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 John Spiri

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John Spiri
John Spiri is an educator, writer and self-publisher based in Gifu. In addition to EFL textbooks, John has researched, written and published the "Asians at Work" series, featuring "Japanese at Work." His hobbies include hiking, bicycling and go.
For John Spiri's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
LIFE / Lifestyle
Feb 8, 2020
Muddy waters: The battle to save Japan's ailing freshwater pearl industry
While Lake Biwa played a key role in the establishment of a domestic freshwater pearl industry, farmers are now facing a bleak future.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / TELLING LIVES
Aug 28, 2019
It takes a village to raise an Olympic hopeful
Deborah Grow reflects on her journey as a 'judo mom' and her son Sanshiro's dream to become an Olympian.
Japan Times
ENVIRONMENT
Jul 13, 2019
Hive of activity: Tapping into the buzz of backyard beekeeping in Japan
The importance of bees to Japan's agricultural sector certainly isn't lost on domestic hobbyists.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / THE FOREIGN ELEMENT
Feb 18, 2018
Midori Farm: Finding earthy solutions in rural Shiga
Nonprofit turns neglected land into productive farmland and brings together foreign volunteers and local people.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LEARNING CURVE
Oct 25, 2017
Bicultural families in Japan take the educational road less traveled
Parents of international children share their diverse stories from inside and outside Japan's state school system.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / THE FOREIGN ELEMENT
Dec 16, 2015
Airbnb: Will Japan kill the golden goose?
Time will tell whether new legislation kills or culls the golden-egg-laying goose that Airbnb has become for hosts and travelers.
Japan Times
LIFE / Lifestyle
Sep 5, 2015
Feast from the forest: foraging for edible plants in Japan
In the opening poem of "Kokin Wakashu" ("Collection of Japanese Poems of Ancient and Modern Times"), the Emperor writes about harvesting sansai (wild plants). The emperors of the Heian and Nara periods made it a rule to seek sansai in the forests in order to collect food and predict the harvest.
Japan Times
LIFE / Lifestyle
Jan 31, 2015
Call to arms: Hunters dwindle as animal numbers explode
Asians who crossed land bridges into today's Ryukyu Islands more than 30,000 years ago encountered plenty of game. In addition to deer and boar, they hunted elephant and steppe bison until the larger mammals were hunted to extinction in Japan about 17,000 years ago.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / THE FOREIGN ELEMENT
Jul 21, 2014
Chores, charges and chin-wags: the chōnaikai ties that bind
Perhaps fearing that the entire council could fall apart, some neighborhood associations resort to drastic measures to keep members active and in line. The culture clash is not foreigner vs. Japanese, but traditional vs. modern.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / THE ZEIT GIST
Oct 23, 2012
Against all odds, Mormons in Japan soldier on
According to the Mormon version of postbiblical events, Joseph Smith, guided by an angel in 1823, found sacred golden plates buried in Manchester, New York, outside Rochester. The plates are claimed to have been buried around the year 400, having been brought from Central America by a man named Mormon. Smith wouldn't show anyone the plates until he had translated the "reformed Egyptian" — a language unknown to linguists — using a "seer stone." Only after this miraculous translation did he reveal the plates to just 11 Mormon "witnesses."
COMMUNITY / Issues / THE ZEIT GIST
May 1, 2012
It's just because . . . foreigners know best
You seldom see the sight these days of pairs of crew-cut white males in pressed white shirts and ties pedaling around cities in Japan. The sight is from a bygone age, largely relegated to history: The white man with a burden to educate and enlighten the natives, in this case about the one true religion, Christianity.
COMMUNITY / Issues / THE ZEIT GIST
Sep 15, 2009
Did technology kill the KTO star?
In 1977, nine years after Tony Elliott started the then-alternative media London Time Out magazine, Kansai Time Out printed its first issue, an eight-pager with local listings and a smattering of Japan-related articles. Dominic Al-Badri, chief editor from 1997 to 2004, recalls that the info-packed pages had the look of a British tabloid newspaper, but from the start KTO offered something far more substantial for those with a genuine interest in Japan.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / THE ZEIT GIST
Dec 30, 2008
Foreign university faculty face annual round of 'musical jobs'
Universities in Japan force most of their foreign instructors to play an unnerving version of musical chairs. Every year the music starts and instructors with expiring contracts scramble for an opening at a new school. University administrators force teachers to play "musical jobs" by offering limited-term contracts.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / THE ZEIT GIST
Jun 17, 2008
Lawmaker takes 9/11 doubts global
In a September 2003 article for The Guardian newspaper, Michael Meacher, who served as Tony Blair's environment minister from May 1997 to June 2003, shocked the establishment by calling the global war on terrorism "bogus." Even more controversially, he implied that the U.S. government either allowed 9/11 to happen, or played some role in the destruction wrought that day. Besides Meacher, few politicians have publicly questioned America's official 9/11 narrative — until Diet member Yukihisa Fujita.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / THE ZEIT GIST
May 6, 2008
As parent firm posts record profits, Berlitz teachers strike back
Question: How do you get to be on the Forbes list of the world's billionaires? You might inherit your wealth, take risks and get lucky, or work for it. For Soichiro Fukutake, owner of Berlitz's parent company Benesse, it's a case of "all the above."
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / THE ZEIT GIST
Apr 1, 2008
'Half-alien' group foresees disaster, Japan UFO landing
In December, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura caused quite a stir with his bold statement that "UFOs definitely exist." In subsequent clarifications, the government claimed that there have been no confirmed sightings, but if a UFO was to appear, "fighter jets would be scrambled to attempt visual confirmation."
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / THE ZEIT GIST
Feb 19, 2008
Sitting out but standing tall
In "Japan at War: An Oral History," Hideo Sato recalls being forced to hoist the Hinomaru flag in tandem with the playing of the "Kimigayo" — "His Majesty's Reign," the Japanese national anthem — as a schoolchild in the 1940s. If the flag reached the top of the pole too early the teachers would beat him.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / THE ZEIT GIST
Jan 15, 2008
Whatever happened to Yamagishi?
Hideyuki Ikuhara's main responsibility at Yamagishi is feeding the pigs. It's a full-time job, but he expects no salary for his efforts. In fact, he quit his work developing high-tech televisions and gave up all his possessions for this lifestyle — and he couldn't be happier.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / THE ZEIT GIST
Oct 2, 2007
Japan faces hunger pains as poor slip through net
First in a two-part series

Longform

Hideo Shimoju points to a possible site that his fellow neighbors may relocate to. Such relocations have happened before, but not preemptively.
In disaster-prone Japan, some communities consider major moves