Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Five Questions, the Hello Japan! meme

Hello Japan!

Somehow it's the end of November already! How did that happen? But I couldn't let the month pass by without doing this month's Hello Japan! mini-challenge, the Hello Japan! meme. I also thought it might be fun to ask my husband the five questions and get his answers, so I've included them below with my own. Here goes:

1. My favourite Japanese ________________ is ________________ because ____________________________________.

H: My favourite Japanese food is ramen because it's delicious!

Me: Perhaps not surprisingly, my favourite Japanese season is spring for the plum and later the cherry blossoms. The Japanese celebrate spring and the cherry blossom for good reason. It's such a pretty time of year here. Autumn is a very close second for me though for the beautiful red Japanese maple leaves.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Monday, what are you reading?

Well, since last week's check in on what I've been reading, I've finished one book, and am still working on another.

Last Friday on my commute home (good timing!) I finished reading the ebook, Heat Wave by Richard Castle. The writing wasn't anything amazing but it really was a lot of fun. On every single page I was picturing the characters from the TV show and there were lots of little comments and bits of dialogue here and there that made me chuckle. Now I can't wait to watch Season 2 of the show, as only Season 1 has aired so far on TV here in Japan. Especially since I hear the book makes an appearance!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Guest post: Jacob Ritari on Japanese writer Osamu Dazai

I'm happy to share with you another guest post from author Jacob Ritari today. For anyone just tuning in, Jacob's very enjoyable debut novel, Taroko Gorge, was published earlier this year, and during the month of September he shared some of his unpublished short stories with us here on In Spring it is the Dawn. If you haven't read them yet, there are links to the stories at the end of this post. He's currently living just outside of Tokyo as he continues his Japanese studies, and every couple of weeks or so he continues to share his thoughts with us on all things Japanese. Today he talks about one of his favorite Japanese writers, Osamu Dazai.

“Love is Revolution”: Osamu Dazai

In an earlier guest post here, I touched on the story of Sen no Rikyuu and Toyotomi Hideyoshi; the contemplative, aesthete tea master and the brutal warlord; the former of whom eventually fell victim to the philistine envy of the latter. In one of his autobiographical fragments, the great Japanese writer Osamu Dazai recasts the story humorously, with himself as Rikyuu and his forward-thinking, practical elder brother as Hideyoshi.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What I've been reading

It's been about a month since I last posted about my current reads but sadly even though I've been reading I haven't been reading all that much. I do have a few books I can tell you about though. First of all, since that last post near the end of October, I finished reading Purple Jesus by Ron Cooper, and posted a review. I really wanted to like it and it's had some great reviews, but I think I just wasn't the right audience for it.

Then this month I finally finished my leisurely re-read of The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon and I just need to post my final thoughts on it. Plus I also read Japanese Gothic Tales by Izumi Kyoka. Earlier this month I posted about the first two stories in the collection, for the Classics Circuit Land of the Rising Sun: Meiji-era Japanese Classics tour. Kyoka isn't as well-known as some others but he's apparently been a big influence on several Japanese writers and I enjoyed getting a taste of his stories and his style.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

'The Pillow Book': Week Eighteen (Things that delight)

Pillow BookThis week I'm looking at entries 261 to 297, plus the 29 supplementary entries 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. Please scroll down for my thoughts on this section. Also, apologies to anyone who was looking for this to be up much earlier, as it has been delayed more than once.

Week Eighteen
McKinney: Entries 261 - 297 (p. 230 - 249) + Supplementary entries 1-29 (p. 249 - 256)
Morris: Entries 151 - 159 (p. 235 - 243), 161-169 (p. 244 - 252), 173 (p. 254), 176 (p. 256), 182 (p. 260-1), 184 - 5 (p. 263)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Chrysanthemum Exhibition

Every year in November, a chrysanthemum exhibition is held at Shinjuku Gyoen.
From tokyojapanguide.com:
In the first part of November thousands of people gather in the park to admire the blooming of chrysanthemums cultivated according to traditional methods as well as new techniques. The chrysanthemums were introduced into Japan from China around the eight century. The Chrysanthemum Exhibition was an annual court function performed at the Akasaka Imperial Villa from 1878 until 1929, when it was moved to Shinjuku Gyoen. During the war the exhibitions were not held. But the chrysanthemum stock wasn't lost and in 1949 full-scale gardening resumed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

