Culture | Discuss Japan-Japan Foreign Policy Forum - パート 8
Discuss Japan > Culture

Archives : Culture

No.6
Culture, No.6  Jun. 4, 2011

THE "LAWS OF NATURE" AND THE JAPANESE–IT IS TIME TO THINK, NOT WITH YOUR HEAD BUT WITH YOUR BODY. AND LIVE WITH WHAT YOU HAVE.

Rebuild new, yet rebuild “as it was before “First, I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake, and my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. The idea that nature is a good thing, as implied in words such as “nature conservation” and “natural food” only shows one face of nature. Nature, as we saw in the latest disaster, also has another face: that of fear. It was a “once in a thousand years” massive earthquake and tsunami. Although under the current circumstances we have little data on damage resulting from causes other than the tsunami, the earthquake itself caused up to several hundred aftershocks. While some disasters come once in a thousand years, some greater disasters come once in ten thousand years. There is even a theory of an extinction ... ... [Read more]

No.6
Culture, No.5  Mar. 30, 2011

THE POST-BUBBLE CITY AND JAPAN’S NEW WAVE OF INTERNATIONAL DESIGN

The superflat landscape of Shibuya ©Igarashi Tarō A new type of twenty-first-century cityscape stretches out in front of Tokyo’s Shibuya station. When the lights change on the “scramble crossing” in front of the station, waves of pedestrians surge across the street from all directions. It is a space where things never stand still; where movement never ceases. Unlike the plazas and open squares of the West, people here never stop moving. The area is dominated on all sides by the huge video screens on buildings like Q-Front, which arrived in the area in 1999, and the 109-2 building. It is a landscape of vast advertising signs and high-rise structures full of the machines and automated application centers belonging to consumer loan companies. The city overflows with a stream of... [Read more]

No.5
Culture, No.5  Mar. 29, 2011

CULTIVATING AND COMMERCIALIZING NEW TECHNOLOGY

The HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) robot suit that I developed at a university research center can amplify, extend, and supplement the bodily movements of the wearer. The suit, in the form of a robotic exoskeleton, is equipped with sensors that pick up on the weak bioelectrical signals that are detectable when a person is about to move an arm or leg, and a mechanism allows the suit to assist whatever movement a person intends to make. The robot suit can assist walking and rehabilitation of those whose bodies are too weak to move about freely or those with physical disabilities. There are high expectations for this device, which has been the focus of attention as the world’s first cyborg robot. In the years to come, with the aging of Japan’s population, the role played by technology will become even more important. Recognizing this, I ... ... [Read more]

No.5
Culture, No.5  Feb. 6, 2011

JAPAN'S SPACE PROGRAM: THOUGHTS ON THE SUCCESSFUL HAYABUSA MISSION

INTERVIEWER On June 13 last year the asteroid explorer Hayabusa returned to Earth seven years after its launch. The spacecraft itself was consumed in flames as it made its reentry, but it delivered its precious capsule safely to the ground. Many Japanese were deeply moved by this accomplishment. I am sure there were many difficulties involved in the project, but could I ask you each to cite the three most difficult points you experienced? KAWAGUCHI JUN’ICHIRŌ The first was the touchdown on and takeoff from the asteroid Itokawa. The second was late in 2005, as Hayabusa headed away from Itokawa and back toward Earth, when we lost communications with the spacecraft and didn’t know where it was. The third was when its ion-propulsion engines died while the mission was still in progress. The pressure was especially great at the time of the... [Read more]

No.5
Culture, No.5  Feb. 3, 2011

AN "OFF TO THE SIDE" ARTIST

Hagio Moto is today a leading figure in Japan’s manga industry–indeed, in the country’s cultural sphere as a whole. Her oeuvre is broad and deep, with representative works including Pō no ichizoku (The Poe Clan), a depiction of beautiful vampires; Tōma no shinzō (The Heart of Thomas), about life in a boys’ boarding school in Germany; 11 nin iru! (trans. They Were Eleven), a science-fiction masterpiece; and the psychological thriller Zankoku na kami ga shihai suru (A Savage God Reigns) (all published by Shōgakukan). These have earned her many devoted readers, particularly women, who eagerly look forward to immersing themselves in the next weekly or monthly installment of her work and experiencing her delicate artistic touch, captivating characters, and thrilling dialogue. In 2009 Hagio celebrated the fortieth anniversary of her debut as a manga artist. Her creative spark shows no... [Read more]

