .” Kafu the Scribbler, by Edward Seidensticker368 pages.Stanford University Press, Nonfiction. If this is how the writer Nagai Kafu struck his biographer and translator, Edward Seidensticker, what are ...

| Feb 14, 2015

Doomsday fever spurs a religious revolution

Sometimes the world seems eternal; sometimes the end looms black and near. We moderns know the apocalyptic mood well, having survived Dec. 21, 2012, in spite of an ancient Mayan “prediction” of doom on that date, but, facing as we do numerous other portents ...