'Purple Jesus' by Ron Cooper

Fiction, 2010
Bancroft Press, hardcover, 214 p.
Purvis Driggers is a South Carolina Low Country loser
With little judgment and even less chance for a decent life beyond his parents’ house, home town, and whatever part-time work he can scrounge up, he’s sure he’s figured a way out: Rob an old man of the rumored millions hidden in his house. But all he finds is the old man dead and the money, if there was any, already gone.

Disappointed and defeated, Purvis is drawn to the sound of music across the creek. There, he discovers a beautiful woman in a white gown being baptized in the water. Surely Martha, beautiful Martha, will give Purvis the escape he imagines. With the Martha boat come to his rescue, Purvis decides, he’ll never have to worry about drowning.

But Martha Umphlett is trapped, too. Married and just as quickly divorced, Martha’s been condemned to return to the home she’d once escaped. Made to take care of her obese mother and forced to participate in a baptism she has no interest in whatsoever, Martha, in her own way, is every bit as desperate as Purvis, but far more capable and a good deal more dangerous.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Guest post: Jacob Ritari on ... Ramen

I had to laugh when I opened up the attachment and read the guest post that Jacob has written for us this week, in which he shares with us his love, or maybe that should read, his obsession, with one of the most revered foods in Japan. Ramen. I have to admit that I don't share this passion but I live with someone who does, my husband. He finds a way to have ramen at least two or three times a week. And it was the Japanese food that he missed the absolute most when we were living in England. But here is Jacob to tell you more about it.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Japanese Gothic Tales by Izumi Kyōka ('The Surgery Room' and 'The Holy Man of Mount Kōya')

Izumi Kyōka (泉 鏡花) was the pen name of Kyōtarō Izumi (1873 – 1939), a Japanese author who wrote during the late Meiji era and the early Shōwa periods. He was known primarily for his short stories and plays and "developed a reputation for writing about the grotesque and the fantastic". Drawing on "Edo period popular fiction, folklore and Noh drama, more than half of Kyōka 's works incorporate some form of supernatural element." Unfortunately very little of his work has been translated into English.

Four of his stories have been collected into the book, Japanese Gothic Tales, translated by Charles Shiro Inouye. Today, for the Classics Circuit Land of the Rising Sun: Meiji-era Japanese Classics tour, I'm going to talk about the first two, 'The Surgery Room', and 'The Holy Man of Mount Kōya'.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Hello Japan! November mini-challenge: Five Questions (a Japan meme)

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.

November's Topic

It's hard to believe it's been just over a year already since I started the Hello Japan! mini-challenge (in October 2009) with a little help and enthusiasm from you! The idea behind it was simply to give you the chance to experience a little taste of Japan no matter where you live, and to learn more about the fascinating country that is Japan, regardless if you're already familiar with Japan, or just discovering it. Heck, I've lived here for several years now and am still learning new things. Some of the mini-challenges and topics were more popular than others, but I hope that you have all enjoyed sharing some of your adventures with Japanese literature and culture over the past year, and I hope that you'll continue to do so.

Hello Japan! mini-challenge: October link round-up

Hello Japan!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Hello Japan! mini-challenge for October. October's Hello Japan! task was to read or watch something scary, spooky, or suspenseful.
Here's what you came up with:

Novroz of Novroz' Favorite Things definitely showed her enthusiasm for all things Japanese and spooky by sharing 4 posts with us! I love it when people get excited about a topic!
First she commented on the anime series of Yuyu Hakusho: The Dark Tournament (Yuyu Hakusho translates into English as "Ghost Files").
Next she wrote her thoughts on the manga Doubt by Yoshiki Tonogai, about a deadly game the characters are forced to play.
Then she wrote a review of the detective crime novel The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada. A serial murder story that she couldn't put down!
And finally, she tells us about a Japanese vampire movie, Moon Child.