Daytime in Kin Town's nocturnal city

Apr 28, 2013

Daytime in Kin Town's nocturnal city

The three drunken U.S. Marines who stumbled into my motorbike headlamps were clearly combat-trained, as their agility in shifting from advanced inebriation to performing a nimble leap onto the sidewalk suggested seriously attuned reflexes.

The 'eternal modern' gardens of Matsuo-taisha

Mar 31, 2013

The 'eternal modern' gardens of Matsuo-taisha

When new buildings were constructed in 1971 at Matsuo-taisha in Kyoto, one of Japan's oldest shrines, the largely self-taught landscape master Mirei Shigemori was commissioned to create a series of gardens on the site.

Playing to the beat of the gods

Mar 17, 2013

Playing to the beat of the gods

TAIKO BOOM: Japanese Drumming in Place and Motion, by Shawn Bender. University of California Press, 2012, 259?pp., $29.95 (paperback) No one can fail to be impressed by a live performance of Japanese drumming, the primal elements of stretched animal skin and wood striking a ...

If you do like to be beside the seaside, try Kamogawa

Mar 10, 2013

If you do like to be beside the seaside, try Kamogawa

Chiba is a large prefecture, something you notice while traveling from Tokyo to the southern seaside resort of Kamogawa. The journey takes a good two hours — and this by express train. Once past the city of Mobara, the JR lines enter a more ...

Beyond a shadow of doubt in new Higashino mystery

Feb 24, 2013

Beyond a shadow of doubt in new Higashino mystery

SALVATION OF A SAINT, by Keigo Higashino. Little Brown, 2013, 376 pp., £12.99 (hardcover) When the pregnant lover of a murder victim receives the sympathetic ministrations from the deceased’s wife at the funeral service, you know you are in no ordinary emotional terrain. This ...

Recommended reading

Feb 24, 2013

Recommended reading

Donald Richie was a scrupulous writer who paid finite attention to language and content. The following are 10 outstanding choices — titles that should be on any discerning readers’ bookshelf. “Tokyo: A View of the City” (1999) Here Richie manages to give the impression ...

Japan's animal spirits

Feb 10, 2013

Japan's animal spirits

BONES OF CONTENTION: Animals and Religion in Contemporary Japan, by Barbara R. Ambros. University of Hawaii Press, 2012, 255 pp., $29 (paperback) Bumping into a Japanese acquaintance on the street recently, I inquired where he was going on his day off dressed in a ...

Sapporo's wonders of winter

Jan 13, 2013

Sapporo's wonders of winter

It seemed to me on a recent winter’s visit to Sapporo that everyone was a performer: from the flamboyant gestures and bullhorn announcements of the tour guides, to the showy dismembering of crabs by vendors, to the owners of the cubbyhole restaurants in Ramen ...