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:

Women express pride in remaining a virgin

| Sep 13, 2014

Women express pride in remaining a virgin

“The pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.” So much for sex — or so much for the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, the 18th-century British statesman who in that little epigram immortalized his trenchant wit — though not his philosophy, for ...

The Journey

Sep 6, 2014

The Journey

On most lists of great 20th-century Japanese writers, Jiro Osaragi’s name does not figure. He was popular and respected in his own day (1898-1973), mostly as a writer of historical fiction, but literary immortality has eluded him. So? The Journey, Jiro Osaragi, Translated by ...

Tokyo's robotic eyes are everywhere

| Aug 30, 2014

Tokyo's robotic eyes are everywhere

You are not alone. You are never alone. Is that comforting, or terrifying? It’s up to you. But Josei Seven magazine writes about “our surveillance society” in these terms: “Take one step outside your house and wherever you may be — on the street, ...

The well-off families who are feeling unwell

| Aug 23, 2014

The well-off families who are feeling unwell

We’re not living right. It’s obvious, though whose fault it is may not be, and what to do about it is certainly not. We’re rich but poor — and getting poorer. We’re healthy but sick — and getting sicker. It’s not a pretty picture. ...

The Nobility of Failure

Aug 16, 2014

The Nobility of Failure

Who hasn’t at one time or another suspected that failure is nobler than success? Here the late British historian Ivan Morris celebrates Japanese heroes who refused to make the tawdry compromises success all too often demands. They fail, but fail gloriously, reaping the posthumous ...

Ah, vaginas! In defense of taboos

| Aug 9, 2014

Ah, vaginas! In defense of taboos

Two words have been let loose on society by an artist who, for better or worse, may find the rest of her life and career inextricably bound up with them, “vagina” being one and “taboo” the other. The artist herself needs no introduction. She ...

Is Japan sinking further into 'Aum-ification'?

| Jul 26, 2014

Is Japan sinking further into 'Aum-ification'?

The world — this insignificant little spinning rock we call home — is nearing its end. Armageddon lies ahead: violence, upheaval, horror. The normal human mind shrinks from the mere thought, but “higher consciousness” embraces it. Higher consciousness sees things in a wider perspective. ...

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? ...