Nov 16

JQ Magazine: Book Review — New from Tuttle (Fall 2017)

Tuttle Publishing

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagataken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia SubChapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a masters degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

Tuttle Publishing has released a selection of four books touching on subjects such as otaku culture, language/cultural tips for travelers, Japanese history, and inspiration for prospective visitors to Japan.

Tokyo Geek’s Guide: Manga, Anime, Gaming, Cosplay, Toys, Idols & More – The Ultimate Guide to Japan’s Otaku Culture

Many people have probably developed an interest in Japan through a deep affection for anime and manga (among other things). And with Tokyo being the obvious center of Japanese pop culture, this guide created by Gianni Simone serves as the perfect tool for otaku freaks to find heaven.

Tuttle Publishing

Tokyo Geeks Guide basically resembles a travel guide as it contains tidbits about where to explore otaku culture (such as bookshops, stores, events and even eateries—anime-themed ones are abundant in Tokyo). But you don’t have to be planning a trip to the capital to benefit from the book, though. Simone includes plenty of information pertaining to the history of manga, anime and video games in Japan.

Japanese for Travelers Phrasebook & Dictionary

At first glance, Scott Rutherford’s creation seems like a carbon copy of any other resource geared toward helping travelers avoid or limit communication miscues. And certainly, the book lists the standard customary helpful phrases for visitors to Japan trying to navigate the local hotels, airports, restaurants, etc.

But Japanese for Travelers provides plenty of useful advice about conducting good Japanese etiquette (e.g., what to do when invited to someone’s house) and culture (the section devoted to Japanese naming culture is interesting). Although the guide doesn’t intend to be the most thorough tool for language learners, it does include an English-Japanese glossary and numerous grammatical tips. And perhaps most importantly in this technologically reliant time, Rutherford dedicates a chapter to advising readers about how not to get tripped up by technology in Japan.

Tuttle Publishing

A Brief History of Japan: Samurai, Shogun and Zen: The Extraordinary Story of the Land of the Rising Sun

To many, the title of Jonathan Clements’s work would seem to be an absolute impossibility. Indeed, he uses that word in the preface to describe his task in telling a story that spans “millions of years.” But Clements settles on “specific moments of transformation” in eleven chapters that address periods of Japanese history ranging from the legend behind Japan’s formation to the “lost decades” that saw the country face a dwindling population and struggling economy.

While the information Clements provides at some points may be overwhelming, A Brief History of Japan does come to life through the collection of images appearing in the middle of the book (such as depictions of prominent figures and photos of landmarks).

Japan: Traveler’s Companion

Many, if not most, travel guides will feature an endless parade of “what to do and see” recommendations, and Rob Goss’s work is no different in a sense. But unlike some editions of Lonely Planet and Fodor’s, it’s clear when opening up Japan: Travelers Companion for the first time that the book will be anything but dry.

Tuttle Publishing

The subtitle appearing on its cover is “Japan’s most famous sights from Okinawa to Hokkaido,” but the inclusion of popular tourist destinations isn’t the reason to pick up the book. Amazingly beautiful colorful photos of the country’s most famous places will leave you speechless, and Goss includes helpful information for potential visitors about facets of Japanese life such as matsuri, cutting edge technology, and tradition.

For more information, visit www.tuttlepublishing.com.

For more JQ magazine book reviews, click here.


Sep 23

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels’

“Takahashi’s warm watercolors and relatable stories are guaranteed to entertain readers of all ages, and the latest English-language addition to this series, Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels, is every bit as enjoyable as its two predecessors.” (Museyon)

By Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03) for JQ magazine. Stacy is a New York Citybased provider of top quality Japanese interpretingtranslating and writing/editing servicesStarting from her initial encounter with Japan in her teensshe has built up a consummate understanding of the countrys language and culture, enabling her to seamlessly traverse between Japan and the U.S. and serve as a bridge between the two. For more information, visit www.stacysmith.webs.com. As a writer, Stacy also shares tidbits and trends with her own observations in the periodic series WIT Life.

Having spent three years on JET in Kumamoto, home of nationwide sensation Kumamon who didn’t yet exist when I was there, I must honestly say that I approach bear characters with slight trepidation. However, I was delightfully surprised to love every minute of my encounter with Kuma-Kuma Chan, the bear who stars in the eponymous children’s book series written and illustrated by Kazue Takahashi. Her warm watercolors and relatable stories are guaranteed to entertain readers of all ages, and the latest English-language addition to this series, Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels, is every bit as enjoyable as its two predecessors.

