Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

2011 Year of the Rabbit
Image: "Carrot the Rabbit!" courtesy of flickr user: TheBusyBrain

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

'Holidays on Ice' by David Sedaris

Essays/stories, 1997/2008
Back Bay Books (Hachette Book Group), pb, 164 p.
From the publisher:
David Sedaris's beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favorites as the diaries of a Macy's elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris's tales of tardy trick-or-treaters ("Us and Them"); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French ("Jesus Shaves"); what to do when you've been locked out in a snowstorm ("Let It Snow"); the puzzling Christmas traditions of other nations ("Six to Eight Black Men"); what Halloween at the medical examiner's looks like ("The Monster Mash"); and a barnyard secret Santa scheme gone awry ("Cow and Turkey").

Monday, December 27, 2010

Let there be cake!

If you read my post, A Japanese-style Christmas, you'll know that in Japan Christmas cake is big business, and the must-have food for the event. On December 24th, the cake shops or cake counters are crowded with people picking up their pre-ordered confections, or purchasing something then and there.

Takano Christmas cakes
Takano counter in Kokubunji, a cake shop chain famous for its high-quality fruit.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Book Blogging in Japan

Just a quick post to let you know that I'm featured today on Leeswammes' Blog as part of her weekly Book Bloggers Abroad series. "Every week a book blogger from a different country is featured who talks about what it’s like to be a book blogger where he or she lives." And this week, it's me! I talk a little about how I came to Japan (and ended up staying so long!), my favourite bookstore in Tokyo, and a few of my favourite books. So please head over to Judith's blog to find out what it's like to be a Book Blogger Abroad in Japan.

Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2011

After pondering it for awhile, and getting some encouraging feedback on twitter not too long ago when I threw it out there to gauge interest, and even getting Bellezza's blessing (Because you know I would never want to take away from her awesome Japanese Literature Challenge but I hope you'll agree that the two challenges can complement each other), I want to let you know that you can now sign up for the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2011.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What I've been reading

I haven't posted what I've been reading the last couple weeks, mostly because I wasn't doing much. Reading, that is. I got a bit bogged down in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, which I still haven't finished to be honest, as I set it aside over a week ago and haven't looked at since. I left it over half-read though and I do still want to finish it, so I think that will be my goal for later this week.

Instead, I picked up The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley, which I kindly received from Sourcebooks. She's a Canadian author, that I'd only heard about recently. But what I'd heard was lots of rave reviews of her books. The Winter Sea was a very enjoyable mix of historical intrigue and romance, and it was the perfect antidote to that Japanese classic. I devoured it over the space of a couple days. Click on the book cover to read my review.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

'The Winter Sea' by Susanna Kearsley

Historical Fiction, Originally published in 2008, this edition by Sourcebooks in December, 2010, trade pb (ARC), 508 p.
(also published as 'Sophia's Secret' in the UK)
From the back cover (ARC):
History has all but forgotten…
In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.
Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine names for one of her own ancestors, and starts to write.
But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who can know the truth of what really happened all those years ago – a tale of love and loyalty… and ultimate betrayal…

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Japanese-style Christmas

First of all, thank you to Kailana from The Written World and Marg from Adventures of an Intrepid Reader for organising, once again, the Virtual Advent Tour. I've posted about the Japanese-style of Christmas before, but I hope you'll enjoy hearing, perhaps again, a little about what it's like to spend Christmas here in Tokyo.

Christmas in Japan basically boils down to the following:
If you're an unmarried couple, it's like Valentine's Day.
If you're a kid, it's like your Birthday.
And for everyone else, there is cake and KFC.

December 25th is just a regular day here in Japan. Although there is a national holiday on December 23rd, to commemorate the current Emperor's Birthday, the holiday period doesn't officially begin until closer to the end of the year. It's hardly surprising though that Emperor trumps Jesus in a predominantly non-Christian nation. So Christmas is a completely borrowed celebration. And as with everything, Japan likes to take something from the West and then make it their own.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Persephone Secret Santa 2010

Last year I jumped at the chance to take part in the Persephone Secret Santa as it was the perfect excuse to finally give, and receive, one of these grey beauties that I'd been admiring from afar for a while. Because even though I knew of their existence before last Christmas, and secretly coveted them, I hadn't yet had the pleasure of ever holding one in my hands. Many thanks go to the lovely Karen of Book Bath for giving me my very first Persephone last December! The book she chose for me was Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski, which I read, and thoroughly enjoyed, during the Persephone Reading Week earlier this year. A Persephone fan was born. And since then I've also treated myself on a couple of occasions so my little stack has started to grow.

Persephone Books

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Guest post: Jacob Ritari on Japanese historical figure, Sakamoto Ryōma

I'm very pleased to share with you another guest post from author Jacob Ritari today. For anyone just tuning in, Jacob's 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 a famous historical figure, Sakamoto Ryōma (Japanese-style of surname first), who has recently been getting a lot of attention.


Sunday, December 05, 2010

JLit Book Group Discussion: 'The Temple of the Golden Pavilion' by Yukio Mishima

Welcome to the Japanese Literature Book Group discussion of The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima.

About the author
Yukio Mishima
Yukio Mishima
Image source: unknown
Yukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫) was the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka (平岡 公威) born on January 14, 1925. He was a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor and film director, and is also famously remembered for his ritual suicide by seppuku on November 25, 1970, after a failed coup d'état. He was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and is considered one of the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century. His avant-garde work displayed a blending of modern and traditional aesthetics that broke cultural boundaries, with a focus on sexuality, death, and political change.

Friday, December 03, 2010

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

Hello Japan!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Hello Japan! mini-challenge for November. November's Hello Japan! task was a little different from previous months, the Hello Japan! meme, and it was a lot of fun reading everyone's answers to the five questions.
Here are some of the highlights:

Bellezza at Dolce Bellezza is working on folding 1000 origami cranes! She's promised to show us the final result and I can't wait to see it!

Sam at Sam Still Reading would like to visit Tokyo Disneyland and her favourite city is Sapporo.

JoV at Bibliojunkie's favourite author is Yukio Mishima, and she'd love to have her own Japanese garden.