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Anna Kunnecke
For Anna Kunnecke's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
CULTURE / Books
Oct 17, 2010
The wonders and virtues of green tea
This diminutive book is packed as tightly as an obento box with an array of mini-essays.
CULTURE / Books
May 16, 2010
Aikido's mystical path to peace on Earth
Anyone who turns to this lovely volume hoping to learn how to perform some of aikido's legendary techniques will be disappointed. But for those disciples of the practice who wish to delve more deeply into the philosophical and religious underpinnings of its founder's cosmology, this tiny book is a gem.
CULTURE / Books
May 9, 2010
Year of the party cats
I put this picture book to the toughest test of all: I read it to my 3-year-old. Though the text was a bit over her head, she stared transfixed at the illustrations. Truth be told, so did I. They are delicious: a rustic Japanese village rendered in rich color and packed with food, flowers, humor and cats. Setsu Broderick's memories of her childhood are recreated in loving detail, and she and her (apparently numerous) siblings and family members appear here in feline form.
CULTURE / Books
Apr 25, 2010
Lights on, but who's home?
The first half of this book is told from the point of view of Kiwako, an office worker who kidnaps the baby of her married lover after being pressured into having an abortion herself. She passes through love hotels, bullet trains and ferries; she encounters crazy people and joins a religious cult; she cleans floors, takes care of the child, and evades police. It's hard to believe that tabloid fare such as this could be boring, but it is.
CULTURE / Books
Mar 14, 2010
Dazzling, difficult debut is anything but a throwaway
If you live in Japan for many years, you see a lot of people come and go. The expat crowd is notoriously transitory, and no subset is more ubiquitously "temporary" than English teachers. Wave after wave of JET teachers come for a year or two, have their bite-sized exotic experience, and then return home with tales that grow ever taller. I have often found myself listening politely as one-year veterans expounded rapturously (and often wrongly) on their insights into Japan.
CULTURE / Books
Feb 28, 2010
The illusion of powerlessness
Robin LeBlanc is doing a tricky dance. She's clearly a serious academic devoted to the study of politics, and she does her damnedest to do right by that world. But she's such a good writer that her prose is accessible, even entrancing, to mere mortals. In fact, sometimes her prose is funny and even beautiful. This is a problem.
CULTURE / Books
Nov 22, 2009
How to save the planet, Edo Japan style
JUST ENOUGH: Lessons in Living Green From Traditional Japan, by Azby Brown. Kodansha International, 2009, 232 pp., $24.95 (hardcover) Azby Brown is fascinated by Edo Japan because it once faced dire environmental degradation and yet did not collapse. Through a combination of ingenious technological advances, government direction and a pervading ethos of having "just enough," Edo society (1603-1867) transformed itself into a thriving population that lived sustainably and graciously. Brown is convinced that the Edo way of life holds powerful and scalable keys to our own lurch back from the brink of environmental disaster. As he writes soberly, "Sustainable society will come, because the alternative is no society at all."
CULTURE / Books
Sep 13, 2009
Securing the best education for your child
GUIDE TO INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS IN JAPAN: From Anxiety to Opportunity, by Caroline Pover. Alexandra, 2009, 667 pp., ¥4,762 (paper) Expatriates in some countries face a scarcity of options when it comes to educating their children, but in Japan the reverse is true: The array of alternatives and the potential permutations of language, curriculum and environment can be utterly overwhelming.

Longform

At the Akan International Crane Center, just north of the city of Kushiro proper, visitors can see the majestic red-crowned crane — a symbol of Hokkaido.
Faces of the north: A Hokkaido town grapples with depopulation