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:

Only a teenager, yet an expert on war

| Aug 29, 2015

Only a teenager, yet an expert on war

‘The last war was the worst.” She’s 15 and has already been through four wars: 2006, 2008-09, 2012, 2014. She’s qualified to make comparisons — this war worse than that one, the latest one worst of all. She’s a Palestinian growing up in the ...

Add looming poverty to list of seniors' woes

| Aug 15, 2015

Add looming poverty to list of seniors' woes

What a sad country this is. Granted, Spa! magazine paints in primary colors. Maybe it’s missing a nuance or two? Maybe things aren’t really so bad? Maybe. Hopefully. On the other hand, some of the statistics presented are hard to argue with — Japan’s ...

| Aug 15, 2015

The fraught debate over science and divinity

Truth is a sordid business. It brings nations down to earth, cuts people down to size. Why honor it, therefore? Why esteem it above myth, which does the opposite, raising nations to the gods and turning ordinary, unremarkable people into subjects of divine rulers? ...

A political turning point for Japan's youth

| Aug 1, 2015

A political turning point for Japan's youth

July 15, 2015, will go down in Japanese history. As what, though? The day democracy’s decline became irreversible? Or the day democracy’s decline was reversed? The Wall Street Journal covered the core event of the drama in these terms: “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made ...

Growing up to the idea of fighting back

| Jul 25, 2015

Growing up to the idea of fighting back

Psychologist Toshio Kawai has an interesting hypothesis. We may, he says in an article written for the Asahi Shimbun’s Globe, be entering an age when “becoming an adult will not be necessary.” What makes an adult an adult? Autonomy, the ability to stand on ...

| Jul 18, 2015

Propagating Russian Orthodox faith in Japan

As astonishing as its vigor is the fact that Russia’s eastward expansion, beginning in the 16th century, went all but unnoticed, by Japan no less than by Europe. Japan and Russia were bound to meet. Russian sailors reached the Sea of Okhotsk in 1639. ...

Dark humor won't shield us for much longer

| Jul 11, 2015

Dark humor won't shield us for much longer

‘I hope,” read an email from a colleague boarding an Osaka-bound shinkansen in Tokyo last week, “nobody sets himself on fire.” Black humor. There’s nothing funny about a man immolating himself on a crowded train, killing himself and another and injuring 26 — but ...

| Jun 20, 2015

Jomon life 'remained pretty much unchanged'

Jomon Japan is fantastic. It ought to be preserved in stone. It was preserved in stone. For 10,000 years, this New Stone Age culture flourished. It is one of the longest-running single traditions in the world. A man, woman or child dying in, say, 10,000 ...