Stephen Mansfield

Photojournalist and author Stephen Mansfield’s work has appeared in over 70 publications worldwide, on subjects ranging from conflict in the Middle East to cultural analysis, interviews and book reviews. A longtime Japan Times contributor, his latest book is “Japan’s Master Gardens: Lessons in Space & Environment.”

For Stephen Mansfield's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

The experience of a 'Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage'

Aug 22, 2015

The experience of a 'Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage'

The pilgrimage experience is not singular. It can be a journey of enlightenment, a chance to improve your health or to expiate for a wrong deed. And there’s also the more mundane business of administering to blisters. Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage, by Michael Pye267 pagesEquinox ...

Still waters run deep in Shizuoka's ancient town of Mishima

Aug 8, 2015

Still waters run deep in Shizuoka's ancient town of Mishima

It was no coincidence that my custard tart, known locally as a Fujisancho cake, had been fashioned in the form of Japan’s most sacred mountain. The confectionery, resembling a Japanese version of a Mont Blanc but tasting a lot better, was closer to a ...

Memories of those marked by nuclear war

Aug 8, 2015

Memories of those marked by nuclear war

August, 2015. This is a month of great testimonials: outpourings of guilt, grief, consternation, remorse, atonement and, for those whose ends are not served by an honest reckoning of the past, evasion. Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, by Susan Southard.416 pagesViking, Nonfiction. It was, ...

Nothing is too bright for Ikuchijima Island

Jul 4, 2015

Nothing is too bright for Ikuchijima Island

Islands can quickly lose their charm when they become attached to land masses. This, mercifully, has not happened to Ikuchijima Island in Japan’s Geiyo archipelago, a cluster of islets in the Seto Inland Sea that, despite its two connecting bridges, feels defiantly detached. Writers ...

On mountain peaks and tourist trash

Jul 4, 2015

On mountain peaks and tourist trash

Discussing Mount Hayachine, ethnologist Kunio Yanagita observed that it stood on, “a somewhat different plane from the normal world.” This could be a description of mountains in general, a landscape where we may experience nature in the raw, and even at times, a numinous ...

War and peace on Okinawa's Iejima Island

Jun 6, 2015

War and peace on Okinawa's Iejima Island

Beside their coastlines, there are other insistent geographical features that identify islands. In Okinawa, there is the great escarpment of Tindahanata on Yonaguni-jima Island, while Ishigaki Island has the strangely occult form of Mount Maapee, shaped like a sorcerer’s hat. Iejima Island is defined ...

Breaching the secretive sects of Shin-Buddhism

May 30, 2015

Breaching the secretive sects of Shin-Buddhism

The tendency to perceive covert groups as reticent conspirators rather than curators of hidden knowledge is universal. Secrecy’s Power, by Clark Chilson 235 pages.University of Hawaii Press, Nonfiction. In Japan, secret oral transmissions, chants, rituals and services have long been identified with esoteric schools ...

Sound waves: the music of Okinawa

May 9, 2015

Sound waves: the music of Okinawa

How is it possible that a people who have experienced poverty, famine and discrimination, outlasted efforts at cultural annihilation and suffered the indignities of occupation can manage to celebrate life in song and dance with a passion and joy that belies everyday reality? Music ...

The temporal shift of Ainokura village

Apr 25, 2015

The temporal shift of Ainokura village

The tour conductor waved her flag furiously as she directed the bus driver into the last remaining slot in the parking lot that serves the village of Shirakawa-go. The jam of large vehicles and private cars was replicated in the droves of visitors streaming ...