February 22, 2013
We often learn something about Japan from "discoveries" made by foreign residents living here. One such person was Basil Hall Chamberlain (1850-1935), a foremost British Japanologist.
February 21, 2013
Every time an incident like this occurs, I am reminded of the famous line, "Say it ain't so, Joe."
February 20, 2013
When I was covering environmental issues in China some 20 years ago, I wrote an article carried under the headline “Ailing Sky and Land.” China’s economic development was starting to gain strong momentum.
February 19, 2013
The meteor that flew over Russia's Ural region and exploded on Feb. 15 surprised the world. An English-language newspaper playfully reported the event with a headline echoing the famous phrase from Superman: “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a meteor!”
February 18, 2013
A father with two small daughters longed for a son. His wife bore a third child; again, a girl. Determined to rejoice in the birth of another daughter—and to overcome his disappointment—he named her using a kanji character meaning "pleasure."
February 16, 2013
Monarchs and certain other figures are expected to fill the positions they hold until they die. But Pope Benedict XVI, the holder of one such office, shocked the world on Feb. 11 when he announced his resignation.
February 15, 2013
Discoverers of comets and small asteroids have the privilege of naming them. Each reported discovery is first assigned a code name by an international organization. If it's a comet, it will then be named after the discoverer. In the case of a small asteroid, the discoverer can give it whatever name he or she chooses. I can see how exciting such a prospect must be for amateur stargazers.
February 14, 2013
In the scary French fairytale "Bluebeard," there is a small, secret room which no one is allowed to enter except for the owner of the house. During his absence, however, his new wife enters the forbidden room and discovers the bodies of the man's former wives.
February 13, 2013
Iran proudly announced late last month that it had successfully sent a monkey into orbit on board a domestically produced rocket. But the monkey that supposedly returned home safely from the trip looked different from the one that took off.
February 12, 2013
The kanji characters for “kanashii” (sad) and “wakare” (separation) put together read “Kanashibetsu.” It is the name of a fictional town that was home to a coal mine that closed down. The name was created by playwright and scriptwriter So Kuramoto.
February 11, 2013
The nation held its collective breath in 1988, and refrained from entertainment of all sorts as Emperor Hirohito fell ill. The Recruit stock-for-favors scandal came to light that year, implicating a growing list of high-profile individuals in the political, bureaucratic and business circles.
February 09, 2013
Back in 1922, Tokyo, Osaka and four other cities became designated as "rokudai toshi" (six major cities) under a law promulgated that year, the Six Large Cities Administative Supervision Law. People who can rattle off the names of the four other cities today must have been attentive pupils in school.
February 08, 2013
All lives are equally valuable, but I felt an especially acute sense of loss over the recent passing of some talented individuals, among them Kabuki star Ichikawa Danjuro. He died earlier this month at the age of 66. In this column, I even cursed heaven for snatching them away from us.
February 07, 2013
The Japanese expression "gan wo tsukeru" means to give someone the eye in a hostile way. It may be a coarse image, but the act of aggressively staring someone in the eye could lead to a fight.
February 06, 2013
Television broadcasting in Japan turned 60 years old this month. In human terms, that might be considered quite a span. But we might ask whether TV broadcasting in this country isn't still young, or, should I say, immature?
February 05, 2013
In 12th-century Japan, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, a general of the Minamoto clan, was fleeing to the northern part of the country through the Ataka checkpoint, located in current Ishikawa Prefecture, with his subordinate Musashibo Benkei, a warrior-monk.
February 04, 2013
In autumn last year, The Asahi Shimbun's "Asahi Kadan" poetry section ran two poems side-by-side about Gongitsune, a little fox named Gon.
February 02, 2013
As we eagerly await the winter chill to abate, I have received letters from readers asking me to write something that will at least warm their hearts. I fully intend to comply, except that someone else will probably beat me to it.
February 01, 2013
Back when a scandal came to light involving a certain electric power utility, I wrote in this column that the episode left me wanting to never be the company's client again. However, as I noted at the time, I couldn't very well rip out all the electrical outlets around the house.
January 31, 2013
The prestigious Akutagawa Prize for literature honored writer Natsuko Kuroda on Jan. 16. But whereas it usually honors new or rising authors, at 75 Kuroda is the oldest laureate to receive the prize since it began in 1935.