September 04, 2015
“Beijing’s autumn sky was beautiful,” noted a writer of this column in September 1972. Seen live on television, the crystal clear air seemed to give the city’s main thoroughfare a bluish tint, the columnist observed. He went on to say that living in smog-filled Japan, he felt envious of the people of Beijing.
September 03, 2015
The ruins of Palmyra in present-day Syria were testimony to the beauty and splendor of this ages-old city when Japanese painter Ikuo Hirayama (1930-2009) described the site as "a magnificent flower blooming in the Syrian Desert," and used the ruins as the backdrop of two fantastic paintings.
September 02, 2015
"Hototogisu" (lesser cuckoo), a harbinger of summer, is a favorite subject of tanka and haiku poets. I once wrote in this column about a senryu cynical haiku from the Edo Period (1603-1867) that went: "Hototogisu nijyuroku ji wa anji sase." (The lesser cuckoo leaves the remaining 26 syllables to the imagination.)
September 01, 2015
The ant could be a synonym for diligence. The tiny insect reminds us of trusty, hardworking people.
August 31, 2015
“Furu supekku" (full specifications) is probably not a term that is used frequently by many Japanese.
August 29, 2015
I always associate flowering crape myrtle trees with the blazing summer sun. But they have been dripping with raindrops these past few days.
August 28, 2015
The Japanese expression “bukiyo” (clumsy) has a negative connotation, but it can also be used to imply something positive. The latter usage came into prominence after the release of a TV commercial decades ago featuring celebrated film actor Ken Takakura (1931-2014), who spoke the memorable line, “Bukiyo desukara” (I am clumsy), with his classic understatement.
August 27, 2015
I recently wrote in this column about Uncle Torys, an iconic cartoon character created in 1958 for Suntory Torys whisky ads. One ad had Uncle Torys saying, "Listen, don't get mad if the televised baseball game goes off the air before the game is over, no thanks to the sponsor."
August 26, 2015
On Oct. 24, 1929, which came to be known as Black Thursday, stock prices crashed in New York and triggered the Great Depression of the 1930s that buffeted the industrialized world.
August 25, 2015
A junior high school in Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture, marked the start of the second term with a ceremony on Aug. 24. But two of its first-year students were not there. Had Natsumi Hirata and Ryoto Hoshino not been brutally slain earlier this month, they surely would have been happy to see their friends and teachers on the first day of the new term.
August 24, 2015
You often find out that how things actually are is quite different from how they are seen through the eyes of others.
August 22, 2015
As I mentioned in this column a few days ago, poet Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) and novelist Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) were contemporaries and close friends.
August 21, 2015
Novelists Takeshi Kaiko (1930-1989) and Hitomi Yamaguchi (1923-1995) worked for present-day Suntory Holdings Ltd. in their younger years and were known for ads they wrote for a brand of Suntory whisky. Both are also remembered for their many memorable quips about liquor.
August 20, 2015
The brightness of a lamp is truly appreciated by anyone who has endured long, dark nights.
August 19, 2015
Avant-garde poet and dramatist Shuji Terayama (1935-1983) was in his teens when he received the unflattering nickname of "Moho Kozo" (Copycat boy). His many short "tanka" poems, penned with extraordinary artistic sensitivity, had catapulted him to fame. But as his works became more widely known, he was accused of plagiarism, which developed into a major scandal in the literary community at the time.
August 18, 2015
The Bon summer holiday season is over, and most people returned to work yesterday. Nobody is a fan of the Monday morning commute, especially if it rains, which unfortunately was the case yesterday in many parts of Japan.
August 17, 2015
I recently went to see the newly released Japanese movie “Nihon no Ichiban Nagai Hi" (Japan’s longest day) and found a mother with a boy who looked to be around 10 years old in the audience.
August 15, 2015
In March 1945, a second lieutenant of the Imperial Japanese Army stationed on the island of Luzon in the Philippines wrote a letter to his parents in Japan. He entrusted the letter to a colleague who was flying back to Japan on a liaison mission.
August 14, 2015
Starting something new does not come easy. On the opening day of the first annual event of today's National High School Baseball Championship in August 100 years ago, The Osaka Asahi Shimbun came out with a special promotional section titled "Hajimete Yakyu wo Miru Hito no Tameni/ Besuboru Hayawakari" (A guide to baseball for people seeing baseball for the first time).
August 13, 2015
The Bay of Pigs Invasion of April 1961, undertaken by the United States to overthrow the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba, ended in dismal failure. It left a stain on the administration of President John F. Kennedy, which was still only in its third month.