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.
May 10, 2012
The novel “Kagayakeru Yami” (Into a Black Sun) by Takeshi Kaiko (1930-1989) is based on his experiences as a correspondent covering the Vietnam War.
May 09, 2012
Over the past 50 years, France has had six presidents. They include Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), who left office in April 1969.
May 08, 2012
A change in the sound of the rain made me look out of my window to find that hailstones were pelting the balcony. Scooping up a handful of white pellets, I imagined the coldness of the air high up in the sky.
May 07, 2012
I first heard the expression "Sazae-san Shokogun" (Sazae-san syndrome) many years ago, but it is apparently still in use. It refers to feelings of mild depression triggered by "Sazae-san," a popular TV anime series that is aired at 6:30 p.m. each Sunday.
May 05, 2012
"Hyakumonogatari" (One hundred tales) is a traditional Japanese parlor game for people who love to tell and listen to "kaidan" ghost stories. Participants tell their tales in a room lit by 100 candles. At the conclusion of each tale, the candles are extinguished, one by one. When the last candle has been snuffed out, a real ghost is supposed to appear.
May 04, 2012
When pronounced “mo,” the Japanese word for “hair” implies productiveness. “Nimosaku,” which is Japanese for planting two crops in a year, is written in three kanji characters that stand for “two,” “hair” and “planting.”
May 03, 2012
I receive many comments from readers of this column. The articles are written by a fallible human with limited time and space, so I am grateful for every bit of feedback I receive.
May 02, 2012
On April 29, Showa Day, I visited the Musashino imperial cemetery in Hachioji in suburban Tokyo. After I passed a parking lot with an array of right-wing campaign vehicles, I suddenly found myself in a serene setting.
May 01, 2012
Passengers who choose buses over other means of transportation have their own reasons. “My husband forgets my birthday/ On such a day/ I look at pamphlets of bus tours by myself” is a tanka poem by Yoko Tanaka. Some people travel alone to dispel their gloom, while others take family trips. On all-night bus rides, passengers fall asleep and dream to find themselves at their destinations in the morning. Overnight passenger buses carry as many tomorrows as the number of passengers riding them.
April 30, 2012
It is said that flowering cherry trees of the "somei-yoshino" variety became known throughout Japan only after they were planted around the nation to celebrate Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). According to botanist Tomitaro Makino (1862-1957), there were no "somei-yoshino" in his native Kochi Prefecture before he got saplings shipped in.
April 28, 2012
In the spring of 1820, a farmer found a marble statue of a woman on the Aegean island of Milos. Her upper body was twisted slightly to the right and her gaze was directed to the left. Her arms were missing, but she had a straight nose that was exquisitely beautiful.
April 27, 2012
Few court rulings have impacted politics more profoundly than the 1983 Tokyo District Court decision on the Lockheed payoff scandal.
April 26, 2012
I hear Texans, who are proud of their state and love anything big, are indispensable to American jokes. Apparently, all the more since Texas is second among the 50 states that make up the United States both in terms of area and population, their obsession to be No. 1 is extraordinary.