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 ...

Canada's hanging garden of stone in Japan

Oct 30, 2011

Canada's hanging garden of stone in Japan

Nobody appears to object as you step onto the covered elevator that ascends to the fourth floor of the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo’s well-heeled Aoyama-Itchome district. Formalities are waived for the occasional visitor coming to see one of Japan’s finest and most daring contemporary ...

Sep 25, 2011

The helping hand of travel

Travel Guide To Aid Japan. WAttention, 2011, 159 pp. ¥1,000 (paper) Tourism is the world’s foremost industry, one that Japan, until very recently, has been rather slow to take advantage of. Sophisticated travel writing has never been a significant component of Japanese literature, the ...

Aug 21, 2011

Poetry as stimulating as a stun gun

THE NEW YURI AND SELECTED YURI: Writing From Peeling Till Now, by Yuri Kageyama. Ishmael Reed Publishing Company, 2011, 134 pp., $19.99 (paper) In the babbling cosmos of contemporary literature, there have been a handful of distinguished cross-cultural writers who have made the English ...

Aug 7, 2011

Ultimate guide to boozing in Japan

DRINKING JAPAN: A Guide to Japan’s Best Drinks and Drinking Establishments, by Chris Bunting, Tuttle Publishing, 2011, 272 pp., $24.95 (paper) I don’t recall who wrote the line “If Venice is built on water, Tokyo is built on alcohol,” but the author was spot ...