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Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. November’s mission is to share ‘Five Japanese Favourites‘.

I guess we’re all sorry that this will be the last mini challenge for a while. But we have a fun time to look back upon and as I joined in the first challenge, I couldn’t miss the last! As a ‘tribute’ I decided to list my five favourite Hello Japan! topics for this task!

5 Favourite Hello Japan tasks!

Hanami 2009 in Japanse kersenbloesemtuin

The Hello Japan! mini missions started in 2009, shortly after I stumbled upon In Spring it is the Dawn. Tanabata’s blog struck a chord with me and has been one of my favourites ever since. I consider her a friend, even if she lives far away and we’ve never met. ;) Now that she’s moving, I missed the chance of meeting her in Tokyo — but no doubt there will be another chance somewhere else in the future! ;)

Looking back, I really feel like sharing my five favourite Hello Japan! mini challenges.

Looking at this list I seem to like challenges that A. fit exactly in my comfort zones (dôh) and B. leave room for interpretation. I regret that the topics actually relating to Japanese culture didn’t make it into my top-5. It doesn’t mean I don’t like these, because I do! Like Temples and shrines of Kyoto and Japanese flora.

There are also four (nope, not five ;) challenges I desperately wanted to do but didn’t get around to.

If you’re interested, here are all the Hello Japan! mini challenges I participated in!

I’d like to end with a huge THANK YOU!!! to our generous host Tanabata who thought up this challenge and kept it going for so long. Each time she awarded a fitting prize to one of the participants — and althought the missions would have been just as much fun without them, I’d be lying if I denied these were an incentive. ;) So kudos Tanabata!!!

Spring birthday gift with origami flowers

In april I wrote about getting reacquainted with origami. Remember I made some flowers to decorate a present?

Some of you asked how I did it and I decided to make a video… Let me tell you: that’s easier said than done! ;) But I’m going to present my 7-minute amateur film anyway, since this month’s mission for Hello Japan! is to create some origami. And who wouldn’t want to be eligible for that awesome prize consisting of kawaii origami paper and droll geisha bookmarks?

If you’re familiar with the art of paper folding, you may want to know that we’re starting of with a bird base (of which the well-known origami crane is created), folding it into a ‘small kite’.

And if you’re an origami newbie and I’m working too quick for you — or the video is too vague, knowing this will enable you to search for additonal instructibles on the web. ;) But try and watch this first!

I have also scanned the instructions I originally used myself. They’re in Dutch so I will redirect you to some English sources and roughly translate the part I couldn’t find online.

It’s best to choose some flamed origami paper for this flower.

  1. Start with a square base with the coloured side of your paper down.
  2. Continue to make a bird base.
  3. Follow the instructions accompanying the picture below.
Instructions for Origami flower
  • Hold your bird base in front of you with the open point downwards.
  • Fold the ‘wings’ down to make a small ‘kite’ shape.
  • Now unfold the whole figure!
  • Using the same creases, fold the coloured part inwards and flatten the paper. You’ll get a 33° pyramide shape; I guess you’ll really have to watch my video for this to understand.
  • Slightly open all four sides and curl the leaves outwards with a chopstick or pencil.
  • You’re done!

Have fun!

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task relating to some aspect of life in Japan.

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task relating to some aspect of life in Japan. This month’s mission is ‘Back to School‘: to learn something, anything, about Japan.

I’ve been getting reacquainted with origami. In my early teens it was one of my biggest hobbies that started when I discovered how to fold a butterfly on an Asian open air market. It was probably the first Japanese thing I really got into — not counting my father’s enthralling stories about his childhood in a World War 2 Japanese prison camp… :\

Somewhere along the line I lost interest in the art of paper folding, but I never stopped using my golden paper fir trees as Christmas decoration! Unfortunately I can’t show you ’cause they’re stowed away in the basement. You’ll have to wait till X-mas time! ;) Or ask Mr Gnoe whether it’s true.

Now that I’m having some kind of burnout, I’ve been looking for activities that are less intense than computer stuff, reading or watching movies. Enter: cooking, ‘gardening’ (on our small balcony), hiking & my old pastime origami. My brain is SO hazy I can’t remember a thing, not even how to fold the butterfly that I must have made a thousand times. So I started from scratch again by buying second hand copies of the instruction books I owned back in the days. Of course I had hung on to my multiple cute papers! :)

I’ve been learning how to do some of the old fav figures, but I had to learn something new for this month’s Hello Japan! challenge. Since I’ve also been looking into origata, the (related) art of gift wrapping, I here present the combined result: a spring birthday present with origami flowers I’ve never made before.

