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Nicolas Gattig
Nicolas Gattig is a teacher and writer from San Francisco. His articles/essays about politics and education have been published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, SOMA magazine, Street Sheet, and the Japan Times. He is greatly interested in literature and the effects of culture.
For Nicolas Gattig's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Mar 31, 2018
'The Bridge Over the River Kwai' explores the cultural pride and folly of the Asia-Pacific War
A war between nations is innately a clash of cultures. Pierre Boulle's best-selling novel "The Bridge Over the River Kwai," first published in English in 1954 and made into a movie by David Lean, mixes military fiction with the cultural pride and folly of the Asia-Pacific War. It is a lean, jumpy book, a Conradian tale of the British lost in a dark abroad.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Jan 27, 2018
'The Girl at the Baggage Claim' is Gish Jen's venture into the identity of self
In our age of cultural sensitivity — and vocal aversion to stereotypes — it takes nerve to compare East and West. Kudos then to Gish Jen, an award winning novelist and former lecturer at Harvard University, for venturing into the fray and adding insight.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Jan 6, 2018
In 'The Tokyo-Montana Express,' Richard Brautigan sees Japan with a fresh eye
There is a magical realism to the first steps in a new country. Some of the finest prose to convey this enchantment is Richard Brautigan's short story collection "The Tokyo-Montana Express," first published by Delacorte Press/Seymor Lawrence in 1980. Like stations on a fantasy railroad, the vignettes freewheel between Japan and America, making you laugh out loud and then quiet with melancholia.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Dec 16, 2017
Playing War: Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan
In an old magazine photo, a baby enjoys "children's heaven" — perched in a tank-shaped stroller and, the caption jokes, going to Manchuria. In a manga released by U.S. Forces Japan, two cute doe-eyed characters — the bunny-boy Mr. USA and the Japanese schoolgirl Ms. Alliance — discuss playfully why it's his job to kill cockroaches in her kitchen.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Voices / FOREIGN AGENDA
Nov 8, 2017
When 'Charisma Man' in Japan meets 'chikan,' women get hurt
Perhaps my own failing was not to challenge the locker-room code — not with the wagging finger of a spoiler, but as a man who is also learning.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Aug 12, 2017
'Inheritance From Mother': Tackling the taboo of caring for elderly parents
"Mother, when are you ever going to die?"
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Apr 29, 2017
'Yoshida's Dilemma: One Man's Struggle to Avert Nuclear Catastrophe': But for him, Fukushima could have been much worse
But for this man and his team, the Fukushima disaster would likely have been much worse.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Voices / FOREIGN AGENDA
Apr 5, 2017
Brando's turn as an Okinawan 'host in a shell' haunts debate over 'yellowface'
Why Marlon Brando's notorious performance in 'The Teahouse of the August Moon,' as an interpreter for the U.S. Occupation forces in Okinawa, deserves a second look.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Mar 4, 2017
'Pachinko' author Min Jin Lee on how Japan's ethnic Koreans keep beating the odds
"I got lost all the time," says writer Min Jin Lee with a charming laugh, sitting in a hotel lobby in San Francisco's Japantown.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Feb 4, 2017
Bathing in the French culture of Tokyo's Kagurazaka district
"To err is human. To loaf is Parisian," said the French writer Victor Hugo. Although seasoned in erring and loafing, I cannot attest that he nailed Paris. But loafing is tres a la mode in Kagurazaka, a shopping and dining area in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward that is famed for its touch of French culture.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Jan 21, 2017
'Picture Bride Stories': Stories of the resilient women who traded Japan for the cane fields of Hawaii
"I thought if there was a way to walk across the ocean (back) to Japan, I would have done so." This is how Haruno Tazawa remembers her early experience as a "picture bride" — the name for the more than 20,000 women who, during the period of restricted immigration between 1908 and 1924, left Japan to marry Japanese men mainly in Hawaii after only seeing them in photographs.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Voices / FOREIGN AGENDA
Jan 18, 2017
Re-entry to U.S. can be tough for a Tokyo Man drunk on white privilege
There is a price this former Tokyoite pays for being home. Because in America, being white can be less than a privilege — it is part of a complicated history.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Dec 31, 2016
'The Teahouse of the August Moon': a subversive comedy in postwar Okinawa
Published in 1951 and later adapted for a movie and Broadway play, Vern Sneider's "The Teahouse of the August Moon" is a satirical take on the U.S. Occupation of Japan.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Sep 17, 2016
Say you're sorry: In court with Japan's rascals, killers and dope heads
The Haras were a quiet, rather ordinary Japanese couple — until they resolved to burn down their house and drive themselves and their 20-year-old daughter off a cliff.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Aug 27, 2016
Long Belts and Thin Men
Japan's postwar years were marked by raw needs and wounds, as well as great societal change. A glimpse of the era is offered in this collection of stories by Nobuo Kojima (1915-2006), most of which appear in English for the first time.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Voices / FOREIGN AGENDA
Aug 24, 2016
Beyond silence: lessons learned from a Japanese spouse
You see it often in Tokyo: the attentive Japanese woman and the Western man filling silence. In fact, a lot of them end up married, sharing a house and 1,000 meals, albeit hardly a life of the mind.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Aug 6, 2016
A contrary tale of two towns in Tohoku
The sea in Tohoku is beautiful and cruel. A vast mass that owns the horizon, it shimmers in the sun, abundant and giving, like a mother that charms and nurtures. However, it is also a primeval force, a deep darkness that may swell up in rage and devour its charges.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
May 14, 2016
'Sayonara' reveals the complexity of Western fantasies about Japan
Some books enlighten us by aging badly. James A. Michener's novel "Sayonara," first published in 1953 and made into a film starring Marlon Brando four years later, has been dismissed as an example of Orientalist fantasy, with its gushing about the perfect wives that Western men find in Japan. Still, it reveals how much Japanese-Western relationships have evolved, and it's surprising what still rings true today — beyond the spousal back rubs and cringe-worthy accents.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Apr 30, 2016
Hakone in hot water: Romance, gimlets and raunchy 'onsen'
"I think they're having an affair," murmurs my companion, the ever-observant Megumi. She nods at a middle-aged couple sitting next to us on the "Romance Car," the limited express train that links Tokyo and the hot-spring resort of Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Apr 9, 2016
The unbelievable true story of a Japanese family that went to war with itself
During the endgame of World War II, Harry Fukuhara, a member of a Japanese-American unit of the U.S. military, was tasked with teaching new recruits about the enemy. The servicemen training to invade Kyushu asked how to distinguish the Japanese from Chinese.

Longform

Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on