The previous two books, Kuma-Kuma Chan, the Little Bear (previously reviewed in JQ here) and Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Home, looked at a day in the life of Kuma-Kuma Chan on his own and when a friend comes to visit. KumaKuma Chans Travels is a bit more expansive, introducing readers to his world when he takes trips. I love the details at the beginning sharing what he brings with him on his journeys, along with accompanying illustrations such as a Thermos containing hot coffee. We later see him on top of a mountain drinking said coffee while watching the sunrise. These trips take place inside his head, but the descriptive text and beautiful pictures make you feel like you are with him everywhere he goes.

The series as a whole features a strong element of kawaii, or cuteness, which contributes to its Japaneseness. Also, there is an intangible sensibility to the stories that make them feel a bit different than traditional Western children’s books. In the inaugural KumaKuma Chan, the Little Bear, we learn about his daily routine, which includes aspects such as eating a big salad for breakfast with lettuce from his garden and personal grooming like trimming his nails and hair. I particularly liked the scene which shows him during the winter, rolling around to catch the sunlight as the day progresses with the kerosene heater nearby. For many JET alumni, I’m sure this scene will be reminiscent of days spent in school offices where this was the sole source of heat.

Courtesy of Museyon

For readers seeking a creature of a different nature, the Tyrannosaurus children’s books written and illustrated by Tatsuya Miyanishi is another series worth checking out. It currently features 13 titles, four of which have been published in the U.S. For those who would like to learn about these books and meet the acclaimed author, he will be at the New York and New Jersey locations of Books Kinokuniya at 2 p.m. on October 21 and 22, respectively. On both days, Miyanishi will be reading from and discussing his works, as well as signing books for those with purchased copies. For more dates in Texas, Washington and California, click here.

Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels is available October 1. For more information, click here.

For more JQ magazine book reviews, click here.


Sep 1

JQ Magazine: Manga Review — ‘She and Her Cat’ and ‘Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz — Glory of the Losers’

“In She and Her Cat, Shinkai does what he does best, using carefully curated imagery to set a somber tone that soothes readers into a quiet, meditative headspace.” (Vertical Comics)

By Preston Hatfield (Yamanashiken, 2009-10) for JQ magazine. Preston received a BA in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in Japanese at the University of California, Davis. After spending an amazing year on JET in Yamanashi, he spent a year writing and interning with book publishing companies in New York. He currently lives in Cupertino, where he continues to cover local Japanrelated stories for JQ.

This season, Vertical Comics releases two notable titles. The first is She and Her Cat, a story by acclaimed animator Makoto Shinkai, the mastermind behind 5 Centimeters Per Second and Your Name. The second is Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz — Glory of the Losers, a multi-volume adventure starring everyone’s favorite fighting mecha. While very different in style, pacing, and subject matter, each title has a lot to offer its readers.

In She and Her Cat, Shinkai does what he does best, using carefully curated imagery to set a somber tone that soothes readers into a quiet, meditative headspace. From there he proceeds to unfold an understated vignette that explores adult depression. This is a timely story, our considering society’s gradual willingness to speak openly about depression and mental health more broadly.

“By contrast, Glory of the Losers delivers action, explosions, and braggadocio.” (Vertical Comics)

Shinkai’s protagonist, Miyu, is a sympathetic introvert who has a hard time asking for or accepting help from others, and she is also her own antagonist, a fact that will likely resonate with readers who have battled depression. One unique feature about this story, which is also at times strained, is that it is told from the perspective of the protagonist’s cat, Chobi. While some readers may feel that Shinkai could have done more with this story, it is nonetheless well told and tactfully, intelligently handled.

By contrast, Glory of the Losers delivers action, explosions, and braggadocio. Based on creator Yoshiyuki Tomino’s classic 1970s giant robot series, the story follows a common trope: In a post-apocalyptic world, humans have broken off into different factions to colonize other planets. But when a central military agency begins annexing free colonies, a small resistance rises in the name of freedom to end their tyranny. This is an enjoyable underdog story that may have particular appeal to middle and high school students.

For more information, visit www.vertical-inc.com.


