The romantic notion of rural relocation

| Oct 25, 2014

The romantic notion of rural relocation

by Michael Hoffman

Yu Iwamoto began adult life working in the slums, refugee camps and precarious schools of Afghanistan. Had he even heard, back then, of the Oki Islands off the coast of Shimane Prefecture? He may have. The little archipelago is remote but famous. Political rebels ...

Women express pride in remaining a virgin

| Sep 13, 2014

Women express pride in remaining a virgin

by Michael Hoffman

“The pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.” So much for sex — or so much for the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, the 18th-century British statesman who in that little epigram immortalized his trenchant wit — though not his philosophy, for ...

Line fends off fury ahead of lucrative IPO

| Sep 6, 2014

Line fends off fury ahead of lucrative IPO

by Mark Schreiber

“What’s so exasperating for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry … is the current situation in that platforms, terminals and apps have become dominated by foreign entities,” remarked an unnamed writer for a trade publication. ...

Tokyo's robotic eyes are everywhere

| Aug 30, 2014

Tokyo's robotic eyes are everywhere

by Michael Hoffman

You are not alone. You are never alone. Is that comforting, or terrifying? It’s up to you. But Josei Seven magazine writes about “our surveillance society” in these terms: “Take one step outside your house and wherever you may be — on the street, ...

Grisly Sasebo murder defies explanation

| Aug 16, 2014

Grisly Sasebo murder defies explanation

by Mark Schreiber

Homicides involving dismemberment, referred to in Japanese as bara-bara jiken (scattered incidents), fall into a wider category known as ryōki hanzai (bizarre crimes) — written with kanji meaning “hunting the strange.” Typically when minors were involved in such cases they tended to be victims, ...

Ah, vaginas! In defense of taboos

| Aug 9, 2014

Ah, vaginas! In defense of taboos

by Michael Hoffman

Two words have been let loose on society by an artist who, for better or worse, may find the rest of her life and career inextricably bound up with them, “vagina” being one and “taboo” the other. The artist herself needs no introduction. She ...