Murakami Haruki: Wind/Pinball

“There is no such thing as perfect writing, just as there is no such thing as perfect desperation.”

In 1978 Murakami, well into his thirties, managed a jazz bar in Tokyo, and being an author was a notion far removed from his mind. Yet, one day, following a sort of heavenly illumination, he began writing – in his own words, 'on the kitchen table', at night or anytime he could manage. The result: two little gems, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball.


#NipPop meets Anna Specchio

NipPop meets Anna Specchio, a young contemporary Japanese literature researcher and translator. Among her latest, she translated for Asiasphere (Atmosphere Editore) Higashino Keigo's best seller The Letter.


Mia Amata Yuriko, Antonietta Pastore's New Novel

Antonietta Pastore, well known as the Italian translator of many Haruki Murakami novels as well as many other moderns and contemporaries, is also a skilled author in her own right; she has been awarded the 'Settembrini' prize with her novel Leggero il passo sul tatami. Mia amata Yuriko is her most recent work, published this year, and it takes its inspiration from the life of her ex-husband's aunt, which Antonietta met during a trip to Etajima, as much as from the recollections of the author's mother-in-law. Details have been filled by imagination, but the love story between Yuriko and Yoshi is, for the most part, believable and grounded in facts.

Through the words of the narrator we meet Yuriko, a strong yet pampered and sheltered woman: she was in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and she was therefore exposed to radiation fallout. The novel chronicles the love story between the woman and Yoshi, narrating her anxiety and grief while waiting for her husband to return from the front, as well as the hope for a better future that only love can nurture.

The most tragic parts of the novel deals with war, the frailty of the human condition, and the many problems that we must face in daily life. Wartime was a difficult period, in which even the mandarin jam Yoshi offered Yuriko on their first date was a luxury to be savored. To this the author adds the experience of the atomic bomb, lived by the characters as a testament of strength by the US, ultimately unnecessary and mostly dropped as a test.

It's not by chance that Antonietta's chronicling of Yuriko's life almost coincides with the Fukushima incident. After the tsunami and the atomic crisis, vast areas have been evacuated and old discrimination against irradiated people have returned: people have been denied housing, engagements have been broken, children have been bullied.

Sixteen years of life in Japan bolster the author's capability to enter the minds of her characters, vividly retelling the love protagonist's love story as strongly as the tragedy of the nuclear disaster. After all, in her own words, it's women who have become twice victims, in the crises' aftermath.


#NipPop at Cinema Ritrovato 2016: Jazz musume tanjō

The final appointment with Japan's cinema at the 2016 edition of Cinema Ritrovato, on June 27, 2016, graced us with a screening of Jazz Musume Tanjō (ジャズ娘誕生), known in Italy as 'E' nata una cantante di jazz'.


#NipPop at Cinema Ritrovato 2016: Ugetsu monogatari

On the 26th of June, in the context of the 'Ritrovati e Restaurati' panel at the yearly Cinema Ritrovato festival, the screens of Bologna's Cinema Arlecchino hosted a classic of Japanese cinema: Ugetsu monogatari (雨月物語), internationally known as Ugetsu and rendered in Italian as I Racconti della Luna Pallida d'Agosto.


Gatti Giapponesi – Ritratti felini dagli inizi del Novecento ai giorni nostri

Divinità, compagni delle streghe, eroi popolari i neko (gatti) hanno sempre affascinato l’uomo e ne hanno influenzato la cultura, e il Giappone non fa eccezione: i felini popolano le leggende come figure benefiche e/o malevole, quanto mai vive nella cultura popolare. La passione per i gatti non si è interrotta con l’avvento dei tempi moderni, ed essi sono presenti in tante opere letterarie, la più famosa delle quali è sicuramente Io sono un gatto di Natsume Sōseki. E proprio come in questo romanzo, non sono solo delle comparse all’interno di una storia, ma ne fanno intimamente parte, come nei racconti presenti nel volume a cura di Diego Cucinelli.


#NipPop al Cinema Ritrovato 2016: Karumen Kokyō ni Kaeru

Il 26 giugno al Cinema Ritrovato il primo appuntanto con la sezione dedicata al Giappone “Armoniosa ricchezza - Il cinema a colori in Giappone” e con un classico della cinematografia nipponica, Karumen Kokyō ni Kaeru - カルメン故郷に帰る (“Carmen torna a casa”), primo tentativo nella storia della filmografia giapponese di realizzare un lungometraggio a colori.


Otaku Wonderland Part 6 – Dolls and Pop: one fandom is not enough

In the past two installments we have explored the features of Japanese bjd and fashion dolls; yet, there is much more that can be said on doll collecting fandom and its ties with the world of pop culture and otakudom.


Otaku Wonderland part 5 – A Fashion Doll for Everyone

The beginning of the adult fashion dolls trend in Japan can be traced back to Barbie, the quintessential doll, and its Japanese counterparts Licca-chan and Jenny. But it's with the new millennium that fashion dolls have become a trendy item for adult collectors, with a parallel rise in average price tags. Producers and brands are countless, but here we will focus on three lines: Momoko, Blythe and Pullip.


The Letter - Higashino Keigo

Higashino Keigo, born in Ōsaka in 1958, is well known in Japan and overseas for his mystery novels, which earned him prestigious prizes such as the Edogawa Rampo award. Tegami does indeed deal with an unfortunate event but, unlike Higashino's other novels, does not develop into a sleuthing hunt for the culprit.


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