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:

Hokkaido's ancient place in the modern world

/ | May 20, 2017

Hokkaido's ancient place in the modern world

“Even the birds do not fly to Ezo,” went a popular 19th-century saying about Japan’s northernmost island. “Ezo” means “land of barbarians.” Settlement tamed it into “Hokkaido” — “north sea road.” But it was a rough passage. Pioneers from the mainland — for centuries ...

Corporate zombies need 'rich brains'

/ | May 6, 2017

Corporate zombies need 'rich brains'

Japan has lost something. That’s a stark but uncontroversial statement. Few whose memory goes back a generation or more will disagree. Controversy arises when the talk turns to what was lost; when, how and why it was lost; whether the nation is the better ...

Tying the knot is unraveling in Japan

/ | Apr 15, 2017

Tying the knot is unraveling in Japan

Love, marriage; marriage, love. It was so simple, once upon a time. No, that’s not true. It never was. So ancient a subject calls for a classical allusion. The 14th-century “Tsurezuregusa” (“Grasses of Idleness”), random musings of a monk named Yoshida no Kenko (1283-1350), ...

/ | Apr 15, 2017

The Japanese ego: the difference of self

“Go, my son! Fight, make your way in the world.” But — the proviso is implicit — tell no one who or what you are. Ushimatsu Segawa, the protagonist of Toson Shimazaki’s 1906 novel “Hakai” (“The Broken Commandment”), harbors a deep, dark secret: who ...