Mika Mifune gets ready for some serious 'me' time

| Jan 24, 2015

Mika Mifune gets ready for some serious 'me' time

Historian Daniel J. Boorstin once defined a celebrity as someone who is “known for his well-knownness” — a person famous for being famous. Though many celebrities have talent and other attributes that draw attention, it is easier to gain notoriety passively by being related ...

Snark levels were on full blast for 'Kohaku'

| Jan 17, 2015

Snark levels were on full blast for 'Kohaku'

The 2014 edition of NHK’s venerated song contest, “Kohaku Uta Gassen,” broadcast on Dec. 31, was remarkable for several reasons, though the performance that generated the most remarks was the one by the equally venerated pop-rock group Southern All Stars, their first on the ...

| Jan 10, 2015

Dull and authentic beats out polished TV

Another New Year’s break, another two-week onslaught of inconsequential television programs based on the variety show model of comedians talking about themselves, watching videos of other people doing supposedly interesting things and playing games whose main entertainment function is humiliation. The resilience of this ...

The highlights of Japanese media in 2014

| Jan 3, 2015

The highlights of Japanese media in 2014

My choices for the most significant public phenomena of last year are associated with traditional media rather than the social kind, which isn’t to say these phenomena didn’t impact social media and vice versa, only that TV, newspapers and magazines still affect our perception ...

Property borders: Where to draw the line

| Jan 2, 2015

Property borders: Where to draw the line

Some years ago we lived in western Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, in a neighborhood that clung to the contours of a hilly terrain. Many of the streets were just dirt and gravel, even though the area was fully developed. Neighbors told us that they had ...

Abe isn't impressed with media criticism

| Dec 27, 2014

Abe isn't impressed with media criticism

The most talked-about media moment from the Lower House election on Dec. 14 was the victory interview Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave to Nippon TV. As is the custom, the leader of the winning side, in this case Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, made the ...

Weeklies walk a fine line in scandal reporting

| Dec 20, 2014

Weeklies walk a fine line in scandal reporting

In her regular column in the Dec. 11 issue of Shukan Bunshun, novelist Mariko Hayashi blasted the weekly magazines, including Bunshun, for failing to follow up on a scandal that, under normal circumstances, should have been right up their alley. The daughter of the ...

Fight or flight: Narita's history of conflict

| Dec 13, 2014

Fight or flight: Narita's history of conflict

The recent increase in international flights in and out of Haneda Airport has clearly pleased Tokyo residents, who, since the late 1970s, have had to trek out to Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture when they wanted to go overseas. This inconvenience is exacerbated ...

Cultural differences shade reactions to robots

| Dec 6, 2014

Cultural differences shade reactions to robots

It was only right that Disney’s new animated feature, “Big Hero 6,” opened this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, and that Disney animation head John Lasseter was on hand to introduce it. Lasseter has often said that his career has been greatly influenced by ...

What's really behind the drop in home sales?

| Dec 5, 2014

What's really behind the drop in home sales?

Thanks to the upcoming snap election, which is being called a referendum for the government’s economic policies, everyone is aware that Japan’s GDP has worsened since the consumption tax was raised last April. A large portion of this drop is being attributed to declining ...