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 ...

Vita Sexualis

| Jun 14, 2014

Vita Sexualis

Ogai Mori was either a very fearless writer or someone confident enough to believe his literary status would insulate him against the fallout from publishing a novel guaranteed to raise the eyebrows of even the most enlightened Meiji Era (1868-1912) reader. Vita Sexualis, by ...

Almost Transparent Blue

| May 31, 2014

Almost Transparent Blue

Life around a U.S. base camp in Kanagawa in the 1970s may have mirrored certain aspects of American life, but they were often the most self-destructive elements. Set along the urban border between a military camp and Japan proper, the violent milieu of Ryu ...

One Man's Justice

| May 24, 2014

One Man's Justice

To borrow historian John Dower’s expression, the conflict in World War II between Japanese and American forces was a “war without mercy.” The atrocities committed by Japanese forces are well documented, those by American military personnel less so. One Man’s Justice, by Akira Yoshimura ...

Oya: The town that turned to stone

May 17, 2014

Oya: The town that turned to stone

It’s always good to know something about the ground under your feet when you visit a new destination. Geology, in a very real sense, is the foundation of the former renown and wealth of Oya-machi, a town with the dimensions of a village in ...

Koza: the carbonized city

Apr 19, 2014

Koza: the carbonized city

My first glimpse of Koza was a burned out car on a monochrome print I picked up at a recycle shop in Naha. I would see the image again when I visited the history section of the Okinawa City Hall, where there was a ...

Chishaku-in: a Kyoto garden of deep repose

Mar 29, 2014

Chishaku-in: a Kyoto garden of deep repose

As a garden, Chishaku-in has many of the attributes of Japanese landscape design that should attract a good number of visitors. The fact that the temple in Kyoto’s southeastern Higashikawara-cho district is rarely crowded, and that scant attention is paid to it in guidebooks, ...

Go potter in Mashiko

Mar 22, 2014

Go potter in Mashiko

If a visitor to Mashiko had any doubts about the town’s dedication to pottery, the giant, iconic stoneware jar that stands near the station ticket barrier, would dispel them. Exiting the station, the large photographic images hanging on the walls — some representing renowned ...