The marvel of Miyanoshita

Apr 4, 2008

The marvel of Miyanoshita

Guests stroll through the Fujiya Hotel like wide-eyed tourists drinking in the sights in an exotic port of call. They gaze at the dragon spiraling around a banister, the snake slithering up a support atop which sits a monkey, the elaborately carved tableau of ...

Then there were ghosts

Mar 21, 2008

Then there were ghosts

Uraga Station, on the Keikyu Line, deposits passengers at the end of a narrow valley. The road ahead bifurcates. I took the right fork and noted that Uraga wears its nautical heritage on its sleeve. Steel utility poles sport tops in the form of ...

Splendor falls on castle walls

Feb 29, 2008

Splendor falls on castle walls

Snowcapped Fuji drops behind the humps of the Hakone range in central Honshu as a southwest-bound train approaches Odawara Station. With mountains on the west and the ocean on the south and east, Odawara was a natural fortress. The first to exploit this topography ...

Dec 25, 2005

The stuff of legend

She was named after the capital of Japan’s first court. She was said by her crew to be more beautiful than a woman. She was the largest battleship in the world. She was the Yamato. Her keel was laid in 1937 at the Kure ...

Aug 28, 2005

Surrender seen close up

Col. Hervey Bennett Whipple was made logistics officer for U.S. Forces in the Southwest Pacific, operating from bases in Australia, in February 1942. In the following month he came to work for Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who had arrived in Australia after a daring escape ...

Glimpsing the essence of Hearn's Kamakura

Sep 26, 2004

Glimpsing the essence of Hearn's Kamakura

Apropos Hearn’s “Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan,” Basil Hall Chamberlain, the Meiji Era Japanologist, wrote: “Never perhaps was scientific accuracy of detail married to such tender and exquisite brilliancy of style.” High praise indeed, since accuracy and style are normally seen as incompatible; science embracing ...

Abandoned misfit who found peace in prose and his new land

Sep 26, 2004

Abandoned misfit who found peace in prose and his new land

In the West, Lafcadio Hearn is largely unknown outside of small circles of Japanophiles and aficionados of Gaelic writers. Ironically, though Hearn wrote in English, he is best known among the Japanese — a people not renowned for regularly reading that language. Most foreign ...

Aug 15, 2004

Barbed organ of delights

“Whereas women were created solely for amusement of men it ill becomes them to emancipate themselves,” begins an article in an 1873 edition of Japan Punch. “As our slaves they are the most delightful of animals, but when they attempt to assume airs of ...

Barbed organ of delights

Aug 15, 2004

Barbed organ of delights

“Whereas women were created solely for amusement of men it ill becomes them to emancipate themselves,” begins an article in an 1873 edition of Japan Punch. “As our slaves they are the most delightful of animals, but when they attempt to assume airs of ...