Spring birthday gift with origami flowers

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Edited to add: there’s a post up on Graasland explaining how to make these fancy origami flowers!
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As the gift is a book (Crossroads, by Niccolò Ammaniti), I also taught myself how to fold a crane bookmark. In Japan cranes are a symbol of longevity.

The mark is made of gold & blue paper: both colours symbolizing wealth. The feminine blue also represents self-cultivation, calmness and purity and pale blue is specific for April. The warm gold & cold blue tint are in harmony (yin & yang).

A present: novel & origami bookmark

But that’s not the only thing I’ve been learning this month… I also set my mind to learning how to count to ten in Japanese. I already knew how to get to eight, but now I’m trying to recognize the characters, know the digits out of order and to sum up to ten. And yes, I’ve got some proof! Listen to this. :)

1 t/m 4 in Japanese

I hope you’ve also contributed to April’s Hello Japan!? For each and every participant our host Tanabata is donating $6 (¥500) to either the Japanese Red Cross or — even more up my alley — Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue Support (JEARS)! No need to have your own blog, commenting on the challenge post is fine too.

I’ve already donated to JEARS but their work is so important that I hereby pledge to follow Nat’s example with the equivalent of €4,- per person. So please join us if you’ve got a chance!

Here’s why.

Postcard from Takayama

This fabulous Easter Monday I’d like to share with you the goodies I found in my mailbox last week. Starting with a postcard my friend R. sent from Takayama. Her journey to Japan went through since she wasn’t really going near the disaster areas – and she had been preparing and looking forward to her trip for a long time! Remember we went to watch Chef of South Polar with her and our hostess had made us a mega batch of sushi?

That day I made shiro miso soup for January’s Hello Japan! mini challenge, ”Something New’. It was good training for the cooking topic of the following month, in which I made rice patties & vegan gyoza. And I won! Here’s the prize I found in the mail this week: an ultra cute tiny bento box and Norwegian Wood postcard set. Kawaii! Thank you so much Tanabata!

My prize in February's Hello Japan! mini challenge (What's Cooking)

There’s still time to enter this month’s Hello Japan! challenge at In Spring it is the Dawn. Your mission is to learn something Japanese / about Japan. You can either write a blog post about it or comment on the challenge post — please do, because for every participant Tanabata will donate an amount one of the following good causes: JEARS (Japanese Earthquake Animal Rescue Support) or the Japanese Red Cross Society.

Then I had two books delivered:

  • De filmvertelster (‘The Movieteller‘) by Hernán Rivera Letelier, a gift from one of my Wandelgrrls hiking buddies after she’d heard I was doing a short course on film reviews. A big Thank You to L. too!
  • a Bookcrossing book ring I have been awaiting quite some time: All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe.

I already started reading Miyabe’s “Best Mystery and Best Novel of the Year” and will be taking the book to the park once I’ve published this update.

Now what happened to Kenzaburo Oë’s Voetballen in 1860 (The Silent Cry)? You may remember I wrote I really felt like reading a detective story but picked up Oë instead because of the Japanese Literature Book Group. Well, discussion on the novel starts today and I’ve only gotten to page 20… So I put it aside. It’s not that I don’t like it — and I do want to read it — but right now I need some easier stuff: suspense, plot & pageturning. Not having the right book for my mood kept me from reading. And that’s no good at all! ;)

Book 'De filmvertelster' ('The Movie Teller')Bookcrossing book All She Was Worth

It’s Monday, what are you reading? is hosted by Sheila from Book Journey.

Cover Pinball, 1973 (Haruki Murakami)On Sunday several tweeps held a low-key minireadathon and some of us decided to buddyread Haruki Murakami’s Pinball, 1973 together. I think @Chinoiseries, @inspringthedawn and @Owl59 accomplished more than I did… I got distracted by the fine hiking weather (still rare these days) and this month’s Hello Japan! mini-challenge which seemed such a great conclusion of my Murakami day: cooking (and eating) Japanese.

Japanese dinner, Sunday February 13th 2011

After making shiromiso soup for January’s Hello Japan! mini mission I had an open packet of aburaage (bean curd bags) that desperately needed finishing, so I put inarizushi (tofu puffs) on this week’s menu plan. But who can resist preparing some maki rolls as well when making a batch of sushi rice? Especially now that I had some avocado waiting in the fruit basket!

