The Japan Society
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The Japan Society Review

The Japan Society Review is published on a bimonthly basis, both online and printed (members are entitled to receive a copy by post). Since the starting of the publication in 2006, each issue covers a selection of Japan-related books and films, as well as theatre and stage productions, tv series and exhibitions. Its purpose is to inform, entertain and encourage readers to explore the works for themselves.

The Japan Society Review is possible thanks to the work of volunteers who dedicated their time and expertise to help us to promote the learning and understanding of Japanese culture and society.

Blossoms & Shadows

Books

Blossoms & Shadows

By Lian Hearn, Quercus Publishing, 2011, 400 pages, ISBN 978-0-85738-297-9; £12.99. Review by Susan Meehan. Blossoms and Shadows is an absolutely riveting piece of historical fiction which brings alive a fascinating period of late nineteenth century Japanese history. The book begins in 1857 and spans ten years, which are the twilight of the Bakufu (the […]

Sketch of Mujo (無常素描)

Books

Sketch of Mujo (無常素描)

Directed by Koichi Omiya (大宮浩一), 2011, 75 minutes Review by Susan Meehan. This documentary is the first to have been made in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami which wrecked the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan on 11 March 2011. Tohoku is the land of Omiya’s birth and his parents’ home so the disaster […]

Departures (おくりびと)

Books

Departures (おくりびと)

Directed by Yojiro Takita [滝田洋二郎], 2008, 131 minutes. Review by Michael Sullivan. Departures is based on an autobiographical book by Aoki Shinmon [新門青木] and features Masahiro Motoki [本木雅弘] as Daigo Kobayashi, a cellist who after losing his job moves back to his hometown and starts a new job helping ‘departures.’ In 2009 it won an […]

Arrietty

Films & Series

Arrietty

Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi [米林 宏昌], 2012, 91 minutes, Released on DVD 9th January 2012. Review by Michael Sullivan. In 1952 The Borrowers was written by Mary Norton, since then it has been adapted for the screen several times in America and the UK. As recently as December 2011 a version of The Borrowers starring […]

In Search of a Distant Voice (遠くの声を探して)

Books

In Search of a Distant Voice (遠くの声を探して)

By Taichi Yamada [山田 太一], translated by Michael Emmerich, Faber and Faber Limited, 2006 (originally published in 1989, Tokyo), 183 pages, £8.99, ISBN 0571229719. Review by Michael Sullivan Taichi Yamada [山田 太一] was born in 1934 in Tokyo, he has worked as a screenwriter for television and film. In 1987 his novel Strangers [異人たちとの夏] was […]

Samurai William: The Adventurer Who Unlocked Japan

Books

Samurai William: The Adventurer Who Unlocked Japan

By Giles Milton, Hodder and Stoughton, 2003, 399 pages, £7.99, ISBN 0340794682. Review by Michael Sullivan. Using extensive research of letters and other documents of the seventeenth century, this book tells the fascinating story of the first Englishman and the first English factory in Japan. In 1620 William Adams, otherwise known as Miura Anjin [三浦按針], […]

Legend of the Millennium Dragon (鬼神伝)

Books

Legend of the Millennium Dragon (鬼神伝)

Directed by Hirotsugu Kawasaki (川﨑博嗣), 2011, 98 minutes Review by Susan Meehan This anime opens with scenes of verdant ancient Japan. Amidst scenes of temples, shrines, mountains, paddy fields and old towns samurai, representing humanity, are fighting huge monsters with blazing red eyes otherwise known as “oni.” One is enormous, rivalling Godzilla in terms of […]

A Man With Style

Films & Series

A Man With Style

Directed by Yuya Ishii (石井裕也), 2011, 110 minutes. Review by Susan Meehan Director Yuya Ishii is only 27 and has already released a number of films including last year’s hit, the hilarious and poignant Sawako Decides (川の底からこんにちは). A Man With Style is a bittersweet family drama which has at its centre two fifty-something school friends […]

Tokyo Park

Films & Series

Tokyo Park

Directed by Shinji Aoyama (青山 真治), 2011, 119 minutes. Review by Susan Meehan. Tokyo Park, based on a novel by Shoji Yukiya [小路幸也], opens with university student and aspiring photographer Koji, played by rising heart-throb Haruma Miura (三浦 春馬), taking photos in a Tokyo park. He directs his lens towards a beautiful woman pushing a […]

Whisper of the Heart, Directed by Yoshifumi Kondō

Films & Series

Whisper of the Heart, Directed by Yoshifumi Kondō

Review by Michael Sullivan. This film is based on the manga by Aoi Hiiragi [柊 あおい] and was the first Studio Ghibli film to be directed by Yoshifumi Kondō [近藤 喜文]. Sadly Yoshifumi passed away in 1998 at the age of 47. This movie was number one in Japanese cinemas in 1995 and has now […]