No.3
Culture, No.3  Nov. 28, 2010

A NOBEL LAUREATE'S THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING

TAKEUCHI KAORU Appropriations for science and technology have recently been cut sharply as a result of the government’s program-review process. I believe it’s a serious problem if the work on basic science is weakened. How do you feel about that? MASKAWA TOSHIHIDE If you look at examples from the past, it takes about a hundred years for the fruits of basic science to be returned to society in practical form. For example, the use of radar in World War II was the beginning of people’s ability to make free use of radio waves. Then after the war television was developed. All this was based on the Maxwell equations summing up the laws of electromagnetic fields, which were drawn up in 1864 by James Maxwell. It was about eighty years from then to the 1940s. It’s the same story in other fields. TAKEUCHI I was ... ... [Read more]

No.3
Culture, No.3  Oct. 3, 2010

THE "PANDORA'S BOX" OF MISSING PENSIONERS

“One Hundred Ten-Year-Old Woman Listed as Residing in Arakawa Ward Is Missing”–This headline sounds like any one of the many others that filled the pages of Japanese newspapers starting in late July, but in fact it dates from the Nikkei evening edition printed on September 14, 2005. Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward, where the supposedly 110-year-old woman was listed as residing, had been listing the woman as still alive in the annual report sent to the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare for at least three years prior to that date, without confirming that this was in fact true. Arakawa Ward was obliged to issue that report on the most elderly of its residents, after confirming their whereabouts, for the ministry’s National Longevity List, published annually prior to Respect for the Aged Day in September. The Longevity List includes a roster of the 100 oldest people ... ... [Read more]

No.2
Culture, No.2  Sept. 28, 2010

THE MEANING OF BONSAI: TRADITION AND THE JAPANESE ESTHETIC

The Ōmiya Bonsai Art Museum, Saitama, opened on March 28 in Saitama City, not far from Tokyo. It is the first publicly run institution in Japan dedicated to the art of bonsai. The museum is located in an exclusive residential area known as the Ōmiya Bonsai Village. The Bonsai Village developed in the years following the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923, when a number of established professional bonsai cultivators moved here from Tokyo, drawn to Ōmiya by its clean air and the prospect of spacious premises suitable for use as bonsai nurseries. In the years that followed, Ōmiya grew into an important suburb under the influence of the “garden city” philosophy of urban planning then prevalent in the commuter belt around Tokyo, making it a place of considerable interest in terms of Japanese social history.... [Read more]

No.2
Culture, No.2  Aug. 8, 2010

JAPANESE EDUCATION TODAY: TIME TO MOVE ON

The start of the new academic year this April brought the introduction of a new set of textbooks in Japanese elementary schools. Stories in the media about the new textbooks, which are considerably thicker than before, took them as symbolic of a shift away from yutori kyōiku, or “education that gives children room to grow.” A headline in the daily Asahi Shimbun on March 31 proclaimed: “25% More Pages in Elementary School Texts: Farewell to Room-to-Grow Education.” The Yomiuri Shimbun had shorter headline delivering the same message on the same day. The new textbooks have more pages, and furthermore their contents seem to be more difficult. They restore many items that were designated as advanced-study topics in the previous round of textbook screening or that had been omitted entirely as part of the “room to grow” revisions, such as the formula for calculating the ... ... [Read more]

No.2
Culture, No.2  Aug. 5, 2010

LAST-MINUTE CHANGES YIELD WORLD CUP SUCCESS

Photo : Men's Soccer Japan Representative

Members of Japan’s national team (at May 30, 2010 match against England) ©J.LEAGUE PHOTOS “In terms of how we played, I have no regrets at all. The players were really wonderful, and they’ve been truly proud of being Japanese and also representing Asia as a whole. They played until the end and I’m proud of them. But I didn’t manage to get them to win. That’s my responsibility. I wasn’t determined enough.” So spoke Okada Takeshi, coach of Japan’s national football team, at a press conference following his side’s defeat in a penalty shoot-out to Paraguay in the round of 16 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. While Okada’s remarks may have been tinged with disappointment, the performance and results of the Japanese team at this summer’s tournament were certainly... [Read more]