Jul 30

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘The Seed of Hope in the Heart’

Although The Seed of Hope is a memoir of one man’s experiences during a challenging period in recent Japanese history, it is also a fascinating look into how the people of Tohoku struggled but fought to rebuild their lives. (Amazon Digital Services LLC)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagataken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia SubChapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a masters degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

There are certain moments we remember clearly as if they happened only yesterday, whether they are monumental historical events or natural disasters. But how would you tell stories centering on those moments?

Teiichi Sato has a go at it in The Seed of Hope in the Heart. In the memoir, Sato, an Iwate Prefecture seed shop owner, survives the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami but sees his beloved seed shop crumble. This plunges him into the task of rebuilding his life and livelihood amidst destruction while trying not to sink into depression and despair.

It all started with the disaster that struck on March 11, which didn’t actually come out of the blue. Sato explains that after a strong earthquake hit the Kesen area two days prior, a tsunami advisory was issued, which wasn’t really cause for a cause for concern as “weak” tsunami advisories were frequent around Rikuzentaka (where Sato lived).

But obviously, it should have been as for much of Tohoku, the world changed starting on 2:46 p.m. on March 11. Sato spends much of the early chapters detailing not only his perspective of the earthquake, but more dramatically his escape from the oncoming tsunami. While reading The Seed of Hope, you get the sense of being transported into a movie as it contains no shortage of drama as Rikuzentaka’s citizens make a desperate dash to find shelter—some of whom aren’t able to do so successfully.

Read More


Jul 15

JQ Magazine: Manga Review — ‘Kitaro and the Great Tanuki War’

The Great Tanuki War stands apart from the other Kitaro volumes because in this adventure, the stakes are higher than anything you’ve ever seen.” (Drawn and Quarterly)

 

By Julio Perez Jr. (Kyoto-shi, 2011-13) for JQ magazine. A bibliophile, writer, translator, and graduate from Columbia University, Julio currently keeps the lights on by working at JTB USA while writing freelance in New York. Follow his enthusiasm for Japan, literature, and comic books on his blog and Twitter @brittlejules.

A haunted house built on an ancient burial ground? That’s minor league. How about an entire nation built above an army of human-hating yokai who command a catfish large enough to cause earthquakes?

Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro and The Great Tanuki War is a manga volume that tells an epic tale pitting the titular character, Kitaro, against an army of tanuki and their powerful yokai allies. There are also a few bonus stories with Kitaro’s usual one-shot adventures. You may already be familiar with Mizuki’s famous character, but if you are not, you can brush up on his origin story featured in the first volume, The Birth of Kitaro, which JQ reviewed last year here.

This marks the third volume in the English collection of Kitaro stories published by the fine folks at Drawn and Quarterly. One of our very own JET alums, Zack Davisson (Nara-ken, 2001-04; Osaka-shi, 2004-06), has been doing his part to put Shigeru Mizuki’s timeless work on the map in the English-speaking world. He has served as translator for these Kitaro stories and also for Mizuki’s colossal four-volume manga history of the Showa period. Zack is a yokai expert in his own right and you can find out more about his career and JET experience in our vintage JQ interview with him.

As many consumers of Japanese media may already be aware, yokai are strange creatures or phenomena that originate in Japan and have become widely popular globally. Kitaro is a unique yokai who solves mysteries and fights for humans. The conflict between humans and yokai is often an issue of tension for him as he straddles both sides, but this conflict takes center stage in The Great Tanuki War, when an army of tanuki escape from their underground dwelling beneath the island of Shikoku (shout-out to our Shikoku JET alums!), to wage a war on the human residents of Japan.

Read More


Jun 13

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit’

“This year marks Canada’s 150th anniversary, so it’s a wonderful time for families to explore the wonders of the country. You just need the right information to do so, and 25 Places serves as a worthy reference guide.” (TouchWood Editions)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagataken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia SubChapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a masters degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

Summer is almost here. With the kids out of school, it’s the perfect time to explore new places and travel as a family. But where should you go?

Those thinking about Canada should seek out Jody Robbins25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit for ideas. Robbins, a JET alum (Tottori-ken, 1994-97) and arguably one of Canada’s most prominent travel writers, profiles locations going counterclockwise from Victoria to Yukon, from the famous (Toronto, Vancouver) to the relatively unknown (Parksville-Qualicum Beach, Avalon Peninsula).

