May 28, 2015
"Maihomu" (my home) is a Japanese-English expression that denotes a home one owns. And here's an old joke about a Japanese man who asked a foreigner in English, "Do you have my home?" The hapless foreigner just stared back in consternation. Of course, what the Japanese man meant was, "Are you a homeowner?"
May 27, 2015
Something that is taken for granted by a majority of people can be an insurmountable "wall" for minorities. Rie Saito, 31, who is deaf and speech-impaired, faced such a wall--and smashed a big hole in it.
May 26, 2015
Nine people perished in a predawn fire that destroyed two adjoining wooden flophouses in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, on May 17. The establishments, named Yoshidaya and Yoshino, were nestled in a "valley" surrounded by towering multiwing apartment complexes.
May 25, 2015
Poet Tatsuji Miyoshi (1900-1964) wrote a number of powerfully lyrical poems, including “Hai ga furu” (Ash is falling).
May 23, 2015
It has been some years since I started noticing more women in the barber shop ("riyo-shitsu" in Japanese) that I patronize. The ladies get their faces, the napes of their neck and their arms shaved in curtained-off seats. Those who favor low-cut tops are said to have their backs shaved, too. They patronize this establishment because shaving is a service not provided at beauty parlors ("biyo-shitsu").
May 22, 2015
Back when Keio University professor Koji Matsui was a trade ministry bureaucrat on loan to the prime minister's office, he watched Japanese Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii take to the floor during a question-and-answer session in the Diet. Matsui was immediately struck by Shii's outstanding performance. A conservative himself, Matsui did not share the JCP chairman's progressive views, but the latter's competence could not be denied.
May 21, 2015
In June 1988, a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter crashed into a mountain in Ehime Prefecture, killing all seven marines aboard. The fiery crash left a smoldering gouge in a "mikan" orange grove.
May 20, 2015
Author Chokitsu Kurumatani, who died on May 17 at age 69, was sometimes said to have the look of an ascetic monk. But when Kurumatani made his literary debut, my frank impression of him was that he could be someone with yakuza ties. With his buzz cut, piercing eyes and hollow cheeks, he had the air of an outlaw.
May 19, 2015
The people of Osaka rejected Mayor Toru Hashimoto's cherished dream of dissolving the municipal government to create a metropolis similar to Tokyo in a referendum on May 17.
May 18, 2015
Among the dates that Japanese must never forget is May 15. On this day in 1932, a group of young naval officers assassinated Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi in an attempted coup known as the “May 15 Incident.”
May 16, 2015
May 8 marked the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
May 15, 2015
Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme (1927-1986) was called the “John F. Kennedy of Sweden” for his youth and eloquence.
May 14, 2015
This is a bit embarrassing to admit, but my appreciation of art is often influenced by the opinions of experts and what I happen to know about the artist's reputation.
May 13, 2015
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of "Saigo no Ikku" (The Last Phrase) by novelist Ogai Mori (1862-1922).
May 12, 2015
Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944), the author of "The Little Prince," is credited with a theory of art that also serves as an excellent philosophy for life:
May 11, 2015
Once, when he was young, Osamu Uoto, a cartoonist, spent two long hours preparing sweet-and-sour pork, a popular Chinese dish, for his friend.
May 09, 2015
The British value humor and apparently think it is especially necessary in hard times.
May 08, 2015
Novelist Aya Koda (1904-1990) once wrote that Hakone fulfills the desire of every visitor. This resort town is not only rightfully famed for its plentiful hot spring waters, she said, but it also stimulates the visitor’s imagination with its old history and folklore. It lets everyone have a good time and still offers the peace and quiet expected in a mountain resort.
May 07, 2015
May 3 was "Gomi no Hi" (Trash Day), a pun on the numbers five and three that are read as "go" and "mi" in Japanese. I am sure events were held nationwide to discourage littering. Incidentally, May 30 is called "Gomi Zero no Hi," a pun on the numbers five, three and zero. On this day, too, events are held annually to promote trash reduction and recycling.
May 06, 2015
A collection of haiku poems I received from Kiyoyuki Kishihara, a Kyushu resident, contained this piece: "Nowakinami Gunkanjima wa yuku gotoshi" (Gunkanjima seems to sail in typhoon waves).