"You know what I think?" she says. "That people's memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive."
In Search of Haruki Murakami, Japan’s Great Postmodernist Novelist, a 50 minute documentary exploring Murakami's Japan and culture. via.
"There's something very shabby about a noble grave... Political power and the power of wealth result in splendid graves. Really impressive graves, you know. Such creatures never had any imagination while they lived, and quite naturally their graves don't leave any room for imagination either. But noble people live only on the imaginations of themselves and others, and so they leave graves like this one which inevitably stir one's imagination. And this I find even more wretched. Such people, you see, are obliged even after they are dead to continue begging people to use their power of imagination." - Yukio Mishima via Kashiwagi in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. On this, the anniversary of Mishima's transformation into a headless god, a collection of video links. [more inside]
"I began to realize that "robots"-- in all their various forms-- can really be seen as a symbol of a larger relationship between people and technology." In 1988, Frederick Schodt wrote about the Japanese fascination and use of robots in his book Inside the Robot Kingdom, curious by the disparities between American and Japanese manufacturing processes . In 1988, the American public wasn't ready for the book, or for robots. Today, Japan still has embraced robotic automation in a way that arguably no other country has. For more similar topics, Mangobot is a column that reports on Asian futurism.
Tohoku University's Kano Collection is an unparalleled collection of japanese books from the Edo period. The beautiful and grizzly Kaibou zonshinzu anatomical chart has been making the blogrounds lately but that's only one of the countless treasures the Kano Collection has to offer. Stumbling around near-blindly, like a non-Japanese reader such as myself, with only minimal help from the site, I have come across an amazing variety of beautiful objects, such as this picture book, a scroll with images of animals, city map, map of Japan, battle map, another picture book, the Kaitai shouzu anatomical chart and this picture scroll which has my favorite little scene I've come across in the collection. Whole days could be spent just surfing idly through the Kano Collection.
The Peleliu Project. The tiny Micronesian island of Peleliu was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. The U.S. invasion of the Japanese occupied island began in September of 1944, and was expected to last only a matter of days. Casualties on this 5 square mile island reached 20,000 by the end of the two-month struggle. U.S. soldiers were forced to pour aviation fuel into caves and ignite them in order to end the standoff of those who refused to surrender. One determined group of 34 Japanese soldiers remained in hiding until they were discovered in April of 1947. Pharmacist Mate 3rd Class Russell Fee returned from Peleliu with a fierce, uncompromising vision of America which would have a profound impact on the life and work of his son. Fifty-three years later, armed with his father's snapshots and diary which he had just uncovered, James Fee went to Peleliu to see with his own eyes the place where his father's vision had taken shape. The result of his five year quest is The Peleliu Project. more inside
"Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing direction. You change direction, but the sandstorm chases you". Murakami Haruki writes about love, earthquakes and -- in his new novel "Kafka on the Shore" -- mackerel raining from the sky. He is so famous in Japan that he was forced to flee the country, and now the rest of the globe (.pdf file) is fast catching on to his singular vision. More inside.
"In fact the whole of Japan is a pure invention. There is no such country, there are no such people".
Discovering Japan. As a perennial outsider at loose in Japan, writer Donald Richie captures the joyous freedom of being foreign. The foreign observer is likely to be happy only if he sees his foreignness as an adventure, and recognizes that he has given up a sense of belonging for a sense of freedom, traded the luxury of being understood for that of being permanently interested. Richie, the philosopher-king of expats in Asia for the past half-century, arrived in Tokyo in 1947 as a typist with the U.S. government and never really left, writing dozens of books , on Japanese movies, temples, history and fashion, while enjoying himself as an actor, musician, filmmaker and painter. The Japan Journals: 1947-2004 is a monument to the pleasures of displacement. Richie watchers can observe, more intimately than ever, a man who is generally happiest observing. More inside.
Memories of a Dog. Moriyama Daido's pictures are taken in the streets of Japan's major cities. Made with a small, hand-held camera, they reveal the speed with which they were snapped. Often the frame is tilted vertiginously, the grain pronounced, and the contrast emphasized. Among his city images are those shot in underlit bars, strip clubs, on the streets or in alleyways, with the movement of the subject creating a blurred suggestion of a form (warning: NSFW images if you scroll down the page) rather than a distinct figure. His best known picture, Stray Dog, (1971) is taken on the run, in the midst of bustling street activity. It is an essential reflection of Moriyama's presence as an alert outsider in his own culture. Moriyama is also a toy-camera enthusiast (his favorite is the Polga) . He has worked in the US, too: "N.Y. 71". (more inside)
Kodomo no kuni - children's book illustrations and songs from 1920s Japan. I found the artist's index the best way to navigate. (via the always entertaining quiddity)