As the book is geared towards parents, Robbins devotes plenty of space to sharing advice about how they can entertain their young ones. In addition to expounding on the requisite what to do and see activities for each destination, Robbins just as importantly lists family-friendly options for dining (“Kids will love the wood-fired bambino pizza” at Pizzeria Prima Strada in Victoria) and lodging (a highlight of the Fairmount Chateau Laurier in Ottawa is the Art Deco-style pool, which “children love parading down to in their child-size bathrobes”).

25 Places features a diverse mix of urban and nature-filled destinations (like Outaouauis), so readers will get a great sense of Canada’s varied landscapes, as well as some surprises (beaches on the Prairies? Yes, they exist) and more importantly, how to arrive prepared for them. While it’s obvious that Robbins would include information about how to get around certain places, she excels when extensively detailing how to make your camping trip a safe and wonderful experience: An entire chapter is devoted to providing readers advice about tackling and overcoming the challenges that awaits (as well as tips about what to pack and eat). Camping novices would do well to heed this helpful advice.

Read More


May 26

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘The Little Exile’

The Little Exile reveals a world of angst, but hope in a world that has been turned upside down.” (Stone Bridge Press)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagata-ken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia Sub-Chapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a master’s degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

Earlier this year I explored Uprooted, an exhibition devoted to the Japanese American internment. Considering how many families were displaced following Pearl Harbor, “uprooted” is at the perfect word to describe how a lot of people’s lives were disrupted.

Uprooted also comes to mind when reading The Little Exile. Written by Jeanette Arakawa, the novel tells the story of Marie Mitsui, a Japanese American girl living in San Francisco, whose world is jolted after the events of December 7, 1941 as she and her family is forced to relocate to an internment camp in Arkansas. Based on her own life story (although some names in the book have been changed), Arakawa takes readers on a journey through the brutal challenges that many Japanese Americans faced.

At first, you might think that The Little Exile is an uneventful novel, as the first few chapters capture a seemingly carefree life that the Mitsuis enjoy (Marie has an older brother named Brian). They seem to be a typical American family—Marie’s parents run a dry cleaning shop where the whole family lives. She loves roller-skating with her friend Beverly and often spends time on the playground (She frequently wins amateur hour contests there).

However, San Francisco is not paradise for the Mitsuis—Brian learns from his father that due to “racial covenants,” the family is prohibited from buying houses in a certain neighborhood. In addition, classmates hurl racial slurs at Brian and Marie upon their arrival at the Lawton School in December 1940.

Read More


Apr 8

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Japanese Garden Notes’

Keane is the perfect person to expound on the finer aspects of the Japanese garden. Reading Japanese Garden Notes basically transports you to a museum as the text is similar to the interpretation you’d receive from a seasoned docent. (Stone Bridge Press)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagata-ken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia SubChapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a masters degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

One Golden Week afternoon after exploring Okayama Castle, I decided to stroll over to nearby Kōraku-en Garden. Mainly because it was there and I wasn’t sure what else to do in Okayama. But once I stepped on the premises of the garden, a sense of serenity fell over me as did the feeling I felt like I had found a gem, as well as a place where time stood still.

What is the world of these elegant locales like? Landscape architect and author Marc Peter Keane answers that question and more in Japanese Garden Notes: A Visual Guide to Elements and Design.

It’s clear that Keane, a garden designer and Kyoto resident for roughly twenty years, will explain “what makes a Japanese garden feel the way it does” largely through photographs. But what will readers be looking at? Pretty much Japanese Gardens 101, as each chapter bears the name of a concept or feature present in Japanese gardens like meandering paths, arbor bridges, streams, and more. A phrase further describing the main concept appears prior to the explanations in each chapter and those descriptions run the gamut from the profound (“A meandering path is full of surprises”) to the explanatory regarding the appearance of the garden (“Linking a distant part of the garden with the foreground”) to the borderline hilarious (“Japan is wet, thus the dry garden.”).

Read More


Mar 28

Hey JET alum parents! Discover Canada with your kids!

family travel canada book

Look no further for family travel inspiration

Jody Robbins, a Tottori ALT from 1994-1997, has just written her first book! Published in May, 2016. 25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit is the ultimate guide to family travel in the Great White North. This year Canada celebrates its 150th year. From coast to coast, north to south, the country will be aflutter with events and celebrations, making 2017 the best time to discover Canada with your family.

