Issue 93 (June 2021, Volume 16, Number 3)
The opening review of our June issue explores the fascinating life and career of Herbert Ponting, the photographer on Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole. Ponting’s travels in Japan during the Meiji period are likely to be of particular interest to readers and resulted in several photographic series and publications including his Japanese memoirs In Lotus-Land Japan. To learn more about Ponting and Japan, join us on Monday 16 August for our lecture with author Anne Strathie. Visit our website here for more information and to book.
Another captivating yet very different figure in Japanese culture is the yamamba, the mountain witch, part of a widely recognised “old woman in the woods” folklore. Reviewed in this issue is a new collective publication examining the history and representations of this female character in terms of gender, art and literature among other topics.
Two reviews in this issue focus on literary works recently translated into English. An I-Novel by Mizumura Minae is a semi-autobiographical novel using fiction to negotiate issues of nationhood, language, and identity between Japan and the US. The Decagon House Murders by Ayatsuji Yukito is a murder mystery story which follows the universal conventions of this classic genre, while bringing to it a distinctively Japanese approach.
This issue ends with a review of a publication on Japanese wild food plants written by journalist Winifred Bird. From wild mountain and forest herbs to bamboo and seaweed, from Kyushu to Hokkaido, this guide offers detailed information on identification, preparation and recipes to discover and taste this part of the Japanese natural world.
- Herbert Ponting: Scott’s Antarctic Photographer and Pioneer Filmmaker by Anne Strathie
- Yamamba: In Search of the Japanese Mountain Witch edited by Rebecca Copeland and Linda C. Ehrlich
- An I-Novel by Mizumura Minae
- The Decagon House Murders by Ayatsuji Yukito
- Eating Wild Japan: Tracking the Culture of Foraged Foods, with a Guide to Plants and Recipes by Winifred Bird
Cameron Bassindale, Katie Croft, Laurence Green, Susan Meehan and Riyoko Shibe.
Cover Image: A view of Fuji-san from a distance, across Lake Motosu, with kaia grass in foreground (Photograph by Herbert Ponting © A. Strathie).