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Book Review: The Cherry Blossom Murder – A Josie Clark In Japan Mystery

September 29, 2014 Leave a comment

First in a series of books set in Tokyo!

cherry-blossom-murderIn popular manga and anime Tokyo Babylon, there is a character called Seishiro Sakurazuka who is a dangerous onmyoji posing as a friendly vet. He kills his enemies and buries their bodies under a huge cherry tree; in fact it is the only cherry tree that bears deep red blossom and even redder fruit. In The Cherry Blossom Murder, Londoner, Josie discovers a body under the cherry blossom and goes in search of the killer.

Josie enjoys all the pomp and circumstance of Tammy Izumo’s Tea Party, but doesn’t quite fit into Japanese society. She is a friendly sort, but Read more…

WIN NINGYO: The Art Of The Japanese Doll By Alan Scott Pate

September 21, 2014 8 comments

Hooray! It’s competition time again!

Ningyo - The Art of the Japanese DollFamed the world over for their intricate beauty, Japanese dolls (ningyo) have played an important role in Japanese art and culture. Ningyo: The Art of the Japanese Doll (read review here) is the first comprehensive book on antique Japanese dolls and figurines published in English. The book focuses on dolls in six categories:

  • GOSHO-NINGYO: Palace Dolls and Auspicious Wishes
  • HINA-NINGYO: Dolls for the Girl’s Day Festival
  • MUSHA-NINGYO: Warrior Dolls for the Boy’s Day Festival
  • ISHO-NINGYO: Fashion Dolls and Popular Culture
  • NINGYO IN THE THEATER: Entertaining the Gods and Man
  • NINGYO AND HEALTH: Dolls as Talisman and Tool

Read more…

Book Review: NINGYO: The Art Of The Japanese Doll

September 9, 2014 1 comment

The first comprehensive book on antique Japanese dolls published in English!

Ningyo - The Art of the Japanese DollNINGYO: The Art of The Japanese Doll, written by Alan Scott Pate, the leading expert on Japanese dolls in the US, is a stunning hardback coffee-table book published by Tuttle Publishing that focuses on an area of Japanese culture little explored by westerners.

More than a plaything, the Japanese doll is a decorative object that is the central focus of many festivals like the Hina Matsuri (the Girl’s Day Festival) which takes place in Japan every year in March. To the world outside Japan, Hina dolls with their elaborate well-detailed costumes are Read more…

Book Review: The Art Of The Japanese Sword: The Craft Of Swordmaking And Its Appreciation

August 28, 2014 1 comment

Like people and snowflakes, no two Japanese swords are the same!

The Art Of The Japanese Sword - The Craft Of Swordmaking And Its AppreciationWritten by Yoshindo Yoshihara (a third generation swordsmith) with Leon and Hiroko Kapp, The Art of the Japanese Sword is a beautiful large format book (effectively printed on glossy black paper with white text) that focuses on the production and understanding of the symbolic steel weapon once used by samurai and now admired by art collectors all round the world as an object of perfection, although many people use them to practice traditional Japanese martial arts like Iaido (the art of drawing the sword). Read more…

DVD/Blu-ray Review: Fairy Tail The Movie: Phoenix Priestess

August 22, 2014 Leave a comment

The first movie from the critically acclaimed Fairy Tail anime franchise!

Fairy Tail The Movie Blu-RayFor a series that has been long running, this is the first time there has ever been a full length movie made of it. So for the fans this has been a long time coming. The many adventures and different characters are what make this series a success as well as the other lands with different guilds which are covered in the series. In Phoenix Priestess the Fairy Tail Guild have to deal with a threat to the entire world due to one man, a cruel prince who wants to get his hand on the other half of the Read more…

Book Review: Nightshade – An Only In Tokyo Mystery By Jonelle Patrick

August 22, 2014 Leave a comment

First in a series of mysteries that could happen only in Tokyo!

Nightshade By Jonelle PatrickYumi Hata has returned to Tokyo after a stint in the U.S. She works as a translator whose only friend in the whole of the city is Rika. She keeps her from the total isolation she feels during her stay, but when she is found dead, Yumi feels alone again, the isolation and loneliness creeping up on her.

