Episodes

  • Translator Mark Gibeau and publisher Peter Goodman discuss Mark’s translation of Osamu Dazai’s novel Ningen Shikkaku, which Stone Bridge published as A Shameful Life. Why is this mid-20th-century Japanese author's portrait of an alienated (and alienating) personality still so attractive to contemporary audiences, especially teens and young adults?

    Topics include:

    Teaching Japanese in AustraliaThe original Donald Keene translation and why Mark decided to translate it againHow many other translations of this work are there, and are there more to come?Why isn’t Mark’s translation called No Longer Human like the other editions?Mark's process of translationThe importance of being a sensitive readerWhat is Dazai's lasting appeal to younger readers?What is translation and what is the hardest part about it (hint: it's not the language per se).Challenges of translating Japanese, a high-context languageAI and future implications for translating and translators. Are jobs at risk?

    Tony's Reading List recently compared Mark Gibeau’s translation of Ningen Shikkaku to Donald Keene's:

    Review of the workThe Gibeau translationThe Keene translation

    Mark Gibeau is Senior Lecturer, School of Culture, History & Language, at Australian National University in Canberra.

    Peter Goodman is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, which for over thirty years has specialized in books on Asia, especially Japan and China.

    For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

  • John Dougill is author of Off the Beaten Tracks in Japan: A Journey by Train from Hokkaido to Kyushu, a remarkable travel memoir that details observations on culture, history, local lore, and personal ruminations based on decades of living in Japan.

    In discussion with publisher Peter Goodman, John talks about his love for travel and how pleasurable it is to travel along the less-touristed western coast. Encounters in the south with echoes of the war still lingering bring to mind how intimately history is tied to place. Among the topics discussed are:

    The travel memoir genre and the influence of writers like Alan Booth and Donald RichieHow John got to Japan and his first impressionsComparing Britain to JapanBritish railways vs Japanese railwaysWhat traveling during COVID was like and how the 3-month trip was done.The cultural landscape of Japan across different regionsDepopulation in western Japan and immigrationWhat it's like to ride trains in JapanWhy so many foreigners who stay in Japan settle in KyotoKyoto post-COVIDThe Green Shinto blog: can Shinto spread internationally?

    Off the Beaten Tracks in Japan by John Dougill

    Green Shinto blog by John Dougill

    Writers in Kyoto

    Japan Travel Planner and Route Finder by Navitime

    Seishun 18: Hop on hop off travel using non-reserved seats in ordinary cars on ordinary or rapid trains on any JR line in Japan.

    John Dougill has lived in Japan since the 1990s and is the author of several books about the country. His 2012 book, In Search of Japan’s Hidden Christians, was hailed as “one of the most compelling and important books on Japan in recent years.” For seven years he ran the Writers in Kyoto website and oversaw the anthologies the group produced. He also runs the Green Shinto blog.

    Peter Goodman is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, which for over thirty years has specialized in books on Asia, especially Japan and China. For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

    For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

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  • Managing Editor Meg Taylor talks about MONKEY, an annual anthology that showcases translations of works by top Japanese writers and that has recently launched a new fiction-in-translation imprint with Stone Bridge Press.

    MONKEY New Writing from Japan is set to launch volume 4, whose theme is Music. Previous volumes have focused on Food, Travel, and Crossings (transitioning out of the pandemic). Printed in color throughout and featuring fiction, essays, graphic art, and photographs, MONKEY is a stunning overview of Japanese literary and artistic creativity, each year presenting new creators and contexts, as well as introducing the very best talent in the art of translation. Expertly edited and curated by Motoyuki Shibata in Japan and Ted Goossen in Toronto, MONKEY is a must-read for anyone interested in Japanese literature and culture.

    From December 2022 Stone Bridge Press began publishing new book-length works under the MONKEY imprint for distribution in print and digital formats throughout the world. The first two titles were The Thorn Puller by Hiromi Ito (trans. Jeffrey Angles) and Dragon Palace by Hiromi Kawakami (trans. Ted Goossen). In spring of 2024 Stone Bridge/MONKEY will release Takaoka's Travels by Tatsuhiko Shibusawa (trans. David Boyd).

