April 25, 2015
Ancient Greek tragedian Aeschylus is said to have met an unusual end: He was hit on the head and killed by a tortoise that literally fell out of the sky.
April 24, 2015
“Zundoko bushi,” a genre of popular Japanese songs, comes in a broad range of themes. I remember one song titled “Tanigawa Kouta” (Tanigawa ballad), in which a young woman tearfully pleads with her romantic interest not to go rock climbing on Mount Tanigawadake on the border of Gunma and Niigata prefectures. A frequent site of fatal climbing accidents, Tanigawadake was feared as “ma no yama” (treacherous mountain).
April 23, 2015
Working for a newspaper, I sometimes balk at using certain words or expressions when I write. "Former Japanese Army" was one such phrasing a senior colleague of mine, now deceased, recoiled from. He always wrote "the Japanese Army" instead, dropping the qualifier "former," even though it was--and still is--the standard practice among Japanese news organizations to use the qualifier.
April 22, 2015
I once came across a maxim to the effect that one should not hope to reach a new continent unless one can overcome the terror of venturing into the infinite expanse of the ocean where no land is visible.
April 21, 2015
It's not easy to know exactly when is the best time to say goodbye. That is why quite a few people make the mistake of clinging to their posts and bringing dishonor upon themselves at the tail end of their career.
April 20, 2015
Kumamon, the popular bear-like mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, has been demoted from the manager of the sales department to an acting manager despite his brilliant job performance. The reason is he failed at his diet, according to the prefectural government.
April 18, 2015
In May 1853, U.S. Commodore Matthew C. Perry arrived with his "Black Ships" for the first time in Naha, the chief port of the Ryukyu Kingdom. He then headed to Uraga in present-day Kanagawa Prefecture, where his fleet of four black-hulled steamers anchored in July. Perry's mission was to force Japan out of its 200-year-old isolation policy and open some of its ports to trade with the United States.
April 17, 2015
I used to take someone to a hospital to see a psychiatrist. To my astonishment, the male doctor hardly ever looked at the patient’s face. Every session, his attention was focused almost entirely on his computer screen. This was deeply disconcerting. I just felt this was not the way for a psychiatrist to go about trying to understand the patient’s condition.
April 16, 2015
A junior high school civics textbook that will be used from April 2016 contains a section on how to develop "bento" box lunches for convenience stores on the assumption that they are losing customers and need to lure them back.
April 15, 2015
Osamu Ikeuchi, a scholar of German literature, once noted that Guenter Grass looks more like a farmer than a writer. Rugged and bearded, Grass blends perfectly into any Germanic country scene, said Ikeuchi. Indeed, the impression I get from photos of Grass is that of a rough and unsophisticated man.
April 14, 2015
Will the "glass ceiling" shatter this time? On April 12, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her 2016 presidential bid.
April 13, 2015
Poet Takuboku Ishikawa (1886-1912) composed the following fantastic short poem in question-and-answer form: “Looking up at the sky, what are you looking for?/ Since I have forgotten the planet I lived on in my former life, I’m looking for that planet.”
April 11, 2015
It was probably a case of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking his mind again.
April 10, 2015
During my stint in the United States more than 10 years ago, I went to a Major League Baseball game and was completely taken by the beauty of the ballpark, which was a fine specimen of architecture with a classical red brick exterior. Inside the stadium, the well-maintained field was quite pleasing to the eye.
April 09, 2015
Atsushi Nakajima (1909-1942) arrived in Palau, a Japanese mandated territory, in July 1941 before he became known as the author of "Sangetsuki" (The Moon Over the Mountain), a novella, and other works.
April 08, 2015
Time flows slowly for children, but flies by for adults. Why? At Shinshu University's entrance ceremony on April 4, President Kiyohito Yamasawa recounted an explanation given by a neuroscientist: "When the world around you becomes familiar, the passage of time feels faster."
April 07, 2015
Katsutoshi Nekoda is a name I fondly remember. A volleyball setter who devoted his life to the sport and died relatively young at 39 in 1983, Nekoda led the Japanese men's national volleyball team to three Olympic medals--bronze in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, silver in Mexico City in 1968 and finally gold in Munich in 1972. I am sure many people can vividly recall the masterful precision of his tosses.
April 06, 2015
An old poem reads, “It often becomes windy and rainy after flowers blossom.” As it implies, a huge number of cherry blossom petals have been blown away by the wind and rain in areas west of the Kanto region over the past several days.
April 04, 2015
Like first-class chefs and conductors of orchestras, airline pilots work in a highly creative environment that involves skills that resemble those of craftsmen.
April 03, 2015
A former Foreign Ministry official who testified to the existence of a secret agreement between Japan and the United States over the 1972 reversion of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty died on March 29.