Karana Blue

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Suspect
We Live in Water
Beautiful Ruins
These Days
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: Free Preview plus Bonus Material


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Posts tagged "japan"

Japanese mushroom library, Kyoto botanical gardens.

Japanese mushroom library, Kyoto botanical gardens.

(via booksturnmugglesintowizards)

Under the influence of Murakami, I arrived in Tokyo expecting Barcelona or Paris or Berlin — a cosmopolitan world capital whose straight-talking citizens were fluent not only in English but also in all the nooks and crannies of Western culture: jazz, theater, literature, sitcoms, film noir, opera, rock ’n’ roll. But this, as really anyone else in the world could have told you, is not what Japan is like at all. Japan — real, actual, visitable Japan — turned out to be intensely, inflexibly, unapologetically Japanese.

Sam Anderson 

Two years ago—fresh out of college and before I started living abroad—I would have scoffed at this paragraph. I would have thought, why would any educated person assume that one author could embody or reflect an entire culture? When I started traveling, those arrogant, accusatory questions I’d silently (or, if the mood struck, vocally) pointed at others turned to face me: I caught myself making assumptions based on things I’d read or heard about in the news, even after years of training myself to do otherwise. Alas, arm-chair open-mindedness isn’t the same thing as experience-tested open-mindedness; and I had to work really hard to keep a fresh perspective. 

This article is fantastic—not just because it’s about Murakami, whose work I’m kind of obsessed with—but for the author’s choice to preface what he learned with what he didn’t know. He also offers great insights into how and why Murakami differs from most Japanese novelists. Highly recommended.  

bakedpi:

Valentine’s Day in Japan 
I decided to begin my afternoon study session by reading about Valentine’s Day traditions in Japan, and managed to snatch up some new vocabulary in the process. 
Valentine’s Day (バレンタインデイ) became popular in Japan during the 1950s, thanks to a chocolate company’s advertising campaign for the Isetan department store in Tokyo. By the 1970s, the Chocolate and Cocoa Association of Japan had declared February 14th the “day of chocolates,” and since then, the holiday has become synonymous with chocolate (チョコレート). 
Unlike in western countries, however, women are the ones who buy gifts on Valentine’s Day. They’re expected to give chocolates to their coworkers, friends, and family, in addition to their significant others. The type and quality of the chocolate will vary, depending on the relationship. 
A brief overview of the chocolate hierarchy: 
“Obligation Chocolate” or 義理チョコ (ぎりチョコ): standard, store-bought chocolate given to classmates or co-workers, so that no one feels left out 
“Friends Chocolate”  or 友チョコ (ともチョコ) : given as a sincere gift to close friends; often exchanged among girls
“Family Chocolate” or ファミリーチョコ : given to family members 
“Beloved Chocolate”  or 本命チョコ (ほんめいチョコ : homemade (手作りチョコ) or expensive chocolate given to significant others or crushes; often followed by a declaration of love 
On March 14, men return the favor on White Day (ホワイトデー)by giving their significant others white chocolate and usually more expensive gifts or other sweets (お菓子). Men typically give less  義理チョコ (“obligation chocolate”), but they’re expected to provide gifts that exceed the monetary value of theirs.  
Click through the links for further reading. This blog post has more Valentine’s Day-related vocabulary, for those interested. See other Japanese language-related posts. 
[Note: I’m a beginner Japanese language student, so if you notice any mistakes in my posts, please don’t hesitate to send me a message.] 
ハッピーバレンタインデー (Happy Valentine’s Day), Tumblr lovers!




Image: littlemisspaintbrush 

bakedpi:

Valentine’s Day in Japan 

I decided to begin my afternoon study session by reading about Valentine’s Day traditions in Japan, and managed to snatch up some new vocabulary in the process. 

