A catch-up on news from the literary world in Japan you may have missed, and some recent releases to boot:
- Noted Japanese nonfiction writer Kazutoshi Hando, known for his research on the history of Japan’s Showa Era (1926-1989), died on Tuesday at the age of 90. Having experienced the Tokyo air raids, much of Hando’s work was focused on understanding the horrors of the war. Hando also stressed the significance of peace and protecting Japan’s postwar Constitution.
- A decades-long series of essays by award-winning Japanese author Mariko Hayashi have been recognized by Guinness World Records as the most essays published in the same magazine by an individual. Essays in the series, now carried under the title “Yofuke no Nawatobi” (“Late Night Jump Rope”), have appeared in Shukan Bunshun every week for 37 years.
- Irwin Wong’s “Handmade in Japan,” which began as a personal project to photograph craftspeople he admired, is an insightful deep dive into Japan’s traditional arts, writes Mio Yamada. Wong visited artisans across Japan, 33 of which are featured in this book of photo essays, accompanied by text detailing craft history, methods and, at times, their modern applications.
- Yoko Kawaguchi’s “Japanese Zen Gardens” explains how many of Japan’s gardens incorporate Buddhist principles in their designs to function as spaces for meditation and enlightenment. “With Kawaguchi and her immersive writing as our guide,” writes reviewer Stephen Mansfield, “where we once saw only the surface, we now see strata, complexity and profound depth.”
- David Chang’s memoir, “Eat a Peach,” offers an engaging and personal, albeit disjointed, look into the American celebrity chef’s career and the tumultuous culinary world, writes Claire Williamson — including his time in Japan and how his experiences there informed the direction he would take his Momofuku (“lucky peach” in Japanese) empire.