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Articles tagged "Japan"

Noodling in New York

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No Japanese person would call a cat Thomas Jefferson.

Panels read from right to left.

Spirit Summoning, Part VI

The next time we met, Yoko pretended that the Shikoku conversation had never happened. Following her lead, I didn’t bring it up either. After the summoning job was done, Yoko turned to me. “I’m going to your house today. I promised your mother I would stop by.” So that was it. She’d obviously decided that it would be easier to convince my mother than it would be to try to change my mind. Mother greeted Yoko at the door and led her into the room with the...

The Decline and Fall of a Translator’s Brain

Just when you think you’ve figured out what is going on in the Toh Enjoe story “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Galactic Empire,” you trip on another oblique reference to some bit of the outside world. It’s a story that bears up to—and in fact, requires—multiple readings, as EnJoe takes pieces of pop and folk culture and replaces the original subject with his “Galactic Empire.” By the third line of the story, my translator sense...

The Hole in the Garden, Part II

The woman showed up exactly one month to the day after the pigʼs arrival. I had just finished cleaning the house and was thinking about feeding the pig before I started waxing the floors when the doorbell rang. The woman on the intercom video screen looked like she was some kind of salesperson. I decided to pretend I wasnʼt home. Then, however, she leaned forward and brought her lips—caked thick with lipstick—up to the microphone. “Iʼm Hanamura, I work...

Do Not Tremble

It trembles It is trembling again today I did not know that the earth Is an unruly cradle  A cruel cradle that lets Neither adult nor child sleep   It is March, it is spring It should be a gentle season of vernal sleep  When one sleeps so deeply there is no dawn But spring this year Shakes us to keep us From falling asleep   Earth, it is enough For you simply to  Keep spinning happily Leave the trembling To windblown flowers and Laundry hanging in...

The Navidad Incident: The Downfall of Matías Guili

The Navidad Incident takes place in the fictional South Sea island republic of Navidad. The novel opens as a delegation of Japanese war veterans pays an official visit to the ex-World War II colony, only to see the Japanese flag burst into flames. The following day, the tour bus, and its passengers, simply vanish. BUS REPORT 1 At 6:00 A.M., lowest ebb tide, a bus was sighted crossing the lagoon between Gaspar and Baltasár islands, sending ripples across the surface. The yellow...

Bonsai

Our bodies are like Bonsai trees. Not one innocent leaf can grow freely, without being viciously suppressed, so narrow is our ideal of appearance —Khyentsé Norbu   After I got married, I always spent Sunday afternoons at the botanical gardens in Aoyama. It was a way of taking a break from work and from household chores—if I stayed home on the weekend, Midori, my wife, would always end up asking me to fix something. After breakfast, I would take a book and...

Shigeru Mizuki’s “Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths”

The Japanese story form known as manga—with its extended plotlines and distinct pictorial style—falls somewhere between graphic novel and comic book. Widely read in Japan, where it is a $4 billion industry, manga depicts stories of everything from shogunate sword fights to the lives of high-school tennis stars. A typical work may contain several shorter storylines and can range from 200 to 400 pages in length. Despite the genre’s popularity in Japan, important works of...

Director’s Notes on “Sway”

I based my first film on a dream. A dream also inspired my second film, made three years later. Through a gloomy thicket in the shadows of a tree bathed in white light, I witnessed a scene still clearly etched in my mind. A man knelt alone on the edge of a cliff, staring down at the pool of a waterfall far below. A woman had sunk in its depths. I think she had been his friend. As he gazed at the stately waterfall in the mountains, he had whooped and hollered. Suddenly, wantonly, he...

The Last Picture Show

I’d just come up to Tokyo from a Kyushu port town that had a U.S. military base and was living with some friends in a crummy little apartment in a wooden building north of Inokashira Park. These friends had formed a blues band back home and hoped to find success in the big city. I played drums but wasn’t really passionate about carrying on with a blues band from the hinterlands of Kyushu. My main priority had been to get away from my parents, and they’d agreed to send...

The Kiso Wayfarer

You know, Karuizawa at the time was a veritable ghost town. It was autumn of Meiji 24 (1891), and the area appeared to be at the height of decline. At any rate, the once thriving post town on the Nakasendo was now utterly desolate. The land was unsuited to farming, and it was hardly possible even to make a living any more—indeed, many people had moved elsewhere. Father and I alighted from the train at Yokogawa, and took the stagecoach along the old road over the Usui Pass, rattling...

Walking the Keihin Factory Belt with Stuart Dybek

As usual, the boy missed the fly ball that anyone else would have caught with his eyes closed, and it rolled into a thicket of reeds by the river.  The audible sighs of the other kids were like knives in the boy’s back as he trudged after it, reeds wrapping themselves around his shins while he searched for the ball amid the empty cigarette boxes and candy wrappers scattered on the ground. Of course he didn’t find it. It wasn’t like these kids had a bunch of...

Japanese


from “Sentimental Education”

The woman gave birth to a baby girl at the maternity hospital and then disappeared the very same day. Located not far from downtown Isezaki-cho, the maternity hospital was well known as a place where many of the girls who worked as hostesses in Yokohama went for abortions. The woman arrived at the hospital alone, gave birth to the child alone, and then left alone. She never once held her baby in her arms, nor did she give her a name. When she left the hospital room, she tried not to...

From “A Drifting Life”

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Waiting in the Offing

"Itoyama's sharp eye and sly wit set her apart from other Japanese women writers. Her writing style is intellectually controlled, and often glows with wisdom."--Kenzaburo Oe "My hiccups won't stop." Makihara Futoshi was standing in his stocking feet just inside the door with a woebegone look on his face. When I stop to think about it, that somewhat troubled expression quite suited him. It hadn't been my intention to go to Gotanda. After all, I live in Saitama City and...

Inside and Other Short Fiction: Japanese Women on Japanese Women, compiled by Cathy Layne

Inside and Other Short Fiction--Japanese Women by Japanese Women offers a corrective to Western and Japanese stereotypes of Japanese women's sexuality. The stories in this collection are connected by an exploration of women's sexual liberation, and provide a female readership with a sophisticated equivalent to the sexually graphic print media heavily marketed to Japanese men. The women in Inside generally do not conform to traditional gender roles that stress early marriage and...

Metamorphosis

1 He later recalled that it had been a strange, sleepless night. Sanogawa Shinsha had fallen asleep in bed with a script propped on his chest when word arrived that his younger brother, Tojaku, had just died in a car accident. Shinsha and his wife, Chisa, slept side by side on low matching beds placed in a bedroom decorated in a mixture of Japanese and foreign styles. Because Shinsha had a habit of reading scripts, memorizing parts, and planning roles late into the night, an antique...

Granny Long Tongue

This story is set in the time when monsters were still living up there in the mountains and down here in the forests. Granny Long Tongue and Red Ban the Ogre lived high up on Mt. Okuyama, at Okumata Pass. The woman's tongue was longer than a snakevine, stronger than a stable boy's whip. Red Ban's face was broader than a cottage window, and when he bared his tusks and moved his face up close to yours, he was so scary that even the mountain bears rolled their eyes in fright....

Whenever I Sit at a Bar Drinking Like This, I Always Think What a Sacred Profession Bartending Is

Whenever I sit at a bar drinking like this, I always think what a sacred profession bartending is. The bartender, with the stained-glass shelves of many-colored bottles behind him, moves precisely about in a shining crystal vestibule, like a priest conducting a ritual. Pouring the holy liquid into a glass, he listens with a reverent, sympathetic smile as the customers recite their woes. At the far end of the bar is a pair of unattractive Mesdames with coarse skin and too much makeup....

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