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:

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 ...

Is 'proactive peace' just a new term for war?

| May 30, 2015

Is 'proactive peace' just a new term for war?

“Have you ever heard the roar of a jet fighter?” Kiyokatsu Kikuchi has. “No words can describe it. When they’re flying directly over my house it feels like my head’s being split open.” For 40 years this has been going on. Kikuchi, 67, lives ...

| May 16, 2015

Weighing the human cost of industrialization

In the year the West knows as 604 A.D., one of Japan’s most revered statesmen, Shotoku Taishi, issued a “constitution,” the first of whose 17 articles states, “Harmony is to be valued.” So it was; so it is to this day — valued so ...

Giving parents credit where rent is due

| May 2, 2015

Giving parents credit where rent is due

We choose our friends but we don’t choose our parents. Nor do they choose us. It’s a pretty fraught relationship, sometimes, that between parent and child. Perhaps “love-hate” best describes it — hopefully with love dominant. Confucius said — and what Confucius said is ...