| Apr 29, 2012

Japanese families on endangered list

by Michael Hoffman

The family is humanity’s oldest and most universal institution. But its shape, size, aims and ideologies seem infinitely variable. Japan’s families down the ages have been polygamous and monogamous, multigeneration and single-generation, swarming with children or comparatively, if not entirely, devoid of them. Through ...

| Mar 25, 2012

Is Japan as busy as it first seems?

by Michael Hoffman

Are things what they seem? Can you tell a book by its cover? Does the face reveal the heart? Does your appearance give you away? It does indeed, says brain researcher Yuji Ikegaya, writing in Shukan Asahi. Your deepest secrets are written all over ...

Yu Darvish under the magnifying glass

| Mar 18, 2012

Yu Darvish under the magnifying glass

by Mark Schreiber

Barring a major natural catastrophe, war or government upheaval, the vernacular news headlines for the next several months are almost certain to be dominated by baseball. Specifically, former Nippon Ham Fighters hurler, Yu Darvish, who on April 8 is scheduled take the mound in ...

| Mar 11, 2012

The power of bad news

by Michael Hoffman

Weekly Playboy magazine discerns among young people a rising interest in Buddhism. This is surprising, given Japan’s well-known “religion allergy” — or not, given that troubled times often inspire spiritual quests. “Buddhism is often considered a doctrine of resignation, but it isn’t,” explains Masaru ...

Anti-yakuza laws are taking their toll

| Mar 4, 2012

Anti-yakuza laws are taking their toll

by Mark Schreiber

Five months after tough new ordinances cracking down on the activities of organized crime syndicates went into effect, it’s not yet clear what impact, if any, they’ve had on gang activities. “We are resigned to the new antigang regulations, but they have not interfered ...

| Feb 26, 2012

Media continues to despair over Japan's fall

by Michael Hoffman

Japan’s decline has no historical parallel. It is a current fed by two streams — economic and demographic. Economically, barring an unforeseen upsurge, gross domestic product is forecast to fall 16 percent by 2025, 42 percent by 2050. Demographically, in 50 years there will ...

| Feb 12, 2012

This country needs a lot more lovin'

by Michael Hoffman

Japan’s rather tepid sex life of late has drawn considerable attention, not so much prurient as anxious. What does it mean when young people in their sexual prime are bored by sex or can’t be bothered with it? The implications are various: psychological (has ...