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Issue 78 (December 2018, Volume 13, Number 6)

Issue 78 (December 2018, Volume 13, Number 6)

Welcome to the final issue of The Japan Society Review in 2018. This year has provided wonderful opportunities to read and learn about Japan through publications, films and events and in the Review we have covered 29 of them, from art exhibitions to academic books, literature, and theatre. The Japan Society is extremely grateful to all of its reviewers for giving up their time and expertise. They transmit their knowledge and passion about Japan in their reviews and this issue is especially dedicated to them.

The issue opens with a review of British Foreign Secretaries and Japan 1850-1990, a volume published by Renaissance Books and the Japan Society that was presented at our Annual Meeting in July 2018. Compiled and edited by Sir Hugh Cortazzi and Professor Antony Best, this book is the latest addition to the Japan Society’s series devoted to aspects of Anglo-Japanese relations which includes ten volumes of Britain & Japan: Biographical Portraits as well as British Envoys in Japan. The essays included in this work show us “how the Anglo-Japanese relationship played out in Whitehall through the careers of the successive foreign secretaries”.

Also dealing with international relations but from a very different, individual perspective, A Tokyo Romance is the autobiographical account by American writer and historian Ian Buruma of his time spent in Japan through the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Buruma explores the beginning of his life-long love and fascination with Japanese culture, focusing on his experiences as a photojournalist and his first hand contact with radical filmmaking and avant-garde theatre.

With references to Japanese linguistics, art and modern popular culture, Ninja: Unmasking the Myth is an entertaining and informative study of one of the most celebrated figures of Japanese imaginary, the ninja or shinobi. The author, Stephen Turnbull, exposes the myths surrounding these figures and provides ninja enthusiasts and novices with a clear and thought- provoking introduction to its elusive history.

For those readers thinking of travelling to Japan soon, the new guide book Japan – 100 Hidden Towns can enhance your journey via side trips to places off the beaten track. Well researched and organised, this guide contains information about nature spots, festivals, museums, food and drink, and contains beautiful, photographs and useful phrases in Japanese.

We conclude this issue with a review of the film Shoplifters, the latest work of Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu. Awarded with the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival in 2018, Shoplifters is a heart-warming and unusual story of human affection which also provides a powerful critique of Japanese contemporary society.