Saturday, October 31, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

On to Singapore for The Singapore Writers Festival & NUS

Roland Kelts

Roland Kelts is featured in the following SWF event(s):

31 Oct, Sat 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
TAH, Kumon Blue Room

1 Nov, Sun 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM
TAH, Chamber

1 Nov, Sun 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
TAH, Kumon Blue Room

Arigato, Smith College

26 October 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Monkey & Murakami in Manila, in the Philippines Inquirer

Want to satisfy your Murakami and manga cravings? 
Check out Monkey Business
Japan Foundation, Manila hosts a forum on the new literary journal, with contributing editor Roland Kelts and artist Satoshi Kitamura talking about what makes Japanese literature and popular culture click

HARUKI Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto are familiar names in Japanese contemporary writing to Filipinos and the West, more familiar perhaps to the younger generations nowadays than, say, the modern writers such as Yukio Mishima, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, Kobo Abe, Shohei Ooka, Shusaku Endo and the Nobel laureates Yasunari Kawabata and Kenzaburo Oe.

Older lovers and readers of Japanese fiction and literature may say Filipinos should read the modern writers more (Ooka, for one, wrote the celebrated “Fires on the Plain,” about Japanese soldiers in the Visayas during the Second World War; and Endo, who wrote the novel “Silence,” which no less than Martin Scorsese himself is adapting into a movie, tackled overtly Catholic themes).

But even if younger Filipino readers are enamored of Murakami and Yamamoto, they may also be missing out on other writers in the Japanese contemporary writing scene who are just as qualified to land a best seller on various lists in the West as much as Murakami and the latest hit manga writer and illustrator.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

On Japan's "ghost homes," first column for the New Statesman

Out with the old: the ghost homes of Japan

Japan’s shrinking population has produced a different kind of housing problem.


I recently visited Aizuwakamatsu, a ­rural rice-farming region in northern Japan. The scenery was storybook Asia: precipitous hills, dense with greenery, dipping into narrow-cut rice paddies hedged by brooks and streams. At the onset of dusk one evening, our ­minivan rounded a hillside overlooking the Tadami River. A cluster of homes emerged through the mist, pastel green, pink and pale blue roofs huddled on a patch of land jutting from the shore. With the mountains mirrored in the water surrounding it, the village looked as though it were floating.

One of the local guides told me that the coloured roofs were made of tin or aluminium, covering or entirely replacing the original thatchwork, an icon of traditional Japanese architecture. Upkeep had become too expensive, and the risk of fires or snow collapses too much for elderly inhabitants to bear. But what is really sad, she said, is that no one wants to live here any more. Rural Japan is dying.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thank you, Manila!

At Ayala Museum, Makati City, Manila, Philippines. 
(photos Japan Foundation, Manila)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On the death of Japan's game industry, for The Japan Times

Japan once ruled and defined the global gaming industry. In the arcade age, Japanese developers gave us “Pac-Man,” “Space Invaders” and “Donkey Kong.” In the era of physical consoles: “Metal Gear Solid,” “Snatcher,” “Final Fantasy” and “Silent Hill.” Japan’s creative use of technology, physical design and narrative whimsy once made it the only country in the world that consistently delivered interactive pleasures via buttons and joysticks.

But as veteran American translator, localizer and voice director Jeremy Blaustein reminds me, that was a very long time ago.

Since then, the Japanese gaming industry has grown increasingly marginal in the global market. Costs have soared, technologies advanced exponentially and the Americans overtook the business. Speaking at the Tokyo Game Show in 2009, game creator Keiji Inafune was unequivocal: “Japan is over,” he said. “We’re done. Our game industry is finished.”

Live in Manila this week for The Asia Pacific Writers & Translators Conference

Specs & Tix.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Reviving Japan by restoring its homes, for The Journal

Minka: a tale of friendship and renewal
[photos courtesy of Craig Mod and Yoshihiro Takishita]

By Roland Kelts

To residents of the seaside tourist town of Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, it’s known as “the house on the hill”—an 18th century Japanese minka farmhouse perched atop Genjiyama, one of the town’s highest elevations.

Rumored through the years to be the villa of a former prime minister, the sanctuary of an ocean-worshipping religious cult, even the refuge of a disgraced foreign leader, it is in fact a nearly 300-year-old wooden edifice moved there in the 1960s from the rural Japanese prefecture of Gifu.

The farmhouse was painstakingly rebuilt, restored, and modernized by two men: the late American Associated Press journalist John Roderick and his adopted Japanese son, Yoshihiro Takishita. Today, it’s one of the most beautiful monuments to traditional Japan that is more than just a relic.