Book Review- Picnic in the Storm by Yukiko Motoya

Book Review- Picnic in the Storm by Yukiko Motoya

* Contains no plot spoilers Japanese author Yukiko Motoya’s collection of short stories have a definitive style and are matched with substance. It’s obvious that she gets a bit of inspiration from Murakami’s magic realism style, although seen through Yukiko’s lens, the world is from a woman’s perspective. Her stories seem to feature unremarkable everyday…

Ryoan-Ji zen garden in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

Jisei: Haunting Japanese death poems from history

Japan has a long history of jisei, or death poems. Jisei is the “farewell poem to life.” These poems were written by literate people, often monks, royalty or courtiers just before their death.  A Jisei from Prince Otsu in 686 BC is one of the earliest recorded death poems. Not all death poems are written…

Every picture tells a story: The library made of gigantic books

The book blogger confessions tag

I saw this tag at the wonderful book blog by Diana Ideas on Papyrus.  I simply had to do this book tagging exercise, even though this apparently happened AGES ago. Still, it's a very cool and fun idea. So here are some books that have imprinted themselves onto my soul. Please share the love and do…

Book Review – Men without women by Haruki Murakami

Book Review – Men without women by Haruki Murakami

* Contains no plot spoilers Short fiction can be a fickle thing and sometimes difficult to love with some not so polished or ridiculous moments. Yet Murakami’s short fiction is an exception.  He can weave magic better than anyone about the intricacies of human relationships, the vagaries and oddities of the human heart and dark…

Travel: Acid Mount Fuji A Techno Mix Tape by Content Catnip

Travel: A sonic and visual journey into techno on the Tokyo to Kyoto Shinkansen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN3jXQys7QY In November last year (and in June this year) I spent a lot of time going from place to place on the Shinkansens in Japan. I found the landscape really hypnotic. The whole experience of being in a swiftly moving and sleek metal worm as it snakes its way through the bowels of the…

Waiting in transit, Tokyo Copyright © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

Every picture tells a story: In transit in the JR station

Waiting in transit, Tokyo Copyright © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com Everyone is always in transit and a great metaphor for life is that we can only ever trust in the constant flux of change. Forget about the serenity of temples, impermanence is ever-present in JR stations, subway stations and airports. There is something magnetic about…

Travel: Himeji Castle, Japan

Himeji Castle was the first place in Japan to become a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993, after this there were dozens of others named. It’s actually the largest and arguably most impressive castle in in Japan and has 83 buildings. It takes hours to walk around inside of it, like a medieval Disneyland,  it's…

Travel: Tenryu-ji temple and gardens Arashiyama Kyoto

Travel: Tenryu-ji temple and gardens Arashiyama Kyoto

Tenryū-ji is a temple and gardens founded by Ashikaga Takauji in 1339. It's purpose at the time was to venerate Gautama Buddha. It's considered as one of Kyoto's so-called Five Mountains. In 1994, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tenryuji dates from the Muromachi period in Japan's 14th-16th century. Among its many…

Travel: Bustling Ueno markets, Tokyo

Travel: Bustling Ueno markets, Tokyo

Ueno markets are tucked into a unique pocket of Tokyo filled with interesting characters selling unusual goods. It's a world within a world. The funky music you are hearing is by 70's British funk band Cymande, the track is called Dove. It gives the video a lovely vintage feel. I don't own copyright to the…

Book Review – South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

*Contains no spoilers This is a slim book. In little more than 200 pages you are able to sink into a well-rounded and thoroughly immersive story. In the hands of a less-skilled writer, this would be impossible. For Murakami though, 200 pages is more than enough to captivate and absorb. Big in scope, the story…

Travel: A curious history of Nara's holy deer

Travel: A curious history of Nara’s holy deer

Nara has had sacred significance long into the ancient mists of time in Japan. Long before Tokyo and Kyoto became the capital of Japan, Nara reigned as the most important city in Japan, its capital from 710-784 AD, before this mantle was passed on to Kyoto. By decree of the emperor of Japan in 724AD,…

I bought this lovely book in Tokyo a month ago and they wrapped it up as though it were made of gold, in its lovely wrapping paper.

Book Review – Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

* Contains no plot spoilers This has to be my favourite Murakami novel so far. Although I’m not even half way through his oeuvre.  The plot is a compelling and slow unravelling of two separate strands. The first strand is the 15 year old Kafka Tamura, a teen runaway who takes refuge in a remote…

Travel: Oeshiki Festival of Light, Ikegami Tokyo

Travel: Oeshiki Festival of Light, Ikegami Tokyo

Oeskiki is an annual buddhist festival held on the 13th of October that commemorates the death of Nichiren in 1282. He was a revered buddhist teacher who lived during the Kamakura period, about 700 years ago. Although celebrated throughout Japan, the main Oeshiki festival is held at Ikegami Honmonji Temple located in the Ota ward…

Travel: Ryoan-ji temple and gardens, Kyoto

Travel: Magnificent Ryoan-ji temple and gardens, Kyoto

Ryōan-ji (meaning the Temple of the Dragon at Peace) is a Zen temple located in Kyoto, Japan. The Ryōan-ji garden is considered one of the finest surviving examples of Japanese Zen temple garden design generally featuring distinctive larger rock formations arranged amidst a sweep of smooth pebbles arranged in immaculate linear patterns, designed to facilitate…

Netsuke & Gashapon toys Ancient Japanese treasures and modern collectibles

Netsuke are uniquely Japanese and sublime in their beauty. They are tiny objects carved of ivory, ceramic, wood, tortoise-shell, gold or many other materials. They tell the story of the culture of Japan during the old Edo period and before. Netsuke featured fishermen and farmers, who rubbed shoulders with scholars, samurai warriors, royalty and even…

Harajuku girls inverted Copyright © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

Every picture tells a story: Harajuku girls go all freaky

I came across this lovely graffiti on a wall outside of a shop in Harajuku. Although you should also see this exquisite collection of quilts that was captured by Jonelle Patrick. The Japanese have an aesthetic sense that is far superior to most other places, I think. Lovely graffiti in Harajuku © Content Catnip 2018…

Every picture tells a story: A pristine Japanese afro to make your day

Every picture tells a story: A pristine Japanese afro

Japanese afro in Shibuya, Tokyo Copyright © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com This guy had the coolest hair in Tokyo. Him and his mate were so chill, just smoking and shooting the shit, talking about life in a back alley near Shibuya. People in Tokyo tend to do wild things to their appearance to differentiate themselves…

Asakusa, Tokyo by Night. Copyright © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

Every picture tells a story: Rainbow neon street scene in Asakusa

Asakusa, Tokyo by Night. Copyright © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com Here's another photo I took strolling around at night in Asakusa in Tokyo. In these little alleys, there is an air of intimate and cosy homeliness, I guess this is thanks to the locals. On a micro scale, these alleys had a really neighbourly and…

Every picture tells a story: Cutsey pancake van in Shinjuku

Every picture tells a story: Cutsey pancake van in Shinjuku

Cutesy pancake shop makes me want pancakes in Shinjuku Copyright © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com Like most things in Tokyo, I had only a vague notion of what the hell was going on here. It looks like a pancake van on cute steroids. Apparently to sell anything the best way to do it is to…