Next to that we had steamed broccoli with sesame seeds and lemon wheels. Pickled ginger, soy sauce and sake could not be omitted. ;)

Cover Vegetarian Table: Japan (Victoria Wise)All recipes for our Sunday dinner came from a fabulous cookbook that I’ve mentioned before, The Vegetarian Table: Japan (Victoria Wise). For our sushi rolls I didn’t follow a recipe but picked the ingredients from what I had at hand:

  1. avocado – wasabi veganaise – leek sprouts
  2. shiitake mushrooms – cucumber – spring onion – pickled ginger
  3. avocado – wasabi ‘mayo’ – shiitake – spring onion – (white) sesame seeds

They were all very nice but I think no.’s 1 and 3 were my favourites. Having leek sprouts was a lucky coincidence — and I’m definitely going to remember that for next time!

The tofu puffs contained carrot, broccoli stem and black sesame seeds mixed into the rice.

A good thing about eating Japanese is obviously that possible leftovers make a great bento. And what a surprise, Mr Gnoe opted for a small Monday bento too!

Hello Japan! Bento, 14-02-2011

Mr Gnoe’s bento (left container)

  • Tofu puff
  • Oak leaf lettuce
  • Assortment of sushi rolls
  • Soy fishy
  • Pickled ginger
  • Shiitake ‘slug’
  • Cucumber
  • Japanese strawberry candy

Gnoe’s bento (middle container)

  • Cherry tomatoes and shiitake mushroom on red leaf lettuce
  • Maki sushi
  • Cucumber

Right container

  • Shiitake mushroom
  • Lemon wheels
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Soy container (hiding)
  • Batavian lettuce leaf
  • Pickled ginger
  • Inarizushi
  • Garden cress
  • More sushi rolls

On the side (not shown)

  • Apple
  • Ontbijtkoek

Gorgeous gift from a generous soul!Now I’d like to put the spotlight on those lovely chopsticks you see in the picture. I got them for a present from a kindhearted fellow bentoïst on my 3-year bentoversary. I use them regularly but rarely with a bento because most times a spoon suits my European-style lunches fine.

Don’t you love these bright sakura hashi? I instantly get a spring feeling when I hold them! And I even got another pair of chopsticks and some more goodies along with it. *Lucky grrl!* Months have past but I am still immensely grateful for this kind gesture.

Bentoïsts make the world a better place! ;)

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge
focusing on Japanese literature and culture.
Each month there is a new task which relates
to some aspect of life in Japan.

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there will be a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. You can post about the task on your blog. Or if you don’t have a blog, you can leave a comment on the Hello Japan! post for the month.

November’s topic:

We’re going to do things a little differently this month. Instead of a general topic to post on, I have five questions about Japan for you to answer. A kind of short Japan meme, if you will, just as a fun way to talk about some of what we like about Japan, and perhaps get some suggestions from each other of other things to try.

1. My favourite Japanese cinematographer is Hirokazu Koreeda because years ago I fell in love with his movie After Life (Wandaafuru Raifu). It is set in a waystation where the souls of the recently deceased are processed before entering heaven. They have to choose one single memory from their lives before being able to proceed: keeping that one memory is heaven. Such a simple, moving and thought-provoking idea! All filmed in a naturalistic way. Since then I have seen more of Koreeda’s works and was often moved by them. Maybe you have seen Nobody Knows (Dare mo shiranai), a film based on a true story in which four children (each by a different father), are abandoned by their mother in their Tokyo apartment. As a director Koreeda often uses amateur actors and his stories derive from things that have happened in real life.

2. The best Japanese sake I’ve drank this year is Kizan Sanban Junmaiginjo. There was a time when I thought all sakes would taste the same… Not. This rice wine has a light ‘fruity’ taste and is great for aperitif. The blue bottle looks awesome too ;) I was supposed to write a post about the sake tasting we did for Hello Japan’s summer topic: Doubles, but alas.

3. What Japanese author(s) or book(s) have you enjoyed that you would highly recommend to others?

I could say Haruki Murakami of course. We’ve got a whole shelf of his books at home, sometimes both in English as well as Dutch. But that wouldn’t be much of a recommendation — although it was at the time when I read my first Murakami, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, in 2004.

