Why are Japanese homes so poorly insulated?


The rising cost to heat homes this chilly winter raises the question of whether or not one's dwelling is well insulated against the elements. Masatoshi Takeuchi, an architect and professor at Tohoku University of Art and Design in Yamagata answers this question. "Among the G7 countries, Japan is the only… Read


Think before throwing out junk from your home: It may be valuable


Japan sits on buried treasure worth 4.3 trillion yen. Its name is Junk. Think of the  nation as a six-mat room. It’s a tight squeeze but that’s the nature of microcosm. Living in the room is a certain “Tsutomu Kawasaki,” as Spa (Jan 24-31) pseudonymously calls him. Keeping him company is… Read


Pop culture portrayals of Japanese and Korean heroes make for interesting contrast


"A peaceful death at age 75, in an era when people barely lived to their forties: The secret of Tokugawa Ieyasu's longevity!" The cover story for President magazine (Feb 17) was devoted to first generation shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), the warlord who united Japan at the beginning of the 17th century. And who to this day remains the object… Read


Magazine warns Japanese society on verge of becoming an 'income-based caste system'


Japan's economy was still struggling to recover from the Lehman Shock of 2008 when the COVID pandemic knocked it for a loop. The impact has been so profound that a special report in business magazine Shukan Diamond (Jan 21) concluded Japan's once egalitarian society is on the verge of morphing… Read


Dystopian Japan doomed to impotent stagnation if not ultimate extinction, says magazine


Japan: aging, shrinking, weakening. Is there a foothold on this slippery slope down? No, says journalist Masashi Kawai, writing in Shukan Shincho (Jan 19). The magazine’s headline is “Dystopian Japan.” “Dystopian:” a bleak word for a harsh world. It suggests technology rampant, rule totalitarian, humanity submerged. The dystopia presented here… Read


Will Okinawa once again become a battleground in a Japan-China military conflict?


After years of fretting over military buildups by China, North Korea and Russia, Japan has finally begun to make serious moves to augment its Self Defense Force. Last December Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced his intention to double defense expenditures from 1% of GNP to 2%. This raises various questions,… Read


'Yamagami Girls' – women whose hearts go out to Abe's accused killer


Blunting much sympathy for murdered former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been the tragic life of his alleged killer, Tetsuya Yamagami. Who is the victim in this drama, and who the criminal? The lines blur. Shukan  Josei (Jan 17-24) reports on the “Yamagami Girls” – young women whose hearts have gone… Read


Historian relates story of Japan's 'comfort women' during early postwar occupation


Masayasu Hosaka, a prolific chronicler of Japan's wartime and postwar history, writes a column for Nikkan Gendai five days a week. In five somewhat disjointed columns from Dec 22 that were published as a run-up to the year's final issue, Hosaka covered the sordid saga of a short-lived organization set… Read


Mochi at the new year remains a hazardous substance


During the first three days of 2023, a total of 19 people in the greater Tokyo area received emergency treatment for mochi lodged in their throats, of whom four died. Once again confirming that mochi, a food made from glutinous rice, traditionally consumed at the new year and other celebratory… Read


Reverse trend in teleworking starting to appear in Japan


The revolution fizzled. Telework as a concept goes back to the 1970s. Twenty years later it was being said, “Work is something you do, not something you go to.” The history of work had come, it seemed, full circle – beginning  in remote times at home, shifting after long ages to… Read

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