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:

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 ...

| Jan 17, 2015

Seeking independence through civilization

For the first time in 600 years Japan was threatened by foreign aggression. One among many differences between the 19th century American threat and the 13th-century Mongol invasions is this: 13th-century Japan was fiercely militarist, 19th-century Japan was impotently militarist. What to do? There ...

Concern for Japan's democratic process

| Dec 27, 2014

Concern for Japan's democratic process

Elections are the lifeblood of democracy. They represent an awesome empowerment — the right of citizens to peacefully overthrow their government and choose another. The prime minister called an election. He submitted his government to the judgment of the people. The election was held. ...

Generations square off in a battle for the ages

| Dec 13, 2014

Generations square off in a battle for the ages

You’d think they owned the planet. They think they do — pushing into line at supermarkets, hogging seats on trains, generally behaving as though no one but themselves existed except to provide the services they need. Once upon a time — not very long ...

Debating milk, names and workplace blues

| Nov 29, 2014

Debating milk, names and workplace blues

Milk — liquid innocence. If milk lets you down, what won’t? It looks healthy, tastes healthy — surely it is healthy? Appearances, we know, are deceiving; still, this particular illusion dies hard. Whose earliest childhood memories do not include a parent admonishing, “Drink your ...

Is happiness worth the risk of addiction?

| Nov 22, 2014

Is happiness worth the risk of addiction?

You’ll have heard this story before, in one form or another. “Mr. B,” 66, is a pachinko addict. Hard core. Until a certain fateful day 10 years ago there were no premonitory signs, unless straight-arrow conventionality to the point of dullness is one. Company ...

Laughter the best medicine for humanity

| Nov 15, 2014

Laughter the best medicine for humanity

What a comical species we are. The proof? Laughter. We laugh. At what? Why? It’s good for us, of course. It strengthens the immune system, boosts energy, diminishes pain, relieves stress. So say modern experts. But people don’t, generally speaking, laugh for therapy. They ...

Determining good and evil, with the kids

| Nov 8, 2014

Determining good and evil, with the kids

What is “moral education”? Assuming we more or less know what education is, try defining “moral.” The education ministry’s website takes a stab at it: “A heart-and-mind (kokoro) that values life, a heart-and-mind that is considerate toward others…” That’s unimpeachable as far as it ...