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:

Is society on the cusp of massive change?

| Jan 30, 2016

Is society on the cusp of massive change?

Philosopher Tatsuru Uchida, interviewed earlier this month by the Asahi Shimbun, merely confirms what we all know, or sense, when he says: “This is an age of transition. We’re going through the confusion characteristic of bedrock change.” Transition, confusion — yes indeed. “Global capitalism,” ...

From sexual liberation to liberation from sex

| Jan 16, 2016

From sexual liberation to liberation from sex

Young people are forever shocking their elders, and elders, however shocking they themselves may have been to their own elders once upon a time, never fail to play their generation’s perennial role of shocked onlookers to shocking youthful behavior of one sort or another. ...

| Jan 16, 2016

'It is I who rule' — Japan's 'Manyoshu' morning

What fun civilization is in its infancy! How bright and fresh the world looks at the dawn of consciousness! Listen: “Your basket, with your pretty basket,/ Your trowel, with your little trowel,/ Maiden, picking herbs on this hillside,/ I would ask you: Where is ...

Still dreaming of an end to household drudgery

| Jan 2, 2016

Still dreaming of an end to household drudgery

As amazing as technology’s ability to solve our problems is its inability to solve our problems. (Its tendency to create new problems is a subject best left for another day.) Last month the Asahi Shimbun Globe supplement heralded “the day housework is no more.” ...

Can democracy survive the rise of the right?

| Dec 26, 2015

Can democracy survive the rise of the right?

“What,” demanded a protesting student at the height of the summer of protests just past, “is to become of democracy?” No question better sums up a year ending, as it began, with terrorist massacres. Can democracy survive unbridled terror? It faces other challenges as ...

| Dec 19, 2015

Japan's 'Christian century' failed to blossom

Christmas approaches. Christian or not, the mind turns to Christian themes. What are the Christian themes? Love. Forgiveness. Meekness. Turn the other cheek. The kingdom of heaven. Once upon a time Japan almost turned Christian. In 1549, a Basque missionary named Francis Xavier became ...

Hunter and hunted: Where are they now?

| Dec 5, 2015

Hunter and hunted: Where are they now?

The mutilations are frightful — dog, cat, rabbit and pigeon corpses missing heads, tails, limbs, ears. Weekly Playboy magazine reports nearly 40 sightings in the past four months in the Kanto region alone. Who’s out there doing these things? With what thoughts in mind? ...

Japan's children face a dementia boom

| Nov 28, 2015

Japan's children face a dementia boom

Confucius said it’s not enough merely to provide for our parents. We must revere them. To fail in filial reverence, he said, is to be no better than the animals. What did Confucius know? He lived 2,500 years ago, when life expectancy at birth ...

More couples saying, 'I do ... but not yet'

| Nov 14, 2015

More couples saying, 'I do ... but not yet'

“Just the other day I had a date with a woman. We were planning on seeing a movie but it was such a beautiful day that I said, ‘We can see a movie anytime, let’s watch the sunset instead.’ She was furious: ‘Why didn’t ...

| Nov 14, 2015

Surviving a sudden transition to democracy

What is the worst thing that has ever happened to humankind? History is long and frequently awful, but a war that consumed 60 million people and added “Hiroshima,” “Nagasaki” and “Auschwitz” to the world’s vocabulary surely stands apart. And suddenly it was over. Suddenly ...