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On Memory: New Japanese Writing

March 2015

Image: T. Enami, No. S-562 Mt. Fuji Viewed from Lake Yamanaka, and its Reflection. Ca.1907

Image: T. Enami, No. S-562 Mt. Fuji Viewed from Lake Yamanaka, and its Reflection. Ca.1907

This month we present new writing on memory from Japan, guest edited and introduced by David Karashima. From nationwide disasters to childhood trauma, in tranquil remembrance and merciless flashback, ten contemporary writers consider the role and the power of national and personal memory. Mitsuyo Kakuta tells an intimate yet chilling tale about a beauty’s dark secret. Akutagawa Prize-winner Natsuko Kuroda turns to tradition to keep the dead alive through memory. In two stories of widowers, Kyoko Nakajima shows a man rediscovering his wife in the kitchen, and Toshiyuki Horie sends an elderly bowling alley owner down Memory Lane. The sudden noise of a window breaking in the night shatters Shun Medoruma’s narrator. In two stories of journeys, Matsuie Masashi’s old woman wanders through the city and into the past, and Meiko Kawakami’s floundering young woman sets off to fulfill a teenage promise. Keiichiro Hirano’s bullied schoolboy finds himself trapped in a recurring nightmare. Hideo Furukawa sees rogue fruit infecting people with memories that threaten to “corrupt public morals.” And Yoko Tawada imagines all of Japan rendered uninhabitable by a contamination of a different kind. We hope you’ll enjoy this, well, memorable work. We thank the British Centre for Literary Translation and the Nippon Foundation for their generous support.

Mihama Nuclear Power Plant
Alpsdake, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons