Tag - essential-reading-for-japanophiles

 
 

ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES

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...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Oct 3, 2015
'Halo of Golden Light' reveals how Japan's ancient leaders harnessed Buddhist rituals
Like Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, the current Japanese emperor represents royalty in unbroken perpetuity, reformulated today into a fusion of timeless tradition and progressive democracy. And yet, the case of Japan is more complex, opaque and, at times, divisive.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Sep 26, 2015
'The Art of Setting Stones' reflects on the beauty and meaning in Japanese gardens
Appropriating the Japanese garden as a vehicle to explore nature, beauty, relationships and death, the author begins with the premise that people "form the world around them into the shape of their philosophies," taking "mass and space, material and void" as content for their social structures, spiritual...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Sep 12, 2015
'Our Land Was A Forest' depicts life in Hokkaido for indigenous Ainu
No bookshelf filled with Japanese literature is complete without Ainu folklore. Yes, Ainu yukar (folk tales) have been published in English, but to learn more about their stories and struggles, pick up the 1994 memoir "Our Land Was a Forest: An Ainu Memoir" by Kayano Shigeru, a noted Ainu folklore expert,...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Sep 5, 2015
'Norito' ritual prayers show ancient Japan struggling with its spiritual identity
The norito (ritual prayers) found in the 10th-century "Engi-shiki" ("Procedures of the Engi Era") have fascinated Japanologists for over a century. In the introduction to his 1878 translation of the norito, Ernest Satow suggested that they could offer insight into "the rites practiced by the Japanese...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Aug 29, 2015
'Jodo Shinshu' explores one of Japan's most powerful Buddhist sects
Jodo Shinshu, also known in English as "Shin Buddhism," is usually identified as the most popular denomination of Buddhism in Japan. Based on the teachings of Shinran (1173-1263), it arose as part of the "New Buddhism" of the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), which included Zen and Nichiren Buddhism as well...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Aug 22, 2015
'Murasaki Shikibu: The Tale of Genji' unlocks Japan's legendary 1,000-page novel
Dennis Washburn's new translation of "The Tale of Genji" brings the total number of English options to four and a half, but the novel remains as daunting as ever. How do you approach a 1,000-page novel from 1,000 years ago, in which most of the characters don't even have proper names? The book's insight...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Aug 15, 2015
'Folk Legends from Tono' brings new life to Kunio Yanagita's fantastic tales
"Folk Legends from Tono," takes the reader inside a land of superstition and pragmatism, farming and faith. The tales unravel in short vignettes, loosely grouped by myriad topics ranging from "Biology and Human Emotion" to "Survival on the Edge."
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Aug 8, 2015
'The Shooting Gallery' reveals Yuko Tsushima's existential feminism
Critically acclaimed, and winner of both the Kawabata and the Tanizaki awards, Yuko Tsushima lacerates with wisdom and uncomfortable truths. Translated by Geraldine Harcourt in 1988, "The Shooting Gallery" is a compilation of Tsushima's early short stories, largely based on her experiences as a single...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Aug 1, 2015
How 'Guri and Gura' became the most famous mice in Japan
Since their first appearance in 1963, the friendly field mice Guri and Gura have been unshakable pillars of Japanese children's literature. They're known to all and lovingly referenced in the most unexpected places — even in the heavy metal parody manga "Detroit Metal City."
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
Jul 18, 2015
'Mystical Realist' Eihei Dogen's 13th-century writings
Eihei Dogen (1200-53), founder of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism, is a key figure in the intellectual history of Japan, but for many centuries his work was not widely read. This changed in 1926, when the publication of Watsuji Tetsuro's "Shamon Dogen" ("The Monk Dogen") reframed him as a philosopher...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Jul 11, 2015
Lafcadio Hearn's timeless anthology of ghost tales
What is it about "Kwaidan"? It wasn't Lafcadio Hearn's first take on Japanese ghost stories — it wasn't even his first such book whose title was a single Japanese word starting with "K" ("Kotto" was published two years earlier, in 1902). But it's "Kwaidan" that still claims a place in literary history,...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Jul 4, 2015
Yasunari Kawabata's 'Palm-of-the-Hand Stories' are taut tales of the human heart
"Palm-of-the-Hand Stories" is a collection of 70 very brief stories by Nobel Prize-winner Yasunari Kawabata that were written between the early 1920s and 1970s. It contains poetic depictions of emotions, a focus on feelings rather than understanding. These stories present the chaos of the human heart,...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Jun 27, 2015
'Harp of Burma' is an adventure story concealing weighty themes
"Harp of Burma" was published in Japan in 1946, but it would be 20 years before Michio Takeyama's story of Japanese soldiers stranded in Burma after the close of World War II was translated into English. In fact, Kon Ichikawa got there first in 1956, with his stark cinematic adaptation, "Biruma no Tategoto"...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
Jun 20, 2015
Shusaku Endo's 'Wonderful Fool' is an incisive commentary on the materialism and spiritual emptiness of 1950s Japan
There's loads of literature that illuminates the foreigner's struggle in Japan. But these tales about "strangers in a strange land" are mostly written from the stranger's point of view. It's more unusual to read the Japanese perspective, which is one reason why Shusaku Endo's "Wonderful Fool" —...
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
Jun 6, 2015
Osamu Dazai's travel guide 'Return to Tsugaru' is more concerned with people than place
In the northernmost reaches of Honshu, Japan's largest island, lies Tsugaru, an area isolated even from its neighbors in Aomori Prefecture, let alone the rest of Japan. As a celebrated author and son of Tsugaru himself, Dazai Osamu must have seemed the perfect choice for this 1944 volume in Oyama Shoten's...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books / ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES
May 30, 2015
'Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings' reveals intricacies of Edo Period architecture and interiors
"Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings" was first published in 1886, less than two decades after the Meiji Restoration, a time when Japan reopened itself to the world. But the same openness that allowed Morse to document Japanese architecture as a living tradition would soon transform the urban landscape...
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...

Longform

The Japanese government updated its English education guidelines in 2017 to emphasize communication over grammar and memorization. Public school teachers are incredibly busy, however, which means schools haven’t been able to implement changes uniformly. Private and alternative schools are attempting to remedy this.
The language of opportunity: Bilingual education is on the rise in Japan