Michal Hoffman

For Michal Hoffman's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Laughter the best medicine for humanity

| Nov 15, 2014

Laughter the best medicine for humanity

What a comical species we are. The proof? Laughter. We laugh. At what? Why? It’s good for us, of course. It strengthens the immune system, boosts energy, diminishes pain, relieves stress. So say modern experts. But people don’t, generally speaking, laugh for therapy. They ...

| 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 ...

| 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 ...

| Jul 19, 2014

'Leaving the world' to gain freedom

A challenge: Scan Japanese history in search of freedom fighters. You won’t find many. Not freedom but submission was the proud Japanese ideal. It was the “way of the warrior.” A 16th-century poem declares, “For the samurai to learn / there’s one thing only ...

May 17, 2014

Wrong to judge early imperialist Japan too harshly?

“Korea turned out to be this nice, laid-back place…” It’s 1918; Korea has been a Japanese colony since 1910; a Japanese settler recalls with amused relief the extravagant fears she had expressed on the eve of her family’s migration several years earlier: “We might ...

Mar 22, 2014

The sloughing of Japan's corporate skin goes on

“Man is born free and is everywhere in chains.” No 18th-century Japanese thinker could have written that. It is amusing to imagine one even reading it. What emotion would it have called forth? Outrage? Blank incomprehension? Born free? A revolutionary notion! “The Social Contract” ...

| Feb 15, 2014

Once upon a time, China anointed a 'King of Japan'

In 1401, barely a century after the Mongols’ aborted invasions of Japan, and 600-odd years before Japan and China fell out over the Senkaku islets, a Chinese emperor conferred upon a Japanese shogun the title “King of Japan.” Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408) was overjoyed at ...