Showing posts from 2014

Christmas market

I've been very busy since the middle of August. I have to get up early in the morning and I have to be late at night in my office. So I can't go anywhere except in business, I also can't read books and post any article in this blog these days.

My younger daughter who is living in London seems to be busy, too. The other day she took days off and went to Germany to enjoy Christmas markets in Bremen and Hamburg.

An Artist of the Floating World

'An Artist of the Floating World' is Kazuo Ishiguro's second novel published in 1986, was short listed for the Man Booker Prize. But his next novel was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 1989. In this book he depicted a Japanese of postwar Japan again as well as 'A Pale View of Hills'.

Masuji Ono is a retired Japanese painter. The situation is somewhere in postwar Japan around 1948. He knows the reason of the failures of the marriage negotiation of Noriko, his younger daughter, is caused by his past. Setsuko, his elder daughter, also points out the same thing to him. He looks back his young and training life, about his old teachers and colleagues, his own pupils. We readers begin to realize that his recollection is slightly different from others view.

What is Ono's past? It seems that Ono was the follower of the war as one of the artists of the war propaganda. Ishiguro, of cause, doesn't mention of Ono's past so much.

Ono confesses his past and apologizes…

A Pale View of Hills

'A Pale View of Hills' is Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel, published in 1982. I've never read his first two novels. It was interesting for me that he wrote about Japanese people in his first two novels.

The situation is in postwar Nagasaki around 1950. People were living with wounds of war and the atomic bomb and feeling changes of the times for the future. And also it was the period when I was born.

Etsuko who is living in England now lost her elder daughter by suicide recently, and Etsuko recalls things in Nagasaki of 30 years ago. Etsuko recalls, especially, her friend Sachiko and the daughter Mariko.

Etsuko is a virtuous and pregnant housewife now and her husband Jiro is a capable office-worker. Ogata-san, her father-in-law living in Fukuoka, is staying at their home. She gets to know Sachiko and Mariko who are living at a small house nearby. Mariko is a taciturn girl and often sees creepy phantom because of a grim experience in postwar mess in Tokyo. And also she do…


‘Waterland’ is the third novel of Graham Swift, published in 1983. His 'Last Order' won the 1996 Booker Prize, but it is often said that his best novel is ‘Waterland’.

Fifty-two-year-old Tom Crick whose wife arrested for snatching a baby is a history master, living in Greenwich where world time begins, and being asked to bow out. He speaks to his students, "Children ..." and starts his strange history class.

He speaks about the history of Fens where he was born and brought up, the history of his maternal ancestor, the sex with his wife Mary in their young days, his intellectually disabled brother Dick, the murder of Freddie Parr, French Revolution, the eel life, incest, abortion, madness, ghost... The author quests for "what history is" through the postmodern way.

Fens, in East Anglia, was a waterland since ancient times. It was the Atkinsons that converted this region into the farmland for barley by dainages. The end of the 18th century, Tomas Atkinson be…

Jogging at night

I usually go jogging in the morning, sometimes in the late afternoon, on weekend. Because I have to work on weekdays. So I've put on weight a little recently because lack of exercise.

Last week, I began to go jogging at night every day. I can go jogging any time, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. This was a good idea for me, because I have solar photosensitivity and I have to work on weekdays. And I can also take a bath soon after jogging. Of course I have to pay attention to a traffic accident and obstacles on the street which cause a wrench, .

A few days ago, though it was raining, I went jogging at night. When I checked the weather forecast on High-resolution Precipitation Nowcasts of Japan Meteorological Agency, it showed it would stop to rain for a while. But, in fact, it began to rain a little hard soon as I started jogging. I got soaking wet at that night.

The Shadow of the Wind

“The Shadow of the Wind” is a novel by a Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The original version was written in Spanish. This book was published in 2001, and has been translated into more than forty languages, has been published in more than fifty countries and has sold over 12 million copies worldwide (by the author's website). I read the English version of this book.

