Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tokyoites (Edokkotachi): The Sound of the Train, a short story by Jacob Ritari

Each Wednesday in September, author Jacob Ritari is sharing with us one of his unpublished short stories set in Tokyo. This week's story is primarily about two characters, two Japanese salarymen, riding the train home after a few hours at the bar after work. The train they take is one I used to ride a lot myself as we lived in that area for about 4 years before we moved last year. It made me feel like I was right there, taking the train with them. I'm curious what you'll think of the story so please let us know.
For more on Jacob and his writing, visit Jacob Ritari's website. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Guest post: The Secret of Caring for Life by Jacob Ritari

I'm pleased to welcome Jacob Ritari to the blog today. Jacob's debut novel, Taroko Gorge, was published by Unbridled Books in July. It's a multi-layered story of three Japanese schoolgirls who go missing on a school trip to Taroko Gorge in Taiwan, that is part character study, part philosophical discussion, part mystery. It's also about cultural identity, human nature, how a chance encounter can change your life forever, and much more. It was an enjoyable and surprisingly page-turning read. (My review of Taroko Gorge).

I'm also excited to announce that starting this Wednesday and then each Wednesday for the rest of September, right here on In Spring it is the Dawn, you will have a chance to read one of Jacob's unpublished short stories, set in Tokyo. I've just read the first one, and found it quite realistic of Tokyo life. I'm looking forward to reading the others and I hope you will enjoy reading these stories each week as well.

Jacob Ritari has studied with the Fo Guang shan buddhist organization in Taiwan and studied Japanese language and literature at Japan’s Sophia University. He lives near new York City, but is soon moving to Japan for further studies. For more, visit Jacob Ritari's website or follow him on Twitter. Today he has been kind enough to share with us some of his musings on Zen.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Guest post: Margaret Dilloway, author of 'How to Be an American Housewife'

I'm really excited to welcome Margaret Dilloway to the blog today. Margaret Dilloway's first novel, How to Be an American Housewife, was published earlier this month by Penguin Putnam. It's the story of a Japanese war bride, which Margaret was largely inspired to write from her own Japanese mother's experiences. It's also the story of mother and daughter, and the obligation of family and tradition. I thoroughly enjoyed it! (My review of How to Be an American Housewife).

Margaret lives in Hawaii with her husband and their three young children. For more information visit Margaret Dilloway's website. Or from the publisher's website, A Conversation with Margaret Dilloway.

Margaret has been kind enough to share with us a story of her visit to Japan as a young child. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


In my novel, HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE, I make my character visit Japan. Therefore, people always ask if I have been to Japan. The answer is yes, but not for a long time. My third birthday fell during my last and only trip to Japan, but I still remember it vividly. This is probably because the experience was out of the ordinary, and because my brother and I were not well-behaved.

From the land of the rising sun to the land of wide open spaces

If you follow me on Twitter, you might already know this, but the reason I've been largely absent this week is that I'm currently in Canada on holiday to visit family and friends (and shop, and eat, and well, you get the idea).   One of the highlights so far has been meeting up with Kristen M. of We Be Reading. Yesterday we met up at Munro's Books and had a look around. I was good and only bought one book from the sale shelves - Beauty Tips from Moosejaw by Will Ferguson. (I'll probably be back for more later though and I haven't stopped by my favourite book store yet.) Then after the book store we had tea and cake at Murchie's, another Victoria must-visit place. I didn't think to take any photos at the time, sorry, but it was really great to meet Kristen and her family. Thanks again, Kristen!

Monday, August 23, 2010

JLit Book Group Discussion: 'Goodbye Tsugumi' and 'Kitchen' by Banana Yoshimoto

Welcome to the Japanese Literature Book Group discussion of Goodbye Tsugumi and Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto.

About the author

Banana YoshimotoBanana Yoshimoto is the pen name of Mahoko Yoshimoto. She was born in Tokyo in 1964 and graduated from Nihon University's Art College, with a major in Literature. She has written 12 novels, many of which have been translated into English, as well as published in more than 20 countries. Her debut novel, Kitchen, was an instant success when it was first published in Japan, and won the 16th Izumi Kyoka Literary Prize in January 1988. Goodbye Tsugumi won the 2nd Yamamoto Shugoro Literary Prize in March 1989. Both Kitchen and Goodbye Tsugumi have been made into films.

