I’ve been somewhat quiet lately as I’ve been in Japan for the past two weeks. A big thank you to everyone on Twitter who gave me suggestions for Japanese authors to read. Based on these I went armed with a stack of appropriate literature. I only managed to read a few books as the jet lag didn’t hit me as badly as I expected it to do so didn’t have sleepless reading nights and I was too busy out having fun during the day to relax with a book. I had an amazing time and don’t want to annoyingly go on about everything I did and saw while there. But I will mention an interesting bookish observation:
In Japanese subways people do a lot of reading, but almost all of their books have stylish protective book covers. I would normally find this annoying as it meant I couldn’t peek at the title someone sitting opposite me was reading, but since I can’t read the language it didn’t matter anyway. These covers were so beautiful and chic I sort of wish this custom would travel to the West. It reminded me of when I was a teenager and we were required to cover our school textbooks with covers to protect them for future years. We used ugly brown paper bags from the grocery store to cut up and cover our books, but the ones I saw in subways were gorgeous.
There are a zillion things to do in Japan and I’m sure I only scraped the surface. But I do want to point out one of the highlights for me which was visiting the island of Naoshima. This is an island which was rejuvenated when it became the location for a number of contemporary art museums. It is stunningly beautiful. We stayed at the Benesse House which has its own museums with lots of outdoor art. One of these sculptures is Yayoi Kusama’s iconic ‘Yellow Pumpkin.’ There are galleries which play upon your perceptions, a Monet room that you have to take your shoes off for and a museum which is campaigning to get a James Bond movie set on the island. It’s fascinating and beautiful and I’d really recommend visiting if you ever get to Japan.
When I have time I’ll get back with reviews on books I read including ‘The Housekeeper and the Professor’ by Yoko Ogawa, ‘The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea’ by Yukio Mishima, and ‘The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories.’
In the mean time, what have you been reading?