Michael Hoffman

Michael Hoffman is a fiction and nonfiction writer who has lived in Hokkaido by the sea almost as long as he can remember. He has been contributing regularly to The Japan Times for 10 years. His latest novel is “The Naked Ear” (VBW/Blackcover Books, 2012).

For Michael Hoffman's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

The prosaic state of ancient Confucianism

/ | Sep 16, 2017

The prosaic state of ancient Confucianism

"Confucianism," says historian Hiroshi Watanabe, "is perhaps the most powerful political ideology yet conceived by the human race." Really? Indisputably, a set of doctrines associated with an ancient Chinese sage known in the West as Confucius (551-479 B.C.) held sway over much of East Asia for ...

Definition of happiness in Japan remains a mystery

/ | Aug 26, 2017

Definition of happiness in Japan remains a mystery

Try defining "happiness." "A state of well-being and contentment," says Merriam-Webster's dictionary, unhelpfully. It's like saying happiness is happiness. Indefinable it may be, but we all know it when we feel it. Whatever it is, there's nothing better, and everything we do we do for ...

Death: We all have to go sometime

/ | Jul 29, 2017

Death: We all have to go sometime

"In Japan today, talking about death is taboo," Kobe University medical professor Yoshiyuki Kizawa told the Asahi Shimbun earlier this month. It is remarkable that this should be so. Japan of all nations should be primed for such a discussion. Its traditional culture is breathtakingly ...

Who is keeping an eye on Japan's surveillance power?

/ | Jul 15, 2017

Who is keeping an eye on Japan's surveillance power?

Utopias and dystopias have this in common: surveillance. From Thomas More's "Utopia" (1516) to George Orwell's "1984" (1949), from Plato's "Republic" (c. 380 B.C.) to Yevgeny Zamyatin's "We" (1921), the view prevails that people behave better under scrutiny. Why conceal good deeds? For no ...

Harsh lessons learned from Zen meditation

/ | Jul 15, 2017

Harsh lessons learned from Zen meditation

The monk Dogen lived in dreadful times. A revolution culminating in 1185 had brought to power warriors who for centuries had served perhaps the most unwar-like aristocracy in world history, the effete but highly cultured ladies and gentlemen of the Heian Period (794-1185). ...