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 ...

Fast-food follies have media in a frenzy

| Aug 2, 2014

Fast-food follies have media in a frenzy

by Mark Schreiber

Almost exactly a year ago (on July 27, 2013), this column reported on how the print media was inundated with concerns over the safety of foods from abroad. Among the sources cited was Takarajima magazine, which quoted a foodstuffs importer as saying, “The decline ...

Is Japan sinking further into 'Aum-ification'?

| Jul 26, 2014

Is Japan sinking further into 'Aum-ification'?

by Michael Hoffman

The world — this insignificant little spinning rock we call home — is nearing its end. Armageddon lies ahead: violence, upheaval, horror. The normal human mind shrinks from the mere thought, but “higher consciousness” embraces it. Higher consciousness sees things in a wider perspective. ...

The high cost of peace and quiet

| Jul 12, 2014

The high cost of peace and quiet

by Michael Hoffman

Peace and quiet! How rare it is, how precious. Why rare? Because a full-blooded modern economy is no monastery, no “ancient pond” into which a frog may jump, producing the hushed “sound of water” immortalized by the haiku poet Basho (1644-94). Engines roar, machinery ...

Ongoing Obokata story seeks out scandal

| Jul 5, 2014

Ongoing Obokata story seeks out scandal

by Mark Schreiber

The paper, titled “Stimulus-triggered fate conversion of somatic cells into pluripotency,” was accepted by the British science journal Nature on Dec. 20, 2013, and published online on Jan. 29, 2014. The authors were listed as Haruko Obokata, Teruhiko Wakayama, Yoshiki Sasai, Koji Kojima, Martin ...

A life of lettuce has its benefits

| Jun 28, 2014

A life of lettuce has its benefits

by Michael Hoffman

Lettuce. Let us raise a glass to lettuce. There’s a village in Nagano Prefecture called Kawakami — nothing, nowhere little place, deep in the mountains, far from the main road, population 3,960. Why does Shukan Gendai magazine devote three full pages to profiling it? ...