| 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 ...

| Jan 22, 2012

Japan needs a little Cuban-style happiness

by Michael Hoffman

A Japanese journalist in Cuba sees decaying buildings and undernourished citizens and wonders, “Why aren’t these people depressed? Why, on the contrary, do they seem positively happy?” She asks around: “What’s the secret?” To which one wag replies, “There’s no order-in pizza here; we ...

| Jan 15, 2012

'Made in Japan' label under assault

by Mark Schreiber

Take a stroll through home sweet home. You’ll almost certainly see an entertainment system, refrigerator, microwave oven, rice cooker, toaster, mixer/blender, vacuum cleaner, heater/air conditioner, hair dryer, electric blanket and so on. From personal hygiene to food preparation to recreation and entertainment, electric appliances ...

| Jan 8, 2012

'Strange' is the new 'normal' for 2012

by Michael Hoffman

“Whatever happens won’t be strange.” Thus the weekly Shukan Gendai sums up the prospects for the year now dawning. Shaken by 2011, we face the blank slate that is 2012. Mankind’s history of trying to read the future is very long. We’ve sought clues ...

| Jan 1, 2012

Japan's troubled royals put up a brave front

by Mark Schreiber

Bungei Shunju (“literary spring and autumn”) is arguably Japan’s most prestigious monthly magazine. Emblazoned in celebratory red across the cover of its New Year’s edition is the rather ominous headline, “The Day the Heisei (Era) Ends.” The eponymous 12-page article was written by Manabu ...

| Dec 11, 2011

Japanese 'good-for-nothings' heart Bhutan

by Michael Hoffman

Japan is in love — with Bhutan, a supposed Shangri-La of a country nestled in the Himalayas, famous for deemphasizing gross domestic product (GDP, the standard measure of well-being) in favor of a more abstract, possibly more human metric known as gross national happiness ...

| Dec 4, 2011

Occupy Wall Street resonates within Japan

by Mark Schreiber

While Japan’s vernacular media has regularly reported on the Occupy Wall Street movement that has swept the United States over the past several months, coverage regarding the movement and its aims has been somewhat bland. There have been exceptions, however. Weekly magazine Aera (Nov. ...