| Jul 30, 2012

Mikitani and his 'Englishnization' of Japanese business

by Minoru Matsutani

On July 1, Rakuten Inc. CEO Hiroshi Mikitani published a book about his company’s so-called Englishnization project titled “Takaga Eigo!” (「たかが英語!」”It’s only English”) to coincide with the the start of the company’s eigo kōyōgoka (英語公用語化, making English the official language). The formal English name ...

After 15 years, Mainali is a free man

| Jul 2, 2012

After 15 years, Mainali is a free man

by Michael Hoffman

Freed June 7 from 15 years’ imprisonment for a murder he apparently never committed, Govinda Prasad Mainali declared himself full of gratitude. Speaking through his lawyer, he said, “Mujitsu, shinjitsu wo shinjite kureta saibankan ni deaete yokatta. Kansha no kimochi de ippai desu,” (「無実、真実を信じてくれた裁判官に出会ってよかった。感謝の気持ちでいっぱいです”」”It’s ...

| Jun 4, 2012

A hot genpatsu-free summer threatens

by Michael Hoffman

Two things make a battered Japan cringe: genpatsu (原発, nuclear power) and fukeiki (不景気, economic stagnation). The nation has suffered deeply from both. As spring fades into a potentially sweltering, potentially stagnant summer, there arises an agonizing dilemma: Can the latter be avoided, or ...

| May 21, 2012

Save face when taking the expressway

by Mark Schreiber

Foreigners in Japan often encounter conversations in which Japanese terms or concepts are expressed in English in ways that, while not necessarily idiomatic, still get the meaning across effectively. One such example would be the Japanese expression 強い (tsuyoi, strong), which in addition to ...

Urban safari in the concrete jungle reveals Tokyo wildlife

| Apr 30, 2012

Urban safari in the concrete jungle reveals Tokyo wildlife

by Matt Alt

Tokyo is a city of many things, but “nature”? Not exactly a word that most associate with the metropolis. When it comes to the city’s animal life, most Tokyoites think meiwaku dōbutsu (迷惑動物, pests) rather than yasei-dōbutsu (野生動物, wildlife), associating animal encounters with mischievous ...

| Apr 23, 2012

For a challenge guess unknown kanji

by Mark Schreiber

A mastery of written Japanese comes not through rote memorization, but by developing your inductive reasoning so as to nurture a “kanji-oriented thought process.” Soon after I began my study of kanji I acquired a book titled “Pictorial Chinese-Japanese Characters: A New and Fascinating ...

| Apr 16, 2012

Could happiness be the new frontier?

by Kaori Shoji

Bookstore shelves all over Tokyo are stacked with shiawase hautsū bon (幸せハウツー本, how-to-be-happy books), which, surprisingly perhaps, outnumber the dire-prediction books that spin tales about what’s ailing the global economy and how Japan will chinbotsu (沈没, sink) in five years or less. Apparently, shiawase ...