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 Stephen Mansfield

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Stephen Mansfield
Photojournalist and author Stephen Mansfield's work has appeared in over 70 publications worldwide, on subjects ranging from conflict in the Middle East to cultural analysis, interviews and book reviews. A longtime Japan Times contributor, his latest book is "Japan's Master Gardens: Lessons in Space & Environment."
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Jun 25, 2016
Route 58: a drive through Okinawa's peculiar past
The telegraph poles that once lined Okinawa's Route 58 have long gone, but the great coastal avenue still reminds me a little of the Dire Straits song "Telegraph Road." Like the lyrics of Mark Knopfler's extended anthem, Route 58 is a journey through time, a digest of history.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Jun 4, 2016
Why 'The Japanese Chronicles' remains an archetypal travelogue
Author of the classic travelogue "The Way of the World," Nicolas Bouvier was also a photographer, whose grainy images add texture to this series of essays published in 1989. A travel writer who used the genre as a medium for political and cultural inquiry, Bouvier was both investigative journalist and...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
May 21, 2016
Reading kimono: the lexicon of dress
How Karun Thakar, a passionate collector of textiles, acquired his assortment of kimono is a story in itself. Exposed to fabric techniques in his mother's couture shop in Delhi, Thakar's growing curiosity repeatedly took him to Istanbul and Peshawar as he amassed of a seminal collection of Gujarati silk...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
May 21, 2016
Fumio Niwa's 'The Buddha Tree' vibrates between spiritual and material worlds
Fumio Niwa's 1955-56 novel (translated in 1966) centers on the conflict between the spiritual and material worlds, vying in this instance for the soul and integrity of Soshu, a corrupted and conflicted Buddhist priest. While he dispenses spiritual advice to members of his congregation, Soshu is having...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
May 7, 2016
'San'ya Blues' uncovers the holes in Japanese society
Sanya, Tokyo's day-laborer quarter, hardly exists in the official geography of the city — it has been excised in an act of symbolic expulsion. Maps are designed in such a way that the area remains blotted out. The district, as "San'ya Blues" author Edward Fowler observes, "might just as well be...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Apr 16, 2016
Donald Richie: The legacy of an entrenched view
The late Donald Richie lived at apartment number 804 in a block directly facing Shinobazu Pond in Tokyo's Ueno Park. The writer would lead visitors through his home's dimly lit entrance area — crammed with bookshelves — and his minuscule living room to the balcony, beneath which a vast lotus...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Apr 16, 2016
'Tokyo Portraits' gives a face to the unbowed underclasses of the metropolis
The translated captions in Hiroh Kikai's highly original photo book "Tokyo Portraits" match the equally arresting images taken between 1973 and 2008. "A man who didn't have the money to buy a train ticket," reads one, "A man wearing shoes over his bare feet, who said he was doing academic research by...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Apr 9, 2016
'The Stones Cry Out' tells the history of the world through a rock fragment
A Japanese soldier's discovery in a cave during World War II — the realization that a pebble might be a microcosm of the world's entire matter — forever changes the perspective of Tsuyoshi Manase, the main character in the exquisitely written short novel "The Stones Cry Out" that earned author Hikaru...
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Mar 19, 2016
Battle of Sekigahara: a war set in stone
The open valley basins of Gifu Prefecture at the very center of Honshu, where the town of Sekigahara lies, were easily co-opted as theaters of war. It's no coincidence, given the martial history of the region, that the town of Seki was once known as the premier sword-making spot in the country.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Mar 12, 2016
'Rough Living' captures the struggles of being a woman in the Meiji Era
Tokuda Shusei's "Rough Living," a translation of his 1915 novel "Arakure," explores lives of working-class people of the Meiji Era (1868-1912) and the rupturing social transformations taking place in Japan at the time.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Feb 27, 2016
A volatile mix of Catholicism and indigenous culture in Shusaku Endo's 'Volcano'
In "Volcano," first published in 1959, Shusaku Endo examines the fates of characters linked to the condition of a volcano he names "Akadake," based on the active cone of Sakurajima in Kagoshima. During the research for the novel, Endo is said to have chartered a helicopter so that he could peer firsthand...
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Feb 20, 2016
Finding salt of the earth on Aguni Island
There had been a delay in our departure for Aguni Island as we waited for a typhoon to spend itself. Two hours later, we finally boarded the ferry at Naha's Tomari Port. As the wind picked up again, and more people retreated into the comfort of the passenger lounge, it was clear that maritime and land...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Feb 20, 2016
The ink-stained road: 'age of experience'
In the new age of experience that defines the travel accounts on Japan from the immediate pre- and postwar periods, writers began resisting the easy enamor of the Orient. Instead of viewing Japan as an exotic wonderland, they took a more considered, critical view of what they encountered.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Feb 6, 2016
Mount Nokogiri: a breathtaking climb to enlightenment
It's a moot point for those who live there that the name "Chiba" is, in many minds, synonymous with images of hot-rod gangs, peanut farms, car dealerships, pachinko emporiums, empty lots with chain-link fences and giant electric pylons marching across rice fields — a purgatorial transition between...
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Jan 16, 2016
Dotonbori: Where Osakans eat, drink and be merry
Comparing Osaka with almost any other Japanese city is akin to likening a bloodied steak to boiled chicken.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Jan 16, 2016
The ink-stained road: ‘age of adventure’
If foreign visitors to Japan in the Edo Period (1603-1868) ran certain risks by committing their impressions of the country to paper in a totalitarian state that worked hard to maintain its obscurity, the new Meiji Era (1868-1912) positively encouraged attention.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Jan 9, 2016
Rediscovering Rikyu and the Beginnings of the Japanese Tea Ceremony
It is said that one of the best ways to become a person of culture is to study the Japanese tea ceremony, where nothing is permitted to be rushed and there are no short cuts to accomplishment.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Dec 26, 2015
Flipping back through the good reads of 2015
Before we turn the page on the year, here's a selection of our reviewers' favorite books.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Dec 26, 2015
Akira Kurosawa: Something Like An Autobiography
We sometimes forget that the great film director, Akira Kurosawa, was also an accomplished scriptwriter. In this, his wonderfully digressive autobiography, he rightly eschews the trivia of opening nights or the demands of leading ladies, to focus on the art of filmmaking, the role of director, the use...
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Dec 19, 2015
Bask in the warmth of Iheya Island
I thought I recognized the owner of the Iheya Kanko Hotel, her face fleetingly recalled as it passed over the screen at a Shinjuku showing of the 2012 film "Karakara."

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