| Apr 6, 2008

Getting younger, getting older

I HAVEN’T DREAMED OF FLYING FOR A WHILE by Taichi Yamada, translated by David James Karashima. London: Faber & Faber, 2008, 195 pp., £10.99 (paper). He is in bed with her. “Take my nipple in your mouth,” she says. “Just like nobody can console ...

| Mar 30, 2008

The big mysteries behind small things

THE ART OF SMALL THINGS by John Mack. London: British Museum Press, 2007, 224 pp., with 200 color illustrations, £19.99 (cloth) Here is a splendid catalog of the world made small — miniature works in the collection of the British Museum: Elizabethan rings, Benin ...

| Mar 23, 2008

Utamaro, the women's brand name

UTAMARO AND THE SPECTACLE OF BEAUTY by Julie Nelson Davis. London: Reaktion Books, 2008, 269 pp., 114 illustrations, 66 color plates. £35 (cloth) Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806) is widely known as one of the most creative and influential artists of the ukiyo-e, those “pictures of ...

| Mar 16, 2008

Poetic reasons to take a card game seriously

ONE HUNDRED POETS, ONE POEM EACH: A Translation of the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, by Peter McMillan with a foreword by Donald Keene and an afterword by Eileen Kato. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007, 280 pp., with line drawings, $39.50 (cloth) This is a ...

| Mar 9, 2008

The art of Frances Blakemore: a love affair with Japan

AN AMERICAN ARTIST IN TOKYO: Frances Blakemore — 1906-1997, by Michiyo Morioka. Seattle: The Blakemore Foundation/University of Washington Press, 2007, 200 pp., profusely illustrated, $35 (cloth) Living more than 50 years of her life in Japan, artist Frances Blakemore was a close and sympathetic ...

| Mar 2, 2008

'Kusamakura': What's the story?

KUSAMAKURA by Natsume Soseki, translated by Meredith McKinney. Penguin Classics, 2008, 152 pp., £9.99 (paper) In this early work (also known as “Grass Pillow”) by one of Japan’s best-known authors, the narrator is with a mysterious woman he meets at the hot spring. They ...

| Feb 24, 2008

Asian art for art's sake

WHAT’S THE USE OF ART? — Asian Visual and Material Culture in Context, edited by Jan Mrazek and Morgan Pitelka. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2008, 314 pp., with illustrations, $58 (cloth) The question is rhetorical, that is, uttered for effect, to make a ...

| Jan 27, 2008

Making Japan 'borderless'

JAPAN AND ITS WORLDS: Marius B. Jansen and the Internationalization of Japanese Studies, edited by Martin Collcutt, Kato Mikio and Ronald P. Toby. I-House Press, 2007, 300 pp., ¥2,858 (cloth) The late Marius Jansen was America’s most eminent historian of modern Japan. Admired in ...

| Jan 20, 2008

The Utagawa brand name

COMPETITION AND COLLABORATION: Japanese Prints of the Utagawa School, by Laura J. Mueller, with essays by Fujisawa Akane, Kobayashi Tadashi, and Ellis Tinios. Leiden/Boston: Hotei Publishing, 2007, 232 pp., 200 illustrations, $120 (cloth) The Utagawa school, founded in the 18th century and active throughout ...

| Jan 13, 2008

Preferring to show and not to tell

AKIRA KUROSAWA: Interviews, edited by Burt Cardullo. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2008, 196 pp., $20 (paper) Once, when I asked Akira Kurosawa about the meaning of one of his films he answered: “If I could have said it in words, I would have ...