September 22, 2014
The oval shell, several centimeters long, had a shiny, sparkling surface and small holes at both ends.
September 20, 2014
Scotland has been all over Japanese newspapers and television for the past few days, and I've become an "instant Scotland expert." I learned for the first time that the Scottish flag has a white X-shaped cross against a blue background, and that Scotland has about the same area and population as Hokkaido.
September 19, 2014
French lawyer, politician and noted gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) made this tongue-in-cheek observation in his “The Physiology of Taste: Or, Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy”: “The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star.”
September 18, 2014
I'm not sure how effective scarecrows are in discouraging birds from feasting on growing crops, but they sure add charm to rice paddies. On my recent visit to a mountain valley in Gunma Prefecture, I spotted a few scarecrows here and there, standing in a sea of undulating rice plants that were starting to ripen.
September 17, 2014
Japanese-born Yoshiko Yamaguchi made her screen debut as Chinese actress Li Xianglan in 1938, the year after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident triggered the Second Sino-Japanese War.
September 16, 2014
The Japanese expression "shidokenai," which is rarely heard nowadays, means "sloppy" in dress or posture. But it can also be used to describe the grace and charm of unaffected nonchalance.
September 15, 2014
Sept. 14 was the first day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament. One big draw of this tournament is newly promoted ozeki Goeido. Sumo fans are eager to watch his bouts to see how he performs as ozeki, a title he acquired after years of strenuous efforts.
September 13, 2014
Newspaper company workers feel joy and a sense of pride when blank news pages become filled with stories for the public to read.
September 12, 2014
Okinawa Prefecture has had six governors since its reversion to Japanese rule in 1972. The first governor, Chobyo Yara (1902-1997), had served as chief executive of the government of the Ryukyu Islands during the years of U.S. military occupation.
September 11, 2014
"The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam During the Kennedy Era," a book published in 1965 by esteemed U.S. journalist David Halberstam (1934-2007), is credited with establishing the image of the Vietnam War as a "quagmire." A Japanese translation was titled "Betonamu no Doronuma kara" (From the quagmire of Vietnam). Americans have since retained sharp memories of that deep quagmire.
September 10, 2014
Giant bulletin boards were set up in Kyoto and other places in the late Taisho Era (1912-1926) to enable passers-by to follow the national high school baseball tournament at Koshien Stadium.
September 09, 2014
Essays by TV screenwriter Kuniko Mukoda (1929-1981) take me down memory lane to the Showa Era (1926-1989). A passage from one goes: “The telephone in my home gives a small gasp before it rings.”
September 08, 2014
“Annie Laurie,” “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye” and “Auld Lang Syne” are all old Scottish folk songs, though they are sometimes categorized as British songs in Japan.
September 06, 2014
The ranks of Japan’s female pro baseball fans are swelling. I’ve known for a while that the women who root for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp are collectively called “Karpu Joshi” (Carp girl), but I only recently became aware of the nicknames “Ori Hime” (Princess Ori) and “Toraco” (Tiger girl) for fans of the Orix Buffaloes and the Hanshin Tigers, respectively. In soccer, Cerezo Osaka’s female supporters are known as “Serejo” (Cere-girl).
September 05, 2014
Young Shinobu Sakamoto was ashamed of his father's job, which was to slaughter beef cattle at a food processing center. When Shinobu was asked about his father's line of work in a social studies class at school, he answered, "He's just an ordinary butcher."
September 04, 2014
Dongpo pork, a Chinese braised pork dish that has many fans in Japan, was named for Su Dongpo, the pen name of Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) poet and government official Su Shi (1036-1101) who was also a foodie.
September 03, 2014
In a scene of the popular classic Kabuki play "Sukeroku Yukari no Edozakura," Sukeroku, the protagonist, introduces himself as a man everyone should be glad to be acquainted with. Above all, he promises, anyone with "okori" (intermittent fever) will be cured.
September 02, 2014
A dictionary I consulted defines the word "tolerance" as the willingness to accept others and acknowledge that their opinions differ from one's own. Even though most people wish to be tolerant, bigotry and prejudice sometimes rear their ugly heads.
September 01, 2014
Each year when Sept. 1 rolls around, Japanese are reminded of the Great Kanto Earthquake. On that day in 1923, a powerful tremor devastated wide areas in the Kanto region around Tokyo.
August 30, 2014
A personnel shake-up can be a double-edged sword. Employees who are elevated to coveted positions may perform their duties faithfully, but discontent could build up among those who were passed over. What was intended as a move to refresh and revitalize the organization may only lower the staff's morale.