Damian Flanagan

For Damian Flanagan's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

The triumphant second coming of Endo's 'Silence'

Jan 21, 2017

The triumphant second coming of Endo's 'Silence'

Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of “Silence,” Shusaku Endo’s tale of Catholic missionaries suffering brutal repression in 17th-century Japan, has met with mixed reviews. Some have found it ponderously overlong and, for those unfamiliar with Japanese history, baffling in context. It is, in fact, not a ...

Mishima and the maze of sexuality in modern Japan

Jan 14, 2017

Mishima and the maze of sexuality in modern Japan

In June 1948, novelist Osamu Dazai committed suicide. The 38-year-old, who had just completed his masterpiece, “No Longer Human,” and whose fame was peaking, jumped into Tokyo’s Tamagawa Canal with his mistress, Tomie Yamazaki, and drowned. With his acid wit and nihilistic vision, Dazai ...

Natsume Soseki and 'The Orient's No. 1 Elevator'

Dec 17, 2016

Natsume Soseki and 'The Orient's No. 1 Elevator'

What is the top tourist destination in the Kansai region? Is it Kyoto’s geisha district? Is it the temples and bamboo forests of Arashiyama? Is it the town of Yoshino, with Japan’s most famous cherry blossoms? The majestic views from Mount Rokko in Kobe? ...

Love, obsession and perverted desires in Japan's age of steam

Dec 17, 2016

Love, obsession and perverted desires in Japan's age of steam

Japan began to open its doors to the West in the 1850s, after centuries of remaining closed. In the following decade, foreigners’ “concessions” were established in port cities such as Yokohama and Kobe to cope with the new visitors. The Japanese, with their characteristic ...

The hidden heart of Natsume Soseki

Nov 26, 2016

The hidden heart of Natsume Soseki

Dec. 9 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), a novelist widely regarded as being the one of the greatest writers of modern Japan. Events commemorating this anniversary have been held throughout 2016 but, in case you think it will ...

The shifting sexual norms in Japan's literary history

Nov 19, 2016

The shifting sexual norms in Japan's literary history

More than 3,000 women and almost 900 men — that’s the number of lovers the main protagonist in Ihara Saikaku’s 1682 novel “Koshoku Ichidai Otoko” (“The Life of an Amorous Man”) tallies up as he reminisces. Saikaku, born in Osaka in 1642, became a ...

Kofu: the mountain fortress of warlord Takeda Shingen

Nov 5, 2016

Kofu: the mountain fortress of warlord Takeda Shingen

In Akira Kurosawa’s classic 1980 film “Kagemusha” (“Shadow Warrior”), the 16th-century daimyo Takeda Shingen is mortally wounded by a sniper after being lured by the sound of a flute during a castle siege. Takeda’s clan know that rival warlords Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu ...