Japanese frantically gearing up for civil defense


Shades of the Cuban missile crisis. Weekly Playboy (May 15) reports that all of a sudden, Japanese have begun snatching up nuclear fallout shelters and air purifiers in unprecedented numbers. Seiichiro Nishimoto, president of the Habikino City-based Shelter, tells the magazine his business has been booming. The reason is simple:… Read


30% of all Japan's medical diagnoses said to be mistaken


A man went to a doctor complaining of lower back pains. Vertebral swelling, said the doctor. He recommended an operation. The operation was performed. The pain persisted. Had the diagnosis been wrong? The patient went back for additional tests. An MRI scan revealed an aneurism. A second operation saved the… Read


Subway station target of malicious phone hoax


One of the biggest aggravations with which law enforcement and rescue personnel are forced to deal are pranksters who call in false emergencies. Referred to in Japanese as kyogen hanzai -- literally “crazy speech crimes" -- they can be prosecuted, usually as misdemeanors, when and if the perpetrators are apprehended.… Read


Are funerals growing obsolete?


You step inside and, at first glance, it looks like any other hotel lobby, but the uniformed concierge who answers the check-in clerk’s call leads you to a door that opens on a white-walled, 10-mat room in the center of which is a coffin. There is no polite way to… Read


Finding spies everywhere, and thinking the unthinkable


While news reports have been focused on lethal North Korean operatives who brought about the murder of Kim Jong-nam in plain view at Kuala Lumpur airport, Shukan Taishu (April 17) informs its Japanese readers that their own country provides an even better haven for foreign operatives than does Malaysia. Its… Read


Stats on entertainment businesses show accelerating pace of decline


Japan has a well-deserved reputation as a country with stimulating night life. Every major city has at least one "neon-gai" (entertainment zone), and Tokyo has dozens. But according to J-Cast News (April 2), the varieties of so-called "fuzoku" (adult entertainment) businesses -- with one major exception, which we'll get to… Read


Akie Abe reportedly in hot water with mother-in-law over school scandal


What fond mother isn’t convinced her son married beneath him, and her? It’s the stuff of comedy, stale and funny at the same time. It’s stale because it’s old, enduring because it’s true to life, and funny as long as it’s someone else’s problem. When it’s yours, it’s not funny.… Read


For most Japanese, April Fools' Day still no joke


If you were in Japan in the 1990s, you might remember a pair of TV personalities named Kin-san and Gin-san -- Gold and Silver. Kin Narita and Gin Kanie, identical twin sisters from Nagoya, were born on Aug 1, 1892, which made them perhaps television's sole centenarian entertainers. Spry, cute… Read


Educator finds young users of LINE app losing their grip on language


"When I don't know what to say, I just post a stamp (emoticon or avatar)," says the student. "Or, when I have to follow a group discussion, I just post a bunch of grinning emoticons." This, Kohei Yano tells Shukan Kinyobi (March 3), shows how use of smartphone applications like… Read


Private info leaked from smartphones being bought, sold online


Be careful what you search for. It may come back to haunt you. Think of cyberspace as lightly snow-covered. Every step you take leaves a trace. Collectively they show where you’ve been and where you’re going. The analogy is imperfect. Footprints in snow get obliterated. Data on the internet never… Read