Families have different travel needs, and Robbins gives the scoop on affordable hotels, worth-it attractions and nature hideaways, in addition to piquing the interest of young travellers with quirky, kid-friendly facts. Catering to families such as her own, she’s pulled together 25 of Canada’s best family-friendly destinations and compiled in-depth profiles for each, providing more than a few ideas to keep even the most active of families busy.

She also offers loads of how-to advice to make family travel a more pleasant experience. Robbins reveals how creativity and managing expectations go a long way to rekindling romance, offers practical advice on how to see the world for less and dishes on how to survive long road trips.

You can support this alumnus by ordering her book online (it makes a great gift!) or sharing the word with your friends.

And please visit Jody’s blog Travels with Baggage for lifestyle tips and inspiration.


Feb 17

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Fred Korematsu Speaks Up’

"Fred Korematsu Speaks Up skillfully introduces a civil rights icon and other brave men and women to a new audience." (Heyday Books)

Fred Korematsu Speaks Up skillfully introduces a civil rights icon and other brave men and women to a new audience.” (Heyday Books)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagata-ken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia Sub-Chapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a master’s degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

On January 30 of this year, you may have noticed a certain bespectacled figure serving as the Google Doodle: Fred Korematsu. Possibly unknown to many of you (In fact, I didn’t know the name until several days prior to his being honored by Google), Korematsu was nonetheless an important civil rights figure of the 20th century and has gotten the recognition he deserves as in recent years, with Fred Korematsu Day being celebrated in several states. Now, younger readers are offered an informative look at his fight for justice.

Co-written by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi, Fred Korematsu Speaks Up documents the journey of the man who fought against the forced relocation of Japanese Americans to prison camps during World War II. The book provides details about Korematsu and his battle, but also about social movements and other groups that have suffered enormous discrimination, such as African Americans and Chinese Americans.

Much of Korematsu’s life story is told in poem-like stanzas, starting with an incident as a young man in which he was refused a haircut at a barbershop because of his race. Atkins and Yogi then take readers through significant moments in his life, from the personal (such as how Korematsu came to be known as “Fred”) to monumental events for the Japanese American community (like the bombing of Pearl Harbor and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing an executive order authorizing the military’s removal of people of Japanese descent from their homes on the West Coast).

Read More


Dec 29
"This graphic novel series arrests your attention, from the immersive quality of the art, to the highs of self depreciating humor, to the lows of isolation and despair that run through it. Those who have lived abroad will find a lot to relate to." (Top Shelf Productions)

“This graphic novel series arrests your attention, from the immersive quality of the art, to the highs of self depreciating humor, to the lows of isolation and despair that run through it. Those who have lived abroad will find much to relate to.” (Top Shelf Productions)

 

By Julio Perez Jr. (Kyoto-shi, 2011-13) for JQ magazine. A bibliophile, writer, translator, and graduate from Columbia University, Julio currently keeps the lights on by working at JTB USA while writing freelance in New York. Follow his enthusiasm for Japan, literature, and comic books on his blog and Twitter @brittlejules.

Everyone has felt out of place at some point in their lives. People who choose to live abroad sometimes make that their everyday. In Tonoharu, cartoonist and JET alum Lars Martinson (Fukuoka-ken, 2003-2006; Kyoto-fu, 2011-2016) illustrates a story exploring themes of human relationships through the experience of an English teacher in Japan on a journey of self-discovery. Told in three parts, the final volume was released in November and represents many years of work for Martinson that began to see fruition when he received the Xeric Grant for Comic Book Self-Publishers in 2007.

Tonoharu is a tale of several non-Japanese teachers of English living in the titular rural town outside of Fukuoka City, mostly from the viewpoint of a young American named Dan Wells. Wells feels out of place in Japan, but claims to have felt the same way back home without having the excuse of being a foreigner. The reader climbs in the back seat for an intimate road trip with him through his pursuit of purpose and success in his job and social life, privy to all manner of encounters from intimacy in the bedroom to traditional parades with locally made floats. In just one year, Wells encounters unique challenges in his work, frustrations with seemingly unrequited romantic interest for another American, confusion and alarm at the mysterious activities of other foreigners in Tonoharu, and worst of all, the inability to replace light bulbs in his apartment!

Tonoharu is full of quiet moments that when described may come off as unimpressive, but they are always captivating and powerful in the way the words and imagery captures the moodiness of imperfect exchanges between people that are not usually seen in glossier fiction. This quality is enhanced by a lack of narration—the framing story of Dan’s successor (also named Dan) features his narration, but in the main story the characters only express themselves by speaking to one another. Often the things they don’t say, their expressions and their body language, and the things they choose to say while alone, speak just as powerfully as the introspective autobiographical style of narrative-driven graphic novels such as Persepolis.

