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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
Jul 30, 2006
Tokugawa shogun saved from going to the dogs
Tsunayoshi (1646-1709) was the fifth in a line of 15 Tokugawa-family rulers. His 29-year rule was marked by an unusual number of natural disasters, including a volcanic eruption of Mount Fuji, and by that equally unusual outbreak of commerce — the arts, extravagance and indulgence now known as the...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jul 23, 2006
Ordinary is illuminated
OZU YASUJIRO: TWO POSTWAR FILMS -- Late Spring & Early Summer, translated, by D.A. Rajakaruna. Colombo (Sri Lanka): Godage International Publishers (PVT) Ltd., 178 pp., $15 (paper). In Japan, in distinction from other countries, film scripts are sometimes read as literature. Those written by Yasunari...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jul 16, 2006
For Fumiko Hayashi, not every cloud has a silver lining
FLOATING CLOUDS by Fumiko Hayashi, translated by Lane Dunlop. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006, 328 pp., $27.50 (cloth). Toward the end of her life Fumiko Hayashi (1903-1951) said that she did not think her work would outlive her. Happily, she was quite wrong: She remains one of Japan's most...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jul 9, 2006
Classical Japanese text -- what is lost and found in translation
THE TALES OF THE HEIKE, translated by Burton Watson, edited with an introduction by Haruo Shirane, glossary and bibliographies compiled by Michael Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006, 216 pp., illustrated, $24.50 (cloth). The "Heike Monogatari," that famous account of the events that led...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jul 2, 2006
To be, or not to be published? That no longer is the question
SELF-PUBLISHING IN JAPAN: What You Need to Know to Get Started, by Kathleen Morikawa. Forest River Press, 2006, 76 pp., 1,800 yen (paper). The largest media development since the Gutenberg printing press is coming. The full force has not yet hit, but the waves are lapping our shores. Computers, scanners,...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 25, 2006
Jun'ichiro Tanizaki: new realities from screen fiction
SHADOWS ON THE SCREEN: Tanizaki Jun'ichiro on Cinema and "Oriental" Aesthetics, translated and edited by Thomas LaMarre. Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan, 2005. 410 pp., photos XIX, $25 (paper). The eminent novelist Jun'ichiro Tanizaki was celebrated for his ambivalence...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 18, 2006
In the wake of the true traditional Japanese funeral
MODERN PASSINGS: Death Rites, Politics, and Social Change in Imperial Japan, by Andrew Bern- stein. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2006,242 pp., with photos, $39 (cloth). I have long admired Japan's attitude toward death, its acceptance, its no-nonsense attitude toward disposal and entombment,...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 11, 2006
It's a mechanical kind of love
LOVING THE MACHINE: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots, by Timothy N. Hornyak. Tokyo/New York: Kodansha International, 2006, 160 pp., profusely illustrated, 2,800 yen (cloth). One of the most popular mysteries of 18th-century Europe was the Chess-playing Turk, a robot-like automaton that won all...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 4, 2006
Involuntary students of death
KAMIKAZE DIARIES: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers, by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2006, 206 pp., 13 b/w plates, $25 (cloth). War flourishes through caricature and some of these wartime creations live on long after their political usefulness is over. One...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 28, 2006
William Blake, well traveled through the imagination of all
THE RECEPTION OF BLAKE IN THE ORIENT, edited by Steve Clark and Masashi Suzuki. London/New York: Continuum, 2006, 348 pp., with b/w illustrations, £45 (cloth). William Blake (1757-1827), poet and engraver, known for his mysticism, sentiment and the complex symbolism of his work, does not seem a...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 21, 2006
Yukio Mishima's prequel to the end
YUKOKU (Patriotism), 1966, produced, written and interpreted by Yukio Mishima, associate producer Hiroaki Fujii, associate director Masaki Domoto, photographed by Kimio Watanabe. Tokyo: Toho DVD, 2006, Disc One: 28 minutes, Disc Two: 175 minutes, 6,300 yen. In 1961 Yukio Mishima published a short story,...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 14, 2006
Letting history speak for itself
TRADITIONAL JAPANESE ARTS AND CULTURE: An Illustrated Sourcebook, edited by Stephen Addiss, Gerald Groemer and J. Thomas Rimer. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2006, 254 pp., 64 color plates, $29 (paper). For nearly half a century, an important text for learning about Japanese culture in general...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 23, 2006
Detective fiction written for the love of Tokyo
THE SNAKE THAT BOWED, by Edward Seidensticker, based on works by Okamoto Kido. Tokyo: Printed Matter Press, 2006, 144 pp., 1500 yen (paper). Edward Seidensticker, the most eminent translator from Japanese to English, is a man of many parts. Not only has he given us "The Tale of Genji," "The Makioka Sisters,"...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 16, 2006
Critical concerns about cinema
ASIAN CINEMAS: A READER & GUIDE, edited by Dimitris Eleftheriotis and Gary Needham. Edinburgh University Press, 2006, 474 pp., £19.99 (paper). CONTEMPORARY ASIAN CINEMA: Popular Culture in a Global Frame, edited by Anne Tereska Ciecko. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2006, 250 pp., £16.99 (paper). Critical...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 9, 2006
Looking at the big picture of Kyoto
CAPITALSCAPES: Folding Screens and Political Imagination in Late Medieval Kyoto, by Matthew Philip McKelway. Honolulu, University of Hawai'i Press, 2006, 282 pp., 24 color plates, numerous b/w illustrations, $56.00 (cloth). One of the major formats in the history of Japanese painting are the byobu-e,...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 2, 2006
It's a different war through the eyes of civilians
LEAVES FROM AN AUTUMN OF EMERGENCIES: Selections From the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, edited by Samuel Hideo Yamashita. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2005, 332 pp., with b/w photos, $26 (paper). There are a number of reasons for keeping diaries -- to preserve time, to account for it,...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 26, 2006
A new 'hero' for olden times
LIGHTNING IN THE VOID: The Authentic History of Miyamoto Musashi, by John Carroll. Tokyo: Printed Matter Press, 2006, 520 pp., 2,500 yen (paper). Any history calling itself "authentic" posits one that is inauthentic. Here the target is apparent. It is the "Miyamoto Musashi" of Eiji Yoshikawa, published...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 19, 2006
Wrapping paper that influenced l'art japonais of Paris
HOTEI ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JAPANESE WOODBLOCK PRINTS; edited by Amy Reigle Newland; specialist advisers: Julie Nelson Davis, Oikawa Shigeru, Ellis Tinios, Chris Uhlenbeck; foreword by Suzuki Juzo. Amsterdam: Hotei Publishing, 2005, two volumes in slipcase, 528 pp., 140 color and 140 b/w illustrations, $249...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 12, 2006
Chao Phya, the brown god
THAILAND REFLECTED IN A RIVER by Steve Van Beek, designed by Barry Owen and Thongchai Nawawat. Hong Kong: Wind & Water Ltd., 264 pp., profusely illustrated, 2004, $39 (cloth). T.S. Eliot has written: "I think that the river / Is a strong brown god -- sullen, untamed and intractable." In addition...
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Feb 26, 2006
Memoirs of a foreigner
JAPANESE JOURNEYS: Writings and Recollections, by Geoffrey Bownas. Kent: Global Oriental Ltd., 2005, 264 pp., with b/w photos, £30 (cloth). One late evening in 1970, the scholar Geoffrey Bownas was working with the writer Yukio Mishima on their anthology "New Writing in Japan." The noted author...

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