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Cream and Sugar
Special of the Month:
Kei Ishiyama Interview

Cream and Sugar

A Japanese manga artist who published her graphic novels in Germany.
Click to read the interview

Interviews from Past Months

Eric Kotani
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Featured Books

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September 2011 Flavor of the Month:

Stories and Studies of Strange Things

by Lafcadio Hearn, a.k.a. Koizumi Yakumo (1850-1904)

Japan’s summer is notoriously hot and sticky. Growing up, when there was no such thing as AC available at home, we had a cheap but effective way of getting cool - listening to old scary stories, or k(w)aidan. [Kaidan is a more commonly used spelling.] On sultry summer nights, the whole family hovered around TV to watch programs that featured kaidan stories narrated by professional story tellers. We would chill a large water melon with cold well water during the day, and slice them into many crescents to get ready for the entertainment. When the show started, we buried our faces into the crescents, while the eyes and ears were fixed on the TV screen, trying not to miss any part of the narration. By climax, we would have had enough goose bumps and could crawl into futon bed feeling less hot. But often some narrative parts would haunt us in our dreams.
Miminashi Hoichi in this audio book is one of the best known such stories of all times. Enjoy!

Most of the following Kwaidan, or Weird Tales, have been taken from old Japanese books, — such as the Yaso-Kidan, Bukkyo-Hyakkwa-Zensho, Kokon-Chomonshu, Tama-Sudare, and Hyaku-Monogatari. Some of the stories may have had a Chinese origin: the very remarkable "Dream of Akinosuke," for example, is certainly from a Chinese source. But the story-teller, in every case, has so recolored and reshaped his borrowing as to naturalize it… One queer tale, "Yuki-Onna," was told me by a farmer of Chofu, Nishitama-gori, in Musashi province, as a legend of his native village. Whether it has ever been written in Japanese I do not know; but the extraordinary belief which it records used certainly to exist in most parts of Japan, and in many curious forms… The incident of "Riki-Baka" was a personal experience; and I wrote it down almost exactly as it happened, changing only a family-name mentioned by the Japanese narrator. (Summary by L. Hearn, from the Introduction to the book)

Link to the Audio Book

About the author

About Kwaidan


“Kosei eno Saidai Ibutsu”, Biggest Mementos for Future Generations

by Kanzo Uchimura

今回のテーマは少し重いですが、多くの人が人生のある段階で考えることです。 「私はどのように生きるべきか?何か後世に残せるのだろうか?」 『後世への最大遺物』は、内村鑑三が1894年33歳の時キリスト教徒夏期学校での講演をまとめたものです。
読後感 - 120年近く前に内村が語ったことの普遍性です。技術革新で、内村の想像し得なかったライフ・スタイルになった現代に生きる私たちが、心の奥で悩むことは、内村の同世代の人々が苦悩したことと大差がない。物が豊富になり、便利な社会になり、生活様式も仕事の内容も仕方も内村の生きた時代と比較にならない現代。でも、これは表層的な差であって、人の心は余り変わっていないのではないかしら?それが証拠に、私は内村の講演集を読んで、元気が出ました。皆さんは、どのように感じましたか?千津子

Link to the free book

Kanzo Uchimura in English

Kanzo Uchimura in Japanese