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:

Tying the knot is unraveling in Japan

/ | Apr 15, 2017

Tying the knot is unraveling in Japan

Love, marriage; marriage, love. It was so simple, once upon a time. No, that's not true. It never was. So ancient a subject calls for a classical allusion. The 14th-century "Tsurezuregusa" ("Grasses of Idleness"), random musings of a monk named Yoshida no Kenko (1283-1350), is a ...

/ | Apr 15, 2017

The Japanese ego: the difference of self

"Go, my son! Fight, make your way in the world." But — the proviso is implicit — tell no one who or what you are. Ushimatsu Segawa, the protagonist of Toson Shimazaki's 1906 novel "Hakai" ("The Broken Commandment"), harbors a deep, dark secret: who and ...

Japan tries to shed its pessimistic image

/ | Feb 18, 2017

Japan tries to shed its pessimistic image

Japan ailing? Japan suffering? Nonsense. "Japan is the richest country in the world," proclaims Sapio magazine. And the best. And the happiest. The brightest future looms. It's an interesting identity crisis Japan is going through. Is it a rich country or a poor country? Fortunate, ...

Does contemporary Japan need religion?

/ | Feb 4, 2017

Does contemporary Japan need religion?

“God, Buddha — where are they?” asks Aera magazine. At the Cafe de Monku, is one answer. It's a good name for an establishment set up by monks for the airing of monku (complaints). Its very existence (in Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture) is suggestive of a ...