October Takeover: Asian Horror – Black Cats, Buried Secrets and Ghosts With Long Hair

~posted by David H. 

In 2002, the Hollywood film The Ring, starring Naomi Watts and directed by Gore Verbinski, opened to excellent box office, becoming a surprise hit. Though few were aware of it, The Ring was a remake of a Japanese film called Ringu (1998) that had been making a stir among horror fans. The success of The Ring started a wave of Hollywood remakes of Asian horror films, most of them inferior to the originals. Luckily, the box office success of the remakes meant the originals became available on home video where they’ve been scaring viewers ever since. Continue reading “October Takeover: Asian Horror – Black Cats, Buried Secrets and Ghosts With Long Hair”

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, by Gail Tsukiyama

cover-of-a-street-of-a-thousand-blossomsI haven’t really thought about the lives of ordinary Japanese people during World War II  until I started to read The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama. The concepts that were deeply rooted in my mind were how the war and Japan’s soldiers brought disaster, tragedy, and despair to the Chinese people and to the foreigners who lived in China at the time, as seen in Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanking or Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard. But the war also brought extreme tragedy to ordinary Japanese people.

The story starts in 1939. Two orphaned brothers, Hiroshi and Kenji, live with their loving grandparents. Hiroshi has a dream to become a great sumo wrestler, while Kenji is fascinated with mask-making for the Noh Continue reading “The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, by Gail Tsukiyama”

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”