Japan

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Maritime Ryukyu, 1050-1650 • Gregory Smits

I’ve always taken Napoleon’s side when it comes to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. No, his ambitions never extended that far east. I’m referring to an 1817 conversation Napoleon – then a captive on the lonely island of Saint Helena – had with British naval officer Captain Basil Hall. As […]

By |January 17th, 2020|Reviews|0 Comments

Three Tigers, One Mountain: A Journey Through the Bitter History and Current Conflicts of China, Korea, and Japan • Michael Booth

The Three Tigers, One Mountain title is a twist on an old Chinese saying that “two tigers cannot share the same mountain,” while the subtitle, A Journey Through the Bitter History and Current Conflicts of China, Korea, and Japan, gives an accurate description of the contents. This pairing of the poetic and the […]

By |January 11th, 2020|Reviews|0 Comments

Night in the American Village: Women in the Shadow of the U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa • Akemi Johnson

I’ve read nearly a hundred English-language works on the Ryukyus and Okinawa, and Night in the American Village is an easy pick for my top five books. It’s cleverly structured, well researched, informative yet highly readable, and, unusual for a book examining the issue of the American military presence on Okinawa, it […]

By |October 23rd, 2019|Reviews|0 Comments

Okinawa Moon • Arthur Oroz

This likeable novel opens on the island of Guam in the Marianas, where twenty-year-old Airman 2nd Class John Montez is stationed with the 19th Bomb Group, Far East Air Force.  He’s angry with himself for not joining the Marines like many of his friends and relatives have. A tough fighting unit with […]

By |October 21st, 2019|Reviews|0 Comments

The Nagasaki Peace Discourse: City Hall and the Quest for a Nuclear Free World • Geoffrey C. Gunn

You feel a certain amount of pressure to be emotionally moved when visiting Nagasaki’s most important atomic bomb sites such as the Peace Park, the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, and the Atomic Bomb Hypocentre Park (the spot above which the “Fat Man” bomb detonated at 11:02 on August 9, 1945). If […]

By |June 26th, 2019|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Palm-of-the-Hand Stories • Kawabata Yasunari   

Reviewed by Karen Kao

Kawabata Yasunari was born in 1899 and committed suicide in 1972. He watched Japan open itself to the world, indulge in dreams of empire and survive the ensuing firestorm. His characters were ordinary people: prostitutes, abandoned wives and children. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in […]

By |June 21st, 2018|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Katsuren: An Okinawan love story • Celine Nisaragi

In this charming low-key romance between a young American woman archaeologist and a Japanese journalist, the Okinawan settings come to life as characters in their own right. There are the ruins of Katsuren Castle, giving the novel its title, and the remote island of Yonaguni, especially fascinating to a Taiwan […]

By |October 2nd, 2017|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Author Interview: Brian Burke-Gaffney

Brian Burke-Gaffney is the leading Western expert on the history of Nagasaki and one of the most prolific foreign writers in Japan. A second-generation Canadian from Winnipeg, Burke-Gaffney first came to Japan in 1972 and trained for nine years as a Zen monk. A resident of Nagasaki since 1982, he has […]

By |September 22nd, 2017|Author interviews|0 Comments

In Search of Japan’s Hidden Christians: A Story of Suppression, Secrecy and Survival • John Dougill

I read so many excellent books that it’s hard to name a favourite, but seeing as I so often ask people to recommend a book they’ve read recently and to also choose an all-time favourite, it’s only fair I answer these questions myself. My all-time pick is Nostromo, Joseph Conrad’s […]

By |December 30th, 2016|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Japan and America: A Contrast • Carl Crow

Japan and America (1916) is a forceful warning about Japan’s diplomatic duplicity and its expansionist plans. Carl Crow (1883–1945), an American newspaperman based in Shanghai, was vehemently anti-Japan, but his strident tone seems justified given how subsequent events unfolded. He ends the book with a prophetic prediction:
In their hearts the […]

By |October 9th, 2016|Uncategorised|0 Comments