Akira

| May 3, 2014

Akira

by James Hadfield

“Kanedaaaa!” “Tetsuoooo!” For a generation of teenagers growing up in the 1990s (this writer included), Katsuhiro Otomo’s “Akira” was our gateway drug to the imaginative excesses of Japanese pop culture. With its immaculately rendered visions of high-tech chaos, psychokinetic battles, revolutionary sects and unfeasibly ...

The Box Man

| Apr 26, 2014

The Box Man

by William Bradbury

"The Box Man" is an existential work, revealing questions about identity and the place of man in society. The story begins in a diary format that reads like a how-to manual, as the narrator details the tools necessary to build a boxlike outfit complete ...

Shogun

| Apr 19, 2014

Shogun

by William Bradbury

This best-selling historical novel by the British author, James Clavell, is set in Japan around 1600. It begins when The Erasmus, a Dutch ship, reaches Japan by mistake. James Blackthorne, the English captain working for the ship (based on William Adams, the first Englishman ...

The Ise Stories

| Mar 22, 2014

The Ise Stories

by Kris Kosaka

Before there was “The Tale of Genji,” the “The Ise Stories” (“Ise Monogatari”) presented ancient Japanese audiences with a titillating series of loosely connected episodes of love that are believed to be based on the romantic encounters of the poet and aristocrat Ariwara no ...

Scandal

| Mar 15, 2014

Scandal

by Stephen Mansfield

When a respected Catholic novelist by the name of Suguro meets an inebriated woman at a party, he is astounded to hear that she recognizes him from a portrait hanging in a club she claims he patronizes in one of Tokyo’s more sleazy night ...

The Ruined Map

| Mar 1, 2014

The Ruined Map

by Stephen Mansfield

Angela Carter wrote that Tokyo possessed the “indecipherable clarity of a dream,” one in which you might think you are in control, but have, in fact, been “precipitated into somebody else’s dream.” A similar sensation occurs when reading Kobo Abe’s novel, “The Ruined Map,” ...

The Pillow Book

| Feb 22, 2014

The Pillow Book

by Kris Kosaka

Written by Japan’s original blogger, a mistress of wry observation and scalding wit, Sei Shonagon’s “The Pillow Book” retains its fresh, authentic appeal more than 1,000 years after its inception. Shonagon was a contemporary and presumed rival of Lady Murasaki, author of the “The ...

The Pornographers

| Feb 15, 2014

The Pornographers

by James Hadfield

Akiyuki Nosaka’s “Grave of the Fireflies,” a harrowing, semi-autobiographical tale of two young siblings fending for survival in the aftermath of World War II, helped him win the prestigious Naoki Prize for literature in 1967. The Pornographers, by Akiyuki Nozaka. ALFRED A. KNOPF, Fiction. ...