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A Boy Named BonsaiIrmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit

For most of the modern era, the linguistic balance of trade between Japan and the West has been fairly unequal. The transfer of knowledge from the West, accompanied by the assimilation of new vocabulary, was an inherent part of Japan’s modernization. Since the late nineteenth century, countless loanwords from Western languages have become central to Japanese. Compared to these words’ sheer number …

Orchestrating Translations: The Case of Murakami HarukiIrmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit

On January 12, 2014, Japan’s “global author,” as he has been termed, celebrates his sixty-fifth birthday. Two days earlier was chosen for the publication of Murakami Haruki’s most recent novel in German: Die Pilgerjahre des farblosen Herrn Tazaki, which has been eagerly awaited by readers and the press since October 2013, when the publication date was announced. The rest of the story is predictabl…

Two Years On from FukushimaSven Saaler

More than two years since the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi, more than 100,000 people are still unable to return to their homes due to radioactive contamination. Ironically, however, the nuclear disaster seems to have had more impact in some European countries than in Japan itself. Germany, Italy, and Switzerland have all decided to phase out nuclear energy. France is discussing new ways o…

Can’t Help But Sing of Joy

Year-end performances of the Ninth Symphony are held annually all over Japan, far from Beethoven’s homeland. Odder still, in Japan the chorus is almost always sung in German. What is it about the Ninth that casts such a powerful spell? The writer dropped in on a choral rehearsal to find out.

Japanese Cuisine Behind the Iron CurtainIrmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit

Imagine a small town in a mountainous region of central Europe containing roughly 30,000 inhabitants, located more than 300 kilometers from the capital, and isolated from the general flow of information, travel, and international goods exchange due to being located in the German Democratic Republic—the former East Germany. To open a Japanese restaurant in such a place under such economic conditi…

Japan Stands Idle in a World Rocked by DemonstrationsNariai Osamu

Youth-led demonstrations are spreading across the United States, the world’s sole economic superpower. The main cause of the rising tide of protest is the economic downturn in the US since the Lehman Brothers collapse in September 2008 and the tensions arising from the absence of a substantial recovery. In the United States, real GDP grew by 4.8% between the second quarter of fiscal 2009 and the …

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