A woman's world

Jun 24, 2012

A woman's world

PASSIONATE FRIENDSHIP: The Aesthetics of Girls’ Culture in Japan, by Deborah Shamoon. Univ. of Hawai’i Press, 2012, 181 pp., $27.00 (paperback) The subject of this book is one that is baffling to outsiders, but visible on the streets of Tokyo, especially the more fashionable ...

Japan's modern haiku master

May 6, 2012

Japan's modern haiku master

IKIMONOFUEI: Poetic Composition on Living Things, by Kaneko Tohta. Red Moon Press, 2011, 91 pp., $12.00 (paperback) THE FUTURE OF HAIKU: An Interview with Kaneko Tohta. Red Moon Press 2011, 137 pp., $12.00 (paperback) These two handy pocket-size volumes are the first of four ...

Japan's 'spiritual recrudescence'

Apr 1, 2012

Japan's 'spiritual recrudescence'

SOLDIER OF GOD: MacArthur’s Attempt to Christianize Japan, by Ray A. Moore. Merwin Asia, 2011, 167 pp., $35.00 (paperback) India, the jewel in the crown of the British Empire, the largest the world has ever known, was won mainly by attrition, though some of ...

Feb 5, 2012

Bold move into Tamura's cold verse

TAMURA RYUICHI: On the Life and Work of a 20th Century Master, edited by Takako Lento & Wayne Miller. Pleiades Press, 2011, 175 pages, $12.99 (paper) The expression of the poet Ryuichi Tamura, as he looks out at the reader from the cover of ...

Close-up on a people's disaster

Dec 25, 2011

Close-up on a people's disaster

“Everything Is Broken: Life Inside Burma” is the second book by Emma Larkin, a Burmese-speaking American journalist who gathers her touching stories traveling incognito in Burma (aka Myanmar). Like her first book, this one has appeared in a popular edition, with a sub-title that ...

Erotica to celebrate and educate

Nov 13, 2011

Erotica to celebrate and educate

The word shunga (“spring picture”), used to identify woodblock prints that portray erotic subjects, is not simply a euphemism for the awakening of natural urges. Rather, as both these books inform us, it is an abbreviation of a longer Chinese name, shunkyu higa (“secret ...

Sheer delight of graceful Kurahara

Oct 30, 2011

Sheer delight of graceful Kurahara

There is a persistent hum of activity among small-press publications in Japan, much of it concerned with poetry and a good deal of it translation. IWANA, by Kurahara Shinjiro, translated by William I. Elliott & Nishihara Katsumasa. Dowaya, 2010, 131 pp., ¥2,100 (hardcover) The ...

Implacable merger of aesthetic and political

Sep 11, 2011

Implacable merger of aesthetic and political

“Trespasses” may be a puzzling term (if you grew up with the Lord’s Prayer), but in a foreword to this selection of writings by Masao Miyoshi (1928-2009), Frederic Jameson speaks of the “Victorianist who turns into a Japanologist” and of the “implacable unification of ...

Apr 3, 2011

Burma, the broken country

EVERYTHING IS BROKEN: The Untold Story of Disaster Under Burma’s Military Regime, by Emma Larkin. Granta, 2010, 265 pp., £12.99 (paper) Tropical storms are given names by meteorological offices around the world. In English we generally prefer to be anthropomorphic, using male and female ...

Feb 13, 2011

Case of the mysterious mister

WHO IS MR SATOSHI?, by Jonathan Lee. William Heinemann, 2010, 295 pp., £12.99 (hardcover) Rob Fossick, a 41-year-old photographer, is drinking a glass of butterscotch schnapps when he witnesses the death of his mother in a retirement home, and is then left to sort ...