Banana Yoshimoto's website
Interview with Banana Yoshimoto at Bookslut
Article on Banana Yoshimoto in Metropolis magazine

Saturday, August 21, 2010

'Pillow Book' Friday: Week Sixteen (When it's fearfully hot)

Pillow BookLife got in the way of the planned 'Pillow Book' post earlier this month and even though Friday has passed once again, I couldn't go the whole month without posting on it, so I'm going to double up on the entries this time to catch up with the original schedule. So this week we're looking at entries 201 to 240 in the McKinney translation of The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon.  As always, I've included the corresponding entry numbers in the Morris version too, when possible, for anyone reading along with that version.  For more information on the different translations, please visit the 'Pillow Book' Friday page. Don't hesitate to jump in anytime, whether you've read along from the start, or not.  Or if you're not reading along because you've read the book previously. It's the kind of book that can easily be dipped into here and there, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on Sei's rants and musings.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

'The Makioka Sisters' - Book Two (JLit Read-along)

The Makioka SistersWelcome to the Japanese Literature Read-along discussion of Book Two of The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki. In the Vintage paperback, Book Two takes us from page 151 up to page 326. For general information about the book and the author, please visit the discussion post for The Makioka Sisters - Book One.

Vocabulary and Cultural Context
The following links provide further explanation or illustration for some of the cultural or other references that I thought might enhance your reading of the book. (Click on the links for more information. Page numbers refer to the Vintage International paperback, ISBN: 0679761640)

In their devotion to the Yamamura school and their desire to show the Osaka dance to the world, some of the more enthusiastic among them had formed a club called the Daughters of Osaka, which presented a dance recital once a month at the home of Mrs. Kamisugi, widow of an Osaka lawyer. Taeko occasionally danced in the recitals - such was her devotion to the art. (p. 160)

Her face, when one thought about it, was rather long and bold for her frail body, and suggested theater breeding. One could not help thinking how it would have become her, had she been born long ago, to shave her eyebrows and blacken her teeth, and wear long, trailing skirts in the old manner. (p. 162)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Introducing the South Pacific (and Asian) Book Chat

**Please scroll down for the list of upcoming
dates and topics**

East Asia and Oceania

Last weekend while hanging out on Twitter, @justaddbooks, @Margreads, and I were lamenting the fact that most of the book blogger related Twitter chats are scheduled at times when we're snuggly tucked up in our beds. Feeling a little left out, we decided instead to start our own book chat at a time more suitable for those of us over here on this side of the world. Hence the South Pacific Book Chat (hashtag #spbkchat) was born. You don't have to live in the South Pacific though, and yes I know Japan isn't technically in the South Pacific either, but we're in similar time zones so I'm tagging along anyway. And it doesn't really matter where you live, anyone anywhere in the world is welcome to join in as we chat about all things bookish.

Monday, August 09, 2010

What I've been reading

The Makioka SistersEven though it seems like summer will never end, this year is just flying by. August is well underway and all I can think is, how did that happen? I haven't posted what I've been reading since early last month so here are the books I've read over the last little while. Reading has been going in fits and starts for me this summer. I either get sucked into a book and ignore everything else to read. Or else I'll have days where I barely read at all. I blame the heat. And the humidity. But you don't want to hear me complain about the weather yet again.

I had a few reading commitments in July, so first up was reading a few short stories by Gogol for the Classics Circuit Imperial Russian Tour. (My post on Three Stories by Nikolai Gogol). Then I read Book One (of three) of The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki for the Japanese Literature Read-along. This is a re-read for me but so far I'm enjoying it just as much as the first time around. I've also been continuing with my slow re-read, of a few pages each week or so, of The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, which largely inspired me to start this blog!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

'How to Be an American Housewife' by Margaret Dilloway

Fiction, 2010
Putnam Books (Penguin), ARC pb, 260 p.
ISBN: 9780399156373
From the publisher:
A lively and surprising novel about a Japanese woman with a closely guarded secret, the American daughter who strives to live up to her mother's standards, and the rejuvenating power of forgiveness.

How to Be an American Housewife is a novel about mothers and daughters, and the pull of tradition. It tells the story of Shoko, a Japanese woman who married an American GI, and her grown daughter, Sue, a divorced mother whose life as an American housewife hasn't been what she'd expected. When illness prevents Shoko from traveling to Japan, she asks Sue to go in her place. The trip reveals family secrets that change their lives in dramatic and unforeseen ways. Offering an entertaining glimpse into American and Japanese family lives and their potent aspirations, this is a warm and engaging novel full of unexpected insight.

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. 

Hello Japan! mini-challenge: July Haiku round-up

Hello Japan!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Hello Japan! mini-challenge last month. July's Hello Japan! task was to read, write, or otherwise appreciate, haiku.  Quite a few of you were inspired to write your own haiku.  Well done!

Magical Mystical Teacher wrote a lovely summer haiku.

Novroz of Novroz' Favorite Things shared some Japanese Death Poems.