    In this conversation with Stone Bridge Press publisher Peter Goodman, Meg Taylor talks about MONKEY's mission and approach to presenting Japanese literature for an international audience. Topics covered include:

    What is MONKEY?How does MONKEY find writers and translators?Has the style of editing and translating changed across generations?MONKEY's goal: playfully enticing the audience to Japanese literature.Changing tastes in readers of Japanese literature, and the rise of women writers in translation and elements of magical realism.Contemporary editorial perspectives for Japanese literature and the role of the editor and translator.The need to give full recognition to translators for the important work they do.MONKEY vol 4. and the themes across each issue.The MONKEY imprint and announcing the Sibley subvention award to Takaoka's Travels

    Click here to visit the MONKEY website.

    The MONKEY fiction imprint at Stone Bridge Press
    The Thorn Puller by Hiromi Ito
    Dragon Palace by Hiromi Kawakami

    Managing Editor Meg Taylor is the founder of the nonprofit MONKEY New Writing from Japan, based in Pittsburgh. She edits Japanese literature in translation and art books and exhibition catalogues. She is also the academic coordinator for the Publishing program at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) in Toronto.

    Peter Goodman is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, which for over thirty years has specialized in books on Asia, especially Japan and China. For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

    For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

  • Helen McCarthy, one of the key figures in the introduction of anime culture into the English-reading world back in the age of VHS and basement viewing parties, looks at how the medium has changed over the years and become a profit center for big streaming corporations while at the same time (mostly) hanging on to its creative vitality.

    In this podcast Helen discusses anime and anime culture and history from a number of different perspectives and speculates on some future directions with host and Stone Bridge publisher Peter Goodman. Helen also talks about her love of haiku and how it helps refresh her view of the world around her. Topics include:

    How anime has changed from the medium's beginnings to today.The cast who brought anime to the world.What has made anime appealing to an international audience.How modern anime has changed for its international audience.Who is pushing the boundaries in modern anime and manga.The impact of AI on anime.Copyright protection

    Helen's upcoming lecture

    The Art History of Studio Ghibli

    Helen's anime recommendations:

    My Neighbor Totoro (absolute must see!)
    Slam Dunk
    Urusei Yatsura

    Helen McCarthy is an award-winning author, lecturer, and reviewer who since 1981 has been a key figure in introducing anime to audiences outside Japan, especially in the UK and the USA. Her books include Anime! A Beginners Guide To Japanese Animation, The Anime Movie Guide: Japanese Animation since 1983, The Erotic Anime Movie Guide, Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation (Stone Bridge Press), The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917 with Jonathan Clements, The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, and Manga Cross-Stitch: Make Your Own Graphic Art Needlework. She is currently active on Bluesky and Facebook.

    Peter Goodman is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, which for over thirty years has specialized in books on Asia, especially Japan and China. For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

    For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

  • Japan is officially open with no pandemic restrictions! Author Gilles Poitras offers first travel impressions of newly liberated Tokyo, based on his new book Tokyo Stroll: A Guide to City Sidetracks and Easy Explorations.

    Topics include:

    What is it like in Tokyo post-pandemic? What's changed?Advice and tips for those planning on heading to TokyoHow to use the digital map feature for Tokyo Stroll and what can be discovered.Walking and shopping strategies, especially for those looking for manga- and anime-related merchAnd what it is about Tokyo that makes it so intriguing to visit and stroll its streets.

    Gilles has created an online resource with additional features and updates, plus all the links and instructions you need to use the book's digital map feature for easy on-the-spot navigation.

    Online supplement:

    http://www.koyagi.com/TokyoStroll/TSmain.html

    Map supplement

    http://www.koyagi.com/TokyoStroll/TSMaps.html

    Gilles's recommended book links

    Tokyo Stroll: A Guide to City Sidetracks and Easy ExplorationsPrayer and Play in Late Tokugawa Japan: Asakusa Sensōji and Edo SocietyEdo, The City That Became TokyoTokyo Before Tokyo : Power and Magic in the Shogun's City of Edo

    Gilles Poitras has produced three books on anime and has written for magazines including NewType USA and Otaku USA and served as a member of the senior board of Mechademia. He has made presentations at various Japan-US friendship groups, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the Smithsonian, and Pixar. He has been organizing trips to Japan since 2007. Gilles resides in Oakland, California

    Peter Goodman is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, which for over thirty years has specialized in books on Asia, especially Japan and China. For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

    For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

  • Sake expert Jim Rion, author of the new book Discovering Yamaguchi Sake, talks about local Yamaguchi brews as well as some sake basics and insight into brewing and ingredients.

