Tag - essential-reading-for-japanophiles

 
 

ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES

Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Jun 7, 2014
Battle Royale: Remastered
Set in May 1997, in a fascist version of Japan known as the Republic of Greater East Asia, "Battle Royale" follows the fate of 42 junior high-school kids who have been forced the take part in The Program — a sadistic game created by the government that randomly picks a ninth-grade class, arms them with various weapons and forces them to fight it out till the death. The "winner" is the last one standing.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
May 31, 2014
Almost Transparent Blue
Life around a U.S. base camp in Kanagawa in the 1970s may have mirrored certain aspects of American life, but they were often the most self-destructive elements. Set along the urban border between a military camp and Japan proper, the violent milieu of Ryu Murukami's short novel "Almost Transparent Blue" is a place where servicemen shoot up on Philopon and morphine, where cheap rented rooms reek of unwashed dishes, overripe fruit, cigarettes and casual sex. In the service bars near the base, quarrels erupt, brawls lead to stabbings.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
May 24, 2014
One Man's Justice
To borrow historian John Dower's expression, the conflict in World War II between Japanese and American forces was a "war without mercy." The atrocities committed by Japanese forces are well documented, those by American military personnel less so.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
May 17, 2014
Vibrator
Modern Japan can be a lonely place. Especially in Tokyo, where sometimes it seems everyone is walking around in cones of silence and is too shy or afraid to talk to strangers. You can see it in the statistics too, which say that 32 percent of households in Japan are single-occupant and that many people (30 percent of men and 23 percent of women by 2030) will never marry. It's sad but true.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
May 10, 2014
Kokoro
Peering into the great human divide between the isolated self and the need for emotional validation, Natsume Soseki's "Kokoro" is a psychological glimpse into the "heart of things" that defies easy categorization: It is not a love story, although it retells a love story; it's not a coming-of-age tale, although a younger man seeks counsel from an older teacher; nor is it merely a philosophical musing on familial obligation during Japan's period of modernization. Rather it is in the blend of all three that Soseki offers a glimpse into the complex workings of the human heart.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
May 3, 2014
Akira
"Kanedaaaa!" "Tetsuoooo!" For a generation of teenagers growing up in the 1990s (this writer included), Katsuhiro Otomo's "Akira" was our gateway drug to the imaginative excesses of Japanese pop culture. With its immaculately rendered visions of high-tech chaos, psychokinetic battles, revolutionary sects and unfeasibly cool motorbikes, it was like catnip for undernourished adolescent minds.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Apr 26, 2014
The Box Man
'The Box Man' is an existential work, revealing questions about identity and the place of man in society. The story begins in a diary format that reads like a how-to manual, as the narrator details the tools necessary to build a boxlike outfit complete with an observation slit for vision.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Apr 19, 2014
Shogun
This best-selling historical novel by the British author, James Clavell, is set in Japan around 1600. It begins when The Erasmus, a Dutch ship, reaches Japan by mistake. James Blackthorne, the English captain working for the ship (based on William Adams, the first Englishman to enter Japan) is singled out for his courage and eventually earns the respect of the locals and even the feudal lord Yoshinaga Torunaga (based on Tokugawa Ieyasu) by adopting Japanese ways.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Apr 12, 2014
The Key
When an aging professor attempts to arouse the repressed passions of his wife, he finds that his own declining sexual vigor may fail him in the endeavor.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Apr 5, 2014
The Cape And Other Stories From The Japanese Ghetto
When reading Kenji Nakagami, it is best to forget the stylistic niceties and aesthetic fussiness of writers such as Yasunari Kawabata. Instead, this collection of structurally complex stories by Nakagami contains accounts that, eschewing inference for the explicit, are nonetheless highly sophisticated, meticulously composed works of prose fiction.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Mar 29, 2014
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Haruki Murakami can be difficult to pigeonhole at the best of times but nothing can quite prepare the uninitiated for the ethereal themes that bubble beneath the surface of "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World."
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Mar 22, 2014
The Ise Stories
Before there was "The Tale of Genji," the "The Ise Stories" ("Ise Monogatari") presented ancient Japanese audiences with a titillating series of loosely connected episodes of love that are believed to be based on the romantic encounters of the poet and aristocrat Ariwara no Narihira (825-880).
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Mar 15, 2014
Scandal
When a respected Catholic novelist by the name of Suguro meets an inebriated woman at a party, he is astounded to hear that she recognizes him from a portrait hanging in a club she claims he patronizes in one of Tokyo's more sleazy night quarters. Though in fierce denial, curiosity gets the better of him, setting in motion a train of events reminiscent of a police procedural, but closer to a spiritual inquiry.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Mar 8, 2014
A Strange Tale from East of the River
Kafu Nagai was an unapologetic sentimentalist, always an era out of step with the times. Born in the Meiji Era (1868-1912), he lamented the good old days of the Edo Period (1603-1867); once in the Taisho Era (1912-1926) he looked plangently back on the qualities of Meiji. The Showa Era (1926-1989) brought forth a longing for Taisho.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Mar 1, 2014
The Ruined Map
Angela Carter wrote that Tokyo possessed the "indecipherable clarity of a dream," one in which you might think you are in control, but have, in fact, been "precipitated into somebody else's dream." A similar sensation occurs when reading Kobo Abe's novel, "The Ruined Map," though he is careful never to mention the capital by name.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Feb 22, 2014
The Pillow Book
Written by Japan's original blogger, a mistress of wry observation and scalding wit, Sei Shonagon's "The Pillow Book" retains its fresh, authentic appeal more than 1,000 years after its inception. Shonagon was a contemporary and presumed rival of Lady Murasaki, author of the "The Tale of Genji." If "Genji" represents the glittering stage of classical, Imperial life, Shonagon's missive takes us into the everyday, comical corners backstage, to share the reality of daily court life. Written in the zuihitsu (literary jottings) form that Shonagon made popular during the Heian Period (794-1185), the book consists of 185 entries, some merely fragments of thought, lists, descriptive scenes and scraps of poetry. The last entry contains a disclaimer from Shonagon insisting that she never meant her book to be seen by others, and explaining the ingenuous title — using note paper to make into "a pillow."
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Feb 15, 2014
The Pornographers
Akiyuki Nosaka's "Grave of the Fireflies," a harrowing, semi-autobiographical tale of two young siblings fending for survival in the aftermath of World War II, helped him win the prestigious Naoki Prize for literature in 1967.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Feb 8, 2014
Snow Country
Winter, when mornings are crisp, puddles frozen and the promise of snow floats in the air; it's the perfect season to crack open "Snow Country" and let its well-known opening line — "The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country" — transport you into Yasunari Kawabata's poetic tale of romance in Japan's remote wintry mountains.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Feb 1, 2014
The Tattoo Murder Case
Still reeling from the effects of war, Tokyo, in 1948, was ripe with intrigue, not to mention men and women capable of plotting monstrous crimes. Akimitsu Takagi's crime mystery "The Tattoo Murder Case" was first published that year and his gritty scenes of the city are described with the authenticity of an eyewitness.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Jan 25, 2014
The Tale of Genji
Recognized as the world's first novel, Murasaki Shikibu's "The Tale of Genji" is a spiraling epic that encompasses a beautifully complex portrayal of 11th-century Japanese Imperial Court life.

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