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Donald Richie
Donald Richie began writing regularly for The Japan Times in 1954, initially writing film and stage reviews. In the early '70s he began writing book reviews and continued contributing until 2009. He wrote more than 40 books on Japanese aesthetics, and he is widely considered the pre-eminent expert on Japanese cinema.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 15, 2008
War and propaganda: a Japanese narrative
CERTAIN VICTORY: Images of World War II in the Japanese Media, by David C. Earhart. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe Inc., 2008, 552 pp., with photographs, maps, illustrations, $74.95 (cloth) One way to induce people to kill other people is to dehumanize "the enemy." And one of the ways to do this is through...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 8, 2008
Passionate romance in old Japan
THE LAST CONCUBINE by Leslie Downer. London: Bantam Press, 2008, 480 pp., £12.99 (cloth) The beautiful young Sachi grew up in the mountains of rural Japan, but she always seemed to herself more than a mere farm girl, samurai stock though she was. As the book jacket puts it: "Sachi has always felt...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 1, 2008
Old Royal Siam revisited
TRAVELER IN SIAM IN THE YEAR 1655: Extracts from the Journal of Gijsbert Heeck, translated and introduced by Barend Jan Terwiel. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2008, 124 pp., with b/w pictures and drawings, full-color maps and illustrations, 2008, 595 Bahts (paper) In 1903, the 1655 manuscript of Gijsbert...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 25, 2008
The poetic power of skepticism
AMERICA AND OTHER POEMS by Nobuo Ayukawa, selected and translated by Shogo Oketani and Leza Lowitz. New York: Kaya Press, 2008, 152 pp. $14.95 (paper) Nobuo Ayukawa (1920-1986) has in the West remained a relatively unknown poet. Though included in the "Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature"...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 18, 2008
Nature naturalized in Japanese gardens
INCOMPARABLE JAPANESE GARDENS, photographs by Gorazd Vilhar, text by Charlotte Anderson. Tokyo: IBC Publishing, 2008, 192 pp., with 159 full-color plates, ¥5,500 (cloth) If we compare the "incomparable," we will discover that the difference of the Japanese garden depends upon the Japanese, very...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 11, 2008
Brushwork ethereal as the London mists
YOSHIO MARKINO: A Japanese Artist in Edwardian London, revised edition, by Sammy I. Tsunematsu, preface by Ross S. Kilpatrick. London: The Soseki Museum, 2008, 208 pp. ¥1,850 (paper) Born in 1869, died in 1956, Yoshio Markino, an artist better remembered in England than in Japan, spent much of his...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 4, 2008
Bringing beauty to all through surprisingly unrefined language
BASHO: The Complete Haiku, translated, annotated and with an introduction by Jane Reichhold; artwork by Shiro Tsujimura. Kodansha International, 2008, 432 pp., ¥2,600 (cloth) Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is not only Japan's most revered poet, he is also the one most translated into other languages....