Read More


Nov 19

JQ Magazine: Manga Review — ‘Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon’

"If you are a lover of the weird or irreverent comedy mixed with supernatural horror, manga, and Japanese folklore-inspired fiction, then find the spiritual world portal of your choice to get your hands on a copy of Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon." (Drawn and Quarterly)

“If you are a lover of the weird or irreverent comedy mixed with supernatural horror, manga, and Japanese folklore-inspired fiction, then find the spiritual world portal of your choice to get your hands on a copy of Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon.” (Drawn and Quarterly)

By Julio Perez Jr. (Kyoto-shi, 2011-13) for JQ magazine. A bibliophile, writer, translator, and graduate from Columbia University, Julio currently keeps the lights on by working at JTB USA while writing freelance in New York. Follow his enthusiasm for Japan, literature, and comic books on his blog and Twitter @brittlejules.

Imagine coming home to find a stranger in your house. He acts like he owns the place, eats your food and drinks your beer, before leaving you reeling in confusion! Better send a letter to the Yokai Post for help from Kitaro, a charming character made by manga legend Shigeru Mizuki. Kitaro investigates strange phenomena and protects humans from ill-intentioned yokai.

Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro – Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon is a manga volume collecting seven more of Kitaro’s paranormal adventures. While this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone dive into the classic character’s adventures, your enjoyment can be enhanced by checking out Kitaro’s origin story featured in the first volume, The Birth of Kitaro, reviewed last year by JQ here. This book is one of several entries in a list of literary delights from Japan that Drawn and Quarterly has been bringing to America for affordable access. This volume was also translated by JET Alum and Shigeru Mizuki expert/JQ interviewee Zack Davisson (Nara-ken, 2001-04; Osaka-shi, 2004-06).

Like it says on the tin, in this book Kitaro encounters a uniquely urban yokai: Nurarihyon. This creature takes on the appearance of an unsettling-looking and self-important man to stealthily wreak havoc as mundane as forcing you to serve him your best snacks and as extreme as explosions in cities.

Many of the yokai Kitaro encounters cause trouble because it is in their nature, some have a need to feed, or have a human-like impulse that persists beyond the grave, but Nurarihyon is cut from a different cloth. He is simply cruel and makes mischief because of his hatred for humans. He also stands apart from others in Kitaro’s rogues gallery because he finds it repulsive that Kitaro helps humans and targets him for that reason. You’ll have to pick up the book to find out just how Nurarihyon plots Kitaro’s demise, and how he very nearly gets away with it!

Read More


Nov 12

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Womansword’

stone-bridge-press

“Even if Womansword is an unintended trip back to the ’80s, it is a fascinating read and a striking reminder of how language can reflect the general mindset and culture of society.” (Stone Bridge Press)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagata-ken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia Sub-Chapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a master’s degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

Sometimes, I might come across a book that makes me feel as if I don’t know anything about Japan. Not that I didn’t learn a lot about the country during my JET days, but that the book contains so much information, it puts to shame what I’ve learned about Japan.

Such is the feeling I experienced while reading Womansword: What Japanese Words Say About Women. First published in 1987, the book examines Japan through the language used to describe women and the terms frequently employed by women. This new 30th anniversary edition of Kittredge Cherry’s work seems to be the perfect setting to learn about women’s issues I had never thought of.

And it certainly was, although I got a feeling from the book that I once experienced while observing the fashion sense of people attending a flea market in Yoyogi Park: everything is stuck in the ’80s. (More on that later.)

Womansword is divided into seven chapters that address themes such as motherhood, sexuality and aging. It provides relevant information before reaching the first chapter as the “Preface to the 30th Anniversary Edition” includes several details on how the landscape for women in Japan has changed—and hasn’t changed. The good news: In 1991, for the first time in history, more than half of Japanese women had entered the workforce. And in 2015, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced several measures to reverse the country’s shrinking birth rate as part of his Abenomics economic plan. On the other hand, Japan ranked 105th out of 136 countries in the 2014 Global Gender Gap Report and in the following year—more than 30 years after the Equal Employment Law was passed—Japanese women still earned lower pay and fewer promotions on average.

