Unraveling the Evolution of Modern Japan

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society

This is a tremendous book and should jump the queue of all those books on contemporary Japan you have been intending to read. The editors deserve kudos for putting together a stellar group of specialists and our gratitude for making them abandon the usually scholarly trappings.

The chapters are written in an accessible and thoughtful style and focus on explaining various aspects of culture and society for nonspecialists. This academic-lite approach is a welcome relief from the usual trudge through a specialists’ tome, jettisoning the disciplinary discourse without sacrificing the insights. Lucidly written, this is an ideal book for undergraduate classes as it includes a glossary, bibliography and comprehensive list of relevant websites. Experts will also find this a rewarding collection.

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society

Also check out Things Japanese Vol 1 and 2 for a sampling of modern poetry and stories inspired by Japan.

The volume is divided into three parts: (1) Social Foundations, (2) Class, Identity, and Status, and…

Read the rest of the story: Unraveling the evolution of modern Japan.

Toyo Shibata – Japan’s bestselling poet at 99

A 99-year-old woman writing about love, dreams and hanging on to hope has touched the hearts of Japanese worn out by years of a lagging economy, propelling her self-published poetry book onto bestseller lists.

Toyo Shibata’s success with her first anthology, titled "Don’t be Too Frustrated," is all the more surprising because she only picked up her pen at the age of 92.

"I’m alive to this age thanks to support from my families, friends, care-givers and doctors and am transforming my gratitude into poetry to tell them, ‘Thank you. I’m really happy,’" said Shibata, who turns 100 in June, in written answers to questions.

Her collection of 42 poems, which include messages such as "Everyone is equally free to dream" and "Don’t try too hard," has been the most popular book on the closely-watched Oricon charts for the last two weeks and was one of the top 10 sellers for 2010, according to Touhan, one of Japan’s biggest publishers.

"Although 98, I still fall in love. I do have dreams; one like riding on a cloud," Shibata confesses in one poem with the title of "Secret."

Read the rest of the story: “Grandma next door” poet a Japan bestseller at 99.

Things Japanese Volume II – And the contest winner is….

BionicBong is pleased to announce the winner of the Things Japanese literary contest for writing!

The winner is Mary Gilmer for her creative non-fiction piece called ‘The Wisdom of Po’, a deeply moving story about her relationship with her aging Japanese mother.

The editors of the magazine recognize the outstanding quality of the entries and wish to thank all contributors for their excellent submissions.

Contributors, look forward to seeing the printed books in the mail soon.

And since we know you can’t wait to get your hands on one, everyone can purchase a copy of Things Japanese Volume II now.

Stefan Chiarantano & T. Graham Westerlund

BionicBong Publishes it’s first Literary Magazine “Things Japanese”

We had a call for submissions last summer for people to enter their stories inspired by Japan and things Japanese and the results of those submissions have been accumulated together in our newly released book, “Things Japanese“. We are proud to have had so many wonderful entries to fill the pages of this book and we’re excited about this announcement.

We’ve also decided with the sale of these books to try to give back to the world a little more than just the sharing of these stories. We decided to give $500 in support of various charities for every 100 books sold through March 15th, 2009. The first $500 in support will go directly to charities in support for Haiti as we believe it is the most in need at the moment. Furthermore, with every additional 100 copies of the book we will be supporting these causes and charities: Clean Water – Charity:Water, World Hunger – World Food Programme, Immunization – GAVI-Alliance, Alleviating Poverty – KIVA. We hope that this will inspire you to be supportive of this book and its cause.

The book is a collection of short stories that celebrates contemporary writing on things Japanese. We hope that these stories will warm your heart, leave you feeling fuzzy and warm, and crave things Japanese as we do. The stories are rooted in direct experience of things Japanese that explore relationships, perceptions, attitudes, culture, identity, and desire. Theses stories confirm that Japan continues to fascinate and touch people on many levels.

Please support this book and share it with your friends as we would very much like to do this again soon and all the best to everyone that can contribute to this book’s success and cause.


1Q84 – Murakami Speaks About the Unreal

In the chaotic world after the Cold War and the September 11 2001 attacks, Japanese author Haruki Murakami says metaphors can be even more powerful than what’s real — a reason why his surreal books are read worldwide.

“I think people are gradually starting to understand and accept the realness of unreal things,” Murakami, one of the most widely read Japanese novelists in the world, told Reuters in a rare media interview.

“While it is necessary to write about the post-Cold War ways of the world, no matter how realistically it may be written, it can’t be expressed sufficiently. The only way it could be written about is through metaphors,” he said.

The 60-year-old novelist, a regular in Nobel literature prize predictions, has been writing in Japanese for three decades. His novels, short stories and essays have been translated into more than 40 languages.

In May, he published the two-volume, 1,055-page novel “1Q84,” a title suggestive of George Orwell’s “1984” as the Japanese word for 9 is pronounced the same as the English letter “Q.”

“First, there was George Orwell’s 1984, a novel about the near future… I wanted to write something that was the opposite of that, a novel on the recent past that shows how things could have been,” Murakami said.

The book alternates chapters between two characters, a female named Aomame and a male named Tengo. It deals with themes such as cults and abuse, loss, as well as sex, love and murder.

Incidents such as the September 11 attacks on U.S. cities and the Tokyo subway gas attack in 1995 by a religious cult drove Murakami to write the novel.

“To me, 9/11 does not feel like an incident that took place in the real world. Somewhere, there must be a world in which this didn’t happen,” he said.

“I am always doubtful about whether this world that I am in now is the real one. Somewhere in me, I feel there is a world that may not have been this way.”

Over 2.2 million copies of “1Q84” had been printed in Japan as of October.

For more of the interview: Japan’s Murakami says metaphor more real after 9/11

Source: Yahoo
Photo: Reuters