| Sep 30, 2007

Sophistication from improvisation

Kitano Takeshi. London: British Film Institute, 2007, 272 pp., with photos. £16.99 (paper) This is a brilliant book on a mercurial subject. Takeshi Kitano is an actor and film director, ubiquitous on television as well, who has become a media event. His persona has ...

| Sep 23, 2007

Yasodharapura, revived in literature

A Record of Cambodia: The Land and Its People, by Zhou Daguan, translated with an introduction and notes by Peter Harris, foreword by David Chandler, and photographs by Julian Circo. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2007, 150 pp., 595 bhats (paper) In 1295, the same ...

| Sep 16, 2007

Finding Confucius as a friend

The Analects of Confucius, translated by Burton Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007, 162 pp., $19.95 (cloth) Confucius (551-479 B.C.) came from low-ranking nobility and grew up in considerable poverty. Perhaps that is why he seemed so sensitive to matters of class and ...

| Sep 9, 2007

Taking a good look at Tokyo's eclectic fashion

The Tokyo Look Book: Stylish To Spectacular, Goth To Gyaru, Sidewalk To Catwalk by Philomena Keet, photographs by Yuri Manabe. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2007, 224 pp., profusely illustrated, ¥3,000 (paper). It was the philosopher George Santayana who penned these wise words: “Fashion is something ...

| Sep 2, 2007

Filmmaker, writer, little boy

Boy, by Takeshi Kitano, translated by David James Karashima. New York: Vertical Inc., 80 pp., $17.95 (cloth). These three stories by one of Japan’s most popular film directors (aka Beat Takeshi, one of Japan’s most popular TV comedians) were originally published in 1987. They ...

| Aug 26, 2007

It's ladies first now in Japanese love hotels

Japanese Love Hotels: A Cultural History, by Sarah Chaplin. London/New York: Routledge, 2007, 242 pp. with photos, figures and tables, £85 (cloth) The love-hotel industry is one of Japan’s most profitable. It accounts for more than ¥4 trillion a year, a figure nearly four ...

| Aug 19, 2007

New translations reveal new depths of classic works

Mandarins: Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Translated by Charles De Wolf. New York: Archipelago Books, 2007, 255 pp., $16.00 (paper) Good, new and much needed translations of the stories of Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927) have recently begun to appear. Last year there was the Penguin edition ...

| Aug 12, 2007

Lauded in the West, ignored in the East

Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom, by Daisuke Miyao. Duke University Press, 2007, 380 pp., with 23 illustrations, $23.95 (paper) Kintaro Hayakawa (1886-1973), born in modest circumstances in Chiba, went on to have an extraordinary and unexpected life elsewhere. Now renamed Sesshu (Sessue) ...

| Aug 5, 2007

Keeping the horror of Hiroshima alive

Masako’s Story: Surviving the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima, by Kikuko Otake, edited by Dr. Jesse Glass. Tokyo/Toronto: Ahadada Books, 2007, 94 pp. with photos and maps, $15 (paper) The cenotaph for the Hiroshima victims reads “Let all the souls here rest in peace, for ...