Chasing Cherry Blossoms
about mearchive

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Abandoned libraries and ritualistic suicide.

Seasons are a-changing in Japan! Fireflies are lighting up the night sky, frogs are gossiping in the freshly-irrigated rice fields and my eyes are itching something criminal. PHOTO SEQUENCE:

There was a matsuri here in Ainan this Sunday, so the whole crew got together!

The forecast had called for rain, but the weather was scorching!

Two friends at a local food stall treated us all to friendship bracelets, which - in one of our more elementary school girl BFF moments - we all DEVOURED.

Yup, spring is here! And as May moves into June, I’m finding new ways to keep my life here fresh and interesting. 

For starters, I’ve begun reading a lot more books. When I first moved into my apartment here in Johen, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for an abandoned library. Books were spilling out from every cupboard and crevice. Sifting through the debris, I put some of the less appealing volumes aside (“The Case for Christ”, anyone?) and opted for some Japanese fiction by Haruki Murakami (“Kafka on the Shore”) and Yukio Mishima (“The Sound of Waves”). They both reminded me how much I love a good book. “Kafka…” is a pretty intense read: it’s like something of an extended riddle. Mysteries are layered on top of more mysteries and, whereas a typical fiction book would allow everything to be unravelled by the final chapters… that’s just not the case here. Instead, Murakami trolls your arse for 600-pages: reeling you in, making you salivate and then whopping a massive DICKHEAD stamp on your forehead. Of course, in reality, things are a little more intricate than that. Although the answers to the book’s riddles weren’t apparent to me on a first reading, Murakami has promised that there are answers to be found in the book. Having taken some time (and a few counselling session) to mull everything over, I think I may just have uncovered some of the solutions – but as Murakami has said himself, there’s no illumination without a re-reading. So, re-read it I will. (I urge you all to read it too, if only so you can explain it to me ONEGAISHIMASU).

“The Sound of Waves” was a much more straightforward affair, and really enjoyable, too. For all of its innocence as a novel about first love, its author was a staunch radicalist, and has become something of a cult figure in Japan since his death. A successful (gay) Japanese novelist during the 50s and 60s, he staged an attempted coup d’état of the Japanese government in 1970, only to be mocked and jeered by those he summoned to rise up, moments after which he committed a gruelling ritualistic suicide. It’s an amazing history… and I’ve already Amazon’d much of the rest of his bibliography. (Interestingly, the copy I found wedged in the back of a cupboard in my apartment was older than me, coming all the way from the 1960s; yellowed and cover-less, whenever I took it somewhere to read, it'd shed pieces of its skin like a mother animal laying eggs, desperate for a bit of its legacy to struggle on).

Before that, though, I’m pouring over another Murakami hon: his newest, 1Q84. At 900 pages, it’ll probably take me a while. Nonetheless, I’m interested to know: are there any books you’ve read recently you’d recommend? I seldom get comments here, but if you’re reading and you’ve got a book you think I should add to my “To Read” list, I’d appreciate hearing about it!

Enjoy spring while it lasts!

Image Hosted by


Blogger Douglassie13 said...

Hi James! I'm a new Nara-ken JET and I must say, your blog is AWESOME! I am reading it to while away the time before departure. Keep up the good work! I just read "The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett this weekend. Didn't think I'd like a detective novel but with all their running around using payphones and slamming one-liners I really enjoyed it. Cheers, Caitlin

May 30, 2012 at 5:54 AM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

i'm tellin' ya to get on goodreads! haha .. i want to read some more japanese lit, but on the girl with the dragon tattoo serious now (i know, little late there)

May 30, 2012 at 9:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Layout adapted from a creation by tuesdaynight / Click here to go home.