| Apr 19, 2009

Finding the exotic, alien other

by Donald Richie

The subject of the exotic and alien other is a perennial. In Japanese literature the foreign influence is usually traced to its reappearance in a native product and the results are appraised. THE ALIEN WITHIN: Representations of the Exotic in Twentieth-Century Japanese Literature, by ...

| Apr 5, 2009

Deciphering 'A Page of Madness'

by Donald Richie

Teinosuke Kinugasa’s “A Page of Madness” (“Kurutta Ichipeiji,” 1926) was long thought lost. Only some 75 years later did the discovery of the missing negative allow the picture to be finally viewed by the present generation. At the same time there emerged a critical ...

| Jan 25, 2009

Buddhism: a religion for death

by Donald Richie

Japan is so successfully ecumenical, the various religions of Shinto, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam happily living side by side, that one is tempted to doubt Japanese belief in any of them. DEATH AND THE AFTERLIFE IN JAPANESE BUDDHISM, edited by Jacqueline I. Stone and ...

| Jan 11, 2009

Blood, sweat and tears of Zen

by Donald Richie

Here is an unusually fine translation of a most unusual best-seller: the 1996 “Ku Neru Suwaru: Eiheiji Shugyoki,” Kaoru Nonomura’s account of the rigors and rewards of hard Zen training. EAT SLEEP SIT: My Year at Japan’s Most Rigorous Zen Temple, by Kaoru Nonomura, ...

| Jan 11, 2009

Blood, sweat and tears of Zen

by Donald Richie

EAT SLEEP SIT: My Year at Japan’s Most Rigorous Zen Temple, by Kaoru Nonomura, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter. Kodansha International, 2008, 324 pp., ¥2,600 (cloth) Here is an unusually fine translation of a most unusual best-seller: the 1996 “Ku Neru Suwaru: Eiheiji Shugyoki,” ...

| Dec 28, 2008

The swift strokes of 'no-brush' calligraphy

by Donald Richie

KEN-ZEN-SHO: Zen Calligraphy and Painting of Yamaoka Tesshu, with a foreword by Rupert Faulkner, introductions by Sarah Moate and Alex Bennett, an essay by Terayama Tanchu and an afterword by Takemura Eiji. Bunkashi International (Kendo World Publications), 2008, 200 pp., 33 color plates, 67 ...

Kabuki rescued by national defeat

| Nov 30, 2008

Kabuki rescued by national defeat

by Donald Richie

KABUKI’S FORGOTTEN WAR: 1931-1945, by James R. Brandon. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2008, 466 pp., with photographs, $52 (cloth) The role that Japan’s “classic” drama, kabuki, played during the 15-year “Sacred War” is largely undiscussed, and even in Japan itself it is usually ...