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Umami: the taste we love but can't describe

by Melinda Joe

The word “umami” is, in many ways, literally a mouthful. First coined in 1909 by Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda, the term translates roughly as “deliciousness.” With its satisfying, round consonants and open vowel sounds, the word approaches onomatopoeia — a phonetic approximation of the gustatory pleasure to which it alludes. ...

Black Rose Alice vol. 1

Jul 19, 2014

Black Rose Alice vol. 1

by Daniel Robson

When I was a kid, vampires were blood-sucking monsters in stories of terror and fright, but nowadays they’re all romantic Romeos whose interest is not so much in blood as in the lovelorn heart that pumps it. Black Rose Alice vol. 1, by Setona ...

All You Need is Kill

Jul 12, 2014

All You Need is Kill

by Andrew Lee

To tie in with the release of the film “Edge of Tomorrow,” Haikasoru has published a graphic novel based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s “All You Need is Kill,” from which the film was adapted. Not to be confused with the manga version of the same ...

A firsthand account of vice and profit in Edo

Jul 5, 2014

A firsthand account of vice and profit in Edo

by Tyler Rothmar

Riding the circular Yamanote Line on a Sunday in Tokyo, it is easy to daydream. Those who have found themselves at times wondering what the city might have been like in the past are likely to enjoy the aptly named “Lust, Commerce, and Corruption: ...

Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories

Jul 5, 2014

Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories

by William Bradbury

It is noticeable that the tales in “Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories” by Ryunosuke Akutagawa change in tone and style alongside the mental state and interests of the writer. Akutagawa’s most famed early works (including the titular story) are intricately woven setups for moral ...

From the Japanese

Jul 5, 2014

From the Japanese

by Kris Kosaka

This fourth volume of poetry from Tokyo resident Paul Rossiter conveys his 40-year relationship with Japan in collected poems both thoughtful and thought-provoking. These range from the impressions of a startled first-time tourist in 1969 through to Rossiter’s visits to Ishinomaki in Tohoku in ...

Mori classic was the epitome of Meiji style

Jun 28, 2014

Mori classic was the epitome of Meiji style

by Roger Pulvers

There has been no period in the history of modern Japanese society so dramatic and so remarkably tumultuous and fluid as the Meiji Era (1868-1912), and no single work of fiction more revelatory in its depiction of that period than Ogai Mori’s “The Wild ...

Ring

| Jun 28, 2014

Ring

by Stephen Mansfield

There is a long history of spooking the reader in Japan. The humid summer months are supposed to be alleviated by spine-chilling ghost stories and scary Edo Period dramas. But no particular season makes contemporary Japanese horror any less terrifying. Ring, by Koji Suzuki ...

Murder on Bamboo Lane

Jun 28, 2014

Murder on Bamboo Lane

by Mark Schreiber

Since the appearance of “Summer of the Big Bachi” in 2004, Naomi Hirahara has produced five mystery novels in the ethnic detective genre, featuring Masao Arai, an elderly Japanese-American gardener (and Hiroshima A-bomb survivor) who drives around greater Los Angeles in a beat-up pickup ...