July 30, 1999 |
Thirty years ago, two people fell prey to the lure of the Japanese big drum. In San Francisco, a martial artist from Japan attending a local cherry blossom festival noted the stark absence of the taiko, the thunderous drum that is a fixture at most every Japanese community celebration.
July 24, 1999 |
Under extreme pressure to survive, Japanese companies are relying more and more on a perverse form of restructuring--bullying and isolating their workers--at a time when outright layoffs are still socially unacceptable, legally cumbersome and expensive. While bullying has long been evident in Japanese schools and companies as a form of social control, workplace experts say its use has never been so widespread or so pointedly focused on getting large numbers of people to quit.
July 19, 1999 |
When Hirotada Ototake's mother was allowed to see her newborn for the first time, a full month after his birth, she let out a happy squeal. "How cute he is!" That wasn't the reaction her doctors had expected--the child was born without arms or legs. The boy is now a college senior, and his autobiography, "No One's Perfect," has become the third-best-selling book in Japan since World War II. The book's many fans say it has fundamentally changed Japanese attitudes toward the disabled.
July 14, 1999 |
Do middle-aged men smell worse than everyone else? Shoji Nakamura, chief perfumer with Japan's exclusive cosmetics firm, Shiseido, certainly thinks so. And he's out to change that. Nakamura, whose million-dollar nose is reputedly able to distinguish among some 2,000 different odors, says he first noticed a distinctive smell among middle-aged and older men in 1987 and spent the next decade thinking about it. "I'm very interested in body odor," he says.
May 23, 1999 |
HISAYAMA, Japan Rice farmer Yoshimi Abe, 74, stands beside a shopping cart here at the grand opening of Japan's largest mall and thinks about his ancestors. In place of the staple Japanese grain the land produced for centuries, his 3.5 acres recently sprouted a Costco discount store. "My father and grandfather farmed these fields. The saddest part is that this land will never again be turned back to rice," Abe said, looking slightly uncomfortable in a suit. "But we didn't really have any choice.
April 25, 1999 |
TOKYO In a nation where quiet, patient suffering is raised to the level of a fine art, 58-year-old Kiyotsugu Shitara is preaching revolt. His 5-year-old Tokyo Manager's Union urges Japan's downtrodden "salarymen" to stand up and fight. Downtrodden? Middle-aged white-collar workers who average $50,000 a year to sit in cozy offices without any heavy lifting? The way Shitara sees it, this group at the heart of Japan Inc. is among the least represented, most alienated in Japanese society.
April 25, 1999 |
TOKYO From a distance, the solutions to Japan's increasingly worrisome economic slide seem obvious. Japan must overhaul and globalize its creaky economy, expand domestic competition, invite foreigners in and weaken the death-like grip that bureaucrats continue to hold over the country. As the rest of Asia shows signs of recovery from its disastrous economic decline, it is wealthy Japan that lags--still unable to confront the vested interests and other long-recognized obstacles to true reform.
April 25, 1999 |
When the United States hit bottom economically a decade ago, it turned to the young and the restless in places such as Silicon Valley to remake its aged economy. The success that followed surpassed the wildest expectations of most foreigners, who had written off America's mature economy, and even many Americans. Japan now finds itself in similar straits.
February 22, 1999 |
It's Wednesday night, and Hiroshi Ieyoshi and three dozen other gas station attendants are gathered for some tough after-hours training. They're learning how to smile. Or rather, trying to learn. Relax the muscle under your nose, teacher Akio Emi commands. Loosen up your tongue. Put your hands on your stomach and laugh out loud, feeling the "poisons" escape. Even if you're down in the dumps, Emi tells his sullen audience, deliver an artificial smile and your emotions are likely to follow suit.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 28, 1998 |
In an effort to bring good luck for the New Year and teach the next generation a centuries-old Japanese tradition, hundreds gathered Sunday at a strawberry farm to learn the fine culinary art of mochi making. Making these sticky balls of crushed rice is tricky business. And Glenn Tanaka, president of the Orange Coast Optimist Club, which sponsored the event, said that its goal is to resurrect the New Year's custom. "It's supposed to be good luck to start the New Year off right," Tanaka said.