A mystery solved – the Taitokuin model returns home

Taitokuin MausoleumJust over a year ago I did a post on the Japan-British exhibition of 1910, tracking where the exhibits ended up when the exhibition was over. The one that interested me the most was the one-tenth scale model of the Taitokuin Mausoleum, the memorial to the second Tokugawa Shogun in Zojo-ji Temple in Shiba. It was presented to the then King, George V, and remained for many years in the Royal Collection in dismantled form. But then what happened? I’ve only just found out. Continue reading

Van Gogh and Japan

Van Gogh Twelve SunflowersVincent Van Gogh loved Japan – and Japan loves Van Gogh. A new book, The Sunflowers are Mine by Martin Bailey, published this week, has some intriguing insights into both sides of the love affair, from Van Gogh’s admiration for Japanese prints to the sad fate of one of his sunflower pictures, bought by a Japanese collector. Continue reading

Autumn reading – Hi! My name is Loco and I am a Racist

My name is Loco and I am a RacistThe last of the three books in my autumn reading series is Hi! My name is Loco and I am a Racist. It’s hard to describe this book – it’s a real one-off. Despite the provocative title I would classify it as an autobiography, by a black man who wants to reach out to other people sincerely and directly and demands that others respond in kind. Continue reading

Autumn reading – Tokyo Hearts

Tokyo HeartsThe second of my three autumn reading books is Tokyo Hearts, a romantic novel set in Tokyo by new writer Renae Lucas-Hall, published in June this year.

It features star-crossed lovers Haruka and Takashi. Like many Japanese girls who love fashion, Haruka is a brand addict and Vuitton, Hermès and Louboutin loom large in her life. She seems well matched with Tokyo style devotee Takashi but the attractions of her rich boyfriend in Kyoto threaten to destroy the romance. It takes an earthquake to make her realise where her true affections lie. Continue reading

Autumn is for reading – Samurai Awakening

Samurai AwakeningIn Japan they say ‘autumn is for sports, autumn is for eating, autumn is for reading’. I’ve done a few posts on sports already and eating is a perennial favourite so I’m going to go for reading and suggest some books you might try. I’ve chosen three; they’re all newly published (in fact the first one is published today), they’re all by foreigners who are living or have lived in Japan and they’re all first books. Those are the similarities – the books themselves are as different as it’s possible to be. Continue reading

Let a volunteer be your guide at the British Museum

Dawn by Yasokichi IIII spent a fascinating morning in the Japanese Galleries at the British Museum today on a tour led by Yannick Pucci, one of the team of volunteer guides who take you round the galleries and help you understand what you’re seeing. The tour only lasts half an hour so we just looked at a small selection of the exhibits but I found it all highly illuminating. When the tour finished I asked Yannick to pick out his favorite objects for me. Here they are, along with a couple of my favorites as well. Continue reading