| Oct 26, 2013

Oh, to be blissfully unfree in Nippon's isles . . .

“Freedom.” “Liberty.” Ringing words. Better than any other, they define modern times. They sparked three early-modern revolutions — England’s “Glorious Revolution” (1688), the American Revolution of 1776-83, and the French Revolution beginning around 1789. Japan then was a “closed country” — had been since ...

Kanpai! Sake through the ages

Oct 12, 2013

Kanpai! Sake through the ages

"A civilization stands or falls by the degree to which drink has entered the lives of its people, and from that point of view Japan must rank very high among the civilizations of the world."

| Oct 5, 2013

Is the honeymoon over for young, wedded bliss?

A visitor from another planet (a unisexual planet, let’s say) would speedily infer that men and women are mutually hostile creatures. Marriage would puzzle her (the feminine pronoun is purely arbitrary) — all the more so if she stayed long enough to learn the ...

Japanese media declare 'dark times' are on us

| Sep 14, 2013

Japanese media declare 'dark times' are on us

Being good has never been easy. And it’s not getting easier — unlike many things in this age of mass technological empowerment. If it were, presumably, there would be more good and less evil — unless evil is more attractive? The monthly Sapio has ...

| Aug 31, 2013

Married or single, Japan is a desolate country

“The past century is a history of sexual distortion,” social psychologist Hiroyoshi Ishikawa told Time Magazine in 1983. “A small portion of young people in Japan are sexually very, very active,” he added, “while the vast majority are sexually repressed.” What would he say ...

| Aug 24, 2013

Only in Japan could a sword be 'life-giving'

Few countries have broken with their past as sharply as Japan did. That was the price it paid for modernity. Japan in the mid-19th century had a beautiful, deep, highly refined culture that reached far down the social scale — but it was an ...

| Aug 17, 2013

Cyber-kids get a break during Bon holidays

You didn’t need prophetic powers, back in the 1980s when the personal computer was starting to show its potential, to foresee something like Internet addiction. It should have been obvious. It was, to science-fiction writer William Gibson. Reminiscing to Time magazine in 1995, he ...