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.
BooksJapanese POWs in Siberia, Unfinished Tragedy [シベリア抑留 ― 未完の 悲劇]
By Toshio Kurihara [栗原 俊雄], Iwanami Shinsho [岩波新書], 2009, 211 pages, 735 yen, ISBN-10: 4004312078. Review by Fumiko Halloran. On 9 August 1945, six days before Japan’s surrender to the Allied forces in World War II, the Soviet Army began a massive attack on Japan’s Kwantung Army [関東軍] in Manchuria [満州国] in northeast China. Some […]
BooksTokyo Commute, Japanese Customs and way of Life viewed from the Odakyu Line
By A. Robert Lee with line compositions in colour by Yuriko Yamamoto, Renaissance Books, Folkestone, 2011, 214 pages including glossary, £16.00, ISBN 978-1-89823-06-3. Review for the Japan Society by Sir Hugh Cortazzi. This is a fun book containing amusing vignettes. Readers who have lived in the Tokyo suburbs and commuted daily on one of the […]
BooksReimagining Japan The Quest for a Future That Works
Edited by McKinsey & Company (Executive editors: Clay Chandler, Heang Chhor, and Brian Salsberg), VIZ Media, LLC, San Francisco, 2011, 448 pages including a large number of photographs, US$38.99, ISBN 13:978-1-4215-4086-3 and ISBN10: 1-4215-4086-X. Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi. This book brings together essays about Japan and its future by almost ninety different authors.
Films & SeriesAkunin [Villain] [悪人]
Directed by Sang-il Lee (李相日), 2010, 139 minutes Review by Susan Meehan. It is five years since the release of Sang-il Lee’s hugely enjoyable Hula Girls [read our review on issue 11], a Full Monty-style feel-good film replete with social commentary and the only one of his works I’d seen. I was, naturally, looking […]
BooksAbandoned Japanese in Postwar Manchuria: The Lives of War Orphans and Wives in Two Countries
Abandoned Japanese in Postwar Manchuria: The Lives of War Orphans and Wives in Two Countries by Yeeshan Chan, Routledge (Japan Anthropology Workshop Series), 2011, 208 pages, £85.00, ISBN: 0415591813. This is a superbly researched work about the lives and experiences of the Japanese women and children who were abandoned in Manchuria at the end of […]
BooksThe Blue Sky: A Tale of Christian Descendants at the end of Tokugawa Era [青い空 幕末キリシタン類族伝]
The Meiji Restoration in 19th century Japan not only overthrew the Shogun’s rule but rewrote the nation’s religious map. That propelled the emperor into a deity whose absolute authority was crafted by the founders of the new regime for political purposes. This is the basic theme in Yasuhisa Ebisawa’s best-selling novel.
BooksThe Etchings of Bernard Leach
By Simon Olding, with a foreword by Emmanuel Cooper, Crafts Study Centre, University of the Creative Arts, and the Leach Pottery, St Ives, 2010, 135 pages, 76 plates of Leach’s etchings, ISBN 978-0-954374-8-9. Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi. This book was launched at Daiwa House in London on 23 November 2010 with an explanatory talk […]
Books2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake
Originally called Quakebook on Twitter, 2:46 is a collection of stories about the tsunami and earthquake, which exploded onto the book scene in March of 2011. This was a result of one individual’s simple question to Twitter users: “What can we do?” Whilst many people the world over sat and watched the unfolding disaster on TV and newspapers not knowing how to help, 2:46 got crowdsourcing.
BooksThe Russian Protocols of Zion in Japan: Yudayaka/Jewish Peril Propaganda and Debates in the 1920s
The 1920s were a crucial period in modern Japanese history, when new and revolutionary western ideologies, like communism and fascism, entered Japan and found adherents there. Anti-Semitism was one of those western ideologies to arrive at that time. It offered a simplistic explanation of the perplexing turmoil of the world. It appealed to conservatives alarmed about communist subversion and to those attracted by conspiracy theories.
BooksThe Ideologies of Japanese Tea: Subjectivity, Transience & National Identity
Cross explains that his book “maps how the pleasures of tea were useful in the invention of a particular form of Japaneseness. Tea precepts such as purity, harmony and respectful appreciation of social stability will be shown to be coercive forces that became keywords in the official definition of wartime Japanese identity, a sacrament that demanded the ultimate sacrifice.”