Category: Review

Review: On Persephone’s Island: A Sicilian Journal by Mary Taylor Simeti

In 1962, Mary Taylor came to Sicily on a graduation trip to do social work in the Dolci Center in Partinico. There she met Tonino Simeti, married him, and stayed on the island permanently. Only eighteen months after their marriage, Tonino’s elder brother died, and the dreams the couple had of a nomadic life doing development work in Africa were replaced by the…

Review: The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

According to wikipedia, a netsuke is a miniature sculpture. It goes on to explain that it was invented for a practical purpose: to hang an object such as an inrō box from a belt. In reality, that practical purpose was mostly just an excuse to own a netsuke; a simple piece of wood would have worked just as well. So, a…

Review: The Roads to Sata, A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan, by Alan Booth

Japan seems to inspire long walking trips; pilgrimages are an old and respected tradition. Even by that standard, what Alan Booth did is remarkable: he walked from the northernmost tip of mainland Japan (Cape Soya on the island Hokkaido) to the southernmost tip (Cape Sata on the island Kyushu), a distance of more than 3000 kilometers. The rules he imposed on himself…

Review: Isabella Bird – Unbeaten tracks in Japan

Isabella Bird is one of those travelers and writers that only the 19th century could produce. She was born in 1831 as the daughter of  Reverend Edward Bird and Dora Lawson. Because she had poor health from her youth, the doctors recommended an open-air life. Her family encouraged her, for example by letting her learn horse riding  (a skill that…

Review: The Way of the World by Nicolas Bouvier

In June 1953 Nicolas Bouvier and Thierry Vernet finished the exams of their studies in Geneva, and without even waiting for the results, they started a road trip in their Fiat 500 “Tipolino”. Their epic journey would last until December 1954, and would take them through Yugoslavia, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan and eventually to the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan. At…

Review: The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon

The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon, was written in the approximate period of 990 to 1000 by a court lady serving empress Teishi. It is one of the earliest surviving pieces of Japanese literature. The book consists of small and large fragments of text with observations made by Sei Shonagon. As such it is comparable with many diaries and blogs that have…

Review: China Road, One Man’s Journey into the Heart of Modern China by Rob Gifford

Rob Gifford is an British journalist and radio correspondent. He first went to China in 1987 to study language. He has visited, studied, and worked in China for two decades, for the BBC world service, National Public Radio (NPR), and other news sources. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, and he clearly loves the country. In 2005 he and his family decided…

Review: Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō (Record of a Yokohama Shopping Trip) is a Japanese cartoon series, (a manga) written and drawn by Hitoshi Ashinano. However, the title is somewhat irrelevant, because it only covers the first few pages of a long story. Manga like Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō are published as serials in thick weekly magazines printed in black-and-white on rather coarse paper. One of the things…

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