| Feb 20, 2016

The Meiji Era and the soul of Japan: part 1

‘Japan’s first modern novel” was published serially between 1887 and 1889. A magazine article of 1887 helps us get our bearings: “It is now over 20 years since the Restoration; our Meiji society will soon have gone through a whole generation. … The ways ...

One slip can sink a salaryman's career

| Feb 13, 2016

One slip can sink a salaryman's career

‘I’ve always been shy,” says Kazuo. “Face-to-face communication never came easily to me.” At 48, he’s been out of work five years. He lives with his mother, who’s close to 80 — mostly off her pension. A typical day — typical not only of ...

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? ...