MILES WHITTINGHAM WRITES — Prior to the 2021 MLB season, Angels fans just wanted to see their star Shohei Ohtani stay healthy and produce what he could. But no one expected him to do what hadn’t been done in centuries. The Angels’ highly regarded two-way player has been the subject…Full Article SHOHEI OHTANI: A ONE-TIME LONGSHOT PLAYER MAKES HISTORY
CLAIRE GUTE WRITES — Almost anyone who has seen the 2009 documentary The Cove has been struck by the graphic footage of dolphins being captured or killed in Taiji, Japan. Taiji is a small town on the east coast of the Kii Peninsula with a population of 3,500 people, as…Full Article JAPAN: SAVE THE DOLPHINS
LAUREN CRAVEN WRITES — Kawaii, a term meaning “cute” in Japanese, has morphed into an entire culture that can be seen in the everyday experiences of Japanese natives, tourists, and even in the lives of those outside of Japan. In the 1970s and 80s, the Kawaii aesthetic started as a…Full Article JAPAN: DOES KAWAII CULTURE INFANTILIZE WOMEN?
ELLA KELLEHER WRITES – Consider, for a moment, that food is not simply fuel, but rather each component to a meal contains a piece of living-giving energy. “Each grain [of rice]”, as author and translator Winifred Bird describes, “was thought to have a soul, and for many centuries people believed…Full Article BOOK REVIEW: EATING WILD JAPAN: TRACKING THE CULTURE OF FORAGED FOODS WITH A GUIDE TO PLANTS AND RECIPES (2021) BY WINIFRED BIRD
ANDREA PLATE WRITES — Forget about Naomi Osaka, for a moment. For all the whining-and-dining out by the press on the tennis superstar’s mental health struggles, and her difficulty facing their not-so-friendly post-game fire, she is, after all, just one international superstar. One. Forget, too, about Britney Spears, if you…Full Article JAPAN, KOREA, AMERICA: CAN YOUNG SUPERSTARS THE WORLD OVER EVER BE HAPPY?
ELLA KELLEHER WRITES (latest in her review series of new Japanese novels) — Loneliness, a newly standardized leitmotif in Japanese literature, is the driving force behind much of modern Japan’s social dilemmas and Natsuko Imamura’s unnerving novel. Beyond that, the fear over taking risks and forging new relationships frames the narrative…Full Article BOOK REVIEW: THE WOMAN IN THE PURPLE SKIRT (2021) BY NATSUKO IMAMURA
AIDAN SMITH-FAGAN WRITES — Japan’s Defense and Deputy Prime Ministers have both recently affirmed their government’s willingness to defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion from the Chinese mainland. Those statements also coincided with a recent report from the Financial Times detailing joint US-Japanese military exercises in the hotly…Full Article DIRE STRAITS: JAPAN, THE U.S. AND THE FUTURE OF TAIWAN
ELLA KELLEHER WRITES (latest in her review series of new Japanese novels) – People often dwell on the existential concept of death and what it means to die. But what does it mean to be born? To be alive? For the beautiful, talented, and wealthy, life would seem to be a cornucopia of joyous excitement and…Full Article BOOK REVIEW: HEAVEN (2021) BY MIEKO KAWAKAMI
TOM PLATE WRITES — There are always concerns about Japan, with its background of not only brilliant accomplishments but also unforgettable aggressions; but now that Japan is in the foreground again, if with cheerless Olympics, historic debt and China rise, who can be sure what’s next? Recall that the geopolitically…Full Article JAPAN: WHY IT SHOULD PLACE PRIORITY ON MAKING FRIENDS AND MONEY
ELLA KELLEHER WRITES (latest in her review series of new Japanese books) – Are you feeling disillusioned with the relentless hustle and colorless monotony of metropolis living? Do you feel like another cog in the capitalist machine? Do you crave a simpler life? Consider adopting and adhering to the daily…Full Article BOOK REVIEW: THE EASY LIFE IN KAMUSARI (2021) BY SHION MIURA
ELLA KELLEHER WRITES (latest in her review series of new Japanese books) – How does a global war affect regular people caught in its wake of devastation? How long do those effects linger on and how should a society react to them? Shaw Kuzki’s heart-wrenching tale, Soul Lanterns (2021), aims…Full Article BOOK REVIEW: SOUL LANTERNS (2021) BY SHAW KUZKI
ELLA KELLEHER WRITES (latest in her review series of great new books from Japan) – Many are already well aware of love’s fragility, but At the End of the Matinee (2021) proves that love can also be incredibly resilient. Based on a true story, Keiichiro Hirano’s book depicts an agonizing…Full Article BOOK REVIEW: AT THE END OF THE MATINEE (2021) BY KEIICHIRO HIRANO
ELLA KELLEHER WRITES (latest in her review series of new Japanese books) – This imaginative and captivatingly ambiguous recent release by Murakami reads like a game of two truths and a lie (in this case, seven truths and a lie). First Person Singular (2021) presents its audience with eight entrancing…Full Article BOOK REVIEW: FIRST PERSON SINGULAR (2021) by HARUKI MURAKAMI
JONAR COWAN WRITES — In Japan, with the pandemic at hand, many businesses are slowing down and closing down. And as more family-owned businesses and restaurants are closing down, one form of entertainment is doubly impacted: Arcade centers like Sega, which has to sell around 85 percent of their arcade business…Full Article JAPAN: GAME MAY BE OVER FOR ARCADE GAMES
JAMES HANSON WRITES — How important is your surname to you? Mari Inoue and Kotaro Usui, a Tokyo couple, were denied a marriage certificate during the pandemic because Mari Inoue wanted to keep her legal surname. Article 750 of Japan’s Civil Code requires that married couples adopt the same surname. In…Full Article JAPAN: WHAT’S IN A (SUR)NAME, SHAKESPEARE ASKED?
SHAE KUROKAWA WRITES — The Tokyo Summer Olympics is quickly approaching, with less than 100 days before its expected commencement on July 23. But the world is starting to question whether the long-anticipated games will be able to proceed on schedule as COVID-19 cases are on the rise. Talk of…Full Article JAPAN: WILL THE TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPICS SURVIVE THE PANDEMIC?