May, 2017

House on the Hill, Kounoyama.

I was taken aback by how many good author recommendations I got in response to last month’s question (“What Japanese or Japan-based authors would you recommend I read?”) Some of the authors I’ve heard of (and even read!) but most I hadn’t, so I really appreciate the picks, and I think you will too, so here they are, taking pride of place at no. 1 on this month’s link list.

  1. Need a good Japan author to read? Here’s what newsletter readers recommended:
    Alan Booth – non-fiction
    Osamu Dazai – anything
    Shusaku Endo – anything
    Tetsuya Honda – The Silent Dead
    Hisashi Inoue – Tokyo Seven Roses (featuring a fantastically nefarious postwar American plot to remove kanji from the Japanese language)
    Pico Iyer – non-fiction
    Yasunari Kawabata – anything, but start with The Sound of the Mountain
    Hiromi Kawakami – The Briefcase
    Alex Kerr – non-fiction
    Natsuo Kirino – Out 
    Mariko Koike – The Graveyard Apartment
    Seicho Matsumoto – Quiet Place
    Kanae Minato – Confessions
    Miyuki Miyabe – (“Crime novels with a social streak”) Reason, R.P.G, All She Was Worth
    Paul Murphy True Crime Japan (“non-fiction and not a Japanese author, but I found it fascinating to see how different Japan’s approach to justice is from the west.”)
    Fuminori Nakamura – The Kingdom
    Michael Pronko – (“He does some wonderful short essays.”) Beauty and Chaos, Tokyo’s Mystery Deepens and Motions and Moments.
    Donald Richie – non-fiction
    Kazuki Sakuraba – Red Girls
    Akimitsu Takagi  – Tattoo Murder Case
    Hideo Yokoyama  – SixFour
    Shuichi Yoshida – Villain
  2. I thought an antidote to fake news and instant irrelevance that is the age we live in is a depository of knowledge, a news morgue, a memory library, or more accurately, a blog featuring past issues of this newsletter. Behold: Letter from Abiko, guaranteed to be at least a few months out of date, and therefore free from the inanities of the instant. Time is the best editor, after all.
  3. Everything I know about Hoksai is because of this BBC podcast.
  4. Here’s this month’s freebie: Chairman Mouse, a 5,000-word essay I wrote in 2013 comparing North Korea and Tokyo Disneyland. It’s free now.
  5. I don’t know much about anime. But Matt Alt does and he wrote this great piece about Your Name for the New Yorker.
  6. Walk with me as I stumble to work through the cherry blossoms in my latest This Abikan Life video.
  7. Phil Brasor is consistently the best columnist at the Japan TimesHere’s his blog and a link to a great article he wrote on the stereotypes of Japan that Japanese are eager to promote.
  8. This is the twitter feed of a chap who does fantastic miniaturama calendar photos for every day of the year.
  9.  If you happen to find yourself in Tokyo this month, may I heartily recommend visiting the National Museum of Western Art in Ueno Park, as I did yesterday (to mark my 20th wedding anniversary). For a mere ¥430 you can see some fantastic turn of the century oil paintings and sketches from the artists’ colony at Skagen, Denmark. Get a taste of the pics from my Instagram post here, or sample the full wholesome nuttiness that is Skagen Museums from their twitter feed here. The Tokyo exhibition closes May 28th and moves on to  Hekinan City Tatsukichi Fujii Museum of Contemporary Art in Aichi Prefecture in June and July.
  10. Question of the week. Thanks again for the wonderful author recommendations. Now, what Japanese movies or directors do you recommend I watch? I’ve seen and enjoyed Tampopo. know of Kurosawa, Tokyo Story, and the Tora-san series. But there are so many others I’m just ignorant of. Email me your picks and I’ll post them next month to all the subscribers.

Thanks for reading, have a good month. And if you have enjoyed reading any of my stuff, be a sport and share this newsletter with a pal, leave a review on one of my books or drop me a line on Twitter or Facebook.

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