Monday, 22 August 2016 09:41

Site update

Books from Japan was updated on August 22, 2016, adding synopses for 2 works of fiction, 3 children & YA titles, and 5 of other categories. (Italicized English titles are those of finished translations; others are tentative titles.)

■ Kōji Fukada, Fuchi ni tatsu

■ Shaw Kuzki, Hachigatsu no hikari, atokata
(The Trace)

Children & YA
■ Jishin Itsumo Project and Bunpei Yorifuji, Oyako no tame no jishin itsumo nōto: Kimochi no bōsai manyuaru
(Always Be Prepared Earthquake Notes: A Disaster Manual for Parent and Child)

■ Yūichi Kimura and Toshio Nishiuchi, Hotto hotto hottokēki
(Hot Hot Hotcakes)

■ Tatsuya Miyanishi, Nobinobi Ōkami
(Stretchy Wolf)

Other Categories
■ Manami Ikeda and Masakatsu Ikeda, Saishinban Uīn no yūga na kafe ando okashi: Yōroppa dentō kashi no genryū
(Vienna’s Elegant Cafés and Desserts: The Wellspring of Traditional European Confections [Updated Edition])

■ Akio Manaka, Vegetable: Manaka shefu no yasai no oishii “kotsu” reshipi
(Vegetables: Chef Manaka’s Tips for Bringing Out Their Best)

■ Daikō Matsuyama, Daiji na koto kara wasurenasai
(Let the Important Things Go Out of Mind)

■ Shinya Ogino, Shefu ga oshieru yasai no oishii hyaku-sara: Tāburu Ogino no deri-sarada
(100 Delectable Dishes Direct from the Chef: The Deli-Style Salads of Table Ogino)

■ Shizuka Shirakawa, Nichi-Ei taiyaku: Kanji no naritachi
(The Origin of Chinese Characters: Japanese and English)

Shizuka Shirakawa was one of Japan’s foremost authorities on the early development of Chinese characters, called kanji in Japan. This book, intended for the non-specialist, discusses the origins of 100 kanji included in the 2005, 2007, and 2008 versions of Shirakawa Shizuka kanji koyomi (Shizuka Shirakawa’s Chinese Character Calendar), compiled from extracts of Shirakawa’s published works. The kanji are grouped in 14 chapters by theme?“Natural Phenomena,” “Rivers and Streams,” “Spirits,” “Song and Dance,” “Military Affairs,” “Punishments,” and so forth?with Shirakawa’s commentary on each beautifully reproduced ancient character printed in both Japanese and English. Through his remarks on the long-ago beliefs and customs that helped shape each kanji in its original form, readers can see how characters still in use today reflect the lives, concerns, and wisdom of the ancients. It is a highly engaging book that transports readers back to the times when early civilizations first invented writing.

About the Translator
Alan Thwaits (1950?) was born in New York state and now lives in Boston. He earned his PhD in philosophy from Claremont Graduate University. From 1977 to 1981 he resided in Japan, where he worked as an editor and translator, and from 1988 to 2003 he held a position in the Editorial Department of MIT Press. In recent years he has worked as an editor and proofreader of reference books, and translates academic papers from Japanese and Chinese to English.

About the Translation Supervisor
Akihiro Sakatani (1962?) was born in Kyoto. He earned an MA in East Asian literary thought from the Graduate School of Letters at Ritsumeikan University in 1991, and since then has taught at a private middle and high school in Kyoto. He is now also a lecturer in Chinese literature at his alma mater. His publications include Nyūmon kōza Shirakawa Shizuka no sekai 2: Bungaku (Introductory Lectures to the World of Shizuka Shirakawa 2: Literature, 2010), and Shirakawa Shizuka o yomu toki no jiten (A Dictionary for Reading Shizuka Shirakawa, 2013).

