January 30, 2015
When freelance journalist Kenji Goto visited 10-year-old Mariam at her home in the Afghan capital of Kabul in spring 2002, the young girl was smiling happily because she would start going to school soon.
January 29, 2015
I am recalling a documentary titled "The Specialist" that I saw 15 years ago. It was about Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962), a German Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS) lieutenant colonel who oversaw the deportation of Jews and others to extermination camps during World War II. The film was based on archival images of Eichmann's trial in Israel, in which he was sentenced to death.
January 28, 2015
Hirotaka Takeuchi, the only Japanese alpinist to have scaled all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter-class peaks, once got caught in an avalanche and almost died, according to his book "Tozan no Tetsugaku" (Philosophy of mountain climbing).
January 27, 2015
Controversy has raged for years in Japan over whether to use the expression "haisen" (defeat in World War II) or "shusen" (end of World War II) in reference to Aug. 15, 1945.
January 26, 2015
Tokuzo Miyamoto (1930-2011), a writer and passionate connoisseur of sumo, explored the question of what is the “ultimate of excellence” in the art of sumo wrestling in his 1985 book “Rikishi Hyohaku” (Wrestlers wandering).
January 24, 2015
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965), who died on this day exactly 50 years ago, is remembered for his wit and memorable quotations.
January 23, 2015
When television screenwriter Kuniko Mukoda (1929-1981) read a newspaper story that said about 90 percent of Japanese considered themselves middle class, she thought this was owed to Japan’s school lunch system.
January 22, 2015
Long before he became a successful novelist, Shunshin Chin had what many people would consider a stroke of bad luck. He was walking home one day when the handle of an old satchel, which he always carried to work, broke off.
January 21, 2015
Journalists encounter all sorts of danger when covering war and strife. Some of the people they run into are hostile. Photojournalist Akihiko Okamura (1929-1985), who earned a reputation in the 1960s for his coverage of the Vietnam War, believed in the power of the smile in such situations. "Wherever you are in the world, your survival depends on whether you can flash a smile no one can resist," he explained.
January 20, 2015
The Japanese word "shiawase," which means happiness, can be written with a kanji character or rendered into phonetic katakana. When writing about the simple happiness of sipping hot sake or soaking in a hot tub on a cold winter night, I think many people would agree that writing shiawase in katakana works better in describing that "aah" feeling of pure sensual pleasure.
January 19, 2015
Muneyoshi Yanagi (1889-1961), a Japanese thinker who preached the beauty of “mingei,” or folk crafts, admired the value of handwork.
January 17, 2015
"Laid gently on the rubble/ The flower grieves." This is the poem "Kuyashii" (Grieving) in its entirety by Toshikazu Yasumizu, 83, a Kobe native who survived the Great Hanshin Earthquake of Jan. 17, 1995. Over the 20 years since the disaster struck, Yasuzumi has continued to write about Kobe and the feelings of its citizens.
January 16, 2015
Sumo wrestlers frequently engage in superstition. For instance, I have heard of wrestlers who drink only one brand of beer simply because its logo is a white star. In sumo jargon, a win is “shiroboshi,” which translates literally as “white star.”
January 15, 2015
Young people today are growing up amid rapid technological advances in this age of the Internet. Seiya Takahashi, a first-year high school student in Chiba, wrote a 31-syllable tanka poem that translates as follows: "I was scolded before for speaking on the phone (instead of speaking face to face). Now I'm being told to at least speak on the phone (and not just text)."
January 14, 2015
There are various traditional Japanese rites of passage for children, including "Shichi-Go-San" (Seven-Five-Three) for girls aged 3 and 7, and boys aged 3 and 5.
January 13, 2015
The recent spate of violence, including the Jan. 7 massacre at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, has so shocked the French public that they are now talking about “France’s 9/11.” But I dearly hope France will not become like the post-9/11 United States, where anti-Muslim hysteria reared its ugly head.
January 12, 2015
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a conservative politician in terms of his mind-set, but his economic policy, known as "Abenomics," cannot be described as conservative.
January 10, 2015
"Sanshiro" by Soseki Natsume (1867-1916) was originally published in The Asahi Shimbun in 1908 as a serialized novel. It is being rerun now, and I am happy to report that the paper's readers are liking it.
January 09, 2015
“Kageki ni shite aikyo ari” (over-the-top yet endearing) was the editorial policy of the Kokkei Shimbun (comical newspaper), a satirical journal first published in Osaka in 1901. Vowing to “never bow to authority and force, nor sell ourselves to the rich and exalted,” the paper ruthlessly mocked and laughed at the government and the plutocracy of the time, much to the delight of the general public.
January 08, 2015
"Kuro no Shisosha" (Black test vehicle), a novel about industrial espionage by Toshiyuki Kajiyama (1930-1975), was published in 1962. It was also made into a film starring Jiro Tamiya (1935-1978).