Tag - the-asian-bookshelf

 
 

THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF

CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 27, 2000
Art, enlightenment and empire
THE IDEALS OF THE EAST, by Okakura Kakuzo. Tokyo: ICG Muse Inc., 2000, 250 pp., 1,300 yen.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 20, 2000
Po Chu-i's eternal pleasures
PO CHU-I: Selected Poems. Translated by Burton Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000, 172 pp., unpriced. When he died at the age of 75 in 846, Po Chu-i left behind a legacy of some 2,800 poems. A civil servant, he early on wrote poetry critical of authority and was consequently demoted to the provinces. There he had the leisure to undertake serious religious study, particularly Ch'an, Zen-style meditation, and to write the poems for which he is now remembered.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 14, 2000
Kyogen's hero is Everyman
KYOGEN COMPANION, by Don Kenny, with a brief history by Kazuo Toguchi. Tokyo: National Noh Theater, 1999. 308 pp. with b/w plates. 1,800 yen. Kyogen are short comic plays sometimes a part of, but more often sandwiched between, the longer and often tragic noh dramas. They are spoken in the vernacular rather than intoned in literary language, and their brevity, their wit and their humor make them a perfect foil for the sublime and inevitable boredom of the noh itself.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 6, 2000
Diplomat to a bygone era
A DIPLOMAT IN JAPAN, by Ernest Satow. New York/Tokyo: ICG Muse, Inc., 2000, 424 pp., 1,300 yen. This is a welcome reissue of the long-out-of-print 1921 edition of Ernest Satow's memoirs. Its contents are indicated in his original subtitle: "The inner history of the critical years in the evolution of Japan when the ports were opened and the monarch restored, recorded by a diplomatist who took an active part in the events of the time, with an account of his personal experiences during that period."
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 30, 2000
Kyoto, Basho, a mouse and you
KYOTO GARDENS: A Virtual Stroll through Zen Landscapes. CD-ROM (Apple Macintosh). Yorba Linda, Calif.: Lunaflora. Distributed by Mercury Software Japan. 4,000 yen. You stride your mouse and gallop off on a tour of two dozen of Kyoto's most famous gardens. If, that is, you have slipped this CD-ROM into a Macintosh Power PC, System 7.5 or later, Quick Time 2.1 or later. Windows users will find no portal here.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 23, 2000
Basho, a man for all seasons
REDISCOVERING BASHO: A 300th Anniversary Celebration, edited by Stephen Henry Gill & C. Andrew Gerstle. Kent: Global Oriental/Global Books, 1999, 168 pp., 14.95 British pounds. During the 300 years since his death, Basho has turned into Japan's most famous poet, the personification of haiku culture and an icon of its perceived sensibility. He has been interpreted and reinterpreted and now, three centuries later, he is being not only rediscovered, but reinvented.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 16, 2000
Enchi's made-up 'monogatari'
A TALE OF FALSE FORTUNES, By Fumiko Enchi. Translated by Roger K. Thomas. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2000. Unpriced. The late Fumiko Enchi was, besides being a well-known novelist, a major scholar of Japanese literature. Like her father, Kazutoshi Ueda, she was a classicist. Her 1972-3 translation of "The Tale of Genji" into modern Japanese is popular, and her glossings of other classics are widely read.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 9, 2000
Kafu's sure but fleeting touch
AMERICAN STORIES, by Nagai Kafu. Translated and with an introduction by Mitsuko Iriye. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000, 240 pp., unpriced. In 1903, the young man who was to become one of Japan's finest writers left for the United States. He did not particularly want to go -- he would have much preferred France -- but his father insisted.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 2, 2000
Everything about Tanizaki
TANIZAKI IN WESTERN LANGUAGES: A Bibliography of Translations and Studies, by Adriana Boscaro, with a list of films based on Tanizaki's works compiled by Maria Roberta Novielli. Ann Arbor, MI: Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan, 2000, 82 pp., $19.95. This fine bibliography is one of the many results of the First International Symposium on Junichiro Tanazaki that was held by the Japanese Studies Institute in Venice in the spring of 1995, a joint celebration of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Institute and a commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the writer's death.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 25, 2000
Marco Polo's fantastic truths
MARCO POLO AND THE DISCOVERY OF THE WORLD, by John Larner. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999, 250 pp., with plates (14) and maps, unpriced. In 1271, a mere 17 years old, Marco Polo left Venice in company with his uncle and several other merchants. Twenty-four years later, in 1295, he returned, now a mature 41.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 4, 2000
Canterbury meets Samarkand
LIFE ALONG THE SILK ROAD, by Susan Whitfield. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999, 242 pp., 12 color plates, 12 b/w photos, 13 maps, $27.50 (cloth). In the ninth century, music from Kucha was popular all along the Silk Road, from Samarkand to Chang-an. One of its enthusiasts was the Chinese Tang Dynasty Emperor Xuanzong, who, in addition to his six famous dancing horses, also housed some 30,000 musicians and dancers in the imperial palace, most of them versed in the Kuchean style.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Feb 1, 2000