In 1945, in Barcelona under the Franco regime remaining wounds of the Spanish Civil War, a ten-year-old Daniel Sempere was taken to the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books by his father. At the place Daniel was interested in a book, “The Shadow of the Wind”, and the author Julian Carax. He read soon the book and was impressed strongly.

Daniel meets Clara who is blind and twenty-one-year-old beautiful woman and know the works of Julian very much, takes a romantic interest in her. One evening, he meets a faceless man, Lain Courbert, in the dark who is a devil in “The Shadow of the Wind”. The strange man asks Daniel to …

Eva Cassidy

As I was listening to songs of Emi Fujita on YouTube, I got to Eva Cassidy.

Eva Cassidy is hardly known in Japan. Almost all CDs of her songs that we can get in Japan are imported. I also haven't known her songs and even her name. But her beautiful voice and her amazing musical sense can always capture many listeners.

Eva Cassidy was born in Washington D.C in 1963, and grew up in Maryland. She was interested in art and music from her childhood. When she was nine, her father began teaching her to play the guitar. She first joined a local music band as a singer at eleven. In 1992, when she was 29 years old, her first album that was a duet album was released. Her name, however, had been known only in Washington D.C area.

In 1994, her skin cancer was found. In 1996, Eva Cassidy passed away. She was only 33 years old.

In 2000, BBC broadcasted her song 'Over the Rainbow', and the song created a sensation from Europe and all over the world. She became a legend of the tragic song…

Snow Falling on Cedars

Snow Falling on Cedars is the bestselling novel written by David Guterson in 1994, and won 1995's PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. This novel was made into a movie, 'Snow Falling on Cedars'. Since the defendant's wife Hatsue was played by Yuki Kudoh, this movie became popular in Japan.

This novel was also translated into Japanese in 1996, but the Japanese title "殺人容疑" was too mediocre and many Japanese were disappointed.

(殺人容疑 satsujin yougi means suspicion of murder.)

December in 1954, the incident happened in a small island in northern Puget Sound, the state of Washington. the second generation Japanese-American fisherman Kabuo Miyamoto was arrested on suspicion of murder. The victim was Carl Heine, a fisherman in the same village.

A local journalist was watching this trial with mixed feeling. He is Ishmael and he loved Kabuo's wife Hatsue when they were young. They loved each other, but after the Japanese attacking on Pearl Harbor, their innocent love w…

I Love Emi

I happened to listen to this song and was fascinated by the melody of this song and the singing voice of this singer. The singer is Emi Fujita and this song is 'Wide Awake'. I listened to this song for the first time.

Although this happened only a few days ago, I don't remember why I found this song on YouTube.


・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・
You were the rolling tidal wave
That swept my barren shores
If you will let me share your day
My life's forever yours
I will never understand the reason why
We fail to learn from our mistakes
I will wait for you as the days go by
With my dream - though I am wide awake

I think that many Japanese don't know who Emi Fujita is. I looked her up on the Internet and I found that she was the vocalist of Le Couple.

Le Couple is famous for their song Hidamari No Uta which was part of the soundtrack for the 1997 Japanese TV drama series Under One Roof 2. The CD single sold over 1.8 million copies. After the band suspended its activities, Emi Fujita st…

Hike to Ohara in Kyoto

Ohara is a rustic and tranquil village surrounded by mountains, of north part of Kyoto City. It takes about 35 minutes from Demachi-yanagi station by bus.

I went to Ohara with my wife yesterday. It was cloudy and a little cool. We got off the bus at Hanajiri-bashi where is the south end of Ohara. We were the only passengers who got off the bus at this bus stop. We wanted to enjoy seeing cherry blossoms along the Takano River and hiking through Ohara. We never saw other hikers until the approach to Sanzen-in Temple.

Contrary to our expectation, except for Sanzen-in Temple, Ohara was not so crowded, rather quiet.

Sanzen-in Temple is the most famous and biggest temple in Ohara, which is located at the east end and hillside of a mountain of Ohara. There were many foreign tourists.

