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A world of fear for Japan's shut-ins

by Tim Hornyak

Several years ago, a vogue of interest in shut-ins, or hikikomori, saw researchers from France touring Japan and meeting reclusive youths. Such was the prevalence of the disorder, said psychologist Nicolas Tajan, that “if you ask people in Japan about hikikomori, almost everyone will say, ‘I know somebody like that.’ ...

Veteran Tokyo editor turns his mind to crime

Sep 6, 2014

Veteran Tokyo editor turns his mind to crime

by Mark Schreiber

“Japan has her secrets, as you well know,” a Kyoto art dealer named Takahashi tells American Jim Brodie. “Many are open secrets. We Japanese are aware of them, are ashamed of them, and don’t speak of them often, if ever. Our embarrassing moments remain, ...

The Journey

Sep 6, 2014

The Journey

by Michael Hoffman

On most lists of great 20th-century Japanese writers, Jiro Osaragi’s name does not figure. He was popular and respected in his own day (1898-1973), mostly as a writer of historical fiction, but literary immortality has eluded him. So? The Journey, Jiro Osaragi, Translated by ...

Japan's World Heritage Sites

Sep 6, 2014

Japan's World Heritage Sites

by Daniel Robson

It was in September 2003 that I visited Kiyomizu-dera — exactly 11 years ago. I was in Japan for the first time, and during an excursion to meet an old friend in Osaka, she suggested driving us down the road to Kyoto to see ...

So Happy to See Cherry Blossoms

Sep 6, 2014

So Happy to See Cherry Blossoms

by Daniel Robson

From great disaster flows great poetry, and this collection of haiku, collated by Madoka Mayuzumi on her visits to the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 and translated into English, offers insight from those who lost so ...

Inside author David Mitchell's metaphysical mind

Aug 30, 2014

Inside author David Mitchell's metaphysical mind

by Andrew Lee

Outside the vista windows of the Hotel New Otani’s Garden Lounge cafe in Tokyo, it’s snowing, in March, and it suddenly feels like the spring flowers in the Japanese garden below may have popped too soon. David Mitchell wonders aloud what kind of flowers ...

The Makioka Sisters

Aug 30, 2014

The Makioka Sisters

by Patrick Mccoy

Junichiro Tanizaki may be best known for novels featuring protagonists with odd obsessions, but his masterpiece, family epic “The Makioka Sisters,” has been hailed by many as Japan’s greatest modern novel. The Makioka Sisters, by Junichiro Tanizaki, Translated by Edward G. Seidensticker.Vintage Books, Fiction. ...

Toy Tokyo

Aug 30, 2014

Toy Tokyo

by Elliott Samuels

In a world now dominated by photographs taken with smartphones and swanky digital cameras, it’s refreshing to come across a book that restores a little faith in old-school photography. Toy Tokyo, by Manami Okazaki.Kingyo Books, Art book. The setup for author Manami Okazaki’s “Toy ...

In Clothes Called Fat

Aug 30, 2014

In Clothes Called Fat

by Daniel Robson

Food’s the best. But peer pressure can make us do weird things, and when plump office worker Noko Hanazawa discovers that her boyfriend is bonking the blonde waif from work, she decides to take desperate measures. It’s time to lose weight, no matter the ...

Wena Poon on life and death in occupied Kyoto

Aug 23, 2014

Wena Poon on life and death in occupied Kyoto

by Suzanne Kamata

As a child living in a tiny apartment in Singapore, Wena Poon listened to radio plays broadcast in a variety of languages and watched TV — everything from Chinese sword-fighting operas to popular American series such as “M*A*S*H.” “There was nowhere to go outside,” ...

Masks

Aug 23, 2014

Masks

by Stephen Mansfield

Born in the late Meiji Era (1868-1912), Fumiko Enchi was not simply the peer, but the equal of writers in the order of Naoya Shiga and Jiro Osaragi. There was praise for her work from such authors as Junichiro Tanizaki and Yasunari Kawabata, towering ...

A Great Valley Under the Stars

Aug 23, 2014

A Great Valley Under the Stars

by Kris Kosaka

A vibrant collection of subdued observation, the poems in this small volume, “A Great Valley Under the Stars,” contemplate meaning everywhere — from a truck-stop toilet, over stones in the New Mexican desert and under the great expanse of sky referenced in the title. ...

Death and the Flower

Aug 23, 2014

Death and the Flower

by Daniel Robson

When Koji Suzuki wrote “Ring,” the novel behind the film that brought the J-horror genre to the world, he apparently had a baby in his lap, and he went on to write not only horror fiction but also parenting books. “Death and the Flower” ...