A Drifting Life

| Oct 4, 2014

A Drifting Life

Readers tired with the glut of violence, wonderment and sentimentality that defines manga fantasies centering on characters with extraordinary powers and cute, eroticized females will find the unsparing social realism of Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s autobiographical “A Drifting Life” a breath of fresh air. A Drifting ...

Glimpses of Lafcadio Hearn's Matsue

Sep 20, 2014

Glimpses of Lafcadio Hearn's Matsue

The Matsue-bound train I boarded at Okayama Station was pointedly named Yakumo, a reference to its destination’s best-known former resident: Greek-Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), whose adopted Japanese name was Yakumo Koizumi. Although Hearn stayed in Matsue for only a year, he developed a ...

Kanazawa City: the architecture of tea

Sep 6, 2014

Kanazawa City: the architecture of tea

One of the first things you see as you exit Kanazawa Station is a giant brass sculpture of a teapot sunken drunkenly into a mound of grass or, depending on your interpretation, tilting to fill a cup of the refreshing green brew the city ...

Kiun-Kaku: a garden of elegant period taste

Aug 30, 2014

Kiun-Kaku: a garden of elegant period taste

Despite the seasonal limitations for visiting, the Atami Baien, a plum garden, is a better-known sight that the Kiun-Kaku garden, which is an all-seasons landscape also found in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture. Perhaps it is the thirst for scale that has prioritized the plum trees in ...

Masks

Aug 23, 2014

Masks

Born in the late Meiji Era (1868-1912), Fumiko Enchi was not simply the peer, but the equal of writers in the order of Naoya Shiga and Jiro Osaragi. There was praise for her work from such authors as Junichiro Tanizaki and Yasunari Kawabata, towering ...

Sun-dazed on a distant archipelago

Aug 9, 2014

Sun-dazed on a distant archipelago

It didn’t take long for a seasoned group of truck drivers to stake their claim to the best seats in the house or, in this case, ferry. They positioned themselves on tiny plastic seats at the rear of the open deck as the ferry ...

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

Aug 9, 2014

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

The torching in 1950 of Kyoto’s majestic Temple of the Golden Pavilion remains one of the world’s most discussed cases of arson — not least because the act was perpetrated by an acolyte of the temple. Transcripts of his confession and subsequent trial contain ...

Kunisaki: into a world of moss and stone

Jul 12, 2014

Kunisaki: into a world of moss and stone

The sense of antiquity on the Kunisaki Peninsula is immediate. There are those that believe the region — whose name is said to mean “land’s end” — was created by demons in the service of powerful gods. You have to take these accounts with ...

Forget the world in a peaceful Okinawan island garden

Jun 28, 2014

Forget the world in a peaceful Okinawan island garden

First came the Ishigaki-teien, a mass of soaring limestone rocks, judiciously placed cycads and two lines of highly concentrated fukugi, the closely-matted leaves of the trees traditionally used in Okinawa as typhoon barriers. Owned by the Ishigaki family, who have lived on the island ...

Ring

| Jun 28, 2014

Ring

There is a long history of spooking the reader in Japan. The humid summer months are supposed to be alleviated by spine-chilling ghost stories and scary Edo Period dramas. But no particular season makes contemporary Japanese horror any less terrifying. Ring, by Koji Suzuki ...