NEWSWORTHY

Cipangu's landlocked isles

General Jul 27, 2008

Cipangu's landlocked isles

by Michael Hoffman

Thirteenth-century Japan has this in common with early 19th-century Japan: a land culture paying scant heed to the sea until the sea, as though in outrage, rises up and compels attention. The dominant features of 13th-century Japan are Zen Buddhism and the newly empowered samurai; ...

Was the 'Japanese Renaissance' lost at sea?

General Jul 27, 2008

Was the 'Japanese Renaissance' lost at sea?

by Michael Hoffman

Last week, Japan celebrated Umi no Hi (Marine Day). First observed as a national holiday in 1996, Marine Day marks the anniversary of the return of Emperor Meiji from a boat trip to Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido on July 20, 1876. It is intended, ...

Temporary arrangements

General | WEEK 3 Jul 20, 2008

Temporary arrangements

by Tomoko Otake

Akio Watanabe knows what a dead end feels like. The 34-year-old native of Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan found himself one of a growing legion of "netto cafe nanmin (Net-cafe refugees)" at the end of March, when the major temp agency he had worked for ...

What's that smell?

General | WEEK 3 Jul 20, 2008

What's that smell?

by Eriko Arita

No one in Japan can avoid the sweat and smells of hot humid summer, regardless of sex, age or ethnicity. But a recent survey on body odor reeked of bad news for men. Chuo Bussan International Co., a deodorant maker in Tokyo, polled some 700 ...

Grounded rulers of the sky

General Jun 22, 2008

Grounded rulers of the sky

by Raju Thakrar

His sharp, calm gaze follows yet another aircraft swooping down from the cloudless sky, its tires screeching in clouds of blue smoke as it returns to Earth on Haneda's concrete runway. One more flight successfully completed, he thinks — and now the next. Despite being ...

Dutch women bid for techno parity

General Jun 8, 2008

Dutch women bid for techno parity

by Yoko Hani

AMSTERDAM — Seen from Japan, a country known for dragging its feet in terms of gender equality, the Netherlands is often regarded as a model of social enlightenment. In fact, the Western European nation ranked 6th out of 93 countries in the United Nations ...

Viva matsuri!

General Jun 8, 2008

Viva matsuri!

by Eriko Arita

To commemorate 100 years of Japanese emigration to Brazil, and the countries' continuing close links, taiko drummers from both cultures will be powering a huge festival set for Sao Paulo on June 21 The beats and multilayered vibrations of hundreds of drums played by 1,200 ...

General May 25, 2008

Sonoko

by Michael Hoffman

"You're a strange girl!" muttered my mother, shaking her head. "Yes, I know, mother. Well, I can't help it." I've given up arguing with her. She's too old, and frankly, so am I. Once, not long ago, I asked her if she knew "The Lady Who ...

Musashi: A do-or-die warrior not to be crossed

General Apr 27, 2008

Musashi: A do-or-die warrior not to be crossed

by Raju Thakrar

When he killed his first man, Miyamoto Musashi was a mere boy of 13 — in present-day terms, a first-year junior-high-school student. Musashi's exploits are immortalized in countless manga and movies, including Eiji Yoshikawa's 1935 novel "Musashi," which has been translated into 14 languages, with ...

Dining out with a box of fine fare

General | WEEK 3 Apr 20, 2008

Dining out with a box of fine fare

by Eriko Arita

Tasty, healthy and wasting nothing; traditional Japanese cuisine served on a hakozen table distills many of the country's dying cultures. A hakozen is a wooden box used as a portable table for an individual and also as a case to hold tableware; it's name derives ...

Belly-laughs boffin puts mirth to the test

General | WEEK 3 Apr 20, 2008

Belly-laughs boffin puts mirth to the test

by Tomoko Otake

When people laugh, it is often their cheery sounds or the wrinkles around their eyes that mark out their mirth. Yoji Kimura believes, however, that the key to determining the nature of laughter lies in the diaphragm. Kimura, 60, professor of sociology at Kansai University ...