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.
BooksThe Contemporary Tea House: Japan's Top Architects Redefine a Tradition
Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi The tea house is one of Japans most original buildingsa very small, very simple space consisting of tatami mat, tokonoma (the alcove where wall scrolls are hung and flower arrangements placed), ro (the sunken stove where tea is heated) and nijiriguchi (the half door through which guests enter) . For generations, Japanese architects have embraced the challenge of the tea house despite severe formal constraints. Now, this beautiful and fascinating volume takes the traditional tea house and turns it on its head.
BooksFalling Blossom: A British Officer's Enduring Love for a Japanese Woman
Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi The central focus of this well written, moving and excellently researched book is the decades-long relationship between a British Army officer, Captain Arthur Hart Synnot, and a Japanese woman, Masa Suzuki, spanning the early 1900s up to the 1940s. One of the subplots of this gripping narrative is the lives of their two children, Hideo and Kiyoshi. Hideo died during childhood, while Kiyoshi grew to manhood and was eventually posted to Manchuria. His tragic story is a typical example of the fate of countless Japanese captured by the Soviets in Manchuria and the meaningless waste of precious human life. It also illustrates the incredible hardships these men endured.
BooksKawada Ryokichi - Jeanie Eadie's Samurai: The Life and Times of a Meiji Entrepreneur
Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi Through a detailed reconstruction of Kawada's life and career, this book provides a remarkable case study of a single life impacting on developments in the Meiji period. The biography also takes us through different epochs. Not least, it contains the rare account of an East-West love story which unfolds through eighty-nine letters, all of which are transcribed and republished here.
BooksEast and West: China, Power, and the Future of Asia
Review by Sean Curtin Hong Kong's last British governor recounts his experiences helping foster democracy there and forecasts the economic future of Asia
BooksForeign Images and Experiences of Japan: Volume I: First Century AD-1841
Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi The first in a three-volume series, Volume 1 begins with the earliest written reports from China in the first century AD and ends with a survey of Dutch reports from 1841, which marks the point when 'Japan had been amply described in all major respects', and at a time when it began to be perceived as a less remote and more important country in Western eyes 'yet still emphatically closed to all foreign trade except that of the Dutch and the Chinese'. Furthermore, in little more than a decade later the number and variety of accounts were to increase greatly following the American, Russian and British expeditions of 1853/54 - accounts which are to form a key element of Volume 2.
BooksThe Blue Furoshiki
Review by Susan House Wade Though better known for his Japanese folding screen paintings, California-based artist and author Robert Crowder is also a writer of prose and poetry, which detail accounts of his Japanese experiences. In The Blue Furoshiki, he ventures through time and place to recount bygone chapters of daily life in Japan.
BooksThe Impact of the Russo-Japanese War
Review by Ian Nish Examining the wide impact of the war and exploring the effect on the political balance in northeast Asia, this book focuses on the reactions in Europe, the United States, East Asia and the wider colonial world, considering the impact on different sections of society, on political and cultural ideas and ideologies, and on various national independence movements.
BooksAtomic Sushi: Notes from the Heart of Japan
Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi Each chapter of this title focuses on some everyday human matter, such as love, death, bureaucracy, hygiene, food, toilets, commuting, education, marriage and memory. Japanese attitudes to such issues are explored through a mixture of light-hearted anecdote and trenchant analysis.
BooksAtomic Sushi: Reader's Comments
Reader's Comments by Ann Dent British readers will find Simon May's "Atomic Sushi" interesting and very amusing, any Japanese reader will find it insulting. It is stated on a preliminary page, "This is a work of fiction," so what is fiction and what is fact?
BooksChina and the Global Energy Crisis - Development and Prospects for China's Oil and Natural Gas
Review by J. Sean Curtin China's emergence as an energy importer has given rise to concerns that it is a major contributor to recent turmoil in energy markets. This book examines China's record of oil and gas development, its refining capacity, and energy prospects. The authors conclude that there are no fundamental reasons for anxiety about China's demands on the world energy economy, but they emphasize that its energy future will depend critically on a continuation of reform and internationalization. China and the Global Energy Crisis is a concise but detailed study of these issues.