Confessions

Books / Reviews Oct 4, 2014

Confessions

by Mark Schreiber

The award-winning 1950 Akira Kurosawa film classic "Rashomon," based on two short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, used different and contradictory accounts of a samurai's death to explore humanity's self-serving behavior. Kanae Minato's first novel, "Confessions," adopts a somewhat similar approach, with its six chapters ...

The Crimson Thread of Abandon: Stories

Books / Reviews Oct 4, 2014

The Crimson Thread of Abandon: Stories

by Madeline Barbush

It's a wonder "The Crimson Thread of Abandon" was never translated into English before. Shuji Terayama (1935-83) was a provocative artist and outlaw author, and his 20 stories fall nothing short of this reputation. Each borrows and mocks the conventions of a classic fairy ...

Read up on books about books about Japan

Books Sep 27, 2014

Read up on books about books about Japan

by Kris Kosaka

Revving up the metabolism of culture with the pulse of new artistic voices, a good literary journal doesn't usually have much to do with profit — it's all about circulation. Japanese literary journals enjoy a healthy transmission here, thanks to the financial backing of ...

Studio Ghibli inspires endless adaptations

Books Sep 20, 2014

Studio Ghibli inspires endless adaptations

by Ian Martin

As one of the most important and acclaimed animation studios in not only Japan but the world, it's unsurprising that Studio Ghibli has also inspired a wealth of printed material. Helen McCarthy's "Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation" about the studio's most celebrated director ...

Oh, Tama!

Books / Reviews Sep 20, 2014

Oh, Tama!

by David Cozy

Mieko Kanai, a prize-winning poet, eminent critic and author of experimental fiction that evokes comparisons to the works of Borges and Kafka, has also, in her "Mejiro" series, produced a series of novels notably lighter in tone. In these books, two of which have ...

A world of fear for Japan's  shut-ins

Books / Reviews Sep 13, 2014

A world of fear for Japan's shut-ins

by Tim Hornyak

Several years ago, a vogue of interest in shut-ins, or hikikomori, saw researchers from France touring Japan and meeting reclusive youths. Such was the prevalence of the disorder, said psychologist Nicolas Tajan, that "if you ask people in Japan about hikikomori, almost everyone will ...

Veteran Tokyo editor turns his mind to crime

Books Sep 6, 2014

Veteran Tokyo editor turns his mind to crime

by Mark Schreiber

"Japan has her secrets, as you well know," a Kyoto art dealer named Takahashi tells American Jim Brodie. "Many are open secrets. We Japanese are aware of them, are ashamed of them, and don't speak of them often, if ever. Our embarrassing moments remain, ...

The Journey

Books / Reviews Sep 6, 2014

The Journey

by Michael Hoffman

On most lists of great 20th-century Japanese writers, Jiro Osaragi's name does not figure. He was popular and respected in his own day (1898-1973), mostly as a writer of historical fiction, but literary immortality has eluded him. So? The ...

Inside author David Mitchell's metaphysical mind

Books Aug 30, 2014

Inside author David Mitchell's metaphysical mind

by Andrew Lee

Outside the vista windows of the Hotel New Otani's Garden Lounge cafe in Tokyo, it's snowing, in March, and it suddenly feels like the spring flowers in the Japanese garden below may have popped too soon. David Mitchell wonders aloud what kind of flowers ...

The Makioka Sisters

Books / Reviews Aug 30, 2014

The Makioka Sisters

by Patrick Mccoy

Junichiro Tanizaki may be best known for novels featuring protagonists with odd obsessions, but his masterpiece, family epic "The Makioka Sisters," has been hailed by many as Japan's greatest modern novel. The Makioka Sisters, by Junichiro Tanizaki, Translated by ...

Wena Poon on life and death in occupied Kyoto

Books Aug 23, 2014

Wena Poon on life and death in occupied Kyoto

by Suzanne Kamata

As a child living in a tiny apartment in Singapore, Wena Poon listened to radio plays broadcast in a variety of languages and watched TV — everything from Chinese sword-fighting operas to popular American series such as "M*A*S*H." "There was nowhere to go outside," ...