Murakami book shelf

A more ‘recent’ discovery is Yasunari Kawabata, whose 1962 novel The Old Capital was on the agenda for the November 2009 Japanese Literature Book Group. It turned out to be the second best book I read last year! You can imaginge how disappointed I am not to have been able to join this year’s book group read of his novel The Sound of the Mountain. Thankfully I have Snow Country on Mount TBR to look forward to :)

4. What is something Japanese that you’d like to try but haven’t yet had the chance?

Watching the cherry blossoms bloom in Japan :)

5. You’re planning to visit Japan next year. Money is not a concern. What is on the top of your list of things you most want to do?

Sakura fabrics, ice cubes and onigiri moldOMG: shop! Normally I’m not much of a shopaholic but once I’m set loose in Japan I won’t be able to restrain myself. It would be awesome to pick my own bento boxes & gear, instead of being dependent on what is offered on-line. I’m addicted to lovely fabrics and paper (origami, wrapping paper, stationary), can’t resist fine tableware (tea cups, sushi dishes, chopstick holders), could use a low mahjong table (or other furniture as well) and would love some Japanese artwork on my walls. Hey, when money is no concern I can have my own plane to ship it all back to Holland! ;) Dream on grrl…

But something that’s as high on my list and less expensive: to watch the cherry blossoms in spring! You felt that one coming, didn’t you? ;) I’d also like to see the colouring of leaves in fall. And it would be awesome to go hiking in Japan — so much gorgeous land to explore! But I’d be afraid to as long as I don’t speak nor read Japanese. Better not get lost in the ‘Land of the Thousand Autumns’ ;)

This tells you a bit of who I am: I can be materialistic in certain areas but essentially I only need nature’s beauty & silence to be happy.

* Bonus question * What was your favourite Hello Japan! mini-challenge topic?

I love all Hello Japan! mini missions! But if I had to name three favourites, it would be A celebration of spring and sakura (have a look at what kind of goodies I like to buy!), Japanese food (although it’s true I didn’t really challenge myself by submitting a Flower Bento post) and Summer Double — even though I failed to participate in that one. I guess I prefer foodie topics and those in which we can be creative ;)

Now you know even more about me! And that’s what this topic was about, right?! :)



Aikido looks like dancing!

On the second day of Pentecost we went to the Japan fair in Leiden, like we did last year and the year before. We scored some nice sake, shincha (2010 first flush sencha tea) and a few other goodies. But we also went to see a demonstration of Aikido, one of the ancient martial arts.

The art of self-defense is not supposed to be just a sport or hobby, but a way of life in which body and soul become one: winning is achieved by your mindset (not just physical capability).

Aikido is often translated as the Way of harmonious spirit; ‘-do‘ referring to spiritual enlightment. The idea is to redirect the force of an attack rather than opposing it head-on. So aikido teaches one to fight, but its main objective is not to kill. Unlike judo and karate there’s no competition either.

Japan is often considered the cradle of martial arts. But they actually originate in India, where a secret art of fighting based on animal principles was taught aside yoga and massage, more than 3000 years ago. It was brought to China in the 6th century by the Indian monk Bodidharma who traveled to Shaolin monastery to promote his country’s religion. He taught the friars exercises to prevent stiffness caused by the day-long meditations. And because the monastery was often raided he also trained them in self-defense. Shaolin monks became the ultimate fighters because they combined meditation, focus and the art of breathing with physical training and fighting techniques. A code of honour evolved when the Chinese involved the monasteries in military training.

Martial arts came to Japan from China and were incorporated by the elite social order of Samurai. Being masters in perfectionism, they further developed it into an art of its own. Aikido as we know it today even has a Japanese traditional ‘uniform': wide Samurai pants (hakama) and a jacket resembling a short kimono tucked into the baggy pants.

Aikido is an elegant sport and really looks like dancing to me. Yeah well, why did I think it was called martial ARTS? Dancing as a way of life, that’s something another Master of Arts, Mr Murakami, recommends in his book Dance Dance Dance… ;)

“So what do I have to do?”
“Dance,” said the Sheep Man. “Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays. Yougottadance. Don’teventhinkwhy. Starttothink, yourfeetstop. Yourfeetstop, wegetstuck. Wegetstuck, you’re stuck. Sodon’tpayanymind, nomatterhowdumb. Yougottakeepthestep. Yougottalimberup. Yougottaloosenwhatyoubolteddown. Yougottauseallyougot. We know you’retired, tiredandscared. Happenstoeveryone, okay? Justdon’tletyourfeetstop.”
I looked up and gazed again at the shadow [dancing] on the wall.
“Dancingiseverything,” continued the Sheep Man. “Danceintip-topform. Dancesoitallkeepsspinning. Ifyoudothat, wemightbeabletodosomethingforyou. Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays.”
Dance, as long as the music plays, echoed my mind. [p.86]

May’s Hello Japan! mission was a suggestion of Novroz and it urged us to appreciate Japanese sports. Not being much of a ‘Sporty Spice’ I thought I could talk some more about the baseball theme in Yoko Ogawa’s book The Housekeeper and the Professor, or maybe transcribing quotes about samurai arts in the recently read The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (by David Mitchell). But I decided to really challenge myself and actually look into one of the martial arts.

