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Bushido: Soseki, 'Star Wars' and the samurai

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In September 1912, Gen. Maresuke Nogi — a hero of the Russo-Japanese War — committed ritual suicide. His sensational death took place on the day of Emperor Meiji’s funeral, making it an act of junshi (following one’s lord in death) and a high-water mark for the samurai code in the ...

Bushido: The samurai code goes to war

Jul 23, 2016

Bushido: The samurai code goes to war

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In a scene from the 1957 film “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” a haughty British Col. in a prisoner-of-war camp confronts the camp’s Japanese commandant. Citing the Geneva Convention as justification, he argues that his officers should not be forced into manual labor, ...

Bushido: The awakening of Japan's modern identity

Jul 16, 2016

Bushido: The awakening of Japan's modern identity

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Opinions are divided when it comes to Japan’s current Constitution, issued during the U.S. Occupation of 1945 -52: Is it an American imposition that unfairly refuses to recognize the nation as a “normal country” or a precious war-renouncing document that reflects Japan’s unique status ...

'Strange Glow': A grounded, intelligent look at radiation

Jul 16, 2016

'Strange Glow': A grounded, intelligent look at radiation

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“Strange Glow” hits all the notes you’d expect from a book described as “the story of people’s encounters with radiation” — from physicist Ernest Rutherford’s overturning of the”plum pudding” model of the atom to the “radium girls” who were poisoned by the glow-in-the-dark radium ...

Black Illumination: Zen and the poetry of death

Jul 2, 2016

Black Illumination: Zen and the poetry of death

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On a winter morning in 1360, Zen master Kozan Ichikyo gathered together his pupils. Kozan, 77, told them that, upon his death, they should bury his body, perform no ceremony and hold no services in his memory. Sitting in the traditional Zen posture, he ...