My Favorite Japanese Books: A List (or So)

By request:

Top Fifteen Japanese Novels

1. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami Haruki (ねじまき鳥クロニクル/村上春樹)
2. The Makioka Sisters by Tanizaki Jun’ichiro (細雪/谷崎潤一郎)
3. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Murakami Haruki (世界の終わりとハードボイルド ワンダーランド/村上春樹)
4. A Personal Matter by Oe Kenzaburo (個人的な体験/大江健三郎)
5. A Portrait of Shunkin by Tanizaki Jun’ichiro (春琴抄/谷崎潤一郎)
6. The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Mishima Yukio (午後の曳航/三島由紀夫)
7. Woman in the Dunes by Abe Kobo (砂の女/安部公房)
8. No Longer Human by Dazai Osamu (人間失格/太宰治)
9. Coin Locker Babies by Murakami Ryu (コインロッカー ベイビーズ/村上龍)
10. Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness by Oe Kenzaburo (われらの狂気を生き延びる道を教えよ/大江健三郎)
11. Norwegian Wood by Murakami Haruki (ノルウェイの森/村上春樹)
12. Naomi by Tanizaki Jun’ichiro (知人の愛/谷崎潤一郎)
13. Vibrator by Akasaka Mari (ヴァイブレータ/赤坂真理)
14. In the Miso Soup by Murakami Ryu (イン ザ ミソスープ/村上龍)
15. The Kangaroo Notebook by Abe Kobo (カンガルー ノート/安部公房)

Top Ten Japanese Story Collections

1. Seven Japanese Tales by Tanizaki Jun’ichiro
2. After the Quake by Murakami Haruki
3. Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness by Oe Kenzaburo
4. The Paper Door by Naoya Shiga
5. Blind Woman, Sleeping Willow by Murakami Haruki
6. Beyond the Curve by Abe Kobo
7. The Elephant Vanishes by Murakami Haruki
8. Tales of Moonlight and Rain by Akinari Ueda
9. Salmonella Men on the Planet Porno by Tsutsui Yasutaka
10. The Diving Pool by Ogawa Yoko

Top Twenty Manga

1. GoGo Monster by Matsumoto Taiyo
2. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Miyazaki Hayao
3. Phoenix: Karma by Tezuka Osamu
4. Tekkonkinkreet by Matsumoto Taiyo
5. Phoenix: A Tale of the Future by Tezuka Osamu
6. Message to Adolf by Tezuka Osamu
7. Akira by Otomo Katsuhiro
8. A Drifting Life by Tatsumi Yoshihiro
9. Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show by Maruo Suehiro
10. Ode to Kirihito by Tezuka Osamu
11. Orochi: A Tale of Blood by Umezu Kazuo
12. Bakune Young by Matsunaga Toyokazu
13. Uzumaki by Ito Junji
14. Music of Marie by Furuya Usamaru
15. The Laughing Vampire by Maruo Suehiro
16. Neji-shiki by Tsuge Yoshiharu
17. Abandon the Old in Tokyo by Tatsumi Yoshihiro
18. Blame! by Nihei Tsutomu
19. Eden: It’s an Endless World! by Endo Hiroki
20. Sexy Voice and Robo by Kuroda Iou

…or something like that.

Advertisements

My Favorite Japanese Films: A List

A friend asked if I had posted my favorite Japanese films on my blog, so I decided to go ahead and try to come up with some kind of a top ten list out of the hundreds of movies I’ve seen since I became obsessed in the early 2000s. But instead of one top ten list, I’ll do several in various categories.

Top Ten Classic Japanese Films (pre-1980s)

1. Woman in the Dunes (砂の女, dir. Teshigahara Hiroshi, 1964)
2. Yojimbo (用心棒, dir. Kurosawa Akira, 1961)
3. The Man Who Stole the Sun (太陽を盗んだ男, dir. Hasegawa Kazuhiko, 1979)
4. Rashomon (羅生門, dir. Kurosawa Akira, 1950)
5. The Pornographers (エロ事師たちより人類学入門, dir. Imamura Shohei 1966)
6. Onibaba (鬼婆, dir. Shindo Kaneto, 1964)
7. Seven Samurai (七人の侍, dir. Kurosawa Akira, 1954)
8. Sansho the Bailiff (山椒大夫, dir. Mizoguchi Kenji, 1954)
9. Pastoral — To Die in the Country (田園に死す, dir. Terayama Shuji, 1974)
10. Harakiri (切腹, dir. Kobayashi Masaki, 1962)

Top Ten Modern Japanese Films

1. Eureka (dir. Aoyama Shinji, 2000)
2. The Ballad of Narayama (楢山節考, dir. Imamura Shohei, 1983)
3. The Taste of Tea (茶の味, dir. Ishii Katsuhito, 2004)
4. Nobody Knows (誰も知らない, dir. Koreeda Hirokazu, 2004)
5. All About Lily Chou-Chou (リリシュシュのすべて, dir. Iwai Shunji, 2001)
6. Noriko’s Dinner Table (紀子の食卓, dir. Sono Sion, 2005)
7. Confessions (告白, dir. Nakashima Tetsuya, 2010)
8. Sonatine (dir. Kitano Takeshi, 1993)
9. Memories of Matsuko (嫌われ松子の一生, dir. Nakashima Tetsuya, 2006)
10. A Snake of June (六月の蛇, Tsukamoto Shinya, 2002)

