Have a hideously good time in Tono's past and present

Jul 3, 2011

Have a hideously good time in Tono's past and present

The professor’s snoring had kept me up until the wee hours of the morning. When I awoke, the reading light in the hostel’s upper bunk was still on and a copy of “The Legends of Tono” lay open at the page where I had ...

Jun 26, 2011

The other day of infamy

A TRAGEDY OF DEMOCRACY: Japanese Confinement in North America, by Greg Robinson, Columbia University Press, 371 pp., $29.95 (hardcover) The facts are well known. In the spring of 1942, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, some 112,000 Japanese American ...

Jun 5, 2011

Exquisite designs for better living

TRADITIONAL JAPANESE ARCHITECTURE: An Exploration of Elements and Forms, by Mira Locher. Photography by Ben Simmons. Tuttle Publishing, 2010, 223 pp., $39.95 (hardcover) In Zen Buddhism there is a ceremony called “The Transmission.” The ritual, both mystic and arcane, is little known in lay ...

Electrifying one-act lives

May 29, 2011

Electrifying one-act lives

The late Meiji Era (1868-1912) to early Showa Era (1926-1989) saw the creation of a body of short, one-act dramas akin in their electrifying impact to the 1960s in Japan, with its upsurge in theatrical experimentation. This book begins with a telling quote from ...

A garden pictogram lives on

May 29, 2011

A garden pictogram lives on

Japanese gardens are often associated with temples, feudal estates or castles. Genkyu-en in Shiga Prefecture is certainly no exception, sited as it is adjoining a detached palace in the grounds of Hikone Castle, one of only a handful of the nation’s feudal fortresses to ...

Apr 24, 2011

Lotus Stutra enlightenment

THE STORIES OF THE LOTUS SUTRA, by Gene Reeves. Wisdom Publications, 347 pp., 2010, $18.95 (paper) Gene Reeves is just the kind of preacher-teacher I like, one who lays his wares out, takes a step back and lets you appraise what he has to ...

Life's a breeze on far-out Miyakojima

Apr 3, 2011

Life's a breeze on far-out Miyakojima

Like tree rings, the islands of Okinawa contain cultures within cultures; ever more singular layers of age and time. According to some sources, the early culture of Miyakojima, an island 330 km south of Okinawa Island, had affinities with the aboriginal cultures of Taiwan. ...

Mar 20, 2011

Black ink, red blood

THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE PRESS NETWORKS OF EAST ASIA, 1918-1945, by Peter O’Connor. Global Oriental, 2010, 381 pp., £61 (hardcover) In the pre- and early war years, the big three newspapers at the center of the networks in Japan were The Japan Times, Japan Advertiser ...

Murin-an Garden: an ode to water

Jan 30, 2011

Murin-an Garden: an ode to water

Surprisingly, as modernization swept through Japan in the Meiji Era (1868-1912), the number of traditional gardens increased. The clients, though, were now of a different order. Instead of the shoguns, their court aristocracy and feudal lords, the new patrons of these meticulously crafted sites ...