It was fun!

April’s Hello Japan! task is to celebrate spring, in particular the beloved sakura.

In the light of this month’s mini misson I thought it might be fun to share my ‘collection’ of sakura goodies.

It’s not a deliberate gathering of things decorated with Japanese cherry blossoms — I work in the museum field so there’s no need to collect anything myself ;) — but since I’m often seduced by cute sakura prints I seem to have acquired a few articles anyway ;)

So, about 2 weeks ago I gathered everything on the table and took a picture.

My sakura 'collection'

It was only after I had put this assortment away again that I remembered my favourite gift wrapping paper… and that I had forgotten to include the sakura chopsticks I recently posted about!

White sakura chopsticks My current favourite giftwrapping Black sakura chopsticks

Furthermore my kawaii ice cubes, onigiri mold, food picks & the lovely textiles I fell for a while ago– the red one is going to be a small jacket for my usagi thermos; the pink may become a bento bag.

And what about the loads of origami paper I own? Only a selection is shown here.

You see? It really looks as if I’m unconsciously subconsciously collecting these things. I even excluded prints here in which cherry blossoms or sakura petals are just a small detail, like my usagi bento box and thermos. But I did allow myself to include round 5-petaled flowers and not just the characteristic heartshaped blossoms… I can’t help it: I just LOVE sakura!

For those of you who wonder where to get these treasures (I know I always do), I’ll provide a list! ;)

  1. Transparant sakura gift bags from Etsy
  2. First 2 tea containers (left) from Japan Market in Leiden
  3. Other 2 tea tins from ‘t Japanse Winkeltje (‘The Little Japanese Shop’) in Amsterdam
  4. Cherry blossom body butter from The Body Shop
  5. Embroidered furoshiki and handkerchief from eBay store
  6. Bookmarks were a gift from tanabata (Hello Japan! about Kyoto temples)
  7. White chopsticks were a hanami gift from Bento Babe
  8. Gift wrap paper from V&D department store
  9. Black chopsticks from toko Meltem on Botermarkt in Leiden
  10. Ice cubes from HEMA department store
  11. Onigiri mold from Toko Centraal on Achter Clarenburg in Utrecht
  12. Food picks from eBay (part of a set)
  13. Textile and some of the origami paper via Etsy (mostly Pixies Origami Store & This and That from Japan)
  14. Other origimi sheets from several DIY and stationary shops

Do you have any themed collections?

Earlier this month I wrote a post about our hanami picnic under the cherry trees.

Picture of book
March was Murakami Month. 31 days of special attention for the famous & well-loved author Haruki Murakami. What a good idea for a Hello Japan mini challenge!

This month’s task is to read, or otherwise experience Haruki Murakami’s work.

I have already read a LOT of Murakami’s books, so I decided not to join in the The Wind-up Bird Chronicle read-along, nor the Japanese Literature Book Group choice of A Wild Sheep Chase & Dance, Dance, Dance. But of course I could not let March pass without any Murakami on my plate! And since I don’t get much reading done these days, I have only read Murakami this month! Next to Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book read-along that is…

Cover Blind Willow, Sleeping WomanFirst I picked Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman of the shelf; a collection of Murakami tales. I’m not really a short-story-grrl: I like to dig into a book and need some time to get acquainted with (get a feel for) the characters. My problem with short stories and novella’s is that they seem to be over before they begin :\ But I do want to read the complete works of Murakami, so ‘Blind Willow’ became a buddy read with Elsje. She finished it a while ago whereas I’m still only half way! Is it that bad??? No, not at all ;) I like the characters and the magical atmosphere, so I am really enjoying myself. It’s also nice that I can (often) finish a story in one sitting. But the book does not call out to me to come and read NOW, the way a pageturner does.

