- Last month, I asked for suggestions for persons of interest to this newsletter to interview, especially persons of the female persuasion, and one of the names that came up (twice) was Tokyo freelance journo and newbie fictionista Kaori Shoji. So I did. And what a frank (and interesting) chat we had. Here it is: Searching for Buddha and Beyonce.
- I did a sketch of Ms Shoji too. My youngest took a look and said it was one of my better pictures, but no one would be happy to have that presented as their portrait. Damn the honesty (and clear-headedness) of children. But that hasn’t put me off my very first art exhibition. I’ll be showing 20 of my least terrible watercolours (mostly pictures of things with right angles. Or stuff that doesn’t move much. Like lakes) as part of my family’s celebrations of being self-employed for 10 years and not starving. If you happen to find yourself in Abiko on Sunday, September 24th, come to Abisuta, Abiko’s library (walk out the South exit of Abiko station, go straight down the hill for 10 minutes, turn left when you hit the lakeside park) and go to the main hall. We’ll be there from 10am to 2:30pm. There’s also a Japanese celeb who cycled around the world. He’s giving a talk. And there will be cookies. And aromatherapy-type stuff. I’m not selling this very well, am I? It sounds better in Japanese. Did I mention there will be cookies?
- I can’t tell you how many times I’ve endured (or instigated) drunken conversations about wabi sabi, the Japanese art aesthetic that no-one seems able to succinctly translate into English. Here’s a sober article that you can read about it.
- Apologies for a broken link in last month’s newsletter about declining Japanese birthrates. It was all a bit of a rush job as I jetted off to the UK for my summer holidays. The girls in the typing pool have been given a stern talking to. While in Blighty, I picked up a copy of Keigo Higashino’s Journey Under the Midnight Sun (translated by newsletter AWOL interviewee Alexander O. Smith) and Content Provider, by the UK’s cerebralist standup comedian, Stewart Lee. My review of Lee’s book is here. Haven’t had time to read the Higashino.
- My latest This Abikan Life video is here on why, if you teach English, you might want to consider ditching the company and going self-employed.
- This North Korean nuke threat is all a bit overblown. A deputy in nearby Toride was rudely awoken by the city’s sirens and told to take shelter at 6 am. We in Abiko were not woken by any alarms. Just as well, as the missile was 500 km up in space and crashed into the Pacific 1,000km East of Hokkaido. I don’t think imminent threat, I think anti-social neighbour revving his motorbike engine at an ungodly hour. The best response is ignore Lil Kim and make a cup of tea. As this chap did.
- Here are six Japanese novels you can read in a day. Presumably not the same day.
- A Dutch Tokyo-based architect slags off the appallingly designed Hokusai museum in this entertainingly frank vid that I meant to publish ages ago but forgot.
- Rest in Peace Hillel Wright, writer and Tokyo literary organiser.
- Thanks again to all who replied to last month’s QOTM about who you’d like me to interview. I had four suggestions, much obliged. Some, like Miyuke Miyabe, are a bit out of my league, but all have been duly noted. Question of the month: Do you enjoy these top 10 lists or find them tedious? Just asking.
Thanks for reading, have a good autumn. And if you have enjoyed reading any of my stuff, be a sport and leave a review or drop me a line on Twitter or Facebook. You can find past issues of this newsletter at Letter from Abiko.
I make no promises about who I’ll be able to bag for an interview next month, as I’ve told myself to focus on making headway on the first draft of the third Hana Walker novel that’s languishing unloved in a dusty hard drive. We’ll see…