Saturday, January 4, 2014

Book Finds: Upcoming Japanese History Releases in 2014

Hello to the new year! And hello to the many books that will find their way onto store shelves and online shopping sites in the coming year.  The following is a small selection of some of the Japanese history books set for publication in 2014 that I find particularly intriguing.

Samurai Revolution: The Dawn of Modern Japan Seen Through the Eyes of the Shogun's Last Samurai by Romulous Hillsborough [Tuttle Publishing, 25 March 2014] Synopsis: 
Samurai Revolution tells the fascinating story of Japan's transformation from a backward country of feudal lords and samurai under the control of the shogun into a modern industrialized nation under the unifying rule of the Emperor. Japan's modern revolution spanned the third-quarter of the nineteenth century; knowledge of this history is essential to understand how and why Japan evolved into the nation it is today. ...
Kimono: A Modern History by Terry Satsuki Milhaupt [Reaktion Books, 15 May 2014] Synopsis:
What is the kimono? Is it an everyday garment? An art object? An icon of Asian femininity? A symbol of Japan? In Kimono, Terry Satsuki Milhaupt vividly explores how these full-length robes have served all of these roles, revealing how their meaning has transformed over time. ... Written to accompany the kimono exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in September 2014, this sumptuously illustrated book tells the incredible story of a single garment and provides a fascinating new perspective on Japan’s modernization and encounter with the West.
The Sarashina Diary: A Woman's Life in Eleventh-Century Japan by Sonja Arntzen and Moriyuki Ito [Columbia University Press, 22 July 2014] Description:
A thousand years ago, a young Japanese girl embarked on a journey from the wild East Country to the capital. She began a diary that she would continue to write for the next forty years and compile later in life, bringing lasting prestige to her family. ... The Sarashina Diary is a portrait of the writer as reader and a tribute to the power of reading to shape one's expectations and aspirations. As a person and an author, this writer presages the medieval era in Japan with her deep concern for Buddhist belief and practice. Her narrative's main thread follows a trajectory from youthful infatuation with romantic fantasy to the disillusionment of age and concern for the afterlife; yet, at the same time, many passages erase the dichotomy between literary illusion and spiritual truth.