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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 19, 2016
Yasunari Kawabata meditates on nature and Westernization in 'The Old Capital'
Yasunari Kawabata's novels are like secret gardens with sadly beautiful flowers. First published in 1962, "The Old Capital" — an elegiac meditation on the cultural heritage of Kyoto — was one of the works that earned him the Nobel Prize in Literature. It is a story that moves from spring to winter in scenes that seem more painted than written, with human experience reflected in nature.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Feb 20, 2016
'The Doctor's Wife' fictionalizes the life of Japan's pioneering anesthetist
"Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes," the comedian Jim Carrey once joked. Sawako Ariyoshi's novel "The Doctor's Wife," based on historical facts and first published in 1978, tells of the woman behind real-life pioneer surgeon Seishu Hanaoka, who used general anesthetic long before any doctor the West. In this fictionalized biography, the medical breakthrough is aided by Hanaoka's wife Kae, who stays forever eclipsed by her famous spouse.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Feb 13, 2016
When life deals a bad hand, be a tough cookie and visit Kyoto
"Some men dream of fortunes, others dream of cookies," goes an old saying from a fortune cookie. As for my good friend Dale, who has had a a mean case of winter malaise since he broke up with his girlfriend, he is still dreaming of finding a wife. Thus, on a January morning we set out for Kyoto and Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, where we hope a nearby shop that makes fortune cookies will tell Dale his odds in love. He is looking for a boost of morale with an oracle such as "Soon a visitor shall delight you;" but, then, in his current mood he may settle for "All is not yet lost."
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Feb 6, 2016
A Cat, a Man, and Two Women
It took the wise Junichiro Tanizaki, partial to hanky-panky of all shades, to see that a perfect love triangle (oops — make that a square) involves a cat. True to form, in "A Cat, a Man, and Two Women" Tanizaki flips master and servant, and one of the charms of this light-hearted work, first published in 1936, is to watch feminine ruses get bested by feline cool.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Voices / FOREIGN AGENDA
Jan 27, 2016
Do your Japanese colleagues drive you nuts? Maybe it's you, not them (or both)
The Trail Mix Incident — where cultural conditioning trumped Japanese social etiquette — highlights how the defense of territory is universal.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Jan 23, 2016
Wind/Pinball
"As long as I had something to transmit," says the narrator of these two short novels from 1979 and 1980, "my existence would be assured." Over three decades later, his creator Haruki Murakami is transmitting all over the world, a Japanese hero of postmodern literature.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Jan 9, 2016
The Making of Asian America: A History
In 1922, a Japanese immigrant to the United States named Takao Ozawa applied for citizenship with the U.S. Supreme Court. Having lived in America for almost 30 years, Ozawa was fluent in English and an active Christian, assuring the court that his skin was "white in color" and that he wished to "return the kindness which our Uncle Sam has extended me." Still, his appeal was denied — naturalization at the time was exclusive to Caucasians.
COMMUNITY / Voices / FOREIGN AGENDA
Dec 23, 2015
On a Christmas visit, expat thoughts turn to 'going home'
Reconnecting with home can be a cause for reflection: Where have I been, and where am I going? Is there another life to return to?
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Dec 19, 2015
Flowers That Kill: Communicative Opacity in Political Spaces
Academia has wised up to marketing, as seen in this title evoking botanical butchery. Far from carnivorous mischief, this scholarly work shows how state propaganda changes the meaning of cultural symbols.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Dec 5, 2015
The Waiting Years
A tale of unanswered prayers, Fumiko Enchi's "The Waiting Years" is an elegy on the subservience that once haunted Japanese womanhood.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Oct 10, 2015
Banana Yoshimoto sprinkles perversion and melodrama over '90s Tokyo in 'N.P.'
This vintage Banana Yoshimoto novel from 1990 is the tale of four confused souls spending a magical summer in Tokyo. Airy and urbane, it follows three women and a guy as they each sit in cafes having rambling confessional conversations, feel lost looking at the deep blue sky and show up drunk at their lover's house late at night to resume the rambling conversations. Ah, to be 20 and melodramatic!
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Voices / FOREIGN AGENDA
Sep 9, 2015
Forget Germany — Japan must deal with WWII its own way
The onus is on the Japanese to find their own form of moral atonement — and convey it to the world.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Sep 5, 2015
Transcending issues on the summit of Mount Shichimen
There are times in life when you need a monk. That's when you head out to Yamanashi Prefecture and climb up the sacred Mount Shichimen — to find Keishin-in Temple and get a Buddhist perspective on all things human, including love.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Aug 8, 2015
Isamu Noguchi's inner life is foggy in 'Listening to Stone'
A female dancer once described celebrity sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi as having "a lost, faraway look that was irresistible." Rendering the man behind the look is the aim of Hayden Herrera's new biography, "Listening to Stone: The art and life of Isamu Noguchi."
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Jul 25, 2015
'The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea' shows Yukio Mishima invoking primitive male fears
Yukio Mishima wrote fiction like nobody else. Published in 1965, his novel "The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea" is a prime example, a rapturous burst of language both mythical and keenly detailed, translated beautifully by American writer and director John Nathan.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Jun 13, 2015
Ian Fleming ensures no cliches about Japan go unexploited in his ethnocentric masterpiece 'You Only Live Twice'
This novel may come as a surprise if you mostly know of James Bond from the movie series. First published in 1964 — the same year that its author, Ian Fleming, died — "You Only Live Twice" adds elegiac gloom to the spy-thriller formula.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
May 23, 2015
Richard Brautigan worships Japanese women in 'Sombrero Fallout'
Richard Brautigan dedicated "Sombrero Fallout" — his seventh novel, published in 1976 — to writer Junichiro Tanizaki. Indeed, he echoes Tanizaki in the worship of his protagonist, a Japanese woman named Yukiko. "She had a beautiful laugh which was like rain water pouring over daffodils made from silver," writes Brautigan.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Apr 25, 2015
Sexual obsession stimulated Junichiro Tanizaki's writing
A 55-year-old science lecturer is found naked on a university campus. His student lover has made him strip as a show of devotion — "Get naked to show me your love," she reportedly demanded — and then scampered off with his clothes. The lecturer resigns, apologizes for "causing considerable trouble," and returns to living with the student.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Voices / FOREIGN AGENDA
Feb 11, 2015
A search for meaning in the arc of Goto’s life and the horror of his death
The frenzy of the hostage crisis and the visceral terror of the Islamic State group's executions have for a moment ushered Syria into Japanese youth's sphere of concern.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Voices / FOREIGN AGENDA
Jan 7, 2015
Japan may shun 'Unbroken' just because it's old hat
If the Japanese opt to skip Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken,' let's not blame wholesale refusal to face the past.

Longform

Yayoi Kusama’s “Pumpkin,” once the victim of high waves that dragged it into the sea, sits at the end of a pier on the south side of Naoshima.
Why is the most exciting art in Japan so hard to get to?