September 01, 2017

Book Review: The Mask Carvers Son by Alyson Richman

Author:         Alyson Richman  
Publisher:     Penguin Group, New York. USA 2000.
                             ISBN:       978-0-425-26726-4 
                           Pages:       363

The art of Noh from the carver’s perspective

© Copyright., 2015.  All rights reserved.

Alyson Richman shares a wonderful story of a boy adopted into a family of Noh mask carvers who picks up the trade handed down by generations of the same family.

The story is based in Daigo a town three hours from Kyoto we learn about daily family life, nature, house routines (folding up futons and buck wheat pillows) and the role of each family member.

From the perspective of culture we gain first hand insights into Noh, its history, the components of a performance and the different kind of masks for each performer. The carvers life provides a view into the world of wood and tools, how to pick wood, what types of wood is used and how to carve a mask using a range of tools.

The traditions of naming a baby after birth and the Shinto ceremony involved and the impact of Buddhist traditions on daily life to always remember and honour the dead.

An interesting story that weaves between the characters, culture, life in Kyoto, strong traditions and the secret passions of a young boy.

Book Review The Mask Carvers Son by Alyson Richman 

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August 01, 2017

Book Review: Kill the Shogun By Dale Furutani

Author:        Dale Furutani  
Publisher:    Harper Collins, New York.USA.2000.
                        ISBN:          0-688-15819-6       
                      Pages:          230

Daily life in Edo (Tokyo) in 1603

© Copyright., 2015.  All rights reserved.

Dale Furutani writes about Edo (modern day Tokyo) in 1603 when the Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa ruled and was building Edo castle.

A historical samurai story about a ronin (a master less samurai) Kaze Matsuyama who lost his lord in the great battle of Sekigahara a major turning point in Japanese history.

We find him seeking to avenge his lord and lords wifes death and to find and take care of their young daughter who has been taken away by strangers.

Action and waiting were a natural balance, like breathing in and breathing out p201

The story takes us along the dusty streets, wooden houses, theatres and gambling dens of the sprawling Edo where we gain insights into politics, daily life, military rule. He particularly draws us to the many special things that made Edo great, for example: street vendors, entertainers, bath houses and the people.

A very insightful look into an important historical period with an entertaining view of the people, lifestyle, relationships and loyalties.

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July 01, 2017

Book Review: After the quake by Haruki Murakami

Author:                  Haruki Murakami
Translated by:       Jay Rubin  
Publisher:              The Harvill Press, UK. 2002
                ISBN:                     1860469671 
                Pages:                   132

Six short stories linked to the Kobe Earthquake

© Copyright., 2015.  All rights reserved.

A collection of fictional short stories
that are fun, light, personal, warm and engaging that share a wide range of views from Japanese society including love, relationships, pain, superstition, anxiety, & loneliness.

We get to indulge with six unique stories that take you away from the everyday and allow you to engage with the characters, places and settings of each story.

All the stories are linked to the tragedy of the Kobe earthquake.

                          Book Review

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