Scrutinizing identity through one's family

Jun 9, 2013

Scrutinizing identity through one's family

Lucky great-grandfather Julius. This first member of the Helm family to settle in Japan was “as rooted in his German identity as an old oak tree.” For his mixed-race descendants, life would not be so simple. YOKOHAMA YANKEE: My Family’s Five Generations as Outsiders ...

| Jun 2, 2013

Society no longer shuns solitary pursuits

“A solitary cloud wafted by the wind.” Thus the 17th-century wandering haiku poet Matsuo Basho described himself. Not an ordained priest, he nonetheless wore priestly garb on his journeys and was steeped in the principles of Zen Buddhism, among which solitude ranks high. Japan’s ...

Taking anime too seriously

Jun 2, 2013

Taking anime too seriously

"Why study anime?" the author of this study of anime asks himself. Good question, thinks the reader. Why indeed "study" a pop art whose appeal is less to thought than to mass, unreflecting, spontaneous enjoyment?

| May 26, 2013

History shows one man's rape is another's wooing

“The evolution of political thought in this relatively isolated island nation during the period in question is unique to the point of being somewhat freakish.” This gives a reader pause. Freakish? The judgment is historian Hiroshi Watanabe’s in “A History of Japanese Political Thought, ...

| May 19, 2013

Trimming the fat from Japan's problems

Why do people disagree? It seems a stupid question. Maybe it is. Or maybe not. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that we are all rational beings. We possess average intelligence, adequate and more or less similar education, and copious exposure to ...

| May 5, 2013

The first kiss of death for a single society

Let us pause for a moment to consider … the kiss. So simple a gesture; so overpowering, sometimes, the effect. Who doesn’t remember his or her first kiss — and remember it with pleasure? First sex can be a painful memory; a first kiss ...

| Apr 28, 2013

Disaster long lurked amid Japan's isolation

“The evolution of political thought in this relatively isolated island nation during the period in question is unique to the point of being somewhat freakish.” This gives a reader pause. Freakish? The judgment is historian Hiroshi Watanabe’s in “A History of Japanese Political Thought, ...

| Apr 21, 2013

Fearing the worst if Japan joins the TPP

Here is Shukan Josei magazine’s nightmare scenario of a typical Japanese salaryman’s TPP future, if in fact Japan joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement currently being negotiated among 12 countries. After a genetically-engineered, chemical-drenched breakfast, he hops into his American-made car, drives to his ...