Sep 9, 2012

Roadside view of a tasty, tasty world

THE WORLD’S BEST STREET FOOD: Where to Find It & How to Make it, Lonely Planet, 2012, 224 pp., $19.99 (paperback) One thing that every dedicated Japanese tourist will tell you is that you cannot really enjoy a trip abroad unless you eat your ...

Eye surgeon makes a difference, performing 'miracles' in Vietnam

Sep 8, 2012

Eye surgeon makes a difference, performing 'miracles' in Vietnam

In 1965, Akira Kurosawa directed “Akahige” (“Red Beard”), the story of an Edo Period doctor who teaches his arrogant intern the importance of compassion, responsibility, and empathizing with his patients. Ophthalmologist Tadashi Hattori has seen this movie, but he insists that he was not ...

Willing prisoner of Akihabara

Sep 1, 2012

Willing prisoner of Akihabara

For better or for worse, some of contemporary Japan’s most recognizable cultural products come from the ever-ebullient world of pop culture. If this country’s heroes in the 1950s and ’60s were such intellectuals as film director Akira Kurosawa and author Yukio Mishima, today Japan’s ...

Pyongyang: the Orwellian city through its architecture

Aug 12, 2012

Pyongyang: the Orwellian city through its architecture

PYONGYANG ARCHITECTURAL AND CULTURAL GUIDE, by Philipp Meuser. DOM publishers, 2012, 368 pp., $49.95 (paperback) Imagine an easy-to-navigate, pedestrian- and car-friendly city with enough space to avoid the kind of congestion that typically threatens to choke similar places worldwide — a city whose carefully ...

Nagano artisans put cheese on the menu

Aug 10, 2012

Nagano artisans put cheese on the menu

My editor at The Japan Times has a very simple policy when hunting for cheese in Tokyo: He checks the label and if it was made in Japan (excepting Hokkaido), he puts it straight back down. To my editor I am now happy to ...

Jul 8, 2012

Japanese geek cool

OTAKU SPACES, by Patrick W. Galbraith. Chin Music Press, 2012, 240 pp., $20.00 (paperback) T he word otaku and the complex mass of ideas, people and trends variously connected to its constantly evolving meaning have been discussed and analyzed ad nauseam since this term ...