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 ...

Scandal

| Mar 15, 2014

Scandal

When a respected Catholic novelist by the name of Suguro meets an inebriated woman at a party, he is astounded to hear that she recognizes him from a portrait hanging in a club she claims he patronizes in one of Tokyo’s more sleazy night ...

The Ruined Map

| Mar 1, 2014

The Ruined Map

Angela Carter wrote that Tokyo possessed the “indecipherable clarity of a dream,” one in which you might think you are in control, but have, in fact, been “precipitated into somebody else’s dream.” A similar sensation occurs when reading Kobo Abe’s novel, “The Ruined Map,” ...

The Tattoo Murder Case

| Feb 1, 2014

The Tattoo Murder Case

Still reeling from the effects of war, Tokyo, in 1948, was ripe with intrigue, not to mention men and women capable of plotting monstrous crimes. Akimitsu Takagi’s crime mystery “The Tattoo Murder Case” was first published that year and his gritty scenes of the ...