    Topics include:

    How did Jim end up in Yamaguchi and how did he get interested in sake?Does "terroir" exist in sake?What makes Yamaguchi sake distinctive?What do the Yamaguchi sake breweries have in common and what kind of people become brewers today?How is sake marketed today and what is the impact of social media?How did you go about gathering information from the 23 breweries for the book and writing about their history?If someone is going to visit Yamaguchi, what are some tips for sake tasting there, and what are some other places to visit in between the brewery tours? (Hint: one of the best ways to taste local sake is to hit up an izakaya with a friend and work your way through their selection!)

    Jim Rion's book Discovering Yamaguchi Sake: A Taster's Guide to Breweries, Culture & Terrain is available in print and ebook editions at bookstores around the world and online.

    Jim Rion is a licensed international kikizakeshi (sake sommelier), certified sake professional, and freelance translator and writer working in the sake industry since 2018. He has lived in Yamaguchi Prefecture since 2004.

    Peter Goodman is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, which for over thirty years has specialized in books on Asia, especially Japan and China. For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

    For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

  • Landscape architect Marc Peter Keane, based in Kyoto, talks about art and aesthetics in Japanese gardens.

    Topics include:

    Marc's background – when did he first come to Japan and what brought him back?What has changed in terms of Japanese garden design aesthetic since his first arrival and now?What it's like for a foreigner working in garden design in Japan.The three levels the Japanese garden works on: aesthetic, narrative, and spiritual.What are karesansui gardens and the levels of interaction of each design component?Can Japanese gardens save the world?Why there isn't a mainstream movement to incorporate conceptual ideas into architecture and design.Are there "modern" Japanese gardens?What constitutes an authentic Japanese garden? Can you make a Japanese garden in Arizona using cactuses instead of pine trees.Educating clients on thinking beyond the cliches of the Japanese garden.Marc's writings and its recurring themes of process and change in the natural world.Sourcing materials like stones: How it’s done in Kyoto and how it's done abroad.

    Garden designer and writer Marc Peter Keane (www.mpkeane.com) has made Kyoto his home for over twenty years. He has written several books on Japanese gardens, such as the following, all published by Stone Bridge Press:

    Of Arcs and CirclesThe Art of Setting StonesThe Japanese Tea GardenJapanese Garden Notes

    The Tiger Glen Garden designed by Marc is open to the public. It is at the Johnson Museum of Art on the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York.

    https://www.mpkeane.com/tiger-glen-garden

    Marc and be found online at:

    Website: www.mpkeane.comInstagram: www.instagram.com/marcpeterkeaneFacebook: www.facebook.com/marc.peter.keane

    Peter Goodman is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, which for over thirty years has specialized in books on Asia, especially Japan and China. For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

    For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

  • David Joiner is an American novelist who lives in Japan. In January 2022 Stone Bridge Press published his Kanazawa, the story of an American married to a Japanese woman and how they are navigating different views of their future. This year, we will be publishing The Heron Catchers, about an American whose marriage has fractured and now finds himself in a new relationship with a Japanese woman and her troubled son. Both novels are set in and around the western Japan city of Kanazawa, a mid-sized urban area with natural beauty and deep cultural and literary traditions.

    In this interview with publisher Peter Goodman, David talks about his novels and about the tricky position of being a non-Japanese, aka "foreigner," writing about Japan. And while many novels by foreigners have as their central theme the protagonist as "different," David says that in his books the emphasis is on people leading normal lives and not the "foreignness" of the narrator.

    Also discussed:

    how Japanese sensibilities are captured in English prose with an emphasis on conversation and closely observed detailsDavid's writing process, and how he "practiced" writing by transcribing out full copies of translations he enjoyedthe fiction writing scene, or lack thereof, in Kanazawa, and the legacy of literary native son Izumi Kyokathe tricky issue of cultural appropriationwhether Japanese are interested in how non-Japanese writers depict Japan

    Other online interviews with David Joiner can be found at:

    Books on Asia podcast:
    https://books-on-asia.simplecast.com/episodes/novelist-david-joiner-talks-kanazawa

    Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan
    https://books-on-asia.simplecast.com/episodes/novelist-david-joiner-talks-kanazawa

    David Joiner made his first trip to Japan in 1991--a five-month study program in Hokkaido--and three years later moved for the first of seven times to Vietnam. In Japan, where he has also moved numerous times, he has called Sapporo, Akita, Fukui, Tokyo, and most recently the western Japanese city of Kanazawa home. David's writing has appeared in literary journals and elsewhere, including Echoes: Writers in Kyoto 2017, The Brooklyn Rail, Phoebe Journal, The Ontario Review, and The Madison Review. His first novel, Lotusland, set in contemporary Vietnam, was published in 2015 by Guernica Editions. Kanazawa (2022) and The Heron Catchers (forthcoming) are both published by Stone Bridge Press.

