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 ...

The Journey

Sep 6, 2014

The Journey

On most lists of great 20th-century Japanese writers, Jiro Osaragi’s name does not figure. He was popular and respected in his own day (1898-1973), mostly as a writer of historical fiction, but literary immortality has eluded him. So? The Journey, Jiro Osaragi, Translated by ...

Tokyo's robotic eyes are everywhere

| Aug 30, 2014

Tokyo's robotic eyes are everywhere

You are not alone. You are never alone. Is that comforting, or terrifying? It’s up to you. But Josei Seven magazine writes about “our surveillance society” in these terms: “Take one step outside your house and wherever you may be — on the street, ...

The well-off families who are feeling unwell

| Aug 23, 2014

The well-off families who are feeling unwell

We’re not living right. It’s obvious, though whose fault it is may not be, and what to do about it is certainly not. We’re rich but poor — and getting poorer. We’re healthy but sick — and getting sicker. It’s not a pretty picture. ...

The Nobility of Failure

Aug 16, 2014

The Nobility of Failure

Who hasn’t at one time or another suspected that failure is nobler than success? Here the late British historian Ivan Morris celebrates Japanese heroes who refused to make the tawdry compromises success all too often demands. They fail, but fail gloriously, reaping the posthumous ...

| Aug 16, 2014

The awakening of a nation permanently at peace

There’s something to be said for national isolation. Peace, for example. The very few foreigners allowed into Japan during its 250-odd years of almost total seclusion, from the early 17th century to the mid-19th, were awed by the spectacle of a nation permanently at ...

Ah, vaginas! In defense of taboos

| Aug 9, 2014

Ah, vaginas! In defense of taboos

Two words have been let loose on society by an artist who, for better or worse, may find the rest of her life and career inextricably bound up with them, “vagina” being one and “taboo” the other. The artist herself needs no introduction. She ...