CONTRIBUTED BY STACI HAWLEY
The Laws of Evening by Mary Yukari Waters
We read this as a part of my Foster book group. The book is a collection of eleven well written short stories that explores life in Japan- post World War 2. The perspective is mainly from Japanese women who have lost their husbands, brothers or fathers- and experience American culture through the aspects of daily life that their kids pick up. Each story shows the impact of Westernization on your average normal Japanese family. It’s fascinating to see the cultural impact of things such as forks, hairspray, Christianity, dodgeball (on the children) and the older generation in fear of losing their past history and traditions. It’s a moving collection of vignettes.
Japanland- Karen Mueller(click on that to see the authors cool website)
The book has an interesting premise. The writer takes on the task of moving to Japan- and in doing so- hopes to conform and understand Japanese culture as much as she can by living with her host family. While she does make a lot of interesting cultural notes, her time in Japan is limited to one year. The question that kept nagging at me while I was reading was this: Can you really claim to understand a culture in just one year? One scene really sticks with me. Mueller describes a homeless man that dresses for work as though he is not homeless: “The cigarettes are a prop, of course. So am I- a onetime actor on his stage, there for a single scene. The play; that he is a successful businessman taking a stroll in the sun. Only he never gets up to go back to work. But the suit-that’s more than just a prop. It’s his dignity, his face.”
The Okinawa Program -Bradley J. Wilcox, (Author), Craig Wilcox(Author), Matoko Suzuki (author).
If you desire to live as long as the local Okinawan’s, take a peek at this fascinating read. The book has been written based on a twenty five year study of the people and their unique lifestyle. The book goes much deeper than eating all your goya at dinner. I was reminded that once Western influence had an impact on Okinawans, their health problems began to mirror those of ours in the US (obesity, heart disease, etc). If you’re craving the fast paced life of the US- chill out and take up a good read!
Readers, have you read anything interesting about Japan or Asia?