Spike: That’s all folks!

80 responses to “Spike: That’s all folks!

  1. Story end from day one.

  2. As in: you’re ending the blog?

    • Yep!

      • Sorry to hear that. Your blog was a unique window into Japanese life. I enjoyed the way you brought your glass half empty sensibility to life through some truly brilliant writing.

        But I guess it’s too late for flattery.

        Good luck and all that.

      • It’s a great blog – unique! Can you write why – for those of us who enjoy it so much!?

      • How Goes it? I have enjoyed your blog over the years of course.
        Been meaning to write. Come out to see us soon.
        The little Tibet of Japan still awaits your visit!
        Fat middle aged git in S. Nagano (no…, the slightly thinner one!)

  3. Did something wrong happened, that made you decide to stop your blog so abruptly? Even yesterday, you seemed to want to continue, thinking of a JT-related minipost…

  4. I’m sad to hear you are ending the blog. You are such a great writer and I loved your stories. I hope you reconsider.

  5. I am also saddened by your decision. Whatever your reasons, I have enjoyed reading your stories and wish you all the best!

  6. Other then Ecology of Absence this is the ONLY blog I read. I’m so possessive of my time that I won’t even do FB.

    Your blog is my erudite vacation where I always get what I want most in life: to be amazed.

    Please, say it isn’t so.

  7. Yep something totally unprecedented and ustoppable happened on day one at Fukushima. Just no point in tracking it any more Cherobyll x 1000s.

    • Gerry,
      Rest assured, we’re not quite at Chernobyl levels of disaster yet, thank goodness. Hope all’s OK with you.

  8. “Chernobyl”. So what any more.

  9. Oh, very sad news. Your blog flipped my ideas about Japan upside-down.

  10. Thank you for your eye and your willingness to dig into back stories that we never knew existed. Thank you for your interest in stretching out beyond the Ginza and Mount Fuji to see the rest of the country.

    Thank you for your time in crafting these precise jewels of exploration.

    And if you decide to start up again, you’ll have at least one reader here…


  11. Crap. I’m a big fan of both your writing and your photography on here, as well as the sensibility behind both. Do you write anywhere else?

  12. I loved your Hokkaido series (the missus is from there), and thoroughly enjoyed the rest. All the best.

  13. I’m very sorry to hear this. I wish you the best, and I thank you for the excellent photoessays you’ve posted here.

  14. criticalfailing

    I’m in sudden mourning. This isn’t hyberbole. I love this blog; its empathy, its depth of research, its humor. I can theorize on why you shut it down — in recent posts, I’ve had a sense that one can’t write about Japan-that-was in the Japan-that-is without great moral struggle — but to me that’s only made it more vital, in every sense of the word.

    But all vital things must come to an end, and whatever the reason, I recognize that it’s got to happen. Take care of yourself, and if you ever start another project, please announce it here. I’ll keep you on my RSS. Thanks for all you’ve done.

  15. No!!!!! I love this blog! I hope you’re okay and you made this decision on your own and not due to outside forces. I do hope you continue to blog in some capacity in the future.

  16. I “enjoyed” reading your blog with such a profound sense of cynical sadness. You have found the perfect way to climax it at the peak of pessimism with an abrupt, unexplained resignation.
    Reminds me of the Glico (GuRiKo) trademark (maker of chocolate tipped pretzel sticks and other confections). Hands thrown aloft in triumph at the finish line, some Japanese friends from the mid-70’s interpreted the Glico logo as the ultimate symbol of “I give up”.
    If it’s give-up time for Spike Japan I hope you will turn your prodigious talents to another worthy literary outlet and generously notify all of your faithful readers.

  17. I am surprisingly sad that you are ending your web log. I just came to it yesterday on a recommendation to read your photo essay on Yubari.
    I stayed to read more and would like to continue reading. I hope you will leave it up for a while.
    Your writing and photos give me a glimpse of Japan that I have not encountered before.
    What I have read has shown me a writer and photographer of great skill and perception.

