'Nihon no Higeki (Japan's Tragedy)'

Sep 5, 2013

'Nihon no Higeki (Japan's Tragedy)'

What is a good death? For certain Japanese Buddhist priests it was sokushinbutsu — self-mummification. As practiced by members of the Shingon sect, it was a decade-long process that culminated with the priest’s descent into a stone tomb to meditate in darkness, without food ...

'Kibo no Kuni (The Land of Hope)'

Sep 5, 2013

'Kibo no Kuni (The Land of Hope)'

Director: Sion Sono Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) On Aug. 26, Third Window Films of the U.K. released a DVD and Blu-ray of “Kibo no Kuni (The Land of Hope),” Sion Sono’s drama about two families caught up in a near-future nuclear catastrophe that ...

'Soul Flower Train'

Aug 29, 2013

'Soul Flower Train'

Dads, in Japan and elsewhere, never quite believe that their daughters are grown up and gone, do they? On a corner of their desk or in a corner of their mind is a picture of their princess at the school play or the piano ...

'Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman'

Aug 29, 2013

'Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman'

Director: Various Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Criterion is releasing a Blu-ray/DVD box set of the first 25 films in the “Zatoichi” series. Starring the burly, charismatic Shintaro Katsu as the titular blind swordsman, this action-packed series, which ran from 1962 to 1989, was ...

'Natsu no Owari (The End of Summer)'

Aug 22, 2013

'Natsu no Owari (The End of Summer)'

First published in 1963, Jakucho Setouchi’s “Natsu no Owari (The End of Summer)” was the “Fifty Shades of Grey” of its day: a best-selling novel written by a woman that viewed the unconventional love life of its 38-year-old heroine with the sort of matter-of-factness ...

Aug 17, 2013

Revisiting the works of director Takashi Miike

Takashi Miike is one of the few Japanese filmmakers now working, Takeshi Kitano and Hayao Miyazaki being two others, who enjoy a measure of recognition outside Japan’s insular film world. Though hardly a household name in Kansas, Miike has long been a favorite with ...

Monster-film maker tackles other big menace

Aug 15, 2013

Monster-film maker tackles other big menace

Norman England is the world’s leading non-Japanese expert on all things Godzilla, if hours logged on the set are any measure. From 1999 to 2004, he spent, by his own estimate, 150 days at Toho Studios watching the king of kaiju (monsters) come to ...

When young creators answer the big city's siren call

Aug 15, 2013

When young creators answer the big city's siren call

Veteran scriptwriter and director Toshiyuki Morioka had more than a professional interest in making his new film “Jokyo Monogatari.” Based on an autobiographical manga by Rieko Saibara, its story of an aspiring artist coming to Tokyo to learn her trade and make her fortune ...

'Jokyo Monogatari'

Aug 15, 2013

'Jokyo Monogatari'

So many Japanese have relocated to Tokyo over the years to make their fortunes — or simply to escape rural poverty — that there is a word to describe the act: jōkyō (which the dictionary defines as “proceeding to the capital [Tokyo]“). Something similar ...