Ki: The Vital Force

December 3, 2011

While ki is regularly invoked as an explanatory principle in oriental medicine and martial arts, few practitioners or writers, either Eastern or Western, spend much time intelligibly explaining ki itself…

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Nature and Culture in Japan

November 30, 2011

Japanese cultural tradition hides a vast storehouse of notions and practices that may be helpful in establishing a culturally-grounded eco-philosophy…

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The SoundSilence of Water

November 8, 2011

The tea-masters of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, mostly lay adepts of Zen, were the ultimate artists in the use of water for its sound, form and haptic effects.

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Reel Life and Real Life: The Joys and Trials of Being Intercultural

October 26, 2011

REGGE LIFE’s moving documentaries, broadcast nationally in both countries, introduce us to scores of reflective people who in turn invite us to take a closer look at ourselves…

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Perspective Omitted, Questions Unasked

October 23, 2011

Japan’s mass-circulation newspapers routinely treat events as startling, wholly unexpected, random, and seemingly unrelated to anything that has happened before.

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Cracked Mirror: Western ‘Takes’ on Japan

October 22, 2011

The Holy Terror from Baltimore had never set foot in Japan. But he understood instinctively that news from war-torn China often crossed the line into anti-Japanese propaganda…

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Media Critic: Asano Kenichi

October 22, 2011

Former Kyodo News Service correspondent Asano Kenichi was expelled from Indonesia in 1992 for his investigative reports on shady deals between Jakarta businessmen and Japanese politicians.

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“The Myth of Tomorrow”

October 19, 2011

“Myth of Tomorrow” represents the culmination of Okamoto Tarō’s concern over the horrors of war and the fear of atomic weapons.

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Music vs Militarism

October 12, 2011

The pottery grounds, Chibana tells me, were formerly a bomb disposal yard. At once, my body tenses. I begin to step gingerly, looking at where I place my feet. The floor is simply earth though — dusty red clay. The potters are young, bandanas on their heads; their bare feet are clay red too…

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Mantra from Ajari-san

October 6, 2011

Ajari — “Great Teacher” — is a title conferred on monks…who have completed the great sennichi kaihõgyo training… This meditative practice involves walking a total of over 38,000 kilometers in 1,000 days, within a seven-year period.

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Japan’s Nuclear Nightmare

October 6, 2011

The Monju fast-breeder reactor plant, designed to burn the world’s deadliest substance, plutonium, had been shut down since a December 1995 accident in which a secondary cooling pipe burst…

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September 25, 2011


In making these tray gardens, I simplify Japanese gardens, creating sculptures that feature only certain elements drawn from those gardens — a stillness or a motion; a sense of time or one of timelessness; a certain color, texture or balance of parts…

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Going Geisha

August 21, 2011

After returning from Japan, I was surprised to see that the States was in a lather over “geisha chic.” Chopsticks were stuck in heads fair and dark. Fashion magazines urged women to “Geisha-ize”…

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Host Clubs: Lessons in Language, Culture, and Power

July 5, 2011

Hosts are sort of heterosexual male sex workers, but they do not sell ‘sex,’ though it can happen outside of the club. It is more of a companionship…

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Maverick Mushrooms

April 16, 2011

In Japanese, the general word for mushroom, kinoko, means “child of the tree.”  Names of species then reflect specific trees plus the suffix –take (or dake), signifying “mushroom.” 

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April 16, 2011

When the summer nights begin to resemble a damp wool blanket thrown over our house and the rainy season pounds relentlessly onward, my husband and I like to drive out to a village in the nearby mountains…

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Big Fish Eat Little Fish

April 16, 2011

After World War II, philosopher and critic Tsurumi Shunshuke started the highly-respected magazine Shiso no Kagaku (Science of Thought), serving for half a century as its editor and publisher. From the 1950s to the 1970s, he was an outspoken anti-war activist…

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KJ 98: Ma