A world of fear for Japan's  shut-ins

Sep 13, 2014

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 ...

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 ...

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. ...

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 ...

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” ...

Punk author Kou Machida on his offbeat samurai story

Aug 16, 2014

Punk author Kou Machida on his offbeat samurai story

by James Hadfield

You wouldn’t expect a punk musician to write decent novels, any more than you’d expect a boxer to be good at darning. The talents prized by the former vocation — restlessness, insouciance, hard-wired disregard for authority — don’t lend themselves to the rigors of ...

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

Aug 9, 2014

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

by Stephen Mansfield

The torching in 1950 of Kyoto’s majestic Temple of the Golden Pavilion remains one of the world’s most discussed cases of arson — not least because the act was perpetrated by an acolyte of the temple. Transcripts of his confession and subsequent trial contain ...

The Crane Pavilion

Aug 9, 2014

The Crane Pavilion

by Mark Schreiber

The 12th full-length novel by German-born author I.J. Parker to feature crime-solving government official Sugawara Akitada, “The Crane Pavilion” takes place in Kyoto in the latter part of the Heian Period (794-1185). The Crane Pavilion, by I.J. Parker.I-J-P Books, Fiction. While posted to Kyushu ...