Valentine’s Day (バレンタインデイ) became popular in Japan during the 1950s, thanks to a chocolate company’s advertising campaign for the Isetan department store in Tokyo. By the 1970s, the Chocolate and Cocoa Association of Japan had declared February 14th the “day of chocolates,” and since then, the holiday has become synonymous with chocolate (チョコレート)

Unlike in western countries, however, women are the ones who buy gifts on Valentine’s Day. They’re expected to give chocolates to their coworkers, friends, and family, in addition to their significant others. The type and quality of the chocolate will vary, depending on the relationship

A brief overview of the chocolate hierarchy: 

  • “Obligation Chocolate” or 義理チョコ (ぎりチョコ): standard, store-bought chocolate given to classmates or co-workers, so that no one feels left out 
  • “Friends Chocolate”  or 友チョコ (ともチョコ) : given as a sincere gift to close friends; often exchanged among girls
  • “Family Chocolate” or ファミリーチョコ : given to family members 
  • “Beloved Chocolate”  or 本命チョコ (ほんめいチョコ : homemade (手作りチョコ) or expensive chocolate given to significant others or crushes; often followed by a declaration of love 

On March 14, men return the favor on White Day (ホワイトデー)by giving their significant others white chocolate and usually more expensive gifts or other sweets (お菓子). Men typically give less  義理チョコ (“obligation chocolate”), but they’re expected to provide gifts that exceed the monetary value of theirs.  

Click through the links for further reading. This blog post has more Valentine’s Day-related vocabulary, for those interested. See other Japanese language-related posts

[Note: I’m a beginner Japanese language student, so if you notice any mistakes in my posts, please don’t hesitate to send me a message.

ハッピーバレンタインデ (Happy Valentine’s Day), Tumblr lovers!

Image: littlemisspaintbrush 

The Japanese language acquires much of its beauty and strength from indirectness—or what English-speakers call vagueness, obscurity, or implied meaning. Subjects are often left unmentioned in Japanese sentences, and onomatopoeia, with vernacular sounds suggesting meaning, is a virtue often difficult if not impossible to replicate in English.

Alternatively, English is often lauded for its specificity. Henry James advised novelists to find the figure in the carpet, implying that details and accuracy were tantamount to literary expression.

Roland Kelts - Lost in Translation? 
People get hurt and close their minds, but as time passes, they gradually open up, and they grow as they repeat that. This novel is about growth.
Haruki Murakami on his new novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (via murakamistuff)

whatsthecatreading:

Reading nooks with views of the hip Shimokitazawa neighbourhood in Tokyo, Japan

A quick hop from Shibuya and Shinjuku, Shimokitazawa is a nice change of pace from the craziness of the big city. We stumbled upon this little shop selling books and curiosities with seating areas where one can take in the scene over a cuppa, and feel safe about burying one’s face in a book and being lost in thoughts.

murakamistuff:

The print run of Haruki Murakami’s new novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage has been upped to 1 million copies in a matter of mere days. It’s on its way to become the bestselling Japanese book of recent years.

vintageanchor:

Japanese Race to Read New Murakami Novel


JAPANESE salarymen interrupted their commutes to buy Haruki Murakami’s new novel, as papers and broadcasters raced to give the first review of one of the most eagerly anticipated books of the year. Stores opened early in Tokyo, boasting special stands stacked high with the hardback books, as businessmen, housewives and students rushed to get a copy. But the new novel, Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to Kare no Junrei no Toshi (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage), was unveiled first to a dedicated band of followers at midnight.

Readers flocked to Tokyo’s Daikanyama T-Site bookstore, which flung open its doors at exactly 12 am, bringing Murakami into that select band of authors — including Harry Potter writer JK Rowling — who can command late night loyalty. Sanseido bookstore temporarily became “Murakami Haruki-do (store)”, installing a new name board to mark the release of the eagerly awaited novel.
Fans were told virtually nothing about the book ahead of the release, adding to the mystique of an author who delights in setting riddles for characters and readers alike. A skim reading of the work reveals it is the story of a young man struggling with an ordeal in his past, who uses the support offered by a romance to get back on his feet. The mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun managed a short article on the 370-page book in its morning editions.