Read More


Nov 8

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘I Want That Love’

"I Want That Love is a very enjoyable read that teaches the importance of friendship, love and tenderness. Young readers will also learn how life’s most important lessons can be passed down from generation to generation." (Museyon)

I Want That Love is a very enjoyable read that teaches the importance of friendship, love and tenderness. Young readers will also learn how life’s most important lessons can be passed down from generation to generation.” (Museyon)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagata-ken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia Sub-Chapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a master’s degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

During your elementary school days, you surely read about the primordial creatures you know as dinosaurs. But if you haven’t been reminded of the creatures that roamed the earth roughly 65 million years ago in some time, you might not realize that there’s more than meets the eye. Case in point: Tatsuya Miyanishi’s I Want That Love.

I Want That Love (the third book in Miyanishi’s Tyrannosaurus series of 13 titles that have sold more than three million copies internationally) tells the story of a Tyrannosaurus, who is described by the author as “the strongest of all the dinosaurs.” Not surprisingly, everyone is scared of him as he never fails at getting his way by force. But the good times don’t last—the Tyrannosaurus (whose name is revealed to be Mr. Rhadbodon)—is somehow sapped of his strength after being bitten in his tail by a Masiakasaurus.

As expected from someone whose identity is clearly tied to brute force, the Tyrannosaurus loses all sense of who he is, so he’s desperate to find any solution to the disaster that has befallen him. Fortunately, he receives help in the form of berries given to him by fellow creatures and he uses his newfound energy to protect his friends from other dinosaurs.

Read More


Oct 29

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — ‘We Are X,’ ‘Tonoharu,’ VAMPS, Momoiro Clover Z

 

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

From the silver screen to the stage to J-pop, November is just as colorful as the autumn leaves drifting through the air. Add these live events to the mix and you’ve got an irresistibly epic rundown.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Friday, Nov. 4, various times

We Are X

Alamo Drafthouse Downtown Brooklyn, 445 Albee Square West

$11

East Coast premiere! This award-winning documentary debuted at Sundance and SXSW earlier this year chronicles the back story of the hard rock band X Japan, as its star drummer Yoshiki prepares for a reunion concert at Madison Square Garden. While virtually unknown to U.S. audiences, Yoshiki has sold more than 30 million records overseas, where he enjoys an A-list following. Directed by Stephen Kijak (Stones in Exile) and produced by John Battsek (Searching for Sugar Man), We Are X includes testimonials from such high-profile X fans as Gene Simmons and Marilyn Manson. See Yoshiki and director Stephen Kijak in person for Q&A on Fri, 11/4 following the 7:30 p.m. show. Director Stephen Kijak appears in person for Q&A Sat, 11/5 following the 6:30 p.m. show.

Top Shelf Productions

Top Shelf Productions

Tuesday, Nov. 8

Tonoharu: Part Three

$24.95                                              

The long-awaited final volume of the critically acclaimed Tonoharu series from JET alum Lars Martinson (Fukuoka-ken, 2003-2006) rejoins Dan Wells several months into his tenure as an English teacher in the Japanese village of Tonoharu. As personal stresses push Dan to the breaking point, he decides to take an extended cross-country vacation to let off steam. His time away grants him a fresh perspective on his troubles, but upon his return to Tonoharu, Dan discovers that dramatic change has occurred in his absence. Will this upheaval render his new-found epiphany moot? With hundreds of beautiful, detailed illustrations that evoke 19th century line engravings, Tonoharu provides a nuanced portrayal of the joys and frustrations of living abroad.

© Hiromi Sonoda

© Hiromi Sonoda

Friday, Nov. 11, 8:30 p.m.

Sounds to Summon the Japanese Gods: Ko Ishikawa

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$20, $15 Japan Society members. A limited number of Lobby Seats are available for purchase. Please call the box office at (212) 715-1258 to inquire.

Step into a space where otherworldly sounds abound. Led by Ko Ishikawa, master player of the sho (ancient Japanese mouth organ) and internationally active contemporary musician, this program offers selections spanning from medieval gagaku (Imperial Court music) to works by acclaimed music composer Mamoru Fujieda. Ishikawa will be joined by Kayoko Nakagawa on koto and Ami Yamasaki on voice for this musical soiree, which also incorporates the sounds of fermenting shochu (Japan’s distilled alcohol), a highly sacred beverage in Japanese mythology.

Read More


Page Rank