  18. Hello,

    If you aren’t planning to continue this wonderful blog (which I discovered in the last week and absolutely love), would you be interested in perhaps writing the occasional article for The Automatic Earth? We’re an independent finance and energy website with 400,000 to 500,000 page views per month. Our world view is encapsulated in this collection of essays (http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2010/07/july-22-2010-big-picture-according-to.html). We’ve spent the last several years chronicling peak oil and the credit crunch (ponzi finance fallout).

    The two of us who run TAE are both originally European (British and Dutch), but have spent a long time in Canada. We would really appreciate an Asian perspective.

    We’ve written a lot on Fukushima recently, since nuclear safety (in the Soviet Union) used to be my field as an academic at Oxford. Your articles on this topic are simply superb.


    Nicole (Stoneleigh)

    • Stoneleigh – I see you in the most unlikely place of all. I always tried to join the Automatic Earth but couldn’t .

      • I was surprised, too, when I stumbled across me at The Automatic Earth this afternoon! Like you (perhaps), I can’t access the comments section at home, although for some reason I can at work.
        The site is very close to the basest form of hucksterism, as is apparent from the very opening line of the May 10 article, in which Spike Japan features prominently:
        “Stoneleigh has done a lot of thorough digging lately”
        No she hasn’t, she’s toured the web and bookmarked a load of commentary and journalism, some good, some mediocre, and now touts it as her own work, while being careful to link in acknowledgement. Her own comments are a parade of cliche. I detest self-appointed nuclear “experts”, whichever side of the pro- or anti- fence, which is why I very deliberately shy away from making grandlioquent statements about nuclear power and concentrate on the idly satirical.

    • Dear Nicole,

      Thank you for the compliments. By complete coincidence I stumbled across you here
      to find myself liberally quoted (and quite perturbed) before I had a chance to go back and answer
      all the messages of support from last week.
      I’m afraid your modus operandi, as revealed by that post (sweep the web, see what sticks, quote
      liberally and sometimes without accreditation, value weight over quality, and add in some ill-considered
      generalizations about Japan), is not mine nor one that I remotely approve of, and I take pity on
      your readers.



  19. Genevieve Morgan

    No! Gutted! I love reading this! But I guess you have your reasons…

  20. I’ll have to go back to pilfering from the BBC: rjsoros.blogspot.com

  21. Frank Leopold

    Please explain to us why.

  22. Wow – what a shame. One of the very few blogs I’ve found worth reading every word. There is enough here for a book – a very good book. Its inspired me to do more (very) off the beaten track travels through Japan.

    I’m sorry it has to end, but thank you for writing up your thoughts up to now. I hope the blog remains up, it will be a valuable resource for future studies of japan.

  23. Oh no! Best of luck in your further endeavors; I learned a lot from your work.

  24. Kyushu Ranger

    Are you going to leave Japan?
    I wish you the best in whatever you are doing. Let’s hope it’s a book deal!
    Why the sudden decision? You could do a good article on your decision, no? A kind of Post Script.
    Anyway, I’ll miss your thoughtful articles. Take care,
    Kyushu Ranger.

    • As you’ll have seen, Ranger, I’m back, in modest minispike form. It’s very time-consuming, this writing lark, and I don’t have infinite amounts of time and energy to go around.

  25. Like many others I will miss your wonderful blog and your delightful dry wit, my mental picture has been of a cross between Stephen Fry and Noel Coward!
    No doubt you have good reason to finish up, I wish you well in the future.

    • “My mental picture has been of a cross between Stephen Fry and Noel Coward”
      Now that is a compliment I will quite happily take!

  26. don’t do it!

  27. Richard, hope all is well.

    I’ve continued to think that you’d be valued as a writer, in the sense of travel&culture books, and rather hoped this practice would get you on a standard of evenness at the level that stands out across all your best pieces.

