The private collections of longtime Japan resident and expert on modern Japanese culture Donald Richie capture the personalities of certain Japanese people — some famous, some unknown — with insight and humor.
This extraordinary collection of individual portraits is perhaps the first book about the Japanese to view them entirely unhindered by the various theories about them — people as complicated, as simple, as inscrutable, and as understandable as anyone else.
In these fifty — four pieces there are both the famous — Mishima, Kawabata, Mifune, Kurosawa — and the unknown: the would — be geisha, the ex — boxer turned gangster, the scheming bar madame and the old man dying alone. Here is the notorious Sada Abe, who mutilated her dead lover and whose story was filmed in Oshima’s The Realm of the Senses
And here is Oshima himself, dead drunk and making perfect sense; here is the actress who played Abe, exiled in Rome. Here too is the delivery boy who kills himself for love, the girl who loved a Korean, and the actress, a public idol, who suddenly and permanently disappeared from view.
And there are dozens of others, individuals who have in common, besides their Japanese nationality, the fact that they knew the author, and that —fortunatly for us — he knew them. This highly personal reminiscences form one of the most original and deeply felt books on Japan ever to appear.
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