David Cozy
Japan Times
Jul 17, 2011
Oblivion is a soldier's reward
Shigeru Mizuki's "Onwards Towards Our Noble Deaths" begins with a gallery of the faces of each of the 30 main characters.
Japan Times
Jun 19, 2011
Oh, where is the city of dreams?
Illuminated manuscripts, Persian and Mughal miniatures, Victorian novels enriched by illustrations from the likes of Cruikshank and Phiz: Illustrated texts have a long, rich and varied history.
May 29, 2011
Legends of the Middle Kingdom
THE MOON OVER THE MOUNTAIN AND OTHER STORIES, by Atsushi Nakajima. Translated by Paul McCarthy and Nobuko Ochner. Autumn Hill Books, 2010, 175 pp., $15.95 (paper) Orientalism, that essentializing exoticization of the East is, we all know, a deplorable thing — but those of us who have been drawn...
May 8, 2011
Unfractured folk tales, and fantastic fables
SPECULATIVE JAPAN 2: "The Man Who Watched the Sea" and Other Tales of Japanese Science Fiction and Fantasy. Kurodahan Press, 2010, 269 pp., $16 (paper) A good anthology, particularly one that aims to provide an overview of an unfamiliar subset of a nation's literature, should not please all its readers...
Apr 24, 2011
Of monsters and men: Godzilla's stable master
MASTER OF MINIATURES, by Jim Shepard. New York: Solid Objects, 2010, 51 pp., $12 (paper). Jim Shepard's "Master of Miniatures" is a masterful miniature, a small container filled with substantial events and substantial pleasures. Based on the life of Eiji Tsuburaya, the special effects man who made...
Mar 20, 2011
The protocols of freedom
THE ETIQUETTE OF FREEDOM: Gary Snyder, Jim Harrison, and The Practice of the Wild. Edited by Paul Ebenkamp. This is a companion to the film "The Practice of the Wild," directed by John J. Healey, produced by Will Hearst and Jim Harrison with San Simeon Films. Counterpoint, 2010, 160 pp., $28 (cloth/DVD) Snyder...
Feb 20, 2011
Recollections of an intrepid Meiji traveler
NEW CHRONICLES OF YANAGIBASHI AND DIARY OF A JOURNEY TO THE WEST, by Ryuhoku Narushima. Translated and with a critical introduction and afterword by Matthew Fraleigh. Cornell University East Asia Program, 2010, 392 pp., $49 (paper) The most interesting thing about Ryuhoku Narushima (1837-1884), author...
Dec 26, 2010
Shikoku shrines: journey through a lost world
Itsue Takamure, born in 1894, grew up to become a remarkable woman: a pioneering feminist scholar — one whose work remains controversial — and an anarchist, though her progressive thinking did not prevent her from collaborating with Japan's militarist government during World War II.
Dec 19, 2010
Final word on the year's best reading
In making available this account of Japanese who are forgotten, by an author who, in English, is unknown, translator Jeffrey Irish has done us a tremendous service. Anyone interested in how things used to be in rural Japan will want to read ethnologist Tsuneichi Miyamoto's tales of his travels on foot...
Oct 17, 2010
The illustrated life and times of author Kenji Miyazawa
The surprising thing about Ko Yano's biography of Kenji Miyazawa is not that he's done it in the form of a comic book, but rather that this manga biography appears to be the only book-length life of Miyazawa available in English.
Sep 19, 2010
Dastardly doctor with a mean scalpel and a heart of gold
It is probably not excessive to say that every Japanese male between the ages of 15 and 40 knows Black Jack, the outlaw surgeon who features in the series of comics that Osamu Tezuka created in the 1970s and early 1980s — comics that remain (thanks in part to movies and TV) popular today.
Aug 15, 2010
Plumbing the depths of a suicide obsession
When Kenzaburo Oe, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in literature, chose to become a writer rather than a teacher or literary scholar, his mentor at Tokyo University told him that it would be necessary for him to continue his studies on his own.
Jul 11, 2010
Everything you always wanted to know about Japanese schoolgirls (but were afraid to ask)
Don't be put off by the overly busy — and, yes, overly kawaii — cover of "Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential."
Jun 20, 2010
Pulp fiction raunch with a happy ending
Yoshihiro Tatsumi was, when young, a fan of Mickey Spillane, the poor man's — the very poor man's — Raymond Chandler, and Spillane's fingerprints are all over "Black Blizzard," a page-turner in the best pulp style, published in 1956.
Jun 13, 2010
Quest for meaning of life in rural Japan
Great men will, often thanks to their depredations, force themselves on our attention.
May 16, 2010
A splendid tour through the 'real' Tokyo
It is likely that as many people will appreciate Donald Richie's "Tokyo Megacity" as a tasteful addition to their living room decor as will open it, and that most who do open it will assiduously avoid Richie's text in favor of Ben Simmons' photographs.
May 2, 2010
Sex, drugs and rock and roll, plus lots and lots more sex
With "Big in Japan," an erotic coming-of-age novel set in Japan, M. Thomas Gammarino has joined the likes of Jay McInerny ("Ransom"), Brad Leithauser ("Equal Distance"), and countless other non-Japanese writers who spend a little time in Japan when young, and then — surprise, surprise! —...
Mar 28, 2010
Treason for the most patriotic of reasons
The subtitle informs us that this is a "casebook" — that is, not a monograph on the Sorge spy ring, but rather a miscellany of pieces around that topic. Happily, the assembled parts are not the hodgepodge they might have been, but instead a kaleidoscope of views that resonate well together. In...
Feb 21, 2010
Laying it all out on the table
Hiromi Ito's poetry is often described as "shamanistic," and indeed, according to translator Jeffrey Angles, when she performs her poems she sometimes "sits on the floor like a shamaness and raps on a drum." That sort of thing, along with the insistence — often asserted but seldom supported —...
Japan Times
Jan 24, 2010
Eschewing the cheerlessness of modern-market memoirs
Those who have read Donald Keene's 1996 memoir "On Familiar Terms" may wonder whether it was necessary for him to bring out another that covers much the same ground. One suspects that Keene published "Chronicles of My Life" simply because he had been asked to write a series of columns about his life...


Traditional folk rituals like Mizudome-no-mai (dance to stop the rain) provide a sense of agency to a population that feels largely powerless in the face of the climate crisis.
As climate extremes intensify, Japan embraces ancient weather rituals