Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on March 2011

Up and away

Regarding “Above and Beyond,” (Star Struck, March 11): I have seen a few Cirque shows in Las Vegas and Boston. While they don’t perform the most technically challenging tricks, the overall production value is the highest. A few years ago, I watched the Shanghai Circus show in the Shanghai Ritz, and one group of performers who spin these big yo-yo things into the air later went to Cirque. In the Cirque performance, while the same techniques were presented, it was so much more amazing because of the awesome costumes and music.

I just saw Kooza in Harajuku this past week. [Yulia Korosteleva] was great, and Kooza was awesome. It brought back all that we love about the circus. It’s a no-brainer, go see it. Tickets are hard to get, though. (By that I mean good seats). Good luck with that.—NetNinja**

Excuse me while I light this…

Regarding “An Inexcusable Truth” (The Last Word, March 18): It is true that the “hysterical anti-weed climate” of Japan might be at fault for the opposition to medical marijuana usage here. But the results of this climate are not all bad. In many countries, a relaxed attitude to weed has generally paved the way for wider usage of more serious drugs than the “beer and shochu” referred to disparagingly by the author. Though the hoary old “it leads to harder stuff” argument might be a cliché, it’s undeniably related to the wider Japanese condemnation of recreational drugs, and the fact that the more pernicious ones are pretty scarce, even in the bustling capital.—Sockpuppet*

stress-free sayonara

Regarding “Departures” (Upfront, February 11): Stress Free Guide to Leaving Japan? Pick up, pack up, and leave… I did it. No, it isn’t easy, but why do you need a book to tell you to dump stuff you don’t want, pack up and mail stuff you do want… etc? This is a waste of ¥500, that you could use to mail stuff to wherever you’re going home to. Give me a BREAK… Oh, but yes; now that I’ve been gone for twelve years, I want to come back! Need to find a new wife, the old one left and is back there already, without even divorcing me.—wa4tkg**

I left Japan after seven years, and definitely feel it was the right move. The sense of ennui and hopelessness, emanating from junior high students to the elderly, was painful. Maybe it was a combination of where I was (Osaka) and what I was doing (working in a Japanese software company) and who I was with (my soon-to-be-ex-wife), but I saw so little joy, and so much frustrated longing, that leaving was a great relief. There certainly are things I miss about Japan, and one-on-one the people are wonderful, but for my children and I, living in Canada is vastly superior to Japan. Also, the future for Japan has very few positives. Population aging, infrastructure crumbling, sclerotic politics, economy hollowing, environment degraded almost beyond repair.—Gramie**

Art of the Ninja

Regarding “Following the True Path” (Feature, March 4): Most people don’t care what it was like to be a ninja, they just want to be taught the techniques of self defense as it applies to today’s world. Don’t care about the metal fang gloves and stuff, you can’t use them legally. Just teach some joint techniques, basic kicks and strikes. No one really cares about the other stuff and if they do… why?—alphawolf**

* via Metropolis
** via Japan Today