| Dec 2, 2012

Silent majority blasted by political noise

by Michael Hoffman

Here’s another election upon us — a fitting time to reflect on tranquility and its opposite, cacophony. The tranquility of tearoom and meditation hall, the stillness of the cicada’s cries “sinking deep into the rocks,” are long gone — mourned by some, forgotten by ...

It's a bad time for Sapio to downsize

| Nov 4, 2012

It's a bad time for Sapio to downsize

by Mark Schreiber

Japan’s first two shūkanshi (weekly magazines) appeared so closely, their arrival could be described as analogous to a “photo start” as opposed to a photo finish. The Asahi Shimbun launched Junkan Asahi on Feb. 25, 1922. Rather than appearing weekly, however, it was issued ...

| Oct 28, 2012

You can't choose your (invisible) neighbors

by Michael Hoffman

Some animals are solitary. Others live in flocks or herds. Human beings are somewhere in between. Our sociability and our economic needs force us into communities, where our misanthropy, meanness and selfishness — or maybe it’s an instinctive craving for solitude — can make ...

| Oct 21, 2012

Watching the wealthy, a popular spectator sport

by Mark Schreiber

Twenty-five years ago, in what was to became known as the bubble economy, many Japanese suddenly found themselves awash in money. In a book published that year titled “Hokokuron” (“The Theory of National Affluence”), business pundit Taiichi Sakaiya gleefully extolled Japan’s newfound wealth, remarking, ...

| Sep 23, 2012

No trusting those who descend from heaven

by Michael Hoffman

Just for fun, try this whimsical little experiment: search the Japan Times website for “regain trust.” It’s an expression that recurs so often, and has such a long history, you’d almost think it meant something. “[Prime Minister Yasuo] Fukuda vows to regain public trust” ...