Perhaps it is the gurgling brooks that feed the town's roadside culverts, the colorful, vaguely Pyrenean window boxes, or the friendly, natural disposition of the locals — Gujo-Hachiman seems a place where people's spirits are pitched a notch or two higher than elsewhere.
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."
For Stephen Mansfield's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Marguerite Yourcenar's literary biography of Yukio Mishima delves into the enigmatic author as well as the social conditions that shaped his rise and fall.
The pleasures of the common Okinawan table are indisputable, but at restaurants like Ryukyu Cuisine Mie or Sui Dunchi guests can experience kyūtei ryōri (court cuisine) created in the spirit of a cherished culinary art.
Scholarly in the depth of its research methods and the sheer scope of its coverage, Nicholas Bornoff explores the means and instruments for achieving erotic pleasure in 1991 Japan.
Cultural geographer Paul Waley adds to the slim body of academic work about Tokyo with an anthropologic take on the megacity's overlooked neighborhoods.
Often overlooked and still relatively obscure, Ishikawa Prefecture's Noto Peninsula remains a wealth of traditional crafts and cuisine, dramatic landscapes and vibrant festivals.
"Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide" terrorizes with well-researched descriptions and powerful illustrations of Japanese yokai (supernatural monsters), but also provides helpful hints on how to evade them.
My neighbor's garden is a wonder to behold. Where you might expect to find trim box hedges, bamboo fences, subtle rock arrangements, junipers, conifers and pine, there are garden gnomes, an ornamental concrete wheelbarrow, pots of begonia, hanging baskets of pansies and an iron ...
Breezy, frequently humorous and self-scolding, Leslie Buck's "Cutting Back: My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto" is a poignant look at the storied Japanese world of professional gardening.
"The Missionary and the Libertine," an eclectic collection of essays by Ian Buruma, remains as readable today as when it was first published in 1996.