Saijo Hasegawa, the mayor of village of Nanmoku in Gunma Prefecture (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Quotes from October, when winds bring disappointments, realizations and deserved recognition
The year’s first “kogarashi” wintry gusts buffeted Tokyo and elsewhere while it was still autumn on the calendar. The seasons changed fast in October, an impression furthered by the same-day resignations of two Cabinet members that hit the Shinzo Abe administration like an adverse wind. Below are some remarks made during October.
A craftsman makes traditional “hosokawa-shi” paper in Higashi-Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture, on Oct. 28. (Hikaru Uchida)
VOX POPULI: Japanese traditional ‘washi’ paper deserves UNESCO recognition
Novelist Junichiro Tanizaki (1886-1965) notes in "In-ei Raisan" (In Praise of Shadows), an essay on Japanese aesthetics, that he sees European-made paper as only serving practical purposes, whereas he feels a calming warmth in "washi" (Japanese paper) and "karakami" (Chinese paper).
Yuichi Okano and his mother, Mitsue (Provided by Yuichi Okano)
VOX POPULI: How one son found peace despite his mother's dementia
A man goes to visit his mother who has senile dementia and lives in a group home. "Who are you?" she asks him. She then touches his head and says, "Gone really bald, haven't you?"
Genpei Akasegawa in 2011 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Musing on the passing of multi-talented Genpei Akasegawa
"Shinkai-san no Nazo" (The Mystery of Mr. Shinkai) by Genpei Akasegawa is a book I would not recommend for reading on the train. There are too many passages that will make you burst out laughing.
Workers unload a box of chestnuts at a sorting center in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Oct. 14. (Azumi Fukuoka)
VOX POPULI: Japan's love and nostalgia for the chestnut, the bounty of autumn
“Tsurezuregusa” (Essays in idleness), a collection of essays written by Japanese monk Yoshida Kenko (ca. 1283–1352 or later) offers various tales about odd people.
The lawyer for a plaintiff in a maternity harassment case speaks in Hiroshima after the Supreme Court ordered a retrial on Oct. 23. (The Asahi Shimbun)
VOX POPULI: Maternity harassment ruling brings hope to working women
I was shocked when I recently read what certain male workers said to female co-workers who became pregnant.
Google Inc.'s headquarters in Silicon Valley, California (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Drawing the line between online privacy and access to information
One of my senior moments is when I pick up a dictionary to look up a word and immediately forget what I was searching for.
Yukio Mishima (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: As war anniversary approaches, moral education at a crossroads
In his essay “Fudotoku Kyoiku Koza” (An education course on immorality), published in the late 1950s, novelist Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) preached to young people: “Inwardly, you should hold your school teacher in contempt.”
The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution on measures to contain the outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever on Sept. 18. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Joining forces on global scale paramount in fight against Ebola
“The Hot Zone” is a 1994 nonfiction bestseller by Richard Preston about the origins of the Ebola virus and the struggles of medical researchers in the United States to contain its outbreak. The book was translated into Japanese the same year.
A paper fan that Midori Matsushima distributed to her constituents is shown at the Lower House legal affairs committee on Oct. 15. (The Asahi Shimbun)
VOX POPULI: LDP cannot simply blow off latest scandals
During election campaigns, it is customary for campaign staffers to hand out round pieces of cardboard that are colorfully printed with the candidates’ names, party affiliations and policy statements.
A researcher puts a camera into Lake Mashuko in Teshikaga, eastern Hokkaido, on Aug. 29 to see the condition of the water at its depths. (Masafumi Kamimura)
VOX POPULI: Murky lakes reflect damaging consequences of human civilization
Lakes have traditionally been a favorite subject of paintings and poems, and the word “lake” is often used in the lyrics of popular songs. Lakes awaken a yearning for travel and a poetic mood in people, whether in Japan or other countries.
Old type 4.5-tatami mat rooms for students still exist in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Widening gap in university entrance rates needs to be checked
The popular manga series "Otoko Oidon" (I'm a man) by Leiji Matsumoto comes to mind when I think of male students living in boarding houses. The series debuted in 1971 and launched Matsumoto's career.
Five women hold ministerial posts in the reshuffled Abe Cabinet. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Parties should voluntarily raise proportion of female members
"Toire no Kangai" (Deep thoughts on lavatories) is the title of one of the essays in "Sekkyokuteki Sonohigurashi" (Proactively scraping by) by the writer Keiko Ochiai.
Children play soccer in a park in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Weaker throwing arms a sign of change in how children play
Last year, Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward enacted a bylaw called "Basic Ordinance concerning Children's Play Areas." The preamble is quite unusual. I have never seen anything like it.
Tetsundo Iwakuni (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: On a mission to regain credibility as Newspaper Week kicks off
Tetsundo Iwakuni, 78, a former mayor of Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, also served four terms as a Lower House lawmaker.
The eye of the Typhoon No. 19 is seen in this photo taken from the International Space Station by Reid Wiseman, a U.S. astronaut. (From Wiseman's Twitter site)
VOX POPULI: Mother Nature keeps us all on our toes
A photo of Typhoon No. 19 taken from the International Space Station by a U.S. astronaut reminded me of the Russian folk song "Dark Eyes." I saw it in The Asahi Shimbun's digital version. At the center of a dense, swirling mass of clouds was the clearly defined eye of this superstorm. The astronaut said he had seen many typhoons from space, but this one was unlike any he had witnessed previously.
Kailash Satyarthi, left, and Malala Yousafzai (Asahi Shimbun file photos)
VOX POPULI: High hopes Nobel Peace Prize will bolster children’s rights
Global Handwashing Day may not be familiar to everyone, but it has been designated for observation on Oct. 15 every year by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The purpose is to promote handwashing, which is considered the most effective and inexpensive means for protecting children from infectious diseases.
Protesters display anti-war signs during a rally in Tokyo's Hibiya district on Oct. 8. (Sayaka Yamaguchi)
VOX POPULI: Peacetime role of Article 9 cannot be overstated
At a rally in Tokyo's Hibiya district on Oct. 8, sociologist Chizuko Ueno recited a parody of the well-known tanka poem "Sarada Kinenbi" by Machi Tawara.
Dictionaries evolve along with changes in the Japanese language. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Evolving language can cause confusion between generations
Language usage evolves with time, sometimes to the extent that an expression comes to mean the exact opposite of what it originally denoted.
Isamu Akasaki speaks during a news conference at Meijo University in Nagoya on Oct. 7 after the announcement that he was chosen as one of this year’s winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics. (Yuta Takahashi)
VOX POPULI: Nobel winners struggled in shadows ahead of landmark discovery
"Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps." This was the reason given for awarding this year's Nobel Prize in Physics to the three scientists, Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura.

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