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:

Tracing the decline of a beautiful Japan

/ | Jun 17, 2017

Tracing the decline of a beautiful Japan

Two irreconcilable views of patriotism were given their classic expressions by two Englishmen: Lord Byron, the poet (1788-1824), and Dr. Johnson, the lexicographer and jack-of-all-literary-trades (1709-84). Byron said, "He who loves not his country can love nothing." And Johnson: "Patriotism is the last refuge ...

Is Japan slipping into prewar politics?

/ | Jun 3, 2017

Is Japan slipping into prewar politics?

"The recent flurry of legislation, including a proposed anti-conspiracy amendment to the organized crime law, recalls prewar Japan," Kobe University criminal law scholar Hirofumi Uchida told the Asahi Shimbun in an interview in March. "Prewar Japan" is a pregnant phrase. It suggests militarist fascism. The ...

Corporate zombies need 'rich brains'

/ | May 6, 2017

Corporate zombies need 'rich brains'

Japan has lost something. That's a stark but uncontroversial statement. Few whose memory goes back a generation or more will disagree. Controversy arises when the talk turns to what was lost; when, how and why it was lost; whether the nation is the better ...

Tying the knot is unraveling in Japan

/ | Apr 15, 2017

Tying the knot is unraveling in Japan

Love, marriage; marriage, love. It was so simple, once upon a time. No, that's not true. It never was. So ancient a subject calls for a classical allusion. The 14th-century "Tsurezuregusa" ("Grasses of Idleness"), random musings of a monk named Yoshida no Kenko (1283-1350), is a ...

/ | Apr 15, 2017

The Japanese ego: the difference of self

"Go, my son! Fight, make your way in the world." But — the proviso is implicit — tell no one who or what you are. Ushimatsu Segawa, the protagonist of Toson Shimazaki's 1906 novel "Hakai" ("The Broken Commandment"), harbors a deep, dark secret: who and ...