Reviews

A life of art and activism

The life trajectory of Japanese American artist, activist, feminist and “Modern Buddhist Revolutionary” Mayumi Oda is recounted in her new autobiography.

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A Rare Pleasure

The few translations that do exist of particular haiku poets have focused on male poets such as Basho, Shiki and Issa. For these reasons alone, readers should welcome the translation of the work of a premiere Japanese woman poet artist-calligrapher, Kaga-no-Chiyo.

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Hidden Masterpieces

As canals are to Venice, gardens are to Kyoto, even if mostly concealed behind the walls of private residences, or within sub-temples that have not transformed themselves into tourist attractions.

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Talking Architects

This collection of interviews, artwork, and newly-translated essays by and about 12 diverse postwar Japanese architects provides a fascinating “oral history” of Japanese society during the 1960s and 1970s, a period when the nation’s attention shifted from rebuilding from the ashes of war to finding its place in the international community.

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Confronting Disaster

In Ghosts of the Tsunami, Richard Lloyd Parry confronts us with the startling human reality of this astonishing disaster. Parry’s chief concern is with the harrowing events that transpired at Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki, a heartbreaking drama that is notorious in Japan but perhaps less well-known internationally.

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Painting in the Light of Two Suns

The evolution of Teraoka’s oeuvre now can be explored in the monumental 400-page Floating Realities: The Art of Masami Teraoka, almost a catalogue raisonné. In addition to beautifully printed full color reproductions, the book includes a forward by Mike McGee.

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Words Necessary and Unnecessary

Translating out of one’s original language into a second language is a risky endeavor. In the case of translator Goro Takano, with this exquisite and slightly quirky bilingual chapbook-object, he acquits himself well.

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For the love of neko

The Neko Project is a book that pays homage to Japan’s unyielding love of cats through its thoughtful and expansive photography. It is the result of an open call to their network of Japanese photographers on the theme of cats and features all the projects that were submitted, alongside historical anecdotes and insightful commentary in both French and English.

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Tumbling Assumptions

The author says she embarked on this year in Japan in order to undertake a spiritual practice of her own. She must occupy herself while her husband seeks Soto Zen priestly credentials by training in a nearby monastery, so she joins a pottery class as a deshi (disciple) of the elderly female teacher. But she cannot seem to make the dirt and water come together to make a smooth clay, either physically or metaphorically.

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Meiji Poor

Huffman focuses his inquiry on the very poorest of Japan’s urban poor—the hinmin, or paupers, who flooded into Tokyo at a rate of up to 1,000 people each week in the late 1800s and early 1900s, victims of government policies that pushed farm families to starvation and forced their sons and daughters to seek jobs in the swelling cities.

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KJ 98: Ma