June 02, 2012
The smell of the ocean is something one forgets while living in Tokyo. I mean the bracing, overpowering scent of the sea breeze, not the sort of odor that would be described as "fishy."
June 01, 2012
Sixty years ago, the writer of this column said about “Genbaku no Ko” (Children of Hiroshima) by Kaneto Shindo: “This is a film only a Japanese director can, and is entitled to, make. And more importantly, he has the duty to make it.”
May 31, 2012
Although it is the season of gentle breezes, the weather in May was actually quite turbulent. Tornadoes twirled, thunder roared and hail bounced off rooftops.
May 30, 2012
The Himalayas, the “roof of the world,” are also sometimes referred to as “the seat of the gods.” They inspire awe. Ekai Kawaguchi (1866-1945), a Buddhist monk who traveled to the unexplored region during the Meiji Era (1868-1912), looked up at nearby Dhaulagiri, which tops 8,000 meters, and saw the image of Buddha.
May 29, 2012
Classical music critic Hidekazu Yoshida died on May 22 at the age of 98. His wife Barbara died nine years earlier. His grief was so profound that he was unable to fill the void and had to take a break from writing "Ongaku Tenbo" (Outlook on Music), his column that ran in The Asahi Shimbun.
May 28, 2012
An announcement in early May by Vogue magazine to banish overly skinny models from all its editions worldwide may finally lead to a definitive change in the criterion of "beauty." The decision was prompted by a realization that some readers resort to extreme weight-loss regimens in an effort to look like the magazine's anorexic-like models who fill the pages.
May 26, 2012
Many "kanji" characters have interesting origins. For one, the kanji for "tami" (the people) represents an eye that is being pierced, according to Shizuka Shirakawa (1910-2006), a kanji scholar. Shirakawa explained that the word "tami" originally referred to sight-impaired individuals who performed religious functions, but it eventually came to mean "people" in general.
May 25, 2012
Hisashi Inoue (1934-2010), a novelist and playwright, once discussed in a humorous essay how many crimes one commits in one’s lifetime.
May 24, 2012
Politicians are sometimes adept at using metaphors.
May 23, 2012
The novel “Gojunoto” (The Five-storied Pagoda) by Koda Rohan (1867-1947) is about an unyielding carpenter who takes pride in his craftsmanship, building a five-storied pagoda by himself.
May 22, 2012
A teacher asks: “Which is more important, the sun or the moon?” A student answers: “It is the moon. The moon lights up a dark night but the sun only sheds light during the day when it is already light.”
May 21, 2012
Japanese feel a strong sense of affinity to kanji characters used in their names and addresses.
May 19, 2012
What is called "dengon gemu" (message game) in Japanese goes by many different names in English, including broken telephone and Chinese whispers.
May 18, 2012
When Queen Elizabeth II visited Japan for the first time in May 1975, she caused quite a sensation. Wherever she went, her every move attracted attention.
May 17, 2012
Babe Ruth (1895-1948) is said to be the slugger who awakened U.S. baseball fans to the excitement of home runs. With a lifetime record of 714 homers, he fascinated fans with his exceptional ability to churn out big hits.
May 16, 2012
The Japanese economy, which was in tatters after World War II, came back to life thanks to a procurement boom during the Korean War. It was around that time the term “gachaman” was used in reference to booming industries such as the textile industry.
May 15, 2012
This year marks the 130th anniversary of the birth of tanka poet Mokichi Saito, who died in 1953. Even among those unfamiliar with the life and works of Saito, who was born May 14, many must have heard the following poem, which also appears in school textbooks: “Two swallows with red throats/ Nest under the eaves/ Mother is dead.” It is a masterpiece that brought him fame.
May 14, 2012
Of the many poems and stories about mothers and children, down-to-earth "senryu" poems seem to be the ones that really pull at people's heartstrings and fill their hearts with sweet nostalgia.
May 12, 2012
Here is a teacher-pupil joke.
May 11, 2012
A parakeet named Piko went missing recently from his home in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. But Piko was reunited with his owner after he rattled off his full address after being captured and turned over to the police.