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:

The high cost of peace and quiet

| Jul 12, 2014

The high cost of peace and quiet

Peace and quiet! How rare it is, how precious. Why rare? Because a full-blooded modern economy is no monastery, no “ancient pond” into which a frog may jump, producing the hushed “sound of water” immortalized by the haiku poet Basho (1644-94). Engines roar, machinery ...

A life of lettuce has its benefits

| Jun 28, 2014

A life of lettuce has its benefits

Lettuce. Let us raise a glass to lettuce. There’s a village in Nagano Prefecture called Kawakami — nothing, nowhere little place, deep in the mountains, far from the main road, population 3,960. Why does Shukan Gendai magazine devote three full pages to profiling it? ...

Japan's salarymen are bored to tears

| Jun 7, 2014

Japan's salarymen are bored to tears

It seems odd to be talking about boredom in such interesting times. Are you bored? Almost certainly you are, if Spa! magazine’s insights are reliable. Polling 2,052 mid-career (age 35-45), moderately prosperous (annual income ¥4 million-¥6 million) businessmen (sic, men only), it found no ...

Will Japan be a country that welcomes all?

| May 24, 2014

Will Japan be a country that welcomes all?

“A nation of immigrants.” Japan? The leading proponent of that vision has been Hidenori Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, current executive director of the private think tank he founded in 2007, the Japan Immigration Policy Institute. His was long a voice ...

'Japan is back' but small business isn't

| May 17, 2014

'Japan is back' but small business isn't

The old Japan is dying. Is a new Japan being born? The yen is low, the stock market is high. Prices are up, gross domestic product rising. “Abenomics” seems to be working. Why then, asks Spa! magazine, are so few feeling it? The monetarist ...

Convenience stores give our nation pride

| May 10, 2014

Convenience stores give our nation pride

Japan’s prime minister is an unabashed patriot, as outspoken in his love for his country as in his desire to instill that love in his compatriots. Are his compatriots receptive? Opinion polls on attitudes toward pending revisions of long-standing interpretations of the pacifist Constitution, ...

Mini-revolutions may add up to a change

| Apr 26, 2014

Mini-revolutions may add up to a change

1949. The war was over. Slowly, a numbed populace rose from the dead. That year, 2.7 million babies were born — a record high, never surpassed. Those times seem very distant from us now. The number of births in 2013 was 1.037 million — ...

How should a civilized nation treat women?

Apr 19, 2014

How should a civilized nation treat women?

In 1872, a Peruvian ship transporting Chinese coolies docked at Yokohama for repairs. One of the coolies jumped overboard and sought refuge, complaining of gross ill-treatment. What to do?