December 22, 2014
One of the most famous first sentences of Japanese classic literature is that from “Tosa Nikki” (Tosa Dairy), written by Ki no Tsurayuki (ca 868-945), a reputed poet and court nobleman of high rank.
December 20, 2014
In a piece titled "Toki wa Henkai su" (Times have changed), author Hyakken Uchida (1889-1971) recalled the day a Japanese National Railways official visited his home.
December 19, 2014
“Buena Vista Social Club” is a critically acclaimed 1999 documentary by Wim Wenders about elderly Cuban musicians performing Cuba’s traditional music. I saw it when it was released in Japan that same year. I remember being pleasantly surprised that there were still such cool, old men in the world.
December 18, 2014
A 15-year-old boy lost his right arm and right leg. A 9-year-old lost his left eye and suffered complicated limb fractures.
December 17, 2014
In his 1976 book scathingly titled "Machigaidarake no Kuruma Erabi" (Choosing your car for all the wrong reasons), Aritsune Tokudaiji raised a host of pointed questions, including the following: Why are there no compact, no-nonsense cars in Japan like there are in Europe? Why do Japanese car owners trade in their vehicles for new models even when they are in fine shape?
December 16, 2014
In the early 1960s, urban neighborhoods in Japan still had plenty of vacant lots and open fields where children could play. Novelist Mari Akasaka makes an interesting observation in "Ai to Boryoku no Sengo to Sono Ato" (Love and violence in postwar Japan and after): She notes that in cartoons depicting that era, every vacant lot invariably has three clay drain pipes stacked like a pyramid for children to climb and crawl through.
December 15, 2014
The winners in the Dec. 14 Lower House election, namely Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the ruling parties, chuckled to themselves about their overwhelming victory over ill-prepared opponents. The losers, most opposition parties, felt bitterly vexed that they had been caught off guard by Abe’s surprise move to call a snap poll.
December 13, 2014
Novelist Makoto Shiina wrote some time ago that "moyashi" bean sprouts are used in every vegetable stir-fry dish served at Chinese restaurants, even when the dish's main ingredient is cabbage or napa cabbage.
December 12, 2014
A public advertisement shows a young man saying to a young woman, “Let’s create our future together.”
December 11, 2014
A lie can do no real harm when it is so outlandish that no one would ever believe it. The person lied to may just laugh it off, and the one who told the fib is not going to be racked with guilt over it. Still, matters can take a serious turn if the liar decides to continue lying through his teeth.
December 10, 2014
On Aug. 19, 1980, a man torched a bus near the west exit of busy Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, killing six people. I wonder how many people still remember this wanton act of indiscriminate destruction.
December 09, 2014
Lawyer Kenji Hatakeda, 52, bought a leopard-print scarf just so he could wear it to a street demonstration against the state secrets protection law, which goes into effect Dec. 10. With the scarf around his neck, Hatakeda marched the streets of Osaka on Dec. 8 with fellow protesters, some of them his colleagues.
December 08, 2014
These days, people exercising and walking early in the morning in the park are all bundled up for winter.
December 06, 2014
"Ideally, one should start drinking in the morning and continue drinking until the following morning," wrote author Kenichi Yoshida (1912-1977) in his collection of essays titled "Sake Sakana Sake" (Alcohol, appetizers, alcohol).
December 05, 2014
“Sokuin,” which means pity or compassion in Japanese, is not a commonly used word. I learned this word in 1976 in reference to a power struggle within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that dominated Japanese politics at the time.
December 04, 2014
How awe-inspiring it is to watch a high-flying "hayabusa" (peregrine falcon) suddenly swoop down on its prey in the blink of an eye. Such a display is probably why the term hayabusa is applied in Japan to anything that suggests the bird's boldness and speed.
December 03, 2014
In "Shoten no Tana Hon no Kehai" (Bookstore shelves, presence of books), Mamoru Sano, a former manager of Tokyodo Shoten bookstore in Tokyo's Kanda district, recalls a customer who always asked hard-to-answer questions about books on highly specialized subjects. The customer would sometimes place orders by phone, but Sano rarely had the ordered titles in stock.
December 02, 2014
The so-called 2:6:2 ratio is sometimes applied to the composition of members of many organizations, including private corporations. The ratio implies that 20 percent are competent, 20 percent are incompetent and 60 percent are somewhere in-between.
December 01, 2014
“I want the government to use the money to be spent on the election for supporting efforts to rebuild areas devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.”
November 29, 2014
In 1990, Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) introduced a song titled "Ichien-dama no Tabigarasu" (Vagrant 1-yen coin) in its popular program "Minna no Uta" (Song for everyone). The song went as follows: "Even a 1-yen coin wants to fall in love with someone/ Even a 1-yen coin has a dream. ..."