“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.
|Publisher:||Stone Bridge Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)|
About 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.
Read an Excerpt
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lots of cool details and vignettes from what looks to have been a very fun and rewarding career in Japan. Ritchie's vioce is playful, honest, and engaged. I wish there was more of a consistent arc though - Richie didn't keep a journal consistently, so there're swaths that aren't covered. Basically, though, I'm totally jealous of him - hanging out with Mishima at dive bars! no fair!
A classy wrap-up of an astonishing career in Japan., January 30, 2005 (revised from my review on Amazon)Donald Richie's JAPAN JOURNALS give us an insightful, refreshing collection of anecdotes from long roster of "who's who" of post WWII Japan. Coming to Japan to take a journalist job for the US Army's 'Stars and Stripes', the author found his niche as an observer of the Japanese. He was the first foreign writer to bring the art of Japanese Cinema to the attention of the west. In the intervening 50+ years of living in and writing about Japan, he was able to get to know many of Japan's most creative individuals, but he has waited until now to share his personal stories. Keeping several types of journals over the past 50 years, Donald Richie melded his observations into many published works: collections of biographical sketches, descriptions of the country and society, sophisticated critiques of Japanese film and even some entertaining novels. With THE JAPAN JOURNALS 1947-2004, he dishes a little more of the inside stories and gets more personal. Ms. Lowitz's intelligent editing prevents overlapping previously published works, and her own comments are well-wrought.
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.