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Writer Donald Richie dies at 88

by Edan Corkill

Staff Writer

Long-term Japan resident, writer and critic Donald Richie, who through dozens of books and articles published from the late 1940s until the last decade helped introduce Japanese film and culture to the world, passed away in Tokyo on Tuesday, according to his long-term editor, Leza Lowitz. He was 88.

Richie, who was born in Lima, Ohio, on April 17, 1924, first came to Japan with the U.S. Occupation force in 1947. He soon began working for Pacific Stars and Stripes, where he gained a reputation as a prolific writer of film reviews.

After a stint back in the United States, he returned to Japan and began writing regularly for The Japan Times in 1954. Richie wrote hundreds of articles for the newspaper, covering not only film, but his other passions of theater, literature and art.

He continued to write for the newspaper through 2009.

Richie also published many books, including “The Japanese Film: Art and Industry,” which he coauthored with Joseph Anderson in 1959.

Between 1969 and 1972, Richie was in New York, working as a curator of film at the New York Museum of Modern Art.

He is also known for his travel writing. “The Inland Sea,” a memoir of his journey to the Seto Inland Sea that was first published in 1971, is considered a classic of the genre.

Richie suffered several heart attacks in the past decade. He is survived by his sister, Jean Reuther, who lives in the U.S.


Below are interviews with Donald Richie over the years as well as Asian Bookshelf book reviews dating back to 2001.

Life in the land where boredom is not an option

Films, Zen, Japan

Donald Richie offers history lesson

A lifetime’s observations

How Lon Chaney led to lifetime of Japanese film

Archive of The Asian Bookshelf book review