Tag - the-asian-bookshelf

 
 

THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF

CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jan 14, 2007
Once in keeping with some of the best company
In the Company of Men: Representations of Male-Male Sexuality in Meiji Literature, by Jim Reichert. Stanford University Press, 2006, 282 pp., illustrations XI, $60.00 (cloth). The search for modernity in the Meiji Era (1868-1912) involved not only the discovery of some new subject matter but also the suppression of some of the old. As the author tells us in this interesting volume: "Certain topics were deemed out of step . . . nanshoku topped the list of undesirable topics."
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jan 7, 2007
Through the Terayama looking glass
THE EXPERIMENTAL IMAGE WORLD OF SHUJI TERAYAMA, DVD four-volume box set. Tokyo: Daguerreo Press, Inc./Image Forum Video, 2006, color/monochrome, English subtitles, bilingual menu, audio commentaries (Japanese only) by Nobuhiro Kawanaka, Tatsuo Suzuki, Sakumi Hagiwara and Henriku Morisaki, 346 min., 18,900 yen Shuji Terayama (1935-1983), one of Japan's most famous poets and playwrights, first wanted to become a photographer. While still a child he hung around the local photo parlor so often that his mother finally told him that so much picture-taking would make him dwindle away to nothing at all.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Dec 24, 2006
The spirit of classics in a luminous new translation
TALES OF MOONLIGHT AND RAIN by Ueda Akinari, translated by Anthony H. Chambers. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006, 236 pp., with 1776 edition woodcuts, $29.95 (cloth). Ueda Akinari (1734-1809), scholar and poet, is remembered for his collection of nine stories, the "Ugetsu Monogatari," first published in 1776. It has remained among the best-known works in the Japanese classical tradition, and was made even more famous by Kenji Mizoguchi's 1953 film version.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Dec 17, 2006
The past captured by a photography of conflict
PHOTOGRAPHY IN JAPAN: 1853-1912, by Terry Bennett. Tokyo/Singapore: Tuttle Publishing, 2006, 320 pp., 404 photographs, $65 (cloth). This beautifully produced large-format photo collection is intended for the scholar. It is an illustrated historical accounting of all of the early photographers in Japan.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Dec 10, 2006
Rediscovering a neglected tradition
THE BOOK OF INCENSE, by Kiyoko Morita. Tokyo/New York/London: Kodansha International, 2006, 136 pp., illustrations XX, 1,600 yen (paper) Incense came early to Japan. According to the fifth-century "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan), a whole aloeswood tree drifted ashore at Awaji. When the fisherfolk burned it, the smoky perfume eventually attracted the attention of Prince Shotaku. From there it was but a step into Buddhism, the sacred purposes of which incense still serves.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Dec 3, 2006
Women on top -- where they belong
BAD GIRLS OF JAPAN, edited by Laura Miller and Jan Bardsley. New York: Palmgrave/Macmillan, 2005, 222 pp., photos XI, $26.95 (paper) What makes a "bad girl" bad? -- that is the question posed in this book. "The answer is that badness is attributed to such females by a sexist and male-dominated society that attempts to define, limit and control women.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Nov 26, 2006
The persistence of culture
KYOTO: A Cultural Sojourn, photos by Gorazd Vilhar, text by Charlotte Anderson. Tokyo: IBC Publishing, 2006, 116 pp., profusely illustrated, 2,800 yen (cloth). The final plate in this exceptionally gorgeous photo collection is the jagged, mirrored facade of Kyoto Station, a structure so spectacularly in disagreement with its surroundings.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Oct 1, 2006
Plain excitement of the Furin Kazan
THE SAMURAI BANNER OF FURIN KAZAN by Yasushi Inoue, translated with a foreword and epilogue by Yoko Riley. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2006, 210 pp., $14.95 (paper). Yasushi Inoue (1907-1991) was one of Japan's finest historical novelists. Works such as "Lou-lan," "Tun-huang" and "The Roof Tile of Tempyo" established his reputation and are still in print. Among his most popular successes are the fictionalized biographies of Confucius and Genghis Khan, and the 1959 "Furin Kazan" is still much admired.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Sep 24, 2006
Monkey business can be serious literature
MONKEY by Wu Cheng-en, translated by Arthur Waley. London: Penguin Books, 2006, 352 pp., £9.99 (paper). After many years out of print, this famous translation, originally published in 1942, is this autumn back in the bookstores. It is a partial rendering of a 16th-century Chinese classic text, otherwise known as "The Journey to the West," by Wu Cheng-en, a collection of stories about the real-life journeys of a seventh-century monk, Hsuan Tsang.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Sep 17, 2006
Monsters out of the closet
MILLENNIAL MONSTERS: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination, by Anne Allison, foreword by Gary Cross. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006, 332 pp., 48 b/w photos, $24.95 (paper). When I was a child, toys from Japan were kept in the cheapest bins of Woolworth's and Newberry's. Sparkler-wheels made of tin and sandpaper, little cardboard cars, shells that opened up to display paper flowers. After World War II, there was a like migration of childish gadgets -- a jeep made out of SCAP ration tin stamped: "Made in Occupied Japan."
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Sep 10, 2006
Demon swordplay
