December 07, 2013
Poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) of India, the country just visited by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, penned this line in his "Stray Birds" poem: "Man's history is waiting in patience for the triumph of the insulted man."
December 06, 2013
Sometimes, truth is buried under humor. An anecdote has it that shortly after Japan's defeat in World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) complained to Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida (1878-1967) for overestimating the scale of food shortages in Japan. But without missing a beat, Yoshida typically shot back to the effect, "Had Japan's statistics been always accurate, Japan would not have lost the war."
December 05, 2013
Dec. 6 is “Sound Day,” so designated by the Japan Audio Society and related bodies in tribute to the day in 1877 when U.S. inventor Thomas Edison (1847-1931) invented the phonograph. That is all well and good, but Edison’s first patented invention was the “electrographic vote recorder.” The device allowed assembly members to vote by flicking a switch on their desks. The machine would then instantly identify the lawmaker and show whether they were for or against proposed legislation. Full of confidence, Edison pitched the device to state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.
December 04, 2013
In the United States, Vice President Joe Biden is often likened to “a drunken uncle at a wedding party.” He may be having the time of his life, but many around him fear he might get carried away and say something outrageous.
December 03, 2013
“Giacobini Suisei no Hi” (The Story of Giacobini’s Comet) is a song written by composer Yumi Matsutoya, also known as Yuming, who captivated rugby fans with her performance at National Stadium on Dec. 1 after a rugby match. The lyrics include the date Oct. 9, 1972, when a meteor shower was expected to appear from the previous evening until before dawn.
December 02, 2013
Medieval chivalry required that knights put honor ahead of their lives, but there apparently were some unorthodox knights who challenged this code of conduct.
November 30, 2013
Trying to extricate himself from the cloud of suspicion he has come under for a 50 million yen (about $500,000) loan he received last year, a flustered Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose, 67, explained lamely, "It wasn't that the lender offered the loan to me, nor that I asked for it."
November 29, 2013
Around 1980, I used to hang out on Tokyo’s Shibuya Koen-dori shopping street. In the trendy neighborhood that typified the spirit of the era was a Seibu department store.
November 28, 2013
The movie “Soshite Chichi ni Naru” (Like Father, Like Son), which won the Jury prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, offers a keen insight into the bonds between parents and their children.
November 27, 2013
There is a saying by a Chinese sage that goes: “I will do nothing and the people will be transformed of themselves.”
November 26, 2013
When two couples take a trip in a car, it wouldn’t be good for two men to sit in the front and two women to sit in the back. It won’t do for couples to sit side by side, either. The best combination is for couples to exchange partners and sit together.
November 25, 2013
A fake 1-million-yen banknote made news headlines earlier this month when it was found in a grocery store cash register in northern Japan.
November 23, 2013
As Nov. 23 is Labor Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday, I am thinking of Akihiro Miwa's signature song, "Yoitomake no Uta" (Heave-ho song). It is a moving tribute to his mother, whose face was smeared with grime as she toiled and sweated alongside men on a construction site.
November 22, 2013
According to an old Chinese saying, the argument that a “white horse” and a “horse” are two different things is an extreme example of sophistry. I remember this saying from the time when the Liberal Democratic Party’s proposal to introduce a sales tax became a hotly debated issue. To defuse the situation, the LDP tried to argue that the sales tax was not a large-scale indirect tax.
November 21, 2013
During a Lower House committee session on Nov. 20 to discuss the bill for the protection of specific state secrets, shorthand recording of the debate came to a halt temporarily. This was because opposition party members angrily pointed out that many lawmakers from the ruling coalition were absent.
November 20, 2013
Many people must have been surprised at the pomp and circumstance of a procession including a horse-drawn carriage through central Tokyo on Nov. 19. The passenger of the two-horse carriage, elaborately decorated for ceremonial purposes, was Caroline Kennedy, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Japan. She was on her way to the Imperial Palace to present her credentials from U.S. President Barack Obama to the emperor.
November 19, 2013
"Keiko to Taisaku" (trends and measures) is the name of a well-known series of study guides for students taking entrance examinations. But the phrase is also used widely in a general context. When preparing for exams, students try to learn exam trends by referring to past questions and anticipate what they will likely be asked.
November 18, 2013
Mention "three stars" and most foodies will probably think of the Michelin Guide for restaurants and hotels. But for stargazers, three stars are those of Orion, a dominant presence in the winter night sky. The entire constellation is currently visible in the southeastern sky around 10 p.m., but its hour of rising will get earlier every day as the year-end nears.
November 16, 2013
Professional tennis player Kumiko Date-Krumm created a stir for complaining about spectators who sigh audibly whenever a player makes a mistake on the court.
November 15, 2013
A young colleague of mine used to believe that the phase, “Teishu genki de rusu ga ii,” which translates literally as “A good hubby is one in good health and away from home,” was an old proverb because his wife often repeated it. This, however, only became a household phrase in 1986, after a mothball manufacturer used it in its TV commercial.