    Peter Goodman is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, which for over thirty years has specialized in books on Asia, especially Japan and China. For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

    --

    For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

  • Stone Bridge Press publisher Peter Goodman talks with author Gregg Krech about his just-released Anniversary Edition of Naikan: Gratitude, Grace, and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection.

    Topics include:

    What is Naikan? Japanese psychology vs Western practiceThe structure of Naikan practice: the three questionsKey features of Naikan:Appreciating, not complainingA focus on others instead of oneselfPurpose and goals, not just feelingsDoes Naikan have a place in the me-focused Western mentality?How Naikan expands consciousness toward a concern for the world and the environmentWhere can you learn more about and practice Naikan?Todo Institute marks its 30th anniversary

    To obtain a free booklet with ideas for celebrating Thanksgiving, send a simple request by email to [email protected].

    To learn more about Naikan and the Todo Institute, go to thirthythousanddays.com

    Learn more about Gregg's book here: Naikan: Gratitude, Grace, and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection

    GREGG KRECH is one of the leading authorities on Japanese Psychology in North America and has published five books on this topic. He and his wife, Linda, are founders of the ToDo Institute, a non-profit education and retreat center in Vermont. His work has been featured in The Sun magazine, Tricycle, SELF, Counseling Today, Cosmopolitan, and Experience Life and on public radio and numerous podcasts. In 2022, Gregg Krech was appointed chairperson of a national task force on Buddhism and Mental Health.

    Peter Goodman is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, which for over thirty years has specialized in books on Asia, especially Japan and China. For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

    For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

  • Stone Bridge Press publisher Peter Goodman talks with author Eve Kushner, author of Crazy for Kanji, about the Japanese writing system and her efforts to create one essay for each of the 2,000+ characters designated for "everyday use."

    Topics include:

    Publisher Goodman confesses his obtuseness in failing to catch the joke behind the name of Eve's website, Joy o' KanjiEve explains where her fascination with kanji came fromObscure Japanese words with no English equivalentIs it weird for a non-Japanese person to have more interest in kanji than native Japanese do? How are kanji taught to children in Japan?Are modern Japanese with laptops forgetting how to write kanji themselves? Cool ways of remembering kanji; why does everyone talk about the Heisig method?Kanji as art: each kanji has its own structure, but each one also represents its own linguistic and cultural universeRadicals: the building blocks of kanjiAre kanji in China different from kanji in Japan?

    Eve Kushner is a writer and journalist who has written hundreds of articles for dozens of markets. Now she writes exclusively about kanji, working obsessively and quite happily on her huge project Joy o' Kanji. With this undertaking, she aims to write one essay about each of the 2,136 kanji (written characters) used in daily life in Japan. Eve has done interviews in several media, including TV, radio, and print publications such as Newsweek. The Press Coverage page has information about these appearances, as well as links to articles about Eve's work. In 2009 Stone Bridge Press published Eve's magnum opus, Crazy for Kanji: A Student's Guide to the Wonderful World of Japanese Characters.

    Peter Goodman is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, which for over thirty years has specialized in books on Asia, especially Japan and China. For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

    For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

  • Stone Bridge Press publisher Peter Goodman discusses ramen, sushi, and more with Denver-based writer and renowned foodie Gil Asakawa, author of Tabemasho! Let's Eat! A Tasty History of Japanese Food in America.

    Gil was born in Japan and grew up in the USA, where he experienced the evolution of Japanese food from sparse offerings to the explosion of cuisines and styles that are available today. The discussion includes:

    Where did your interest in food come from?Were there many Japanese restaurants around you growing up?Ugh, you eat raw fish? What did your non-Japanese friends think of Japanese food?When did American culture shift from confusion and trepidation to interest with Japanese food?What's the strange history of the California roll and did an aversion to eating seaweed play a part?Ramen: once a cheap street food, now very chichi. What's up with that?What's the next big Japanese food trend? Probably not fermented soybean natto, so what is it?Racial stereotypes and food packaging: "wonton font" and exotic geisha on snack packages

    Gil Asakawa is author of Being Japanese American (Stone Bridge Press, 2004) and co-author of The Toy Book (Knopf, 1991). He is a nationally known speaker and commentator on Japanese American and Asian American identity and issues. He writes a blog, Nikkeiview.com, about pop culture and politics from an Asian American perspective. He lives in Denver.

