Book Topics

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The Ink Dark Moon

by Kris Kosaka

No other period in Japan’s literary history was as dominated by women as the Heian Period (794-1185). Most Japanophiles know names such as Sei Shonagon (“The Pillow Book”) or Murasaki Shikibu (“The Tale of Genji”) for their contributions to the world of literature, but Izumi Shikibu (Shikibu is a title, ...

Zen Koans

by Finbar O'Mallon

The famous question, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” is a Zen koan; a deliberately obtuse poem used ...

Cat Town

Jan 17, 2015

Cat Town

by Kris Kosaka

Modernist 20th-century writer Sakutaro Hagiwara redefined Japanese poetry with his free-style verse and daringly common subject matter; he reached sublime heights by examining the mundane. Cat Town, by Sakutaro Hagiwara, Translated by Hiroaki Sato.NYRB Poets, Poetry. Published by the New York Review of Books’ ...

The City that Silk Built

Jan 17, 2015

The City that Silk Built

by J.J. O'Donoghue

Kyoto has long been generous to its writers, stretching from Murasaki Shikibu, with “The Tale of Genji,” right through to Yukio Mishima, with “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.” The poet Matsuo Basho also penned several memorable haiku while decamped here. The City that ...

The Art of Japanese Dyeing Patterns

Jan 17, 2015

The Art of Japanese Dyeing Patterns

by Finbar O'Mallon

“The Art of Japanese Dyeing Patterns” is a small catalog of sorts on tenugui (dyed Japanese cotton towel) maker Kamawanu, and where the book excels is in its photography. Beautiful photos of Kawamanu’s workshops, stores and towels fill the pages, with close-up images capturing ...

Life of a Counterfeiter

| Jan 10, 2015

Life of a Counterfeiter

by Iain Maloney

Yasushi Inoue’s “Life of a Counterfeiter,” translated by Michael Emmerich, contains three stories: the eponymous novella and two shorter pieces, “Reeds” and “Mr Goodall’s Gloves.” Life of a Counterfeiter, by Yasushi Inoue, Translated by Michael Emmerich.Pushkin Press, Fiction. “Life of a Counterfeiter” concerns a ...

The Iris Fan

Jan 10, 2015

The Iris Fan

by Mark Schreiber

With “The Iris Fan,” Laura Joh Rowland draws to a close her long-running saga of righteous Edo Period lawman Sano Ichiro. From “Shinju” (1994), the saga has partially overlapped with the reign of fifth shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi — a superstitious eccentric who ruled Japan ...

Yoshitaka Amano: The World Beyond Your Imagination

Jan 10, 2015

Yoshitaka Amano: The World Beyond Your Imagination

by Mike Sunda

Yoshitaka Amano, Illustrations by Yoshitaka AmanoPie Books, Nonfiction. Yoshitaka Amano has cultivated a reputation as one of Japan’s premier character designers for his work on renowned series such as “Vampire Hunter D” and “Final Fantasy.” This book presents a comprehensive retrospective of Amano’s more ...

Fu-go

Jan 3, 2015

Fu-go

by J.J. O'Donoghue

At the same time as the U.S. Air Force was reducing Japanese cities to rubble in the final year of World War II, mainland America was also being threatened by aerial attack. Free-floating balloons, loaded with bombs, were launched from Japan’s Pacific coast aimed ...

Jaco the Galactic Patrolman

Jan 3, 2015

Jaco the Galactic Patrolman

by Elliott Samuels

Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, by Akira Toriyama, Translated by Tetsuichiro Miyaki.Viz Media, Manga. A gruff scientist named Omori lives alone on an island, attempting to succeed in his bid to travel in time. His tranquil life is interrupted when a spacecraft crash-lands off the ...

Mishima: sliced from the shackles of time

Dec 27, 2014

Mishima: sliced from the shackles of time

by Stephen Mansfield

Henry Scott Stokes, Yukio Mishima’s first biographer, once told me that the thing he most remembered about the writer was his exquisite manners — one of those telling details that lend a touch of authenticity to the work of those who knew Mishima personally. ...

The Woman in the Dunes

| Dec 27, 2014

The Woman in the Dunes

by Kris Kosaka

Certain books must be read, even with the knowledge that the reading will be painful. Kobo Abe’s masterpiece “The Woman in the Dunes” is one such book. Called an “existential fable,” it is no surprise that Abe’s favorite writers were Franz Kafka, Friedrich Nietzsche ...