Gleams From Japan
By S. Katsumata
Published May 18th 2011 by Routledge – 402 pages
Series: Routledge Revivals
First published in 1937 this is a collection of articles written by the author under the pseudonym 'Waseda Eisaku' for the Japan Tourist Bureau's magazine over twenty five years. Intended to satisfy the intellectual curiosity of cultivated tourists from abroad by giving the insider's view of all things Japanese, it was published as a book just before the outbreak of World War II.
Writing in the first person, Katsumata becomes both guide and confidante, writing about his own travel experiences in Japan and about Japanese customs and practices that interest him, such as traditional incense ceremonies, or fishing with rod and creel. This personal approach results in an unusual selection of topics and itineraries including tray landscapes, old Japanese clocks, hot springs, Japanese humour, sumo wrestling, pines in Japanese scenery, the Japanese sun flag and Buddhist temple bells. The author not only describes, but draws the reader into his own experiences - his joy on buying an antiquarian book he cannot really afford, the monotony he feels when travelling too long through snowy landscapes, the delight he takes in telling you that the best bait for carp fishing is sweet potato. Katsumata's unconventional choice of subjects and his informal and individualistic writing style make this a refreshingly different guide to Japan, and a valuable record of the period in which it was written.
1. Angling in Japan 2. Tokonoma 3. Bonseki, or tray Landscapes 4. Japanese Humour, Old and New 5. The Romance of a Mask-Maker 6. Incense Ceremonies 7. The Shōsōin 8. Hot Springs in Japan 9. Singing Insects 10. Miniature Plants 11. Among my Books 12. The Uguisu 13. Japan Weather 14. The Bamboo 15. Bonkei,or Miniature Landscapes 16. Wrestling, the National Game of Japan 17. In the Land of Snow 18. The Katana, the Soul of the Samurai 19. Tricky Traders in Art 20. The Ayu, the Queen of the River