Roger Pulvers


Roger Pulvers
Roger Pulvers is an author, playwright, theater director and translator who divides his time between Tokyo and Sydney. He has published more than 40 books. His latest book in English is "The Dream of Lafcadio Hearn."
For Roger Pulvers's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Feb 11, 2007
Mammon and myopia: Japan's governing '70s legacy
Over the past three weeks I have looked back in this column at the decades leading up to the 21st century, which has to date seen a marked shift in Japanese domestic and international policy back toward a not-so-new form of nationalism. In this last article I discuss the 1970s, when critical decisions were made about the future direction of the nation.
Feb 4, 2007
Whatever befell Japan's heady '60s hopes?
Over the past two weeks in this column, I have looked at Japanese society in the 1980s and '90s in order to trace how the nationalistic policies of the current Shinzo Abe administration, particularly in the educational and military spheres, are the outcome of developments in the preceding decades.
LIFE / Language
Jan 30, 2007
Euphemisms may mask ruder instincts -- or not
No one likes their euphemisms (enkyoku na kotoba) and circumlocutions more than the Japanese. If there is an inoffensive (sashisawari no nai) way to say something, they will find it; and if there isn't, they will make one up.
Jan 28, 2007
More than money was found wanting in 'the lost decade'
Last week in this column, in an attempt to trace the roots of the nationalism now becoming a mainstream political force in Japan, I discussed the currents that characterized this country in the 1980s. This week I will look at the 1990s, to see how the social euphoria of the '80s led to what has come to be called "the lost decade." (Next week and the week after, Counterpoint will consider the 1960s and the '70s.)
Jan 21, 2007
Ah, those good old bad old '80s days
W hen did Japan begin to change and enter its present phase of burgeoning nationalism? (I hesitate to call it "new" nationalism, because it's actually just a rehashing of old myths for 21st-century consumption.)
Jan 14, 2007
Perish the thought that Japan may have god on its side
'The Japanese are, it is true, commonly said to be an irreligious people. They say so themselves. . . . The average, even educated European strikes the average educated Japanese as strangely superstitious, unaccountably occupied with supra-mundane matters. The Japanese simply cannot be brought to comprehend how a 'mere person' such as the Pope, or even the Archbishop of Canterbury, occupies the place he does in politics and society."
Jan 7, 2007
Japan is 'beautiful' -- and don't you dare disagree
Japanese tradition has it that your first dream of the new year (hatsuyume) is a portent of what is in store for you in the 12 months to come. There are three hatsuyume (wouldn't you just know that the Japanese would even designate dreams) they hold to be symbolic: If on the night of Jan. 1 you dream of Mount Fuji, your year's omen is good; the second most propitious dream is of a hawk; and the third, of an eggplant.
Dec 31, 2006
Test where you stand on 'shared Japanese values'
Perhaps it is fitting on this, the last day of 2006, to look back at the year and reflect on the state of Japanese culture, society and life.
Dec 24, 2006
Ongoing Vietnam tragedy revives ghosts of a Christmas past
Christmas brings to mind many wonderful memories for most of us. But history has bequeathed to some of us a most awful little two-word phrase blackening those memories like a stain. That phrase is "Christmas bombing."
Dec 17, 2006
McSato et al prompt mastication over whose 'real' is really real
I've been running around lately like a headless chicken -- and the simile is more literal than you might think. I have been spending my evenings going around Tokyo restaurants, doing a survey strictly in the interests of scrupulous journalism.
Dec 10, 2006
What remains 'Japanese' in such climates of change?
What is national character, and how does it differ from custom, manners and fashion? People talk about "the Japanese" as if referring to a nationality with an immutable quality that has existed and will continue to exist throughout the ages; and yet, Japan and the Japanese of the past are so different from what we see here now. Or are they?
Dec 3, 2006
Dying traditions open up new choices after death
Every culture has its own way of dealing with death.
Nov 26, 2006
Dealing with death the Japanese ways
There is a quiet revolution taking place in the attitudes and practices concerning death and burial in Japan -- striking changes that shed light not only on how Japanese people today view death, but also life and the relationships that underpin it. So this week and next, I will explore contemporary issues relating to death.
Nov 19, 2006
When in Rome, do hug granny as the Romans do
Last night, at Theater X (Cai) in Ryogoku, Tokyo, we finished a short season of plays I'd written, and eight of us -- Japanese cast and staff, with myself as director -- leave tonight on an adventure to present stagings in Sydney and Adelaide. I call this tour an adventure because doing the two plays, "The Reporters" and "Tomoko's Story," in Japanese in Australia is an untried, if not downright foolhardy, undertaking.
Nov 12, 2006
Political piper moves to call some of NHK's editorial tunes
NHK, Japan's national broadcaster, is under siege -- and with it this country's commitment to freedom of speech.
Nov 5, 2006
Conspiracy of complacency costs countless lives on the roads
Ihad a great aunt who drove a car right up until she was in her late 80s. On one occasion her daughter, my cousin, was a passenger in the car, and I heard the following from her. "Mom drove right through a red light," she told me, "but I decided not to mention it to her. Then she ran another red light. I turned to her and said, 'Mom, you just drove through two red lights.' Mom, still at the wheel, turned her head to me and said, 'Am I driving?' "
Japan Times
Oct 29, 2006
A Hero's Journey
A telegram arrived in the evening. Belinda sat on the edge of the faded chintz sofa in her parlour, staring at the envelope on her knees yet keeping her right hand poised above it as if it were a butterfly about to take to the air. She couldn't bring herself to open it, not straight away. She couldn't touch it either.
Oct 22, 2006
Something 'beautiful' that leaders may not see from on high
Sometimes a very significant event in the life of a country passes largely unnoticed, particularly if it occurs away from the center of power. Just such a thing happened on the 11th of this month.
Oct 15, 2006
Article of faith draws ire at the highest level
I wish to report a miracle.
Oct 8, 2006
Beware a 'beauty' that would deceive the nation
'Japan lost the war, and Bushido [the samurai spirit] perished. But then the human being was born for the first time in the womb of truth called decadence."


Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on