Friday, 19 August 2016 11:51

Shizuka Shirakawa

Shizuka Shirakawa {birth_death} was born in Fukui Prefecture. After completing his elementary education, he took a live-in job with a law office in order to continue with his studies at night school, and was finally able to graduate from Ritsumeikan University in 1943 at the age of 33?on his way to becoming one of Japan’s foremost kanji specialists and Asianists. He became a professor in the Faculty of Letters at Ritsumeikan in 1954, and was named professor emeritus in 1981. He laid the foundation for what came to be called “Shirakawa etymological studies” through close readings of tens of thousands of oracle bone records and bronze inscriptions. His analyses of the forms of early characters broke new ground in the scholarly understanding of the religious and occult powers ascribed to them by the ancients. His life work is crystallized in what has become known as his “kanji dictionary trilogy”: Jitō (Character Traditions, 1984), Jikun (Japanese Renderings of Chinese Characters, 1987), and Jitsū (A Comprehensive Character Dictionary,1996).

In 2012, French cuisine chef Shinya Ogino of Tokyo’s Restaurant Ogino opened a second location, the café-style Table Ogino, conceived as a new kind of place where he would offer healthy “slow food” in a setting casual enough that diners could feel comfortable dropping in on an everyday basis. Each morning Ogino takes stock of the vegetables delivered to him from all across Japan and creates recipes for that day’s menu based on whatever has arrived. In other words, the entire menu is made up of “salads of the day.” This book compiles 100 delectable deli-style salad recipes?salads that can hold up over a period of time?that are the product of Chef Ogino’s daily inspirations. Also included are recipes for seven original dressings he has created.

Ogino designs his salads to bring out the best in the vegetable that plays the starring role, teaming it with supporting characters that offer a good balance. He enhances flavors with fruits and nuts, and brings it all together with a perfectly chosen dressing. The collection of recipes offers readers much to learn about the native goodness of the vegetables as well as the remarkable ways their flavors can complement one another.

Friday, 19 August 2016 11:43

Shinya Ogino

Shinya Ogino {birth_death} was born in Aichi Prefecture. After serving his apprenticeship mainly at small French restaurants in Tokyo, he struck out on his own in 2007 at the age of 28, opening his own Restaurant Ogino specializing in French cuisine. Then, looking for a way to offer his brand of “slow food” in a fast-food setting with take-out options, he opened the café-style Table Ogino in 2012. It became a hit, and additional cafés and take-out locations have since opened around the Tokyo area.

A chef trained in both French and Italian cuisine offers a diverse assortment of recipes for vegetable dishes. Sometimes, the simplest little trick can enhance your cooking dramatically. Chef Akio Manaka reveals his professional secrets for bringing out the best in vegetables through recipes that take advantage of such techniques.

He begins with sections on what to look for in the essential cooking utensils as well as in selecting ingredients. He then introduces his six basic “secrets” for preparing vegetables. Having thus laid the foundation, Manaka follows with 100 recipes that draw out the full umami flavor of the vegetable ingredients. The recipes are accompanied by photos showing details of key steps in the preparation, as well as beautifully composed shots of the completed dishes. Whether preparing an ordinary family meal or entertaining important guests, the home chef can turn to these recipes with confidence. The book is chock full of ideas and tips to delight beginners and seasoned cooks alike.

Friday, 19 August 2016 11:34

Akio Manaka

Akio Manaka {birth_death} was born in Saitama Prefecture. After serving his initial apprenticeship as a cook at two different French restaurants in Tokyo, his fondness for pasta led him to switch his focus to Italian cuisine. He learned the principles and techniques of Italian cooking at Ristorante Hiro, where he ultimately served as the restaurant’s head chef for a time before leaving to become the chef of Ristorante Agape. Since 2014 he has been owner-chef of Agape Casa Manaca near Ebisu Station in Tokyo.

Friday, 19 August 2016 11:30

Let the Important Things Go Out of Mind

In our age of tremendous material abundance, we are bombarded with ever more choices, and the many troubles that afflict us seem to grow ever more diverse as well?giving rise to indecision and paralysis. Author Daikō Matsuyama, an energetic young Zen priest gaining a following of late, draws on the teachings of Buddhism and Zen to delineate paths for overcoming a wide variety of problems people face in today’s world.