For most people, knowing a friend is what can make them question why someone so dear would kill herself and Yumi does this as she remembers what kind of girl Rika was. Rika had no problems, was happy and had no suicidal tendencies as far as she was aware. She could be wrong, but Read more…

DVD/Blu-ray Review: Branded To Kill – A Film By Seijun Suzuki

August 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Packed with wild ideas incorporating some of the most imaginative killings you’ll ever see on celluloid!

Branded to Kill Arrow FilmsDelirious, violent and bizarre, the perverse 1967 cult crime thriller Branded to Kill is widely regarded as being director Seijun Suzuki’s magnum opus, influencing major filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, John Woo and Martin Scorsese. It stands out as being both a nonsensical and exceptional piece of film art that has to be seen to be believed.

Jo Shishido plays professional hitman Goro Hanada aka No 3 Killer, the third best killer on the best killers list, who gets sexually aroused whenever he smells and eats freshly cooked rice – a fetish hated by his Read more…

DVD/Blu-ray Review: Jormungand – The Complete First Series

August 13, 2014 Leave a comment

One of the most highly anticipated anime series of 2014!

Jormungand Complete First SeriesThe story follows the escapades of Jonah, Lehm, Valmet and Lutz who all work for Koko Hekmatyar, an arms dealer who needs someone like Jonah on her team. Koko works with the HCLI an international shipping corporation who secretly deals in the arms trade. As she works with them, she sells weapons in secret in several countries while trying to avoid the local police as her work is regarded as illegal. Her team she is always seen with are bodyguards who were found in the military, but her newest colleague has another motive for joining them. He wants to find where the Read more…

Dressed to Impress – Netsuke And Japanese Men’s Fashion

An exhibition at the British Museum in Room 3 supported by The Asahi Shimbun. 19 June – 17 August 2014

Netsuke of a Chinese boy holding a mask for a lion dance. Unsigned, Japan, early 1800sTo coincide with the publication of the British Museum’s new book, ‘Netsuke: 100 miniature masterpieces from Japan’, by Noriko Tsuchiya, the museum is hosting a small exhibition, ‘Dressed to Impress: Netsuke and Japanese men’s Fashion’ sponsored by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

As traditional Japanese men’s clothing had no pockets personal effects had to be carried in containers (inrō) hung from the belt (obi). To hang the inrō from the obi a long cord (himo) was threaded Read more…

Theatre Review: ‘Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki’ (The Ghost Tale Of The Wet Nurse Tree)

The Heisei Nakamura-za company performs Kabuki at the Lincoln Centre Festival, NYC!

Heisei Nakamura-za Photo by ShochikuThe Lincoln Centre Festival performance of the Kabuki play ‘Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki’ (The Ghost Tale of the Wet Nurse Tree) took place in NYC from 7th – 12th July 2014 at the Rose Theatre. Having inherited the dream of their father Nakamura Kanzaburō XVIII, who sadly passed away in December 2012, the performance run was dedicated to him by his sons Nakamura Kankurō VI and Nakamura Shichinosuke II. Kanzaburō helped establish the Heisei Nakamuraza, a portable Read more…

DVD Review: Chrome Shelled Regios Collection 1

The world of tomorrow is an arid wasteland!

Chrome Shelled Part 1In the future we wonder what might happen if we become invaded by beings who want to ravage the world we try to live in, and Chrome Shelled Regios is one of many from anime history. The characters drive the story, and there are a good few that the viewer might care about, but others they may not as their personalities haven’t been fleshed out enough. It tells the story of several survivors of a future earth that has suffered the effects of living  with mutated beasts called Filth Monsters, (in the anime it translates as Contaminoids) and we see the story through the eyes of these survivors who have Read more…

DVD Review: Shady – A Film By Ryohei Watanabe

May 13, 2014 2 comments

 Watanabe manages to evoke the depression associated with being alone at school!

Shady DVD cover (Image: ©Third Window Films)High school life is a daunting time for older teens, but in Shady director Ryohei Watanabe successfully illustrates how bad it can get. The loneliness aspect is a large issue in most Japanese movies about school life and this is a good example of how an isolated person can be influenced by someone else. Here Misa Kumada and Izumi Kiyone are two girls who share the same pain of being loathed and bullied but for different reasons. Misa is seen as an unattractive girl who is the subject of much hatred while Izumi is the pretty girl everyone wants to be and as a result envies.  Misa sits at her desk and hides her Read more…

Anime Review: Ayatsuri Sakon aka Puppet Master Sakon

March 19, 2014 1 comment

Based on the manga series Karakurizōshi Ayatsuri Sakon written by Masaru Miyazaki!

