Sports Day: the spirit of '64

Oct 13, 2002

Sports Day: the spirit of '64

“Have Japanese people already forgotten about soccer?” asks a recent advertisement for a satellite-TV station. The ad continues: “To all the Japanese people who were swept up in the soccer frenzy of the World Cup — have you forgotten about soccer?” But how could ...

Takafumi Goda: the man at the helm

Oct 6, 2002

Takafumi Goda: the man at the helm

As director of the university division of the higher education bureau at the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, Takafumi Goda is at the helm of national policy on university education. Recently, one of his chief tasks has been to oversee long-awaited reforms ...

Tuning into the changing face of higher education

Oct 6, 2002

Tuning into the changing face of higher education

Japan’s universities are at a crossroad. The notion has been voiced in some quarters for many years, but now — by common consent — the fact of the matter is impossible either to deny or to ignore. Why now, you ask? After all, commentators ...

Oct 6, 2002

Teachers take the strain of a system in flux

Hiroshi Sato, 37, is an assistant professor of political science at a private university in Tokyo that, while not among the nation’s top-ranked seats of learning, nonetheless enjoys a high status and popularity. Sato’s career there spans almost 10 years, including two years’ research ...

A woman's life behind the wheel

Sep 8, 2002

A woman's life behind the wheel

Taxi driver Yoko Yamaoka finished working at 5 this morning. Tomorrow she will get up at 5 in the morning and start the day’s shift at 8. She usually works on a rotation of three days on and two days off. Yamaoka is one ...

Shopping for negative ions

Aug 18, 2002

Shopping for negative ions

Why, how, and even whether negative ions are beneficial to health may be the subject of highly charged scientific debate, but that’s done nothing to dampen a craze for products boasting this invisible asset that’s gripping the Japanese market. As the old saying goes, ...

Aug 4, 2002

Stars in your eyes: fireworks in Japan

Living with Tokyo Disney Resort in their midst, residents of Urayasu in Chiba Prefecture can enjoy its fireworks displays every night in summer. Even for them, though, the annual Noryo Fireworks Festival is something else altogether. From early afternoon on July 27, streams of ...

Aug 4, 2002

Touched by the hand of the fire god

Akiko Amano says she once saw the God of Fire. It was around 10 years ago when she first started working as a hanabishi (professional fireworks setter). That night, she was working at a countryside fireworks festival. The opening ceremony took a little longer ...

Jul 14, 2002

Before the boomtown

Running a grimy motorcycle repair shop amid the high-tech neon frenzy of Akihabara may sound a little odd. But if you know a bit about the district’s history, you will understand the pride — and anxieties — of the shop’s 72-year-old owner, Mikio Kimura. ...

How we wonder what we are

Jul 7, 2002

How we wonder what we are

Stargazing is like traveling through time and space; imagining as best we can such unimaginable distances, such wondrous, unknown possibilities out there in the vast, star-spangled sky. For modern city-dwellers, though, stargazing long ago ceased to be a nocturnal option, since air and light ...