Japan's real conglomerate
RUINS OF IDENTITY: Ethnogenesis in the Japanese Islands, by Mark J. Hudson. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999, 324 pp., with maps, graphs and line drawings, unpriced. Just as we attempt to create who we individually are by various assumptions and appropriations, so too do nations presume an identity that is based upon a number of premises and importations. All of these resemble each other more than they differ, but some nations, and some people, require different models.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Dec 1, 1999
Kawabata and great truths
FIRST SNOW ON FUJI, by Yasunari Kawabata. Translated by Michael Emmerich. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 227 pp., $24. This collection of stories, plus an essay and a dance-drama, was originally published in 1958 as "Fuji no Hatsuyuki." It is late Kawabata -- most of the major works had already appeared, the author wrote much less during these years, and he died in 1972.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Nov 24, 1999
Gilded lilies of the Tokugawas
EDO: ART IN JAPAN 1615-1868. Edited by Robert Singer, foreword by Earl A. Powell III. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998, with assistance from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Japan Foundation. 480 pp., 281 color plates. Unpriced. THE EYES OF POWER: Art and Early Tokugawa Authority. By Karen M. Gerhart. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999. 212 pp., 38 b/w plates. $38.95 "Edo" is not only the name of a city, now Tokyo; it is also an era, 1615-1868, one during which Japan was governed by some 15 generations of a single clan, the Tokugawas. Like "Rome," the term refers to both a place and a time, and its influence can be variously assessed.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Nov 17, 1999
An eyewitness to early Meiji
REMEMBERING AIZU: The Testament of Shiba Goro, edited by Ishimitsu Mahito, translated with an introduction and notes by Teruko Craig. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999; 160 pp., $37 (cloth), $19.95 (paper). A popular account of the beginnings of the Meiji Period (1868-1912) has it that the incompetent Tokugawa government was overthrown and the system of administration reorganized through the efforts of several forward-looking clan leaders. These were, notably, those of Satsuma (Kagoshima), Choshu (Yamaguchi), Tosa (Kochi) and Hizen (Saga). Despite later quarrels among themselves, it was these disaffiliated daimyo who put the country on the road to prosperity.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Nov 10, 1999
Homage to an image maker
HAYAO MIYAZAKI: Master of Japanese Animation, by Helen McCarthy. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 1999, 240 pp., 8 pages in color and 60 b/w images. $18.95. The biggest domestic movie hit of all in Japan was the 1997 "Princess Mononoke," an animated film created by Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli. It was the most successful of a group of highly successful "anime," among them "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Porco Rosso," works that had defined the genre. All the films made a lot of money, some of it abroad, and attracted an amount of attention, some of it scholarly.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Nov 2, 1999
And a drum shall lead them
THE ROUSING DRUM: Ritual Practice in a Japanese Community, by Scott Schnell. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, pp.364 with b/w photos xxvi and maps. $59.00 (cloth); $33.95 (paper). Interpretations of that folk festival, the "matsuri," vary. Kunio Yanagida, the founder of folklore studies in Japan, defined it as "man's attending to and living in the company of the gods." Though the word is variously translated as "rite" or "festival," the sacred character of the gathering is seen as paramount.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Oct 26, 1999
Enjoy the neglected noh plays
DRAMATIC REPRESENTATIONS OF FILIAL PIETY: Five Noh in Translation, by Mae J. Smethurst. Cornell East Asia Series, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 1998, pp. 172, unpriced. Most Western writings on noh have been concerned with that category known as "mugenno," visional noh -- highly poetic, spiritually infused. Since this interest has come to characterize noh in general, other categories have been neglected.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Oct 19, 1999
A celebration of sacred sex
THE COSMIC EMBRACE: An Illustrated Guide to Sacred Sex, by John Stevens. Boston/London: Shambhala, 1999, 190 pp., 120 b/w photographs, $18.95. The notion that sexual relationships are honorable, fulfilling and beneficial is obviously true, yet this truth has experienced the greatest difficulty in being publicly acknowledged.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Aug 31, 1999
Shakespeare comes as you like it in Japan
SHAKESPEARE AND THE JAPANESE STAGE, edited by Takashi Sasayama, J.R. Mulryne and Margaret Shewring. Cambridge University Press, 1998, 357 pp., 45 British Pounds. More than 50 years ago I went to my first Japanese staging of Shakespeare. It was "Hamlet," in Tokyo, and what I remember best is that when the prince of Denmark and his court lay sprawled on the boards, Puck tiptoed in and, after looking about, delivered his speech about what fools these mortals be.

Longform

Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on