Breakfast television programmes showed journalists who had been at their desks all night reading. “It’s gripping,” said one NHK reporter, adding he was mid-way through. The Asahi Shimbun posted what it called a “super-quick” review on its website at 7:46 am. “This is a story about a man who tries to get back into his life again,” the review said. “You see the strength of a person who tries to overcome the feelings of loss and loneliness that he had amassed deep inside of himself,” the Asahi said.

By Friday evening, online book reviewer Kazunari Yonemitsu revealed more about the story’s plot including the secret of “colourless Tsukuru Tazaki” and an astonishing development involving a murder. “I don’t think I would be criticised if I say this is the first mystery novel by Murakami,” Yonemitsu wrote. The book’s cover — featuring American artist Morris Louis’s “Pillar of Fire” — was also the subject of debate on the micro-blog Twitter.

Ryosuke Kawai, 26, who was one of the first to get his copy at the midnight event said he had been caught off guard by its colourful stripes. “The title says ‘colourless’. What does this illustration mean? I cannot wait to read it,” he said excitedly. Some observers had speculated the title may be a deliberate echo of a collection of piano pieces called “Years of Pilgrimage” by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. Twitter users praised the author for the excitement he had been able to engender with the book in a nation of people hooked to smartphones.

vintageanchor:

Fans of Japanese author Haruki Murakami buy his newly published book in Tokyo on April 12, 2013.  More here.

(Photo: AFP, Yoshikazu Tsuno)

theweekmagazine:

  • In the ’50s, when chocolate companies began encouraging people to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Japan, a mistranslation from one company gave people the idea that it was customary for women to give chocolate to men on the holiday. And that’s what they do to this day. On February 14, the women of Japan shower their men with chocolate hearts and truffles, and on March 14 the men return the favor. An all-around win for the chocolate companies!

More…

picadorbookroom:

vicemag:

Sewing for the Heart

Art by Kike Besada.

Yoko Ogawa writes creepy, ominous gothic novels and stories—sort of like a Japanese Flannery O’Connor or Shirley Jackson. Except sexier and a lot more Asian. She came to prominence in the late 80s in her native Japan and has since written more than 20 works of fiction and nonfiction, all of them commercially and critically viable.

Hotel Iris (2010), for instance, tells the story of Mari, a teenage girl who works in a desolate hotel by the ocean. When she falls into a twisted romance with an older man, a translator of Russian novels who may or may not have murdered his wife and who also likes to beat and humiliate Mari during sex, the teenager has a realization: “It occurred to me that I had never heard such a beautiful voice giving an order,” she thinks. “It was calm and imposing, with no hint of indecision. Even the word ‘whore’ was somehow appealing.”

“Sewing for the Heart” is from Yoko’s new collection, Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales (Picador February 2013), and it’s as perversely tantalizing as anything she’s written. In the story, a comely cabaret singer with the outlandish birth defect of a heart that developed outside her body hires a reclusive bag maker to sew a satchel to protect the misplaced organ. 

We’ve paired this story with Spanish artist Kike Besada’s collages. Kike dug through old medical journals that he found in an NYC thrift store and cut out pictures of bags, hearts, hospitals, and all sorts of other things in order to come up with just the right macabre imagery for a story that is heartfelt in the most literal sense.

“Dr. Y from Respiratory Medicine. Dr. Y from Respiratory Medicine. Please contact the pharmacy immediately.”

The public-address system had been repeating this announcement for some time. I wondered who Dr. Y was and where he could be, as I studied the hospital directory. Central Records, Electroshock Clinic, Conference Center, Endoscopy… It was all like a foreign language to me.

“Why do they keep paging this Dr. Y?” I asked the woman behind the information desk.

“No one’s seen him this morning,” she said. She seemed annoyed by my question, and I was sorry I had bothered her.

“Could you tell me where to find the cardiac ward?” I said, getting to my real question. I pronounced each word slowly and carefully, hoping to quiet the pounding of my heart.

“Take that elevator to the sixth floor.” She pointed past a crowd of people gathered in front of admitting; I noticed her nail polish was chipped.