Matsuyama adopts a question-and-answer format for presenting 26 different frustrations, worries, challenges, difficulties, temptations, burdens, and so on faced by people of widely disparate ages in contemporary society. He organizes these into chapters according to the nature of the primary action required to overcome them: “Discard,” “Believe,” “Question,” “Entrust,” “Forget,” “Concentrate,” and “Move.” He frequently cites Zen sayings in his suggestions for how to resolve each problem, offering additional commentary as necessary to convey clearly what the saying means. For example, in the “Discard” chapter, Matsuyama takes up the question of what the person who feels he lacks any redeeming strengths should do, and his response is to “Discard excessive expectations.” Noting that one way to experience greater happiness is to reduce one’s desires, he cites and discusses the Zen saying Taru o shiru, which means to “know sufficiency,” or to “recognize that what one has is all one needs.” Through such nuggets of sage advice the book shows readers how to apply the wisdom of Zen to their daily lives.

Friday, 19 August 2016 11:26

Daikō Matsuyama

Daikō Matsuyama {birth_death} was born in Kyoto and studied in the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Tokyo. In 2007 he was named the deputy head priest of Taizō-in temple, part of Kyoto’s Myōshinji temple complex associated with the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism, and since that time has been engaged in instituting new Zen tours and other programs for foreign visitors. He personally conducts Zen classes for such visitors in English. He has earned praise as an effective cultural ambassador for Japan through his frequent lectures at embassies and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club as well as his other cultural exchange activities. In 2011 he traveled as a representative of Japanese Zen Buddhism to the Vatican, where he had an audience with the Pope and met with religious leaders from other faiths. In 2013 he participated in the “InterFaith?Run for a United World” marathon held under the patronage of the Dalai Lama in Luxembourg, and in 2014 he attended the World Economic Forum in Davos. He is regarded as a future leader within the Japanese Buddhist community.

Vienna, the political capital and cultural center of Austria beloved by musicians and artists over the centuries, has long been known for its cafés. This volume updates a previous edition of the book with the latest information on some of the venerable establishments that are part of the long-established café culture here.

The book opens with a chapter on several konditorei (confectionery cafés) that display the “k & k” designation as “Purveyors to the Imperial and Royal Court.” Featured first are desserts from Café Gerstner, including three torte recipes; these are followed by photos of beautifully crafted confections from Demel and Café-Konditorei L. Heiner. The next chapter follows up with eight additional establishments that have been in business for more than a century, including Café Central and Café Mozart, describing the décor and ambience of each and offering three more dessert recipes. After a brief sidebar on the nature of cafés and their history, the following chapter features “the most popular cake shop in Vienna,” Oberlaa Konditorei. In addition to photos of the shop’s finished products, readers are treated to a tour of the cakes being made, and three more torte recipes are included. Featured next are cafés in unusual locations?at the Hundertwasser museum and inside a former imperial greenhouse?and cafés as a place for getting breakfast rather than just tea and sweets. A chapter on five-star hotels includes cafés at the Hotel Imperial and Hotel Sacher and offers seven more recipes. The contemporary-design Orlando di Castello, which opened in 2009, and Cupcakes are among the shops featured in a chapter on newer establishments. Closing out the volume are a series of sections featuring several chocolateries as the perfect places to buy gifts for family and friends; recipes with step-by-step instructions and photos for reproducing elegant Viennese desserts at home; some useful utensils and ingredients to pick up; and a discussion of the history of Viennese sweets and their relationship with the Habsburg Empire.