    Whatever is happening here, you see you have fans, and one here. I hope something as good or better comes out in the end — and that you’ll let us know through this weblog, so we get the email notifying.

    Read a recent and my opinion quite, quite fine Le Carre over the week-end — Our Kind of Traitor. You might enjoy it, or others in his recent oeuvre if you’re in touch with Europe as with Asia. And yes, I’m aware of how people criticize him, particularly recently, but I think they’re quite wrong. A man who gets leaner and more accurate through his career, no halting in later stages; thus, an example for us all.


  28. well, no ‘f’ ..

  29. Another voice to express my great sorrow at the end of SpikeJapan. It’s one of three blogs I read, and by far the best of the three. (The other two are P Z Myers’ “Pharyngula” and Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True”, both of which are imho disfigured by outright rants rather too often.)

    Perhaps the thing that has given SpikeJapan its quality is that its author has not felt compelled to babble every day, or even every week or month. Unlike so many bloggers, he has only written when he had something to say, and what he has had to say has always, without exception, been worth reading.

    I hope the blog will at least stay up; if not forever, then for long enough to allow those of us who value it (and trust me, I value it highly) time to capture it.

    Best of luck and success in all your future endeavours, Richard. It has been a great pleasure reading what you have had to say.

  30. お疲れ様でした

  31. Hope that you’ll be writing again soon – very much enjoyed the blog. Spike Japan was a unique insight into real Japan. Thank you!

  32. Seconding the previous comments — I have read your blog with great pleasure, hope you will continue it, best, Ed

  33. Just wanted to chime in to say this blog will be missed. Spike Japan consistently provided a thoughtful and poignantly written look at a culture we in the west often times look on as a black box. I felt I was reading the other Japan in these blog posts, the one slightly below the surface, so often glossed over by generalities about vending machines and neon and manga and karaoke. Obviously the earthquake and nuclear crisis coverage has been extraordinary, but even before that I was glad every time I saw Spike pop up in my RSS feed, because I knew I was about to have my world expanded, at least a little bit. I wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors, but I do it with a little sadness. Thanks and good luck.

  34. because I only discovered you recently, pachiguy – having clicked on one of your ruins during an image search for god knows what – I get to still read most of your blog for the first time.

    thanks very much.

    perhaps the coming economic collapse will inspire an even more ruinous blog!

    so do hold some cash, for our sake if not your own.


  35. No! Say it isn’t true! The best written blog on Japan bar none.

  36. Oh no! 😦
    I can only hope that some media outlet was wise enough to give you a weekly or monthly column, or that the ink is drying on your book contract. I do wish to express my thanks for your wonderfully researched and written blog. I learned more about Japan and its people reading it than I have from most books. My best wishes to you and yours and I fervently hope that I will be reading your thoughts albeit in a different venue.

  37. But, but, but!! You said! You can’t! (You can.)

  38. 残念! I have thoroughly enjoyed your site which I discovered when in search for reliable information post 3/11. Do hope to hear your reasons for the sudden finale (and that you perhaps change your mind someday!). All the best.

  39. I too enjoyed your blog immensely and I am sad to hear you that you are packing it up. Please leave the archives up – I would like to reread some of my favorite posts. I wish you the best.

  40. Captain Button

    Sorry to see you go. Thank you for all the work you put into this. Good luck with whatever.

  41. Thanks for some great posts. You put a hell of a lot of effort into the blog and it really showed. I too will miss your updates on Japan.

  42. Sorry, to hear that. I will definitely miss Spike. Thank you for your all your had work, dedication and passion in putting out these compelling stories. Best wishes on your next venture! (Do let us know what it is.)

  43. Saddened by this news. Reconsidering I hope. Best wishes.

  44. Fukushima has changed everything, I feel. Whether it is connected to the demise of Spike Japan I know not but it is a time of great sadness for anyone with ties to Japan.