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 27, 2008
Taking readers back to the Occupation
FROM JAPAN WITH LOVE, text and photos by Mary Ruggieri, foreword by Richard Ruggieri. San Rafael, CA: Portsmouth Publishing, 2008, 264 pp., 400 monochrome photos, $24.95 (paper) From the autumn of 1946 to the spring of 1948 Mary Ruggieri was stationed in the Women's Army Corps as a member of the...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 20, 2008
Helping newcomers settle in Japan
HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN, by Arudou Debito and Higuchi Akira, 2008, 376 pp. ¥2,300 (paper) In this important and necessary book the authors address migrants and immigrants to Japan in saying that "we believe that your life in Japan should be under as much of your...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 13, 2008
Mishima's literary mistress
MISHIMA ON STAGE: The Black Lizard and Other Plays, edited and with an introduction by Laurence Kominz, foreword by Donald Keene. Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 2007, xii + 328 pp., with photographs, $70.00 (cloth), $26.00 (paper) Though most famous as a novelist,...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 6, 2008
Getting younger, getting older
I HAVEN'T DREAMED OF FLYING FOR A WHILE by Taichi Yamada, translated by David James Karashima. London: Faber & Faber, 2008, 195 pp., £10.99 (paper). He is in bed with her. "Take my nipple in your mouth," she says. "Just like nobody can console a person who is getting old — a person who...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 30, 2008
The big mysteries behind small things
THE ART OF SMALL THINGS by John Mack. London: British Museum Press, 2007, 224 pp., with 200 color illustrations, £19.99 (cloth) Here is a splendid catalog of the world made small — miniature works in the collection of the British Museum: Elizabethan rings, Benin masks, Netherlandish rosary...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 23, 2008
Utamaro, the women's brand name
UTAMARO AND THE SPECTACLE OF BEAUTY by Julie Nelson Davis. London: Reaktion Books, 2008, 269 pp., 114 illustrations, 66 color plates. £35 (cloth) Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806) is widely known as one of the most creative and influential artists of the ukiyo-e, those "pictures of the floating world"...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 16, 2008
Poetic reasons to take a card game seriously
ONE HUNDRED POETS, ONE POEM EACH: A Translation of the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, by Peter McMillan with a foreword by Donald Keene and an afterword by Eileen Kato. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007, 280 pp., with line drawings, $39.50 (cloth) This is a new translation of one of Japan's most famous...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 9, 2008
The art of Frances Blakemore: a love affair with Japan
AN AMERICAN ARTIST IN TOKYO: Frances Blakemore — 1906-1997, by Michiyo Morioka. Seattle: The Blakemore Foundation/University of Washington Press, 2007, 200 pp., profusely illustrated, $35 (cloth) Living more than 50 years of her life in Japan, artist Frances Blakemore was a close and sympathetic...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 2, 2008
'Kusamakura': What's the story?
KUSAMAKURA by Natsume Soseki, translated by Meredith McKinney. Penguin Classics, 2008, 152 pp., £9.99 (paper) In this early work (also known as "Grass Pillow") by one of Japan's best-known authors, the narrator is with a mysterious woman he meets at the hot spring. They are talking about reading,...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Feb 24, 2008
Asian art for art's sake
WHAT'S THE USE OF ART? — Asian Visual and Material Culture in Context, edited by Jan Mrazek and Morgan Pitelka. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2008, 314 pp., with illustrations, $58 (cloth) The question is rhetorical, that is, uttered for effect, to make a statement rather than to obtain...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jan 27, 2008
Making Japan 'borderless'
JAPAN AND ITS WORLDS: Marius B. Jansen and the Internationalization of Japanese Studies, edited by Martin Collcutt, Kato Mikio and Ronald P. Toby. I-House Press, 2007, 300 pp., ¥2,858 (cloth) The late Marius Jansen was America's most eminent historian of modern Japan. Admired in Japan and Europe,...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jan 20, 2008
The Utagawa brand name
COMPETITION AND COLLABORATION: Japanese Prints of the Utagawa School, by Laura J. Mueller, with essays by Fujisawa Akane, Kobayashi Tadashi, and Ellis Tinios. Leiden/Boston: Hotei Publishing, 2007, 232 pp., 200 illustrations, $120 (cloth) The Utagawa school, founded in the 18th century and active...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jan 13, 2008
Preferring to show and not to tell
AKIRA KUROSAWA: Interviews, edited by Burt Cardullo. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2008, 196 pp., $20 (paper) Once, when I asked Akira Kurosawa about the meaning of one of his films he answered: "If I could have said it in words, I would have — then I wouldn't have needed to make...

Longform

The Japanese government updated its English education guidelines in 2017 to emphasize communication over grammar and memorization. Public school teachers are incredibly busy, however, which means schools haven’t been able to implement changes uniformly. Private and alternative schools are attempting to remedy this.
The language of opportunity: Bilingual education is on the rise in Japan