Monday, August 02, 2010

Hello Japan! August & September mini-challenge: Summer Double

Hello Japan!
Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there will be a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. You can post about the task on your blog. Or if you don't have a blog, you can leave a comment on the Hello Japan! post for the month. Everyone who completes the task will then be included in the drawing for that month's prize. For more information, just click on the Hello Japan! button above, or if you have any questions please feel free to email me at inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com.
August & September's Topic

When it comes to things we enjoy, like books, movies, art, music, food, or whatever else, I think it's safe to say that we usually want more.  Whether it's reading a second book by a favourite author.  Or watching the movie of a beloved book.  And then we can't help but compare them.  Which one did we like better?  How were they different?  How were they the same?  So the next mini-challenge is inspired by an idea Gnoe of Graasland mentioned when we were brainstorming ideas a few months back.  And instead of the usual one month time frame, this mini-challenge will last for the months of August and September. 

August & September's Task

Sometime during the next two months, the new task is to compare two (or more if you so choose) works or other elements of Japanese literature, culture, or entertainment. There are so many possibilities and combinations, but here are some suggestions to get you started.

*Two books by the same author
*Two different books by award-winning authors
*Two movies by the same director
*Two books or movies set in the same place
*Two works of art by the same artist
*Two artists from the same time period
*Two albums by the same band
*Two cultural differences between Japan and your home country
*Two dishes with the same ingredient
*Two different Japanese restaurants

*A book or short story and the movie based on it.
*Manga and the anime based on the manga series.
*Japanese movie and the Hollywood remake
*A non-fiction book and a fiction book about the same person or time period or setting.
*A book or movie and then visiting a location mentioned in it.
*A sake, or green tea tasting.
... and so on. 

You also don't have to start from scratch, as it were.  For example, I read Battle Royale last month and just got my hands on the movie which I hopefully plan to watch soon.  I could complete the mini-challenge by writing a blog post or leaving a comment on this post in which I talk about both versions and what I think of them.  Or I could compare two of the Murakami books I read earlier this year. Etc. Basically the idea is just to compare any two Japanese things.  So it's very open to your interpretation, and creativity.  I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

August & September's Prize

The prize is one Japanese literature book of your choice.  Please note that it must be available at The Book Depository and can be up to a value of $15.

To be eligible for the prize, you must complete this month's mini-challenge and provide a link to your post. If you don't have a blog, you can leave a comment with the details on this post, or email me at inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com. You are welcome to post more than once and add the links below. I love it when you are enthusiastic about a topic! However, each participant will receive only one entry per month. It doesn't matter if you've won previously, you're eligible each month that you participate. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Once you have completed the task, don't forget to come back here to add your link to the Mr. Linky below. Please submit the link to the actual post, not just to your top page, and please only submit links to posts relating to the Hello Japan! task for this month. All other links will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding. Have fun!

The small printLinks in this post to Amazon or The Book Depository contain my Associates or Affiliates ID respectively.  Purchases made via these links earn me a very small commission.  For more information please visit my About Page.


  1. There's so many idea to write for this month's (and next month) challenge. I'm all pumped up :)

    I know what I will write and 2 months is a loooong time, it'll be more than 2 posts for sure

  2. I saw Battle Royale - New selling for £1 last weekend. If I know you are discussing it, I would have bought it! Arghhh!!! :D

    This summer double is an easy one, I have loads of idea on this one, I'll have to do a few and you'll take your pick? ;) (Fingers crossed, hope I will not get carried away by my own other summer activities!)

  3. Like the others I've got loads of ideas, but I'm not too sure whether that makes it any easier! LOL

  4. Interesting idea :) Normally I shy away from comparing one book to another, but I'll see if I can come up with something.

  5. Finally manage to read two books of Mishima at one go and posted the comparison. thanks for hosting this.

  6. My Aug-Sept submission follows:

    Last night I finished Haruki Murakami's "Kafka on the Shore." I'd love to compare it fully to his "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle," as I feel it shares a lot with that earlier novel, but I haven't read "Bird" recently enough to do so (though some of it has stuck with me and I think always will).

    Instead, I'll compare "Kafka" to his "Dance, Dance, Dance," which I read more recently.

    I found "Dance" not as accomplished as "Kafka," but that's not surprising, given that "Dance" is a much earlier work. The only 'standard' Murakami element that seems to be missing in "Dance" is the theme of the effects of war on individuals, and that is a part of "Kafka." But there is plenty on other kinds of personal politics in "Dance", esp on the effects of living in an 'advanced-capitalist' society, a theme which is also in "Kafka," though brought out there in a more subtle way.

    As in all of Murakami's works, there's humor too -- maybe more than usual in "Dance", esp in the dialogue between the narrator and a 13-year-old- girl, which had me chuckling out loud. I did the same with some of the interaction between Hoshino and Nakata in "Kafka."

    But then "Kafka" seems to have it all (except for no character cooking spaghetti!) Besides what I've already mentioned there is a precocious teenager, sex, violence (not much but one graphic scene that's not gratuitous), dreams, a blending of time periods, very dark places, the nature of consciousness, cats, and memorable characters who don't always talk like 'real' people but Murakami can make that work.

    The writing is, as usual for Murakami, 'simple' but beautiful and it can hit you hard, as it did for me at the end of Chapter 31 in "Kafka," as it switched, so effectively, to the 2nd person. The feeling I get from that kind of writing is why I read.

    And don't believe the inner flap that says all the riddles in "Kafka" are eventually answered -- as in "Dance," they're not (it wouldn't be Murakami if they were) and that is a good thing.

    As I was writing this, I heard a crow cawing, so I'll take that as a positive sign. ;)

  7. Hi, Tanabata! As for this August-Sept challenge, I think I'm going to review two adaptation movies from Toki o Kakeru Shojo novel. I haven't read the novel yet, but the anime is really good.

  8. Hi! Just dropped in to say that I *did* do a doubles mini challenge: sake tasting! Unfortunately I haven't had much pc time so I wasn't able to blog or comment about it. Hope I'll catch up someday ;) By wich I do not only mean I still want to write about it, but I'll also check out all submissions in due time!


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