    Many thanks, pachiguy, for the blog. It will be missed.

    All the best. Hope to see you surface again somewhere, sometime.

  45. what happened/!?

  46. I just started reading this the other week there… balls. Best of luck to you. I’ll be done blogging myself come August. It’ll be a sad day.

  47. i’m so sorry that you’re ending this blog. ever since i happened upon it, i’ve checked every morning for new posts. your writing manages to be both funny and sad, and has given me much pleasure and – i hipe – some insight.

  48. hope, not hipe

  49. As you indicate in your latest post, I also hope you continue this blog – as much work as it must be. Need contributions? Please ask! I truly appreciate the insight into a country I probably will never have the opportunity to visit. I love your facility with language and eagerly anticipate your next entry.

  50. Crap! I look away for 24-hours and you close up shop! WTF? How else am I going to learn all your wonderful revisionist stories of Japan? I searched long and hard for substantive and interesting blogs about Japan lacking an obvious agenda, and Spike was above and beyond of everything else available.

    Thanks for all your hard work and entertaining and informative writing.

  51. Waiter! A bucket of gin to Mr. Hendy’s table!

    Thanks, Richard, for your words, wit and insight.

  52. Say it ain’t so! I always enjoy reading your blogs with their humor and bittersweet take on modern Japan. If you ever decide to write more, you will have at least one reader here!

  53. Shattered. Loved visiting this blog.

  54. Brilliant. Top notch writing. I spent my entire Sunday today reading almost everything you have written. Original, witty, heartfelt, thoughtful. Why stop now? The English-speaking world needs your voice, I think, particularly now when there is nothing but rubbish being written about Fukushima. Your voice should be booming above the din of the brain-dead megaphone that is the blogosphere. You ought to continue writing, and you ought to consider giving up your day job and doing this professionally.

    • You’re too kind. There were a variety of personal reasons to stop, which I won’t bore you with.
      “You ought to continue writing, and you ought to consider giving up your day job and doing this professionally.”
      Sadly, the day job is moderately lucrative and writing about Japan in any way (unless you’re employed by the FT, WSJ, NYT, or The Economist, or work in an ivory tower) is not. So I’ll stick with sacrificing my weekends for now.

  55. A Cranky Coyote

    I’m very happy to see you continue in whatever capacity you choose to, pachiguy – your stories are fascinating and very well-told. I’m not sure if you’d take a comparison to Alex Kerr as a complement, but I think that your tales and insights here compare favorably to him at his best.

    • You’re very kind. I’ll take the comparison with Alex Kerr, thank you. It had been a long while since I read “Dogs and Demons”, and when I went back to it for help in the retelling of the story of the Bubble Lady of Osaka in “Huis ten Bosch: Only Miffy can save us now”:
      I began to worry about his sources and general reliability, but he’s an impassioned commentator for sure (and knows far more about traditional arts than I do). Wonder what he’s doing now?

  56. Thanks for continuing to do (on a smaller scale) some of the best writing I’ve seen on the web — and you’ll note that I didn’t qualify that with “about Japan”.

    I’m glad you’re continuing to do a few postings here — I fell very much In Love with Japan when I was stationed there (for a mere 8 months) c. 1951, and welcome the kind of insight about its culture that I might hope I’d have developed if I’d opted to return and settle there.

    • Thank you very much for the compliment. I will no doubt write some longer postings in due course; at the moment I’m just breaking up a single day’s worth of very disparate and incoherent encounters into digestible gobs.

  57. After a month, the hew and cry seems to have died down over your announcement.
    Logging on today to send you a message, I was surprised to see that you had approved my comment that laid dormant for quite a while.

    Not expecting or wanting you to approve this comment, I have some questions for you.
    What is the nature of giving up? On what, on whom?
    What is the purest form of human depravity?
    What are you going to do with all that productive capacity?
    Who is John Galt?

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