Just So Happens

Mar 29, 2014

Just So Happens

It’s a moment that many expats secretly dread: the unexpected phone call from home, announcing the death of a family member. For Yumiko, the protagonist of Fumio Obata’s debut graphic novel, it’s the demise of her father in a hiking accident that propels her ...

The Pornographers

| Feb 15, 2014

The Pornographers

Akiyuki Nosaka’s “Grave of the Fireflies,” a harrowing, semi-autobiographical tale of two young siblings fending for survival in the aftermath of World War II, helped him win the prestigious Naoki Prize for literature in 1967. The Pornographers, by Akiyuki Nozaka. ALFRED A. KNOPF, Fiction. ...

Japan gets in the mood for love this Valentine's Day

Feb 13, 2014

Japan gets in the mood for love this Valentine's Day

Love is all around at this time of year, but on Valentine’s Day in Japan it isn’t so evenly distributed. The festival of romance has long suffered from a gender imbalance here: Feb. 14 is traditionally a day for women to give presents to ...

Drawing on the past reveals the Showa Era

Feb 8, 2014

Drawing on the past reveals the Showa Era

The rest of the world knew him as Hirohito, but to his subjects he was always just “the Emperor.” Known posthumously as Showa, Japan’s 124th monarch reigned for over 60 years, during which he would be witness to both the best and worst of ...

Ten years on, Hyperdub finds that it pays to be weird

Jan 28, 2014

Ten years on, Hyperdub finds that it pays to be weird

Most journalists hope to get a few decent quotes from an interview. Steve Goodman ended up getting a record label. It was 2003 when the Glasgow-born DJ, producer and sometime music writer interviewed fellow bass enthusiast Kevin Martin for XLR8R magazine. The latter was ...

The Setting Sun

| Jan 18, 2014

The Setting Sun

Career nihilist Osamu Dazai had already attempted suicide four times when he published his most famous novel in 1947. “The Setting Sun” quickly became a byword for the decline of Japan’s aristocracy in the wake of World War II, but its portrait of a ...

Blue Hawaii surfs Net to an Asia tour

Jan 14, 2014

Blue Hawaii surfs Net to an Asia tour

Though they hail from the same Montreal music scene that spawned crossover electronica star Grimes, the members of Blue Hawaii don’t have any illusions about where they rank in the popularity stakes. “I come home for Christmas, and my family’s like, ‘Woah, you’re going ...

The best Japanese albums of 2013: Yosi Horikawa, 'Vapor'

Dec 17, 2013

The best Japanese albums of 2013: Yosi Horikawa, 'Vapor'

Few albums this year rewarded repeat listens as generously as Yosi Horikawa’s “Vapor.” The Chiba-based producer makes fecund, wide-eyed electronica constructed from manipulated field recordings, percussion, ethnic chants and slightly new-age keyboards. If that sounds awful on paper, it’s intoxicating in practice: each track ...

Alive wants to give music fans a say in who comes to Japan

Dec 3, 2013

Alive wants to give music fans a say in who comes to Japan

You watched the video for their comeback single on YouTube, devoured the reviews and retweeted the hype. When the album came out, you bought it immediately and had it on repeat for weeks afterwards. And then you waited, waited … but they never came. ...