How a Guatemalan cook ended up the master of okonomiyaki.Excerpted from "Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan's Food Culture"
Looking after the kodokushi – the elderly who die alone – of Japan.
An American writer living in Japan, unread and underpublished, sends an email to a group of writers he doesn’t know informing them that he is committing suicide.
To be a foreigner is to be perpetually detached, but it is also to be continually surprised.
A sumo wrestling tournament. A failed coup ending in seppuku. A search for a forgotten man. How one writer’s trip to Japan became a journey through oblivion.
Young people consider changes to their personalities, and to their relationships.
"When I moved from Kansai to Tokyo to start college, I spent the whole bullet-train ride mentally reviewing my eighteen years and realized that almost everything that had happened to me was pretty embarrassing. I’m not exaggerating. I didn’t want to remember any of it—it was so pathetic. The more I thought about my life up to then, the more I hated myself. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a few good memoriesI did. A handful of happy experiences. But, if you added them up, the shameful, painful memories far outnumbered the others. When I thought of how I’d been living, how I’d been approaching life, it was all so trite, so miserably pointless. Unimaginative middle-class rubbish, and I wanted to gather it all up and stuff it away in some drawer. Or else light it on fire and watch it go up in smoke (though what kind of smoke it would emit I had no idea). Anyway, I wanted to get rid of it all and start a new life in Tokyo as a brand-new person. Jettisoning Kansai dialect was a practical (as well as symbolic) method of accomplishing this. Because, in the final analysis, the language we speak constitutes who we are as people. At least that’s the way it seemed to me at eighteen."
The author walks to his hometown after the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995.
A visit to Tokyo’s first co-sleeping cafe, where one can pay a set fee to sleep next to a woman in 20 minute increments, though spooning, being patted on the head, and a change of pajamas are extra.