So. To complete my mission I could have chosen to write a review of just one of the stories. Or to rent the Tony Takitani dvd again. But nooooo. I did something else I want to tell you about: I reread another, special edition of short stories by Haruki Murakami! It’s called Een stoomfluit midden in de nacht and was a 2006-2007 New Year’s gift of a group of Dutch publishers. Not for sale :) My copy was generously given to me by maupi, who came by it through her work as a translator.

Special edition of short stories by Haruki MurakamiNext to the title story Yonaka no kiteki ni tsuite (originally published in 1995), this publication contains two other stories: Kreta Kanō (Kanō Kureta, 1993) and De tweeling en het verzonken continent (Futago to shinzunda tairiku, 1985). It’s a real scoop because these stories have never before been translated into a foreign language! ^_^

So I now stand for the great task to translate the titles in English — from Dutch, because I don’t read Japanese LOL. The name of the book means literally: A Steam Whistle in the Middle of the Night. Maybe someone can give a hint whether it is the same in Japanese?

* * * Note: the rest of this post contains spoilers! * * *

The story A Steam Whistle in the Middle of the Night is REALLY short: only 3 pages. But it’s the most beautiful of the lot, and maybe that’s why it is also the title of the book; even though it’s the closing story. It’s a heartwarming narrative of a boy expressing his love for a girl. To truly feel the extent of it, she needs to understand first how awful, absolutely gruesome it is to wake up alone in the middle of the night, far from reality. Like being locked up in an iron coffin that has sunk to the bottom of a deep sea — running out of oxygen. The only thing that can bring you back is the faraway sound of a steam whistle. That’s how much he loves her.

Aw.. The image of a steam whistle in the night recalled my childhood, lying in bed on those rare nights of extreme fog.

The first story of A Steam Whistle in the Middle of the Night is Kreta Kanō. Those of you who have read The Wind-up Bird Chronicle will immediately recognize the name :) Kreta works for her Sister, Malta Kanō, who listens to the sounds of body fluids to solve people’s problems. Kreta’s got a huge problem too… She is so irresistible to men that once they lay their eyes on her, they need to possess her: assault being the result. All men. Malta says it’s because her water is out of synch with her body. That’s why men are attracted to her — like the tides, I guess. It’s a fascinating story, set after her adventures in ‘Wind-up Bird’. Kreta also brought to mind the woman in Taichi Yamada’s novel Strangers

The ‘longest’ story in this 61 page booklet is called The Twins and the Sunken Continent (again my translation is very literal so I’m open to improvement :) I should read it for a third time because it’s a typical Murakami, making me wonder what the hell it’s all about. There are two mysterious twin sisters (who are also supposed to appear in his novel Pinball, 1973; a book I unfortunately still lack!), a glass club in Roppongi, weird dreams and a missing colleague called Noboru Watanabe — again a name that may sound familiar. In an early story that was later made into The Wind-up Bird Chronicle both the missing cat and the protagonist’s brother-in-law bear that name. In the novel they were renamed to Noboru Wataya. It is said that in real life Haruki Murakami has a very good friend called Noboru Watanabe ;)

Een stoomfluit in het midden van de nacht is a real gem to have. It even makes me reread – and read once again; something I normally just don’t do.

So as you can probably tell, I’ve had a great Murakami March!
I hope I’ve made you join in the fun a bit?!

* All stories in Een stoomfluit midden in de nacht are translated from Japanese by Jacques Westerhoven, © 2003.

Earlier I’ve posted some of my thoughts on A Wild Sheep Chase on Graasland (in Dutch).

The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, where they blog about bookish things of the past week, visit each others weblogs, oh — and read ;)

I just got back from the movie Fish Tank and we have some catching up to do on Day 7 of the television series 24 before we got to leave for tonight’s Nouvelle Vague concert. So I’m keeping this short ;)

I finally managed to write my review of To Kill a Mockingbird and send the bookcrossing book off to its next reader. Now I’m 1 review down for my Classics Challenge! I even learned something new: there’s a subgenre in American literature called Southern Gothic..!

Cover Be With YouI’m currently reading Be With You, by Takuji Ichikawa. I haven’t gotten very far yet but I really love it. I feel like writing down whole pages because the passages are so beautiful! You might be surprised to know this book is part of no challenge or book group read whatsoever ;) The story, but also my mini-chillenge for October’s Hello Japan!, has made me think of Strangers by Taichi Yamada a lot, so I recycled a review I sent to my virtual book group in 2005. It is mostly in Dutch but I plan to translate that sometime soon.

That’s all folks. Next weekend: the 24 hour read-a-thon! You can read all about that in last week’s salon post.

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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