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:

Postwar education at a vexing crossroads

| Mar 28, 2015

Postwar education at a vexing crossroads

In July 1995, a special edition of Aera magazine reflected on 50 years of postwar evolution. Education was among the topics covered. Two facts grab the viewer of a photograph showing an elementary school class settling into a brand new academic year. It’s April, ...

Sexual identity isn't as simple as it once was

| Mar 21, 2015

Sexual identity isn't as simple as it once was

All societies are repressive — some brutally, others benignly, more or less. No society allows us to fully express our true selves. Some societies squash our true selves. Even those that don’t will at least keep them in check to some degree. Society could ...

| Mar 14, 2015

Nation stiffens defenses to counter invasion

Doom was closing in. It was greeted with anxiety but without surprise. Its coming had been foreseen. Two centuries earlier — in the seventh year of the Eisho Era, 1052 by the Western calendar — humanity had entered the degenerate age of Mappo, the ...

Where will 'proactive pacifism' lead us?

| Mar 7, 2015

Where will 'proactive pacifism' lead us?

Seventy years after World War II ended, should we be thinking about war or about peace? World War I, in its day, was called “the war to end all wars.” It was not. Would World War II be? Two nations, in its aftermath, went ...

Goto's stories put Japan woes in perspective

| Feb 21, 2015

Goto's stories put Japan woes in perspective

“More than diamonds, I want peace.” Kenji Goto knew hell as well as anyone who doesn’t have to live there. He was a journalist. His place, he felt, was where suffering was greatest, misery deepest, evil ugliest, cruelty most feral. He covered genocide in ...

Kafu the Scribbler

| Feb 14, 2015

Kafu the Scribbler

“A querulous, self-righteous man, whose social criticism rarely rose above the level of personal complaining … .” Kafu the Scribbler, by Edward Seidensticker368 pages.Stanford University Press, Nonfiction. If this is how the writer Nagai Kafu struck his biographer and translator, Edward Seidensticker, what are ...

| Feb 14, 2015

Doomsday fever spurs a religious revolution

Sometimes the world seems eternal; sometimes the end looms black and near. We moderns know the apocalyptic mood well, having survived Dec. 21, 2012, in spite of an ancient Mayan “prediction” of doom on that date, but, facing as we do numerous other portents ...

In violent times, young Japanese just shrug

| Feb 7, 2015

In violent times, young Japanese just shrug

The weekly Shukan Kinyobi discerns a “new fatalism” among young people. Meaning what? A feeling that effort reaps no rewards and so is not worth making; that the world is what it is and cannot be changed — at least not by me, even ...

For All My Walking

| Jan 31, 2015

For All My Walking

Poet Taneda Santoka (1882-1940) cut a pitiful, tragic figure. His mother’s suicide when he was 11 seems to have unhinged him for life. After a failed marriage and a failed sake-brewing enterprise he took to drink and hit the road. Someone took pity on ...

Amid French crisis, Japan frets over virgins

| Jan 24, 2015

Amid French crisis, Japan frets over virgins

Still in its infancy, the new year has already spawned a theme: diversity. Is it possible? Is it desirable? Is there any common ground, besides mutual, irreconcilable loathing, between those who declare “I am Charlie” and those who riposte “I am Mohammad”? The West ...