Friday, 19 August 2016 11:01

Masakatsu Ikeda

Masakatsu Ikeda {birth_death} is a Japanese photographer who was born in Tokyo. After graduating from Aoyama Gakuin University with a degree in English and American literature, he worked as an editor for a publishing house before moving to Florence, Italy, in 1998. Since then he has worked as a photographer for magazine features and books about Italy and other parts of Europe. He has collaborated with his journalist wife Manami Ikeda on such titles as Sarudīnya! (Sardinia!), Rōma bishoku sanpo (A Gourmet’s Walking Tour of Rome), and Dolce! Itaria no chihō kashi (Dolce! The Regional Sweets of Italy). In 2014 the Ikedas launched Saporita, a Japanese-language Web magazine featuring Italian food and travel.

Friday, 19 August 2016 10:55

Manami Ikeda

Manami Ikeda {birth_death} is a Japanese journalist and editor who was born in Nara Prefecture. After graduating from Keiō University, she worked at a publishing house for a time before moving to Florence, Italy, in 1998. Since then she has published many articles and books about Italy and other parts of Europe. She has collaborated with her photographer husband Masakatsu Ikeda on such titles as Sarudīnya! (Sardinia!), Rōma bishoku sanpo (A Gourmet’s Walking Tour of Rome), and Dolce! Itaria no chihō kashi (Dolce! The Regional Sweets of Italy). In 2014 the Ikedas launched Saporita, a Japanese-language Web magazine featuring Italian food and travel.

Friday, 19 August 2016 10:47

Stretchy Wolf

Wolf is ambling along when he sees an apple hanging from a tree, seemingly well out of reach. Too bad, you think, but just then, bwannng, Wolf’s arm stretches all the way across the page to grab the apple. Next he sees a bunch of bananas hanging from a tree. This time, boyonnng, his leg stretches out and he knocks the bananas down with his foot. Whether he sees a fish in a pond, or a watermelon, or even a star high above, one part or another of Wolf’s body stretches out to capture the objects of his desire, one after the other. Author Tatsuya Miyanishi keeps the artwork very simple?mostly black on white, with other colors used only for the objects Wolf reaches for. The dynamic sense of movement in both the fun-to-say onomatopoeias and the suddenly?and absurdly?stretched body parts make this a wonderful book to read aloud to even the smallest child.

In Japan, earthquakes are not a question of if but when?which means it is essential to always be prepared. The original Jishin itsumo nōto (Always Be Prepared Earthquake Notes), published in 2007, has sold more than 100,000 copies. This is a new condensed version of the book designed expressly for parents to use in educating their children about disaster preparedness. Both editions were put together under the auspices of the Jishin Itsumo Project, which has been spreading the “not if but when” disaster-preparedness message both through printed works and on the Web ( The project’s Jishin itsumo nōto series of books began by giving voice to 167 victims of the Great Hanshin (Kobe) Earthquake of 1995, who described the effects of the quake as they personally experienced it, offering lessons learned as well as survival tips.

The book covers such basic questions as how earthquakes are caused, what it feels like when they occur, and what kind of damage they can cause. It then offers preparedness advice on how to prevent or reduce damage when an earthquake strikes as well as what to do under various conditions after the shaking stops. The voices of people who experienced the earthquake are woven in throughout, remarking on such things as how they escaped harm, how well this or that safety measure worked, and so forth. With young readers in mind, the language is kept simple, and copious illustrations aid understanding as well. The emphasis is on measures children can themselves play a role in implementing: e.g., “If you always carry a large handkerchief, it can be used as either a mask or a bandage in an emergency” and “Families should plan ahead of time where they will meet up after a major quake.” At the end of the volume is an illustrated list of emergency items families should consider acquiring, including suggestions for different purposes they can serve. Parents are urged to read the book together with their children and use it as a way to start conversations about what specific measures make the best sense for their family.

Friday, 19 August 2016 10:23

Yutaka Tsukimoto

Yutaka Tsukimoto {birth_death} was born in Tokyo and studied in the Faculty of Foreign Studies at Sophia University as well as the Faculty of Letters at Hōsei University on his way to becoming a magazine editor and writer. In 1989 he received the Botchan Literary Award for his story Kyatchi (Catch). He co-wrote the script for Shintarō Katsu’s 1994 stage adaptation of the “New Kabuki” play and film Shiranui kengyō (The Blind Menace), both originally produced in 1960.

