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Who says printed books have a shelf life?

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The printed page is not dead. Sure, many of its mainstream forms need a lie-down, and probably should be thinking about taking early retirement, but as text and images are being increasingly viewed in the same way — pristinely flat with glassy surfaces and shrunk to fit the size of ...

Demythologizing Pure Land Buddhism

Aug 27, 2016

Demythologizing Pure Land Buddhism

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The bulk of “Demythologizing Pure Land Buddhism” is a collection of essays by Rijin Yasuda (1900-1982), a Shin Buddhist thinker in the modernizing tradition of Kiyozawa Manshi (1863-1903). Yasuda “taught a conception of Amida and the Pure Land that made them existential realities in ...

Does ‘Provoke’ still push back today?

Aug 20, 2016

Does ‘Provoke’ still push back today?

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The year 1968 saw a wide range of actions directed against the Japanese government: Universities were occupied, protesters demonstrated en masse against Japan’s complicity in the Vietnam War and students mobilized to stop the transportation of Vietnam-bound jet fuel through Shinjuku Station. A quieter, ...

Forbidden Colours

| Aug 13, 2016

Forbidden Colours

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Written in 1951 and translated into English in 1968, the title of “Forbidden Colours” represents taboo desires and beliefs, most notably homosexuality and misogyny. Shunsuke is an aging writer whose vile views on women are given the opportunity for physical manifestation in Yuichi, a ...

Writing Technology in Meiji Japan

Aug 13, 2016

Writing Technology in Meiji Japan

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The industrial and social revolution that Japan underwent in the Meiji Era (1868-1912) was accompanied by an equally tumultuous revolution in the Japanese language. It’s perhaps hard to fathom today that throughout the latter half of the 19th century, an almost unbridgeable gulf existed ...

The life of Japan’s ‘god of manga’

Aug 6, 2016

The life of Japan’s ‘god of manga’

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Osamu Tezuka, the “god of manga,” was born in 1928 in Osaka Prefecture. Though he showed early promise as a young artist and storyteller, no one could have imagined how successful he would become. Tezuka is a hero in Japan, a pioneer on equal ...

The Long Defeat

Aug 6, 2016

The Long Defeat

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In “The Long Defeat,” Akiko Hashimoto explores how Japan’s World War II loss has been remembered. More sociologist than historian, she does this by looking beyond political speeches and newspaper editorials and examines how memories manifest in the media, in classrooms and in the ...

Bushido: Soseki, 'Star Wars' and the samurai

Jul 30, 2016

Bushido: Soseki, 'Star Wars' and the samurai

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In September 1912, Gen. Maresuke Nogi — a hero of the Russo-Japanese War — committed ritual suicide. His sensational death took place on the day of Emperor Meiji’s funeral, making it an act of junshi (following one’s lord in death) and a high-water mark ...