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Tim Hornyak

For Tim Hornyak's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Giant robots officially fly the flag for cool Japan

Mar 20, 2014

Giant robots officially fly the flag for cool Japan

With its mountains of public debt, a nuclear meltdown to mop up and the 2020 Olympics bill, you’d think the last thing the Japanese government would be spending taxpayer money on is a study on robots in science fiction. But as the Terminator once ...

Programmed for combat or for pleasure

| Mar 25, 2009

Programmed for combat or for pleasure

While Japan is a technological powerhouse, it is usually a follower and not a pioneer. Some of the best PCs in the world are manufactured by Japanese firms, but the PC itself was invented by Apple and IBM, both U.S. companies. The same holds ...

Mar 15, 2009

From Japan's heart of darkness

A hundred years ago, a young scholar named Kunio Yanagita traveled to remote Iwate Prefecture in search of stories that reflected people’s lives. Yanagita was born at an epochal time when Japan was flinging off its feudal past and embracing modernity. He wanted to ...

Nov 2, 2008

Nothing funnier than a comedian in a kimono

RAKUGO: Performing Comedy and Cultural Heritage in Contemporary Tokyo, by Lorie Brau. Lexington Books, 2008, 274 pp., $75.00 (cloth) Of all the Japanese arts, rakugo traditional comedy is one of the most impenetrable for foreigners. The premise is simple: kimono-clad practitioners tell old funny ...

Tackling the 'Zainichi' experience

| Sep 9, 2008

Tackling the 'Zainichi' experience

Sitting across from best-selling New York author Min Jin Lee in a Tokyo expat cafe, I can’t help thinking that the heroine of her debut novel “Free Food For Millionaires” is the one sipping ice tea and talking sex. Like Lee, protagonist Casey Han ...

The face that launched a thousand robots

| Aug 20, 2008

The face that launched a thousand robots

KYOTO — Eighty years ago, an exhibition was held in Kyoto to celebrate Emperor Hirohito’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne. It was a grand affair in the style of a world expo, with lavish pavilions showcasing Japan’s might as an industrial and colonial power. ...

Tips from Japan that really work

Jul 13, 2008

Tips from Japan that really work

URAWAZA: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks From Japan, by Lisa Katayama, with illustrations by Joel Holland. Chronicle Books, 2008, $14.95 (paper) Ever want to cure a stuffy nose, but nothing works? Try stuffing scallions up your nostrils. Your bedmate won’t stop snoring? Tape a ...

Matsui's graceful robots evoke human emotion

| Dec 5, 2007

Matsui's graceful robots evoke human emotion

It’s a truism that the Japanese are experts at dressing up unpleasantness in cute garb. The ubiquitous cartoon workmen characters bowing in apology at construction zones are meant to make months of jackhammering slightly more bearable. Ditto for robots and the future. With a ...

Asimo steps closer to Honda's Astro Boy goal

| Oct 24, 2007

Asimo steps closer to Honda's Astro Boy goal

Honda’s humanoid robot Asimo is so amazingly graceful for a machine that it’s hard to believe there isn’t a man inside that walking spacesuit. In the 1980s, engineers at the automaker began with a pair of mechanical legs and a dream of creating a ...