<em>Theyyam</em>: Trance dances in the Indian countryside

Sep 11, 2011

Theyyam: Trance dances in the Indian countryside

Watching the two whirling dancers’ straw skirts aflame as they kept their balance under elaborate, 4-meter-high headdresses while circumambulating the central shrine of the village to the beat of drummers amid a buzzing throng, I did not expect a nudge from the local standing ...

The annual Kerala festival in Tokyo

Sep 11, 2011

The annual Kerala festival in Tokyo

This is the traditional season for the Keralan festival called Onam, the one time a year when the mythical King Mahabali leaves the netherworld where he now rules and visits his people to help them celebrate the harvest and their traditions. It is a ...

God's own country

Sep 11, 2011

God's own country

Everywhere around Kerala in southwest India there are signs emblazoned with the state motto: “God’s Own Country” — and certainly no supreme deity could have chosen a better place to call home. There is much to explore, incredible natural beauty, more temples than anyone ...

Sep 4, 2011

Flowering of civic activism

MAKING JAPANESE CITIZENS: Civil Society and the Mythology of the Shimin in Postwar Japan, by Simon Andrew Avenell. University of California Press, 2010, 356 pp., $24.95 (paper) In recent years the growth of civil society in Japan has attracted considerable attention. The invaluable contributions ...

Aug 14, 2011

Japan through the eyes of Richie

VIEWED SIDEWAYS: Writings on Culture and Style on Contemporary Japan, by Donald Richie. Stonebridge Press, 2011, 264 pp., $16.95 (paper) Viewed any which way, Japan through the eyes of Donald Richie is an interesting and rewarding place to read about. This is the third ...

Jul 24, 2011

Unraveling the evolution of modern Japan

ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK OF JAPANESE CULTURE AND SOCIETY. Edited by Victoria and Theodore Bestor with Akiko Yamagata. Routledge, 2011, 325 pp. (hardcover) This is a tremendous book and should jump the queue of all those books on contemporary Japan you have been intending to read. ...

Marvelous Minakami: the great year-round escape

Jul 10, 2011

Marvelous Minakami: the great year-round escape

Face it, you need to get out of Tokyo during the dog days of summer, when it gets like a fetid sauna. Yeah, you can while away a few hours at an outdoor beer garden and dull the pain, but basically you know you ...

Memories of a missing mom

Jun 12, 2011

Memories of a missing mom

This is an intimate drama brimming with sadness, suspense and surprises as the search for a missing mother in Seoul gives us glimpses into the heart of a family. PLEASE LOOK AFTER MOM, by Kyung-Sook Shin. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011, 256 pp., $24.95 (hardcover) ...

May 22, 2011

Power play in the Far East

CHANGING POWER RELATIONS IN NORTHEAST ASIA: Implications for Relations Between Japan and South Korea. Edited by Marie Soderberg. Routledge, 2011, $125, 188 pp., (hardcover) From mid-March until mid-April, South Korean charities raised over $52 million for earthquake relief in Japan, a record sum that ...

Apr 17, 2011

Lest we forget: Tiananmen Square massacre revisited

TIANANMEN MOON: Inside the Chinese Student Uprising of 1989, by Philip J. Cunningham. Rowman Littlefield, 2010, 290 pp., $39.95 (hardcover) This is a gripping story told with page-turning brio by an American who had ringside seats for the gathering student protests in May 1989 ...