A glint of copper hints at Fukiya's mining past

Feb 12, 2012

A glint of copper hints at Fukiya's mining past

Sitting in sublime obscurity in a raised valley one hour by bus from Bitchu-Takahashi, Fukiya Furusato Mura in Okayama Prefecture must surely be one of Japan’s most under-appreciated rural destinations. Mention the name even to Japanese travelers and you are likely to draw blank ...

Naha gardens within a garden

Jan 29, 2012

Naha gardens within a garden

Amere 10-minute walk across busy Route 58 from the polyglot sidewalks, hotels and souvenir shops of Kokusai-dori, the faintly grubby, undulating Chinese boundary walls of a green enclosure announce the presence of a garden known as Fukushu-en. Somehow it doesn’t feel in the slightest ...

Jan 22, 2012

'Art Seto' bringing islands back to life

INSULAR INSIGHT: Where Art and Architecture Conspire with Nature, edited by Lars Muller and Akiko Miki. Lars Muller, 2011, 453 pp., $70 (hardback) Islands lend themselves to introspection, rebalancing, a yearning for independence and equipoise. They may not be the solution to all our ...

Celluloid celebration of Tokyo story

Dec 25, 2011

Celluloid celebration of Tokyo story

On my first trip to Cuba, I was delighted to find that not only was the city structure intact but that individual edifices could be matched with my memory of the 1959 film “Our Man in Havana.” The same cannot be said of Tokyo, ...

Education for all from '60s Tokyo tale

Dec 18, 2011

Education for all from '60s Tokyo tale

J-BOYS: Kazuo’s World, Tokyo, 1965, by Shogo Oketani. Stone Bridge Press, 2011, 211 pp., $9.95 (paperback) Like an affliction that allows you to function in an apparently normal manner but seditiously disables the sufferer, the dark legacy of war, never far from the minds ...

Cultures mingle amid Atami's hot springs

Dec 18, 2011

Cultures mingle amid Atami's hot springs

She was on a train from Tokyo to Atami in the summer of 1959 when the English travel writer Ethel Mannin “saw what I had read about and been told about but felt unable to accept until I had seen it for myself.” What ...

Nov 20, 2011

Beauty and purpose in design

NEW JAPAN ARCHITECTURE, by Geeta Mehta and Deanna MacDonald. Tuttle Publishing, 2011, 224 pp., $49.95 (hardcover) There are fewer contiguous architectural zones in Japan — areas where we can follow the accumulated contours of a set of perfectly integrated buildings — than there are ...

Kyuyoh's monochrome masterpieces

Nov 13, 2011

Kyuyoh's monochrome masterpieces

The highly intricate ink flows that grace archaic clerical scripts and decorative art, the illuminated plates of medieval European manuscripts, may be aesthetically pleasing, but are essentially skillfully beautified elaborations of simplistic lettering. TACTION: The Drama of the Stylus in Oriental Calligraphy, by Ishikawa ...

Nov 6, 2011

Words for all seasons

THE UNDYING DAY: Poems by Hans Brinckmann. Trafford Publishing, 2011, 131pp., $14.50 (paperback) In person, Hans Brinckmann is a dapper European gent with the patrician manner of the well-practised host or master of ceremonies. Reading this book of time-seasoned verse, one suspects that he ...

Designs that come out of the blue

Nov 1, 2011

Designs that come out of the blue

Reflecting on Okinawa’s natural pigmentations, one thinks instinctively of the red of its hibiscus, the pinks and mauves of bougainvillea, the green of ripening shikuwasa limes and fukugi trees. The strongest association, though, is blue. At greater depths, the sun-lit ocean surfaces turn to ...