Friday, 19 August 2016 10:21

Hirokazu Nagata

Hirokazu Nagata {birth_death} was born in Hyōgo Prefecture. After completing his master’s degree at Osaka University he joined a major construction company. In 2006 he resigned to start Plus Arts, an NPO that sponsors projects and events aimed at educating people, especially young families, about how to prepare for and survive a major earthquake.

Friday, 19 August 2016 10:20

Bunpei Yorifuji

Bunpei Yorifuji {birth_death} is a graphic designer and illustrator born in Nagano Prefecture. He founded the Yorifuji Design Office in 1998, followed by Bunpei Ginza LLC in 2000. In addition to designing book covers, he provides art direction for advertisements and a variety of other projects, including Japan Tobacco’s “Adult Smoking Manners” campaign. Among his solo publications are Shini katarogu (The Catalog of Death), Rakugaki masutā: Kaku koto ga tonoshiku naru e no kihon (Master of Imagination and Drawing), and Genso seikatsu (Wonderful Life with the Elements). His collaborations include Jishin itsumo nōto (Always Be Prepared Earthquake Notes) and Jishin itsumo manyuaru (Always Be Prepared Earthquake Manual).

Friday, 19 August 2016 10:17

Tomohide Atsumi

Tomohide Atsumi {birth_death} was born in Osaka Prefecture. He is a professor in the Graduate School of Human Sciences at Osaka University. He lived in Nishinomiya (between Kobe and Osaka) at the time of the Great Hanshin (Kobe) Earthquake of 1995 and got involved in recovery activities as a volunteer. Since then he has continued to participate in disaster-related volunteer activities and research. His publications include Borantīa no chi (Volunteer Knowledge).

Friday, 19 August 2016 09:59

Hot Hot Hotcakes

The story is about a family of field mice?five children and their Mama. Nonesuke is the big brother, and he’s followed in age order by sisters Nono and Nene, brother Zunta, and baby sister Mii. One day while Mama is out doing the day’s shopping, hungry Nonesuke decides to make himself a nice big hotcake, one of his favorite foods. He mixes flour together with an egg and some milk. (Turning a half-width page changes the picture of the bowl from before the ingredients are mixed to after.) He pours the batter into a frying pan and lets it cook for three minutes, then flips it over to cook the other side. (Again, turning a half-width page changes the picture from the batter starting to bubble on top to the hotcake flipping over). As the hotcake finishes cooking (scratch the picture to sniff its aroma), the sweet smell from the kitchen brings his sisters and brother running, so he decides to make more.

Nonesuke makes more batter and ends up with four hotcakes in all. Since he has four siblings, it looks like he might not get any of them. But they all divide their hotcakes into even quarters and give him one quarter-piece each. (Turning quarter pages moves the quarter-pieces from one plate to another.) When baby sister Mii comes with her quarter-piece, Nonesuke realizes he already has three-quarters of a hotcake on his plate, just like everybody else. “I don’t need any more,” he says. But if Mii takes her quarter back, she alone will have four quarters. They decide they’ll save the extra quarter-piece for Mama. Just then she comes home and she’s delighted with the treat.

Friday, 19 August 2016 09:56

Toshio Nishiuchi

Toshio Nishiuchi {birth_death} was born in Yokohama. He joined an animation company after graduating from the Asagaya College of Art and Design in 1982, but decided to strike out on his own as an illustrator and animator in 1985. He has produced animations for some of Japan’s best-known children’s television programs, such as Okāsan to issho (Together with Mom). He also illustrates picture books and provides artwork for a variety of educational products for small children. Picture-book titles he has illustrated include Sanae Kosugi’s Ton ton ton ton hige-jiisan (Tap Tap Tap Tap Beardy Old Man), and Konami Morita’s Oni no pantsu (Ogre Pants).

Page 1 of 170