Mishima’s Sword

Mishima’s Sword: Travels in Search of a Samurai Legend  by Christopher Ross.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I lived in a southern city in China called Guangzhou. At that time Guangzhou was more vibrant than ever.  People were pouring into this so-called Window of the South Wind city to look for opportunity. Many success stories were made…

Today when I think of the time I lived in Guangzhou, my deepest memories for the great city were not the many magnificent things that happened there. The images that often flash back to my memory about Guangzhou now are, surprisingly, the times that I was engrossed in reading Japanese literature in a small and simple apartment…

From Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji to Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country, The Izu Dancer, Thousand Cranes, and The Old Capital to Yukio Mishima’s Spring Snow…  I was immersed in the beauty of Japanese literature and fully enjoyed the world I was put in by the great authors. I was especially fond of Spring Snow. Just like Mishima believed that “most Japanese literature came from the tender-soul or feminine tradition, represented by peace, the beauty of elegance, and refinement,” Spring Snow led me to ponder this exact same belief.

Among modern Japanese authors of his time, Yukio Mishima was the most Continue reading “Mishima’s Sword”

Cherry blossoms bloom herald the spring

kanji for cherry blossom 'hanami'The appearance of cherry blossoms marks the arrival of spring in Japan, sending revelers of all ages outdoors to enjoy wine and picnic lunches under flowery pink canopies in the nation’s parks and orchards. One cannot delay cherry blossom viewing, or “hanami,” because the cherry blossom is like life: beautiful and tragically fleeting.

image-of-girl-looking-at-cherry-blossoms-courtesy-of-piero-sierraIn Seattle, consumption of alcohol on public land may not fly as it does in Japan, but the beauty and fragrance of the cherry blossom is just as sweet! The year the Seattle Center will be holding its annual Cherry Blossom and Japanese Culture Festival on April 18 – 20, providing folks in our area with a chance to welcome the spring in this centuries-old tradition.

If the beauty and barbarism, poetry and mysticism of medieval Japan have captured your imagination this season, you may be interested in these books and movies available at The Seattle Public Library.

 

Literature

A fantasy set in a world that closely resembles medieval Japan, this first book in the series Tales of the Otori provides an engrossing blend of history and magic that will leave readers anxious for the sequel. Our hero, Takeo, begins this story as a young man whose village was destroyed by an evil warlord. Tests of loyalty, romantic intrigue, secret cults, assassins, Continue reading “Cherry blossoms bloom herald the spring”