THE DEMON'S SERMON ON THE MARTIAL ARTS by Issai Chozanshi, translated by William Scott Wilson. Tokyo/New York: Kodansha International, 222 pp., with b/w illustrations, 2006, 2,000 yen (cloth). Early on, Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645), perhaps Japan's greatest martial artist, was complaining about the commercialization of the discipline. Even the implements of the martial arts were being proffered as merchandise, items for sale. Likewise the swordsman thinks of himself as something to be sold. "Technique is made into display, one talks of this dojo or that dojo, teaching this Way or that Way, in an attempt to gain some benefit."
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Sep 3, 2006
Japanese beauty doesn't come easily
BEAUTY UP: Exploring Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics, by Laura Miller. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006, 256 pp., $21.95 (paper). Beauty is big business. In Japan there are more people working in the beauty business than there are in wedding and funeral services, auto repair and software combined. Those beauty factories, the "aesthetic salons," are so many and are growing so large that the governmental ministry involved is at present creating a separate industrial classification for them.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Aug 27, 2006
Korean voices from Japan's colonial past
HIDDEN TREASURES: Lives of First-Generation Korean Women in Japan, by Jackie J. Kim, introduction by Sonia Ryang. Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc., 2005, 240 pp., with b/w photos, $32.95 (paper). Jackie Kim, an unaffiliated freelance writer, has here compiled the oral histories of 10 first-generation Korean women who migrated to Japan. These women ranged from 72 to 89 years of age at the time of the interviews and were among the 2 million Koreans who came to Japan during its colonial period.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Aug 20, 2006
The unique voice of Ryunosuke Akutagawa
RASHOMON AND SEVENTEEN OTHER STORIES, by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, translated by Jay Rubin, introduction by Haruki Murakami. London: Penguin Classics, 2006, 268 pp., £9.99 (paper). In what is still the finest assessment of Ryunosuke Akutagawa's life and work, Howard Hibbett complained that for most, the author's name meant merely a collection of exotic, misanthropic stories, and that this ironist and superb stylist had had an ironic fate abroad. "He has been the most amply translated of modern Japanese writers, yet his work has been sadly diminished by both the hazards of translation and by the loss of a rich extraliterary context."
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Aug 13, 2006
Painting a religion
ZEN MIND/ZEN BRUSH by John Stevens, introductory essay by Claire Pollard, forewords by Edmund Capon and Kurt A. Gitter. Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2006, 144 pp., 78 plates, A$35 (paper). Zenga (Zen painting) usually designates the pictures and calligraphy of the monks of the Edo Period (1600-1868). As these ecclesiastics had not usually been taught painting, their spontaneous work did not rely on painting traditions. They had, on the other hand, studied calligraphy and consequently knew the discipline of ink and brush.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Aug 6, 2006
Japan's baroque theater
KABUKI: Baroque Fusion of the Arts, by Toshio Kawatake, translated by Frank and Jean Connell Hoff. I-House Press, 2006, 358 pp. with 78 illustrations, 1,905 yen (paper). This is the new enlarged and revised edition of an important book on the Kabuki, originally published by the University of Tokyo Press in 2001 and released in English translation by I-House Press in 2003.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jul 30, 2006
Tokugawa shogun saved from going to the dogs
Tsunayoshi (1646-1709) was the fifth in a line of 15 Tokugawa-family rulers. His 29-year rule was marked by an unusual number of natural disasters, including a volcanic eruption of Mount Fuji, and by that equally unusual outbreak of commerce — the arts, extravagance and indulgence now known as the Genroku Period.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jul 23, 2006
Ordinary is illuminated
OZU YASUJIRO: TWO POSTWAR FILMS -- Late Spring & Early Summer, translated, by D.A. Rajakaruna. Colombo (Sri Lanka): Godage International Publishers (PVT) Ltd., 178 pp., $15 (paper). In Japan, in distinction from other countries, film scripts are sometimes read as literature. Those written by Yasunari Kawabata, Junichiro Tanizaki and Yukio Mishima are included in their respective collected works, and writers associated mainly with cinema itself are given literary status.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jul 16, 2006
For Fumiko Hayashi, not every cloud has a silver lining
FLOATING CLOUDS by Fumiko Hayashi, translated by Lane Dunlop. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006, 328 pp., $27.50 (cloth). Toward the end of her life Fumiko Hayashi (1903-1951) said that she did not think her work would outlive her. Happily, she was quite wrong: She remains one of Japan's most read authors, it seems that her works will live as long as Japanese literature does, and here is a new and needed translation of what many think her finest work.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jul 9, 2006
Classical Japanese text -- what is lost and found in translation
THE TALES OF THE HEIKE, translated by Burton Watson, edited with an introduction by Haruo Shirane, glossary and bibliographies compiled by Michael Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006, 216 pp., illustrated, $24.50 (cloth). The "Heike Monogatari," that famous account of the events that led to the downfall of the Heike clan and the ascendancy of the Genji, covers the years between 1131 and 1331, but is mainly concerned with the 18 years between the premiership of Kiyomori, head of the Heike, and the destruction of that clan at the battle of Dan-no-ura.

Longform

Later this month, author Shogo Imamura will open Honmaru, a bookstore that allows other businesses to rent its shelves. It's part of a wave of ideas Japanese booksellers are trying to compete with online spaces.
The story isn't over for Japan's bookstores