Jul 30, 2006

Working for and beyond the call of hospitality

WELCOME TO SAWANOYA, Welcome to Japan, by Isao Sawa. Omega-Com Inc., 2006, 203 pp., 1,200 yen (paper). It seems at times as if, by common consent for the other’s altering tastes, that East and West are exchanging positions. The West’s love of the subtle ...

Jul 16, 2006

Adventures in Gerontology

THE OKINAWA DIET PLAN by Bradley J. Willcox, D. Craig Willcox and Makoto Suzuki. Three Rivers Press, 2005, 432 pp., $14.95/2,300 yen (paper). In works like “Awakenings” and “The Island of the Color Blind,” neurologist Oliver Sacks showed how serious medical subjects could, in ...

Jun 4, 2006

Pensive view of a city's declining identity

KYOTO: A Cultural and Literary History, by John Dougill. Signal Books, 2006, 242 pp., 2,500 yen (paper). “Everyone knew,” the wartime narrator of Hisako Matsubara’s Kyoto novel “Cranes at Dusk” relates, “there was not a single Japanese city of over a million people that ...

| Apr 30, 2006

Shower of light on Eastern philosophy

LIGHT FROM THE EAST: A Gathering of Asian Wisdom, by Frank MacHovec. Stone Bridge Press, 175 pp., 2005, $16.95 (paper). The notes to this book tell us that author Frank MacHovec is a retired psychologist who began his study of Eastern philosophies as a ...

| Nov 6, 2005

A modern master of an old tradition

MIREI SHIGEMORI: Modernizing the Japanese Garden, by Christian Tschumi, photographs by Markuz Wernli Saito. Stone Bridge Press, 128 pp., $18.95 (paper). A revival of interest in the dry landscape garden of Japan both domestically and internationally took place during the early Showa Era (1926-1989), ...

| Sep 18, 2005

Sweet Mysteries of the Orient

THE ASIAN MYSTIQUE, by Sheridan Prasso. Public Affairs Books, 437 pp., 2005, $27.95, 2,850 yen (cloth). Apparently, there are still Western men who believe that the East is an obliging seductress, mass producing an endless line of voluptuous women, whose laconic sexual pliancy is ...

| Jul 31, 2005

Breach the defenses of marriage with a smile

FORTRESS BESIEGED, by Qian Zhongshu. Penguin Classics, 2005, 426 pp., £18.99 (cloth). 1937 was a rotten year for China. Japanese forces moved their operations from the Peking to the Shanghai region, the Nationalist lines in Nanjing collapsed, and the remnants of the resistance moved ...

| Jul 10, 2005

Where Zen is perfectly at home

ZEN AND KYOTO, by John Einarsen. Uniplan Co., Inc, 2004, 135 pp., 2,381 yen (paper). Like heaven and hell, or the elements of earth and rock, Zen and the city of Kyoto are joined at the hip. Having made it his real and spiritual ...

| May 2, 2005

Coating the truth to make fiction

THE COAT THAT COVERS HIM AND OTHER STORIES, by Michael Hoffman. Authorhouse, 2004, 632 pp., 2,940 yen (paper). Japan, having contrived the image of itself as a manifestly gentle society, the spiritual home of garden gnomes and all that is cute and cuddly, is ...

Jan 9, 2005

Life in the land where boredom is not an option

Writer, commentator and film specialist Donald Richie has had a good year, on that saw, among other things, the publication of “The Japan Journals” and his receipt of the Rising Sun With Gold Rays, a prestigious award honoring a lifetime of achievement in the ...