Ayatsuri Sakon puppet-master-sakon-3If you love a good murder mystery anime, definitely check out Ayatsuri Sakon otherwise known as “Puppet Master Sakon.” Despite its airing in 1999, this anime continues to be one of my favorites even today.

Ayatsuri Sakon follows a young man named Sakon Tachibana. Sakon hails from a family famous for Bunraku, which is a traditional form of Japanese puppet theatre. Despite being the grandson of the great Bunraku master, Tachibana Zaemon, Sakon manages to remain a Read more…

DVD Review: Another Complete Collection (2012)

March 10, 2014 1 comment

A twelve episode series based on the novel by Yukito Ayatsuji.

Another DVD coverThere are some animes that hit you so hard, you will never forget them. They take you through twists and turns, and no matter how many times you think you’ve figured out what’s happening and what will happen, each time you are wrong. When it’s all over, you find out you were dead wrong. Another is one of those animes.

This show is the animated version of the manga that was illustrated by Hiro Kiyohara. Both works are Read more…

Anime Review: Hakuoki

March 2, 2014 2 comments

Yukimura Chizuru’s father holds the key to Japan’s bloodshed. She must find him!

Hakuoki  anime seriesThe Hakuoki series, which includes two seasons and a third season that acts as a prequel, is a romantic take on historical characters and events, with a bit of vampire/mysticism thrown in for good measure. The mystical nature of the show is not an unusual turn for anime to take, but this series manages to be both intriguing and action-packed while remaining Read more…

Review: Hunter x Hunter (2011)

February 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Remake of the 1999 TV series of Hunter x Hunter based on the manga by Togashi Yoshihiro!

Hunter x Hunter*Spoiler alert: I’ve tried to not reveal too many key details about the show here, but if you’re just starting the series and are trying to learn more about it, be aware that I have given a few big surprises away.* !

Even though the original anime series Hunter x Hunter came out in 1999, it’s easy to see why it remains Read more…

Book Review: The Thief By Fuminori Nakamura

December 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Translated by Satoku Izumo and Stephen Coates.

The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura translated by Satoku Izumo and Stephen Coates Nishimura is a seasoned pickpocket, weaving through Tokyo’s crowded streets, in search of potential targets. He has no family, no friends, no connections… But he does have a past, which finally catches up with him when his old partner-in-crime reappears and offers him a job he can’t refuse. Suddenly, Nishimura finds himself caught in a web so tangled and intricate that even he might not be able to escape.

When seen on the bookshelf the cover of black printed letters on bright yellow jumps out so it’s impossible to miss. The effect it has is perfect, and Read more…

DVD/Blu-ray Review: It’s A Beautiful Day (Kuso subarashii kono sekai)

November 20, 2013 2 comments

An Asian/American horror film directed by Kayoko Asakura!

It's a Beautiful daySet in California, It’s a Beautiful Day (‘Kuso subarashii kono sekai’), directed by Kayoko Asakura (‘Hide and Seek’), is an infusion of Asian and American horror with ample gory and brutal moments involving disfigurement that will gratify the most hardened splatter fan.

Ah-Jung, played by Kkobbi Kim, is a Korean student studying in America. She’s been invited by her Japanese friend Takako (Amagi Chika) to accompany her and a group of four other Japanese students on a trip to Read more…

Art Exhibition: Kabuki – Japanese Theatre Prints

November 11, 2013 3 comments

Come face to face with Kabuki theatre’s most famous characters!

Miya, from the series Tokaido gojusan-tsugi no uchiVenue: National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Date: 4th October 2013 – 2nd February 2014

The opening up of Japan to the rest of the world after Commodore Perry’s 1853 visit sparked a craze in the West for Japanese art and design. Called Japonisme it began in the late 1850s and peaked with and after what is considered by some the most pivotal event in the history of Japanese art in the West; the exhibition of Sir Rutherford Alcock’s collection of Read more…

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