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December 8th: The 50th Anniversary of "The Inland Sea" by Donald Richie

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"The Inland Sea" by Donald Richie is among the finest books ever written about Japan (some would say it's the finest) and we're celebrating its 50th Anniversary on DEC. 8th with a live Zoom event. I'll be discussing the book with renowned Japan scholar John Nathan, translator of Mishima, Oe, Soseki and others, and a great filmmaker to boot. Our talk will be moderated by Peter Grilli, president emeritus of The Japan Society of Boston. Registration is free here . The book is still in print, beautifully so, and will be sold at discount during the event by Stone Bridge Press . Please join us for this landmark evening hosted by The Japan Society of Boston . I'm really looking forward to this one.

My story about "Blade Runner: Black Lotus," the first-ever anime series in the Blade Runner canon

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‘Blade Runner: Black Lotus’ reinvents neo-noir nods to Japan When the first anime series in the “Blade Runner” franchise premieres on cable TV’s Cartoon Network and online streamer Crunchyroll Nov. 13, it will close the circle on nearly 40 years of cultural cross-pollination. British director Ridley Scott’s 1982 original, a Hollywood live-action movie set in a futuristic Los Angeles, features several neo-noirish nods to a dystopian urban Japan. Signs in Japanese flash above neon-lit alleyways lined with cramped standing food stalls. Snatches of Japanese dialogue are heard on the streets and from the radio in Los Angeles police officer Gaff’s hovercraft (the brilliantly designed “spinner”), and in the voiceover accompanying an indelible image of a geisha, popping a pill on a gigantic skyscraper video projection. Even today, seeing Japanese culture embedded so deeply in the mise-en-scene of a mainstream Hollywood film is startling. In 1982, it must’ve been revolutionary. It didn’t go unn

Video: Interview on the 50th Anniversary of "Lupin the 3rd" with author and historian Charles Solomon

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This was a whole lot of serious fun: My roundtable chat with author, historian, and dear friend Charles Solomon to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the "Lupin the 3rd" anime franchise, one of the world's longest-running animated series. Of course we talked a lot about "The Castle of Cagliostro," Hayao Miyazaki's first feature film as director, a charmed and stunning work that is often a gateway for non-Japanese to the Lupin universe.  Our roundtable is for Sentai Filmworks  and TMS Entertainment . 

My fifth "Letter from Tokyo" for The Japan Society of Boston

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  LETTER FROM TOKYO, OCTOBER 2021: GINGKO GOLD September still feels like late summer in Tokyo, with stretches of sunbaked days and lingering cicadas and humid stillness. But by October the air crispens and the leaves go vibrant. October coaxes forth the city’s magnificent foliage, blanketing its far-flung hillsides and spreading colorful canopies across its parks and university campuses.  This year, the humidity got siphoned away overnight and evenings grew chilly fast. But for someone like me, raised in the northeastern US and north-central Japan, the shift to windbreakers and warmer bedclothes is welcome. Wherever I am, that transition in temperature feels like home. Speaking of overnight: Have any other Olympic Games dissipated so quickly? No disrespect to the athletes, medalists and their retinue, but the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, held less than three months ago in 2021, almost feel more ancient today than the first Tokyo Olympics in 1964.  Things here have changed, and not just t

Audio: Interview on "What's Ailing Japan?" for the BBC

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I was interviewed by the BBC for a smart show about Japan's post-Olympic doldrums and political ossification. Many of the questions were excellent, and I was honored to appear alongside Sophia University prof Koichi Nakano, Seijiro Takeshita from the University of Shizuoka, and SOAS University of London scholar Sarah Parsons.  Now that the election is over and the LDP firmly back in control, this panel feels prophetic. "Meet the new boss ..." Audio is here  and below:

My fourth "Letter from Tokyo" for The Japan Society of Boston

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LETTER FROM TOKYO, AUGUST 2021: CICADA CRY I caught cicadas in my grandparents’ garden when I was five years old. This was in Morioka City in August, the first full month I lived in Japan before attending kindergarten. It was hot. I used a lightweight long-necked net to capture them and kept them in a green plastic cage my grandfather had bought for me. The cicadas seemed huge and powerful and I loved looking into their eye bulbs with the little black dots in the middle. When you held them from behind by the tips of their wings, their legs clawed at the air then stopped. Their faces looked like they could have been dangerous insects, biting or stinging, but at the last minute decided not to be. So they just stared back at you. There is the famous Basho haiku about cicada cries hiding the nearness of their death but I didn't know anything about that then. I just loved their eyes and wings and the perfect ghost husks they left behind, clinging to the trees as if they were still aliv

Video: Interview for TRT on "Japanamerica," "Yasuke" and racial representation in Japan

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