Reviews

Turtles All the Way Down

To add credence to our myths, we enmesh them in Big Stories, such as the Bible and Buddhist sutras. These Stories try to explain it all, but inevitably fall far short. Their promise of absolute truths is empty since these Big Stories too were (and forever are) constructed.

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Half-Awake

Dalai Lama Awakening is a documentary film by director Khashyar Darvich. In what the director claims is an uncompromised version of his previous film Dalai Lama Renaissance, 40 Western thinkers gather in India to meet with the Dalai Lama to transform the world.

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Facing Self, Reality

Naikan, which means “introspection” in Japanese, implores us to look not merely within but beyond ourselves by routinely asking a set of three questions…

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Real Geisha Real Women

Kyoto Journal geisha

“Real Geisha Real Women,” is a remarkable documentary that opens the shojifor us all, if only for 52-minutes. It allows us a peek into the private lives of 10 active and retired Kyoto geisha…

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We Are What We Eat…So It Might As Well Be Delicious

Jiro Dreams of Sushi Review Kyoto Journal Lauren Deutsch

There is general consensus that “You are what you eat,” yet there are many interpretations of what “you” and perhaps also “we” actually mean. At a minimum, what, and even how, humans eat creates our corporeal selves. Looking deeper, we can see that our choices of foodstuffs and, it appears, foodways, also enable us to know who we are, how others know us and, even further, who we think others might be…

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Excerpts from Whisper of the Land

“Let the photo-taking sessions be a ballet instead of a military-style attack or a grueling marathon. In the garden, drink the sun, sweep with the wind, sing like a bird, and dance with a shovel and a rake.”

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Picaro Rising

n China’s major cities there is an elite one percent or so that drive nice cars, eat in nice restaurants, and generally live pleasant lives. They do so thanks in large part to the ninety-nine percent…

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Poetry and Prose, Mirrors and Distance

  Poems of a Penisist by Mutsuo Takahashi. Translated by Hiroaki Sato. Twelve Views from the Distance by Mutsuo Takahashi. Translated by Jeffrey Angles. he University of Minnesota has recently published two remarkable volumes of Japanese literature in translation by one of Japan’s most significant contemporary poets, Mutsuo Takahashi: Poems of a Penisist, and the…

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Nature and Spirit Reunion

There is much work to be done—not only in “saving the Earth,” as the mantra of the environmental movement goes, but also in saving ourselves and our own souls in the process.

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Far From Home

“The novel hinges on Rashomon-like multiple takes on the hellish circumstances in which one individual prisoner was beaten to death”

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Eye-witness News, Revisited

Memories have inevitably faded during the 25 years that have passed since the tragic end of the 1989 Tiananmen student protests, and for the younger generation in China, it’s hardly even a blip in the country’s historical flow to present-day prosperity.

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The Unyielding

Okamoto began to write prose of lyrical and, at times, hyperbolic intensity, exploring modernist concepts of the artist and/or the individual in collision with society, spiritual alienation, and the moral, ethical, and political dilemma of the abandonment of tradition.

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Mishima: Creation, Love, Patriotism, Death

Persona is like a flashcard pastiche, much of it based on interviews and private correspondence fused with the historical events through which Mishima moved. Mishima’s lifelong obsession with death and suicide and his sensational death by seppuku at forty-five, haunts the biography.

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Edo Expansion in Hokkaido

The sheer lack of general information in English on the indigenous peoples of Hokkaido (formerly known as Ezo) and this book’s focus on two endangered intangible aspects of human survival – ecology and culture – attracted me. But this is no travelogue of pretty pictures and nifty rituals.

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The Korean Way of Tea

Korea has had a “Way” of tea but it hasn’t been widely seen, much less described or studied by foreigners. This new guidebook full of color illustrations, created by Brother Anthony and Hong Kyeong-Hee is a welcome edition to one’s tea or Korean culture library.

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“The Fortunate Earth is Happy”

As I sat down to read On Freedom: Spirit, Art, and State, one of the first thoughts I had was how difficult it is to peg a term as loaded as “Freedom.” At about the same moment as I had this thought, the chorus of the jaunty Calypso song on my stereo sang out, “Always remember somebody suffering more than you.

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Ashoka’s Dream

To Uphold the World Bruce Rich Ashoka book review

Years after an unexpected encounter with the remarkable reign of Emperor Ashoka Maurya, Bruce Rich has written an insightful meditation on the relevance of the ancient Indian ruler to our own age of global discontent.

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Nuclear Japan and the Four Noble Truths

Despite considerable inertia in a religion well known for its conservatism, the protagonists in this book are seizing this opportunity to apply Buddhist values in opposition to nuclear power, and also to respond to the crisis in ways that invest Buddhist values with new relevance to contemporary society.

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KJ 93: Food