March 03, 2015
Ryota Uemura, a first-year student at a junior high school in Kawasaki, was known as a cheerful boy who laughed a lot and was liked by everyone. “That’s probably why nobody realized (he was in serious trouble),” said one of his classmates. “I feel so terribly sorry for him.”
March 02, 2015
A Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker recently described the ruling camp’s approach to constitutional amendments in an odd way.
February 28, 2015
I was horrified and outraged by gruesome news in February from the Middle East (that Islamic State militants had killed two Japanese hostages, among others).
February 27, 2015
“Two heads are better than one” is the English equivalent of the Japanese proverb “Sannin yoreba monju no chie,” except the latter calls for three heads rather than two to reach a wise decision. The Japanese belief in the power of three is also evident in an old story about a feudal lord who taught his three sons to be as “three arrows” to form a solid, united front.
February 26, 2015
It appears that humankind has always dreamed of deep-sea diving as much as of flying in the air. Legend has it that Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) once spent weeks or months at the bottom of the sea, cocooned in a transparent “diving ball” suspended from a boat.
February 25, 2015
According to "Utau Kokumin" (Singing Japanese), a book by Hiroshi Watanabe, a Meiji Era (1868-1912) report on music education for schoolchildren noted that people who were exposed to music in major keys from their infancy grew up to become fearless, virile men, while those who were taught music in minor keys became spineless, moody adults.
February 24, 2015
Absolute precision is of the essence in Kabuki movements, the late Kabuki actor Bando Mitsugoro X liked to say.
February 23, 2015
It is unclear which is larger, the number of dog lovers or the number of cat fanciers. There are as many great literary works about cats as there are about dogs, both Japanese and foreign.
February 21, 2015
"Rakugo" (comic storytelling) master Kokontei Shinsho V (1890-1973) peddled "natto" (fermented soybeans) for a living while he was in temporary banishment from the vaudeville community. But he failed miserably as a natto vendor. That is because he could not face the embarrassment of hawking his wares loudly enough to attract customers. As a result, most of his natto remained unsold, which he reluctantly ate every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
February 20, 2015
Fiery red posters emblazoned with the Chinese character for “good fortune” written upside down are seen nowadays on many storefronts in central Tokyo. The topsy-turvy letter is said to represent a Chinese superstition for good luck.
February 19, 2015
2014 was the hottest year on record, according to a string of reports on global climate trends.
February 18, 2015
As a journalist, I often have to caution myself against misjudging one shocking incident as an indication of the state of our society at large. That said, at times I also feel that if we take a careful look at a particular outrage, it can teach us something about broader society.
February 17, 2015
It's that time of the year again. Tax offices nationwide began accepting income tax returns on Feb. 16. As always, the day was marked with celebrities and showbiz personalities showing up at tax offices for promotional events.
February 16, 2015
As winter has progressed and gone past “risshun” (first day of spring on the lunar calendar), the cold should now be nothing more than “yokan” (a lingering cold).
February 14, 2015
In a corner of one of the shopping complexes in Tokyo's Odaiba district, a signboard that said "Sold by weight" caught my attention. That was where colorfully packaged, bite-size chocolates, made by Roshen Confectionery Corp., were being sold for a limited time for 450 yen ($3.80) per 100 grams. I imagine sales were quite brisk on the day before Valentine's Day.
February 13, 2015
People might remember Morizo and Kiccoro, the official mascots of 2005 World Exposition (Aichi Banpaku) that was held 10 years ago in Aichi Prefecture.
February 12, 2015
Many people must remember the popular TV dramas "Atenshon Purizu" (Attention, please) of the 1970s and "Suchuwadesu Monogatari" (Stewardess story) of the 1980s. Flight attendants were considered cool back then, and their job was much envied.
February 11, 2015
"Misoshiru (miso soup) is a friend of young women," declares a headline in Japan Miso Press, a monthly informational magazine that offers a slew of tips on how to take advantage of the health benefits of fermented soybean paste. Launched in Yokohama in March 2014, it has a print run of 50,000 copies.
February 10, 2015
Do elementary and junior high school classrooms need air conditioning? Having attended school when cool, air-conditioned classrooms were unheard of, I was surprised to learn that nearly all schools in Tokyo today have air conditioners.
February 09, 2015
Hiroshi Takeyama (1920-2010), a survivor of the 1945 atomic-bombing of Nagasaki, left many poignant poems about the nuclear devastation. His poems have occasionally been quoted in this column.