Note: I'm taking part in Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon this Saturday, October 18th, but I will not be posting any updates here.
When I'm not reading or cheering, I'll be hanging out on Twitter and Instagram. Come say hi!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Genre for Japan, #quakebook, and other ways to help

Tohoku Earthquake

Even though we are doing ok here in Tokyo, the people in the northern areas affected by the quake and tsunami are still very much in need of help. Some areas still do not have any running water or electricity. And it's still very cold there, often freezing at night. As well as trying to get food and blankets and other supplies to survivors, after two weeks of living in shelters, there is the worry of illnesses spreading. Many organisations and volunteers are doing what they can to help the thousands of survivors who have lost everything. Here are a few bookish and other ways that you could help out too.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Earthquake update: Day Twelve

Tohoku Earthquake mapA full 11 days have passed since the Great Tohoku Earthquake and the ensuing tsunami which has caused so much devastation in the NE coastal region of Japan. According to the last report that I heard today, the official death toll is now over 9,000 with over 12,000 still missing, and thousands are without homes, living in evacuation shelters, their cars, or wherever they can.

I really appreciate everyone who has sent tweets and emails, and for keeping us in your thoughts. We really can't complain about some of the minor inconveniences we've had to deal with, when we think of all the lives lost in the worst-affected areas, and the hardships the people there continue to endure. But I know some of you would like an update on how things are for us in Tokyo.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Earthquake update: Day Four

Tohoku EarthquakeIt's now over 80 hours since the earthquake struck at 2:46 PM Friday afternoon local time, with the tsunami starting to hit about 30 minutes after that. Thank you to everyone who has left comments or got in touch. I really appreciate all your good thoughts and wishes, and I thought I'd share with you some of how things are for us in Tokyo after the weekend.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Japanese cooking: chicken and shiso dashi ochazuke

shiso leaves

Yesterday, H offered to make dinner. This is a fairly rare occurrence since he's usually very busy with work during the week, so of course I took him up on it. I never say no to someone cooking for me! The next step was deciding what to make. I'd bought a bunch of shiso leaves a little earlier in the week since they were so cheap (about 50 leaves for 100yen, less than US$1). Shiso (perilla) is a herb from the mint family and shows up frequently in Japanese food. It is often eaten with sushi or sashimi, but is also added to various other dishes. It has a distinct flavour that goes especially well with umeboshi (pickled plums), fish, and chicken. Fresh shiso leaves tend to wilt fairly quickly though so it's best to use them as soon as possible. Since we also had some leftover rice in the fridge, he decided to make dashi ochazuke which is a simple, tasty meal and a great way to use up leftover rice, especially if it has dried out a bit.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

JLit Preview: 'Remote Control' by Kotaro Isaka

Kodansha International
You wouldn't know it from the lack of blog posts showcasing my new book acquisitions during the last few months, but I have actually bought or received quite a few new books, especially in the last couple months of 2010, and a good portion of them are Japanese lit. The photo above is just a hint of the ones that have been added to my "To Be Read" piles. However, since I also don't read nearly as fast as I would like, which means I won't necessarily get to all of these for some time, I've been thinking of a way to share them with you in the meantime. I'll still do occasional posts when I have a stack of new non-Japanese books to tell you about, but for the Japanese ones I thought it would be nice to have more of a spotlight on them to bring them to your attention.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Hello Japan! March mini-challenge: Manga

Hello Japan!
Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is 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.

March's Topic

Japan has a long history of storytelling with images. Some argue that manga (漫画) goes back to, or at least is inspired by, old scroll paintings, especially those of a satirical or whimsical nature. Like the set of Choju Giga (Scrolls of Frolicking Animals) by Toba Sojo in the 11th century. But whatever the original source, manga in its current state really gained popularity in the post-WWII period. Nowadays, people of all ages read manga, and billions of yen are spent on manga each year in Japan.

History of Manga (Manga.About.com)
A History of Manga by Matt Thorn
Manga at Wikipedia

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Hello Japan! mini-challenge: February links

Hello Japan!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Hello Japan! mini-challenge for February. February's Hello Japan! topic was Japanese cooking and the task was to make something Japanese. I really enjoyed reading about your different Japanese cooking adventures, but I have to say that reading about the food you all made was making me very hungry! Click on the links below to visit everyone's posts.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

'In the Miso Soup' and 'Audition' by Ryu Murakami (JLit Book Group)

Japanese Literature Book Group

The Japanese Literature Book Group was born out of the wish to read and discuss Japanese literature with others, and by doing so to hopefully gain a deeper understanding of the literature and culture of Japan. (Click on the button for more information about past and upcoming reads.) The schedule for the Japanese Literature Book Group for 2011 is largely made up of suggestions from fellow JLit devotees. Usually we focus on one book to read together and discuss, however for the first selection of 2011, we're looking more generally at author Ryu Murakami. The two suggested titles were In the Miso Soup, and Audition, but you are welcome to discuss any of his books you've read.