Jyakkou-in Temple was established in the year 594 by Shotoku-Taishi(Prince Shotoku). Jyakkou-in is located at the hillside of the west end of Ohara, and well known as a place where Kenreimon-in lived in seclusio…

Snow in April

Now in April, and the cherry blossoms season has come.

We have little snow in Osaka even in the winter.
But it was cold last weekend. Mountains in Osaka were covered with snow.

The Sea

The Sea is written by Irish writer John Banville, and won the 2005 Man Booker Prize. "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro was on the shortlist in this year.

John Banville is known as the artist in words, but this book is very difficult to understand for English learners. I read this book twice a few years ago. The plot is not complicated and has little action. This was the third time to read for me, but difficult after all.

Max Morden, a retired art historian, whose wife has just died of cancer, goes to a resort village by the sea with his daughter Claire. The dilapidated guest house he stays at was once called the Cedars.  In the summer 50 years ago, the Graces were staying there as a rented villa. Now the house-maid of this house is Ms Vavasour.

And my life is changed forever.

About 50 years ago, in the resort village, Max's family visits there every summer and rents a cheap cottage. One day in the summer, Max gets to know the Graces who are rich family and …

Cherry Blossoms

When I went jogging at a nearby park last Saturday, I thought cherry blossoms were in the beginning of bloom and it would be in full bloom in a week. But cherry blossoms were full bloom in my neighborhood already yesterday.

So I went to see cherry blossoms in the park near my office on foot this morning.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was published in 2012, and on the longlist for the 2012 Man Booker Prize in the U.K. The author is Rachel Joyce, a playwright for BBC Radio 4 for 20 years, and this book is her first novel.

Harold Fry, sixty five, retired from his job for a local brewery, lives off a pension with his wife Maureen. He had an unfortunate childhood, and away from society because of his introverted nature. The relationship with Maureen has cooled off long before.

One day, he receives a letter from Queenie Hennessy who was his colleague of twenty years ago. She says in the letter that she is dying of a cancer and lives in a hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Harold writes a letter to her but knows it's not enough to express his heart. He leaves the house to post the letter, but he hesitates to do and goes on to the next post...

He stops a petrol station to get something to eat, and tells a waitress Queenie's story. The girl talks about her aunt who had a cancer bu…

Too Much Happiness

Too Much Happiness is a collection of ten short stories, published in 2009, and the author is Alice Munro, a Canadian writer. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013. I didn't know her name until she won the Nobel Prize, but I wanted to read her works when I found her books at a local library.

I've read the works of Raymond Carver before. But I don't think I like short stories very much because they often have little description of the situation, and depict many things with few words. Short stories are often more difficult than novels.

Some stories in this book give readers some thoughts about  life through long time.

Doree who is a chambermaid had bitter experience. Her young three children were murdered by her insane husband. She sometimes visits her ex-husband in jail by bus. One day when she is on the bus to visit him, an accident happens...

Jon and Joyce who have high IQ score drop out of college and go away. Jon learned woodwork and Joyce be…

Of Human Bondage

Of Human Bondage is a famous novel written by W. Somerset Maugham, published in 1915.

This novel is a coming-of-age story of a young man who is an orphan with deformity. It is said this book is autobiographical.

Philip Carey is born with a clubfoot and loses his parents soon. He grows up as an orphan and is brought up by his uncle and the wife. He struggles with his deformity through his life. In the divinity school, he is treated with a gibe by the classmates and lose his religious faith. He goes to Germany to study, then works as an apprentice for an accountant. But he quits the job only for a year and goes to Paris to study art. He finds a lack of talent for art after all, and returns to London. He decides to study to become a doctor like his father.

One day, he meets Mildred who is a waitress for a cafe, and loves her. Mildred is a calculating woman and only uses him to advantage. His love for her is unrequired and self-destructive.

People who have corporal defect struggle with th…

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Delight of the New Year!