The Japan Journals: 1947-2004


?Richie should be designated a living national treasure.??Library Journal

"Wonderfully evocative and full of humor... honest, introspective, and often poignant."?New York Times

"No one has written with more concentration about the peculiar quality of exile enjoyed by the gaijin, the foreigner in Japan."?London Review of Books

"To read [The Donald Richie Reader and The Japan Journals] is like diving for pearls....

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“Richie should be designated a living national treasure.”—Library Journal

"Wonderfully evocative and full of humor... honest, introspective, and often poignant."—New York Times

"No one has written with more concentration about the peculiar quality of exile enjoyed by the gaijin, the foreigner in Japan."—London Review of Books

"To read [The Donald Richie Reader and The Japan Journals] is like diving for pearls. Dip into any part of them and you will surely find treasures about the cinema, literature, traveling, writing. The passages are evocative, erotic, playful, and often profound."—Japanese Language and Literature

Donald Richie has been observing and writing about Japan from the moment he arrived on New Year’s Eve, 1946. Detailing his life, his lovers, and his ideas on matters high and low, The Japan Journals is a record of both a nation and an evolving expatriate sensibility. As Japan modernizes and as the author ages, the tone grows elegiac, and The Japan Journals—now in paperback after the critically acclaimed hardcover edition—becomes a bittersweet chronicle of a complicated life well lived and captivatingly told.

Donald Richie, the eminent film historian, novelist, and essayist, still lives in Tokyo.

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Editorial Reviews

Lesley Downer
In all the years Richie has lived in Japan, he has never lost his curiosity and freshness of vision. His journals are wonderfully evocative and full of humor, but also honest, introspective and often poignant. Growing older, he finds himself examining just what it is that has kept him for so long in a country where he will forever be seen as an outsider. To be in a country but not of it breeds loneliness, but also bestows freedom. In Japan, it seems, Donald Richie has discovered a place where he has been free to be himself.
— The New York Times
Library Journal
Richie went to Japan in the 1940s as a typist for the American Occupation, but he quickly escaped from the sequestered world of the conquerors. As a live-in outsider, he has reported ever since on Japanese society and cultural history, renowned both in the United States and in Japan as a deeply learned but nonacademic interpreter-a cross-cultural public intellectual. The material in this volume was extracted and organized by Lowitz from previously unpublished sporadic diaries and jottings. They give a running commentary on Japan's rise from wartime destitution into the rich society of the 1980s boom, then its development into overbuilt and washed out postmodern complacency. There is some personal trivia, but most entries are alert and sometimes surprising glimpses of modern Japanese writers and filmmakers. Richie should be designated a living national treasure, but failing that, his books should be acquired by every large public and academic library with an interest in Japan.-Charles W. Hayford, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781880656976
  • Publisher: Stone Bridge Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Pages: 510
  • Sales rank: 872,777
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald Richie has been writing about Japan for over 50 years from his base in Tokyo and is the author of over 40 books and hundreds of essays and reviews. He is widely admired for his incisive film studies on Ozu and Kurosawa, and for his stylish and incisive observations on Japanese culture. Leza Lowitz is an award-winning writer and translator, and Director of Sun and Moon Yoga Studio in Tokyo.
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First Chapter

The Japan Journals covers the period from Richie's first arrival to nearly sixty years later. Much of what Richie wrote in his journals ended up in publication elsewhere. The material being published in The Japan Journals has not been seen before, like this entry dated October 19, 1948:

Sho [Shozo Kajima] in to see me this morning, wanting nothing in particular, just to talk. Small, eyes so big they look round, he is the only Japanese I have met whose English is so good that we can carry on conversations about things that matter to us. Particularly matter to him. Anything foreign, as though he has been starved for so long that he cannot get enough.

Now we discuss the possibilities of translating Camus into Japanese, an dhow the intellectuals here now shun Sartre. Sho blames it on Life magazine, just now discovering existentialism and hence degrading its current reputation in Japan.

Sho understands the subtleties of this and can express them. In Japan, he tells me, everything is fashion and the opinion of others. This is not a good thing but it is so. Even Juliet Greco is no longer so popular now that Life has taken her up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2005

    Japan (and notably Tokyo) in the second half of the 20th century seen through the prism of an expatriate American

    This book isn't for everyone, but for those interested in one of the topics it covers, it is well-written and fascinating. Richie came to Japan as part of the U.S. occupation in 1947 and has lived there ever since. It consists of extracts from his journals starting in 1947 and ending in 2004, and contains glimpses of the old Japan, the new Japan, the odd Japan, and the human condition itself -- most notably the art of the diarist. Richie has been involved in Japanese life, most notably the film industry, for the last 50 years. Many aspects of Japanese culture are discussed in various journal pages. The book also discusses many of the famous westerners who sought out Richie as a guide on their trips to Japan. But it is most notable for Richie's often ideosyncratic takes on the Japanese, and how the mores have changed throughout the last 6 decades. He discusses aspects of life often omitted in other works -- such as unusual sexual practices. Over half the journal entries take place in the final 15 years covered. The loss of this is that, at least to my mind, the years of the occupation and its aftermath are the most interesting. But the final portions of this book are almost elergeric -- as Richie ages (he turned 80 in 2004) and contemplates the spectres of old age and death. If you are interested in the subjects Richie covers you will enjoy this well-written and at times almost brutally frank work.

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