Oct

12

Airport Anxiety or a flight down memory lane

The following story has sentimental value for me far beyond whatever worth it may possess of its own right and writing. Not only was it written in Japan, penned during the final hours of first visit to a land that has always had a mysterious, wasabi-strong pull, but it was more or less my first […]

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Sep

05

Prime Ministers’ wives are from Venus

Japanese Prime Minister-elect Yukio Hatoyama did the impossible last week, a landslide victory won for his Democratic Party of Japan, an unprecedented reversal of election fortune over the incumbent Liberal Democratic Party, who have ruled Japan for all but 11 months since 1955. Retired actress, author, lifestyle guru and wife of the Prime Minister, Miyuki […]

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Mar

16

The 108 Steps of Perfection

Karate, kata, perfect form and perfectionism in Japan At the age of seven, the result of an I don’t know from where interest in Japan, I began learning karate, lessons undertaken at my own insistence, my mother’s weary acquiescence. Perhaps she sensed that it would be either breaking blocks of wood or chopping bones on […]

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Jan

04

The Language of Humility

Honorifics and keigo in Japan—the language of politeness Different from the major Western languages, and a further refinement of the systems used in other Asian languages, Japanese has an extensive, complicated system of honorifics—keigo—to explicitly express politeness, humility and formality. Relationships are seldom equal in Japan, and the grammar employed in any given context is […]

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Jan

03

Fear has four legs and walks in circles

Rhino attack drill at Tokyo Zoo Fear has four legs, walks in circles and is covered in paper and glue in Tokyo, Japan. But is Japanese nonetheless, following the direction of public signs and never moving faster than a brisk walk. Should you meet Fear—say on an outing to the zoo—lull him into a false […]

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Dec

04

Ninja in the Woods

While I certainly remember being so bored at High School that the imaginary was a sole relief, and really did once see a student running on the roof, convinced she was a cat and chased by teachers, students in Barnegat, New Jersey went completely off the page recently, confined to class after reporting a ninja […]

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Nov

08

Obama, Japan: town with a precedent

Population approximately 33,000, importance approximately not much—a sleepy seaside town on the other side of nowhere is now the centre of world attention, and all because of its namesake: President Elect Barack Obama. Meaning “little beach” and literally located on one, the Japanese Obama lies due north of Kyoto and five hours by train from […]

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Sep

09

The Most Shocking Ending in All Literature

“How oddly situated a man is apt to find himself at the age of thirty-eight! His youth belongs to the distant past. Yet the period of memory beginning with the end of youth and extending to the present has left him not a single vivid impression. And therefore he persists in feeling that nothing more […]

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Jul

25

Mono no aware: Beauty in Japan

Meaning literally “a sensitivity to things,” mono no aware is a concept coined by Japanese literary and linguistic scholar Motoori Norinaga in the eighteenth century to describe the essence of Japanese culture, and it remains the central artistic imperative in Japan to this day. The phrase is derived from the word aware, which in Heian […]

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Jun

19

Six Childhood Facts

Six facts about me as a child, with due respect to Pavitrata. 1. No fast fried pleasures, please I never spent my pocket money on junk food as a child. Which is not to say that I didn’t like junk food, or to suggest merely a lack of money, but rather that spending hard earned, […]

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