*

I am a bag maker. For more than 20 years now I’ve kept a shop near the train station. It’s just a small place, but it has a nice display window facing the street. Inside, there are tables for the bags and a mirror, and a workshop in back, behind a curtain, with shelves for my materials. The window features a few purses, an ostrich handbag, and a suitcase. A jauntily posed mannequin clutches one of the purses, but her face is covered in a fine layer of dust since I haven’t changed the window in years.

I live on the second floor, above the shop. My apartment has just two rooms—an eat-in kitchen and a living room that doubles as my bedroom—but the place is bright and pleasant. On clear afternoons, the sun streams in through the window and I have to move the hamster’s cage under the washstand. Hamsters don’t like direct sunlight.

In the evening, after closing shop, I go upstairs, take off my work clothes, shower, and eat my dinner. This takes next to no time. When you live alone as I have for many years, daily life only becomes simpler and simpler. It’s been a long time since I’ve cleaned up the bathroom for someone, or changed the towels, or so much as made dressing for my salad. I have only myself to please, and that doesn’t take much.

But compared to the world upstairs, my life with my bags below is quite rich. I never weary of them, of caressing and gazing at my wonderful creations. When I make a bag, I begin by picturing how it will look when it’s finished. Then I sketch each imagined detail, from the shiny clasp to the finest stitches in the seams. Next, I transfer the design to pattern paper and cut out the pieces from the raw material, and then finally I sew them together. As the bag begins to take shape on my table, my heart beats uncontrollably and I feel as though my hands wield all the powers of the universe.

Continue

“Yoko Ogawa writes creepy, ominous gothic novels and stories—sort of like a Japanese Flannery O’Connor or Shirley Jackson. Except sexier and a lot more Asian.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. 

‘I think that from very early ages we [in America] see struggle as an indicator that you’re just not very smart,’ Stigler says. ‘It’s a sign of low ability — people who are smart don’t struggle, they just naturally get it, that’s our folk theory. Whereas in Asian cultures they tend to see struggle more as an opportunity.’ In Eastern cultures, Stigler says, it’s just assumed that struggle is a predictable part of the learning process. Everyone is expected to struggle in the process of learning, and so struggling becomes a chance to show that you, the student, have what it takes emotionally to resolve the problem by persisting through that struggle…

Granting that there is a lot of cultural diversity within East and West and it’s possible to point to counterexamples in each, Stigler still sums up the difference this way: For the most part in American culture, intellectual struggle in schoolchildren is seen as an indicator of weakness, while in Eastern cultures it is not only tolerated but is often used to measure emotional strength.

Jim Stigler, a professor of psychology at UCLA, describes the differences between Eastern and Western approaches to elementary education in an interview with NPR

Rather than arguing that the Eastern education system is better, or vice versa, NPR suggests that both systems can learn from each other. 

(via polidigitalaffairs)

sweetvisage:

Ikenaga Yasunari’s paintings are my new favorite thing.

Murakami on Murakami

  • Some people think literature is high culture and that it should only have a small readership. I don’t think so… I have to compete with popular culture, including TV, magazines, movies and video games. - Time Magazine, 2002
  • For me, writing a novel is like having a dream. Writing a novel lets me intentionally dream while I’m still awake. I can continue yesterday’s dream today, something you can’t normally do in everyday life.
  • Whenever I write a novel, music just sort of naturally slips in (much like cats do, I suppose).
  • I get up early in the morning, 4 o’clock, and I sit at my desk and what I do is just dream. After three or four hours, that’s enough. In the afternoon, I run. - San Francisco Chronicle, 2008
  • My writing style rarely depends on the character of the Japanese language. So, I think what is lost in the process of translation is relatively little - Japan Times, 2008

austin360:

The Chinese New Year begins Monday and The Year of the Dragon brings extra good fortune.

But no fortune cookies?

Despite their prevalence at Chinese restaurants throughout America, fortune cookies are an American cultural phenomenon with roots not in China, but Japan.