    Peter Goodman is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, which for over thirty years has specialized in books on Asia, especially Japan and China. For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

    For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

  • Stone Bridge Press publisher Peter Goodman discusses foraging and gathering edible plants (and seaweed) in Japan with author Winnie Bird, whose book Eating Wild Japan has been described by Elizabeth Andoh as “a delightful homage to those who practice the art of bringing wild foods deliciously to table.”

    Winnie brought all her skills as an experienced environmental journalist to bear on her explorations into wild food culture in Japan, and in this podcast she describes the challenges of research and some of the many delights of her discoveries. While residing in a rural city in the mountains, she noticed many of her neighbors gathering native plants to prepare for bento lunches and to use in soups and other family dishes. Over a period of years she traveled into Japanese rural areas to meet these foragers. She heard them discuss the traditions of foraging and learned many of their gathering techniques and recipes.

    Winnie also discusses the foraging practices in Japan versus those in the US, where the locavore movement is more of a high-end indulgence, where in Japan local foods are simply a normal part of many rural diets. She talks about substitutions for ingredients not found outside Japan. And throughout she emphasizes the importance that food gathering has had in human culture and how it has been impacted by modern living and development.

    Eating Wild Japan: Tracking the Culture of Foraged Foods, with a Guide to Plants and Recipes by Winifred Bird

    Winifred Bird is a writer, translator, lifelong cook, and lover of plants both wild and domesticated. For almost a decade she lived in rural Japan, where she worked as an environmental journalist, grew organic rice and vegetables, and ate as many foraged foods as possible. She lives with her family on an island in Lake Michigan, where she is a contributor to the local newspaper.

    Peter Goodman is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, which for over thirty years has specialized in books on Asia, especially Japan and China. For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

    For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

  • Gilles Poitras has traveled to Tokyo and written about Japan … a lot. Here he talks with Stone Bridge Press publisher Peter Goodman about his upcoming book Tokyo Stroll and what fascinates him about this great world metropolis. Gilles is definitely not the tourist on the beaten track riding in buses to the same old temples and fake kimono parlors. He usually bases himself in old-town Asakusa in a little budget ryokan, and then enjoys delicious and cheap street food and checking out the side streets and specialty shops ... just strolling.

    Gilles also answers the three key questions a foreign visitor might have:

    Is Tokyo really super expensive? (Answer: not at all, breakfast for under $10 and dinner for under $20.)Can I make myself understood? (Answer: yes, lots of signboards in romanized letters and lots of people get by in English, even a friendly street gangster who directed Gilles and his friends to their hostel!)Is the city safe? (Answer: yes, there are tons of people around and Japanese are famously well behaved; and the gangsters don't mess with you either)

    We also discuss when Japan will be opening up in full. There’s a lot of pressure from the tourism boards and businesses to get the country open to foreign visitors, but the politicians are taking their time and being cautious. So it’s baby steps for now, but the day of free travel is coming, which is why there’s no better time to start planning your Tokyo trip. Gilles explains how he’s built a whole online map overlay into his book, so once you’ve got it you can find everywhere that’s listed in the book using your phone, whether you’ve got an internet connection or not!

    Gilles’s ryokan (more of a hostel actually) recommendation: Taito Ryokan in Nishi Asakusa (5 minutes from Tawaramachi Station). Easy to book using online search engines.

    Tokyo Stroll's publication has been delayed several times but is now set for end of November 2022. Over the course of the pandemic, Gilles has been providing regular text and map updates to ensure that the book will be current and accurate when it's finally released.

    Gilles creates and maintains a few online resources, including a supplement that will keep Tokyo Stroll information up to date.

    Gilles's home website is at www.koyagi.com/. From there you can access:

    Tokyo Stroll SupplementVicarious Tokyo: Resources of Enjoying a Fabulous City from a DistanceGuides to Anime and Manga.

    Gilles Poitras has produced three books on anime and has written for magazines including NewType USA and Otaku USA and served as a member of the senior board of Mechademia. He has made presentations at various Japan-US friendship groups and at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, has introduced films at the Smithsonian, and has taught a course on anime for Pixar staff. He has conducted numerous guided trips to Japan. He lives in Oakland, California.

    Peter Goodman is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, which for over thirty years has specialized in books on Asia, especially Japan and China. For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.

    For a complete list of Stone Bridge Press books, visit www.stonebridge.com.