| Apr 25, 2004

Kanji curves and strokes

DESIGNING WITH KANJI: Japanese Character Motifs for Surface, Skin & Spirit, by Shogo Oketani and Leza Lowitz. Stone Bridge Press, 2003, 144 pp., $14.95 (paper). If there are a thousand different ways to learn kanji, there are almost as many ways, and excuses, for ...

| Mar 21, 2004

The claustrophobia of a criminal mind

NO REASON FOR MURDER, by Ayako Sono. ICG Muse Inc, 2003, 422 pp., 3,000 yen (cloth). Reading crime stories can be a claustrophobic experience. Entering the criminal mind is not unlike squeezing into the airless tunnels of a rodent. The Miura Peninsula, the setting ...

| Dec 21, 2003

Zen and the art of gardening

INSIDE JAPANESE GARDENS, by Shunmyo Masuno. Osaka: Commemorative Foundation for the International Garden & Greenery Exposition, 350 pp., 4,800 yen (cloth). In the formal Japanese garden — a source of delight but also puzzlement to some visitors — every element has a reason for ...

Revealing more to life and death

| Oct 26, 2003

Revealing more to life and death

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF YUKIO MISHIMA, by Henry Scott Stokes. Tuttle Publishing, 2003, 271 pp., $16.95, (cloth). One afternoon in the late 1960s, Henry Scott Stokes received a visit at the Tokyo office of the London Times from the writer Yukio Mishima, who ...

| Oct 26, 2003

Writer behind the writer

As a reporter in Tokyo in the late ’60s, what was your professional interest in Yukio Mishima? He was easily the biggest story in sight. There were major student demonstrations in the capital, some of them turning very violent, but the news desks of ...

| Oct 5, 2003

Reviewing reviews of Richie

JAPANESE LITERATURE REVIEWED, by Donald Richie. ICG Muse Inc, 2003, 490 pp., 2,800 yen (cloth). Like photographers, writers who stick at their trade long enough may find themselves in possession, without having realized it, of a substantial body of work, one that has accumulated ...

| Jun 8, 2003

Taisho Sophisticates

TAISHO CHIC: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia, and Deco, text by various contributors. Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2002, 176 pp., 7,390 yen (cloth). There are certain historical periods that resonate with a style and sophistication that is inimitable. They last for only a short, intense few ...

| Jun 1, 2003

The flowered margin

TATTOOS OF THE FLOATING WORLD, by Takahiro Kitamura; foreword by Donald Richie. Hotei Publishing, 2003, 120 pp., 2,600 yen (cloth). In an age excessively concerned with outward appearances, official disapproval of tattoos in Japan is perhaps understandable. The Japanese are less seriously spooked by ...

| Apr 13, 2003

Laying the ghosts of doubt in Laos

LOST OVER LAOS, by Richard Pyle and Horst Faas. Da Capa Press, 2002, 239 pp., $30 (cloth) In American hands, the deadly serious business of warfare, the very way war is conducted, can seem at times more like an extension of its own pop ...