Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
"I have the great honor of announcing that Roland Nozomu Kelts will be attending this year's NYAF! Roland is a half-Japanese American writer who divides his time between New York and Tokyo and publishes in both English and Japanese. He is the author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US. He is also a lecturer at the University of Tokyo, a contributing editor and writer for "Adbusters" magazine and "A Public Space" literary journal, and a columnist for "The Daily Yomiuri" in Japan. His essays and stories can be found in the books "A Wild Haruki Chase," "Gamers," "Kuhaku," "Playboy's College Fiction," "Art Space Tokyo," "Zoetrope" and others.
He is the Editor in Chief of the "Anime Masterpieces" screening and discussion series.
His forthcoming novel is called "Access," and when he is not writing, reading, lecturing or traveling, he can be found playing the drums in his band.
Mr. Kelts will appear at NYAF to introduce Yoshiyuki Tomino on his Friday panel as well as moderate AKB48's Saturday panel and Sunday's Yui Makino Q&A."
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
"The fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942, remains the single largest surrender of United States military forces in history, with roughly seventy-six thousand soldiers (most of them Filipino allies) handed over to Japanese captors. Japan’s attack on America’s Clark Air Base in the Philippines destroyed an entire airfield of unprotected planes and unprepared men. While the Pearl Harbor attack of four months earlier is universally acknowledged as a watershed moment of US involvement in the Pacific theater, Bataan, with its less heroic mix of humiliation at the hands of the enemy and betrayal by those in command, has remained shrouded in shame.
The aftermath of Bataan’s fall brought an event arguably greater magnitude and horror than the troops’ surrender: the so-called Bataan Death March, a sixty-six-mile trek to prison camps in Luzon forced on the prisoners of war amid excruciating heat and murderous violence. The captives’ ordeal lasted well beyond the march proper—survivors were dispatched to hellish prison camps in the Philippines, and from there into overstuffed, underventilated holds of creaky transport ships bound for detention facilities on the Japanese mainland, where men were treated as slave laborers. Throughout, many died for simple want of water. The misery would end only with Japan’s surrender three years later, after the firebombing of its major cities and the decimation wrought by two atomic bombs.
Tears in the Darkness is far more humane and capacious than its often-brutal source material would lead readers to expect. Authors Michael and Elizabeth M. Norman frame their story in multiple contexts. A Montana-born cowboy type named Ben Steele is their protagonist, but to the authors’ credit, they never exploit his story for pathos or easy answers. He is a true survivor, with all the ugly guilt and second-guessing that entails: “It’s survival of the fittest,” Steele realized early on in the march while hoarding a single canteen of water. Nor does his individual saga obscure the key questions at the heart of the book: Why and how could this happen? ..."
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
"Japanese architect Tokujin Yoshioka compared his native sense of design to a cube of tofu. Upon first encounter, the smooth, white, slightly pocked surface might appear inorganic or even inedible. But the first bite unleashes a richness of flavor and exquisite texture that can only come from hours of careful preparation.
From the outside tofu looks simple, almost unassuming: a block of soft pale stuff defined by its absences. There is no color, distinctive shape or scent to associate with it. But the act of eating fresh tofu – from the delicacy required when selecting a bite-sized cube with your chopsticks to avoid squishing it into bits, to the patience demanded of your palate to savor the subtleties of its taste – is unique and unrivaled.
So it goes with Japanese aesthetics, which are so often characterized by what’s missing. In traditional Noh theater (which dates back to the 14th century), the near lack of movement on the stage is critical to the desired dramatic effect. And there are no garish bouquets in ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement: just spindly stems and the hollow spaces between them, accentuating the occasional touches of floral color. In a three-line haiku, the white spaces surrounding the text are as eloquent as the printed aspect of the poem’s expression.
It has become de rigueur in our age to speak of leaving “small footprints” on the planet. In Japan, an archipelago slightly smaller than the state of California, “less is more” has been a tenet for centuries. As a senior professor at the University of Tokyo once told me, “the only way to leave a smaller footprint would be to die.”" [read the other two here]