You’ve probably heard by now of Drive My Car, the Ryusuke Hamaguchi film based on three stories from the Haruki Murkami short story collection Men Without Women, and the fact that it has made history as the first Japanese film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. But if you’ve yet to find the three hours necessary to see it, you may be wondering what’s so special about this film.
People feel connected to Japan in different ways and in the case of Scott Haas it started when he was thirteen years old. From there, his passion grew and he went on to write about his appreciation for Japanese culture for audiences across the world.
Having recently published a new book called Why Be Happy?, Scott has explored psychology and acceptance through the lens of Japanese culture. Learn more about the book, his backstory and what he’s got planned for the future.
What do we mean by acceptance? Is it the avoidance of conflict? The understanding that some events are simply beyond our control? Is it the resignation that certain things won’t change? These kinds of questions are asked everyday all over the world and every culture has their own take on what acceptance means.
In Japan, ukeireru is a type of acceptance that the Japanese embrace and Scott Haas is interested in peering behind the curtain to see what exactly it means. In Why Be Happy?: The Japanese Way of Acceptance, Haas explores the concept of ukeireru, what it truly means to accept something and how the power of acceptance can help to build a happier and healthier life.
Japanese sake can be interpreted in many different ways and a perspective that I like to associate it with is fantasy. From the magical koji mould that’s vital to producing sake, to the heart and soul brewers put into their craftsmanship, there’s definitely a fantastical element to Japan’s national drink, which is where the inspiration for Flights Of Fantasy comes from.
The segment pairs sake with different fantasy characters, revealing their motivations and the stories behind the bottles. This edition of Flights Of Fantasy focuses on Kest Murrowson, a member of the main trio from Sebastien De Castell’s acclaimed The Greatcoats series.
A man of logic, stoicism and tremendous fighting ability, Kest’s sake flights feature drinks with hidden depths.
Flights Of Fantasy matches sake with different fantasy characters, using bottles that compliment personality and motivations. If there were ever a character who liked to discover new drinks and get thoroughly sloshed it’s Brasti Goodbow from Sebastien De Castell’s The Greatcoats series.
Irreverent, impulsive and supremely confident in his mastery of the bow, Brasti is the kind of guy who’d make an excellent drinking buddy. His sake flights are brash, masculine and have more to them than meets the eye.
Haruki Murakami is arguably the most well-known Japanese author for western audiences. With a writing career that spans over forty years, Murakami has been delighting readers for decades with his signature surrealist humour and bittersweet reflection on the transience of life.
While Murakami has written some wonderful novels, I’ve found myself gravitating towards his short stories lately. One of his most memorable collections is Men Without Women, a poignant series of short stories that delves into the concept of loneliness and what it means for different people.
In the absence of female company, all of the men in this collection have lost something. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s obvious. The reader feels it in every word and that is Murakami’s talent on full display.
In recent years, Japanese philosophy has had a profound effect on the West. Practices such as ikigai and yugen have become popular for developing a positive mental health routine. Yet one of the earliest Japanese practices to take off in the West happened to be an amalgamation of both cultures called kaizen.
A Japanese noun for ‘improvement,’ kaizen is all about making continuous change throughout life. In Kaizen: The Japanese Method Of Transforming Habits One Small Step at a Time, Sarah Harvey explores the practice in great detail. But rather than just being a typical self-help book, Harvey goes deeper by examining the history of kaizen and introducing psychological theory as well. Continue reading “Kaizen: The Japanese Method Of Transforming Habits One Small Step At A Time Review: Insightful And Resonant”
Haruki Murakami is arguably the most well-known Japanese author in the west. His unique writing style has captured the attention of readers all over the world and one of his most memorable books is South Of The Border, West Of The Sun.
Focusing on the relationship between two childhood friends who reconnect in their thirties, South Of The Border, West Of The Sun contains all the classic tropes of a Murakami novel. There’s jazz, joy, heartbreak and the indomitable willpower of the human spirit to go after what it yearns for. Continue reading “South Of The Border, West Of The Sun Review: A Dream-Like And Radiant Love Story”
The pursuit of finding balance is a life-long goal that’s forever changing. Everyone has different perspectives on what they need to find peace, whether it’s through spending time with friends, or going for a long walk. Author Akemi Tanaka believes the best way to find balance is with chowa, the Japanese concept of harmony.
In her book, The Power Of Chowa, Tanaka tells the story of her life and pulls back the curtain on what it means to walk your own path in Japanese culture. Soulful, honest and powerful, The Power Of Chowa is a book that’s worth reading. Continue reading “The Power Of Chowa Review: Soulful, Honest And Relatable”
Ryu Murakami is one of Japan’s most famous authors. His work is often characterised by shocking violence and off the wall themes, as seen from hits like In the Miso Soup and Audition. But even the enfant terrible of contemporary Japanese literature doesn’t have to be defined by one type of genre. Murakami is just as capable of writing a story that’s relatable and deeply personal like Sixty-Nine. Continue reading “Sixty-Nine Review: A Nostalgic Novel That Celebrates The Endless Possibilities Of Youth”