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 ...

Zen and Japanese Culture

| Nov 8, 2014

Zen and Japanese Culture

This is one of those books you read to the last page without ever finishing; you keep going back for more — and finding it. Strange, strange characters, these Zen men! What to make of their weird utterances? “(A) master, holding up his staff, ...

The romantic notion of rural relocation

| Oct 25, 2014

The romantic notion of rural relocation

Yu Iwamoto began adult life working in the slums, refugee camps and precarious schools of Afghanistan. Had he even heard, back then, of the Oki Islands off the coast of Shimane Prefecture? He may have. The little archipelago is remote but famous. Political rebels ...

From Race to Ethnicity

Oct 18, 2014

From Race to Ethnicity

The first known Japanese in Hawaii were shipwrecked fishermen circa 1806, unwitting forerunners of a diaspora they can scarcely have imagined. From Race to Ethnicity, by Jonathan Y. Okamura.University of Hawaii Press, Nonfiction. In 1868 came the first Japanese contract laborers. The local sugar ...

Tales from the city show cracks in the system

| Sep 27, 2014

Tales from the city show cracks in the system

Why are people unhappy? Think back to just about any historical period you like, from the remote past to times within living memory; imagine people then looking at us now and saying, “How dare you be unhappy? You haven’t earned the right!” It’s hard ...

| Sep 20, 2014

Can simplicity survive contact with complexity?

“In the past this spacious Hokkaido was our ancestors’ world of freedom. Living with ease and pleasure in the manner of innocent babes in the embrace of beautiful, vast nature, they were truly beloved children of nature. Oh, what happy people they must have ...

Women express pride in remaining a virgin

| Sep 13, 2014

Women express pride in remaining a virgin

“The pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.” So much for sex — or so much for the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, the 18th-century British statesman who in that little epigram immortalized his trenchant wit — though not his philosophy, for ...