Top Ten Anime Films

1. Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (王立宇宙軍 オネアミスの翼, dir. Yamaga Hiroyuki, 1987)
2. Ghost in the Shell (攻殻機動隊, dir. Oshii Mamoru, 1995)
3. Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫, dir. Miyazaki Hayao, 1997)
4. Paprika (dir. Kon Satoshi, 2006)
5. Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し, dir. Miyazaki Hayao, 2001)
6. Akira (dir. Otomo Katsuhiro, 1988)
7. Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (人狼, dir. Okiura Hiroyuki, 1999)
8. Angel’s Egg (天使の卵, dir. Oshii Mamoru, 1985)
9. Tekkonkinkreet (鉄っこん筋クリート, dir. Michael Arias, 2006)
10. Cat Soup (ねこぢる草, dir. Sato Tatsuo, 2001)

Top Ten Japanese Feel-Good Movies

1. Ping Pong (dir. Sori Fumihiko, 2002)
2. Linda Linda Linda (dir. Yamashita Nobuhiro, 2005)
3. Hana and Alice (dir. Iwai Shunji, 2004)
4. Swing Girls (dir. Yaguchi Shinobu, 2004)
5. Solanin (dir. Miki Takahiro, 2010)
6. Sawako Decides (川の底からこんにちは, dir. Ishii Yuya, 2010)
7. Kikujiro (菊次郎の夏, dir. Kitano Takeshi, 1999)
8. Kamikaze Girls (下妻物語, dir. Nakashima Tetsuya, 2004)
9. The Great Yokai War (妖怪大戦争, dir. Miike Takashi, 2005)
10. Hula Girls (dir. Lee Sang-il, 2006)

Top Ten Weird Japanese Films

1. The Taste of Tea (茶の味, dir. Ishii Katsuhito, 2004)
2. Noriko’s Dinner Table (紀子の食卓, dir. Sono Sion, 2005)
3. Pastoral — To Die in the Country (田園に死す, dir. Terayama Shuji, 1974)
4. Funky Forest: The First Contact (ナイスの森 〜The First Contact〜, dir. Ishii Katsuhito, Ishimine Hajime, and Miki Shunichiro, 2005)
5. Visitor Q (dir. Miike Takashi, 2001)
6. Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani (dir. Aoyama Shinji, 2005)
7. House (dir. Obayashi Nobuhiko, 1977)
8. Rampo Noir (乱歩地獄, dir. Jissoki Akio, Kaneko Atsushi, Sato Hisayasu, and Takeuchi Suguru, 2005)
9. Pitfall (落とし穴, dir. Teshigahara Hiroshi, 1962)
10. Karaoke Terror (昭和歌謡大全集, dir. Shinohara Tetsuo, 2003)

And finally, although they’re not films,

Top Ten Anime Series

1. Cowboy Bebop
2. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
3. Paranoia Agent
4. Kemonozume
5. Mushi-shi
6. Texhnolyze
7. Super Dimensional Fortress Macross
8. Mononoke
9. The Tatami Galaxy
10. Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team

Disclaimer: These lists will fluctuate. Ask me again tomorrow and they might be surprisingly different.

10 Favorite Japanese Soundtracks

Because I can’t get enough of lists and because I love OSTs, here’s a quick list of my ten favorite soundtracks from Japan. Check them out if you get the chance.

Ghost in the Shell — 川井憲次 (Kawai Kenji) Sample
Akira — 芸能山城組 (Geinoh Yamashirogumi) Sample
天使の卵 (Tenshi no Tamago, aka Angel’s Egg) — 菅野 由弘 (Kanno Yoshihiro) Sample
9 Souls — dip (Sample)
Paprika — 平沢進 (Hirasawa Susumu) Sample
殺し屋1 (Ichi the Killer) — Karera Musication (aka Boredoms) Sample
リリシュシュのすべて (All About Lily Chou-Chou) — 小林武史 (Kobayashi Takeshi) Sample
千と千尋の神隠し (Spirited Away) — 久石譲 (Hisaishi Joe) Sample
Cowboy Bebop — 菅野よう子 (Kanno Youko) Sample
黒い雨 (Black Rain) — 武満徹 (Takemitsu Toru) Sample

I haven’t listened to a lot of classic film scores, unfortunately — Seven Samurai, Godzilla, etc. –, so this is my top ten currently, although it will probably fluctuate over time (as lists tend to do). But anyway, these are all worth looking into.

30 More Essential Japanese Albums

The first list couldn’t contain all of the albums I wanted it to, so here’s a followup of some more great albums that belong in any respectable music collection:

タテタカコ (Tate Takako) — イキモノタチ (ikimonotachi, 2007) Video
Idiot O’Clock — Idiot O’Clock (1989) Video
東京事変 (Tokyo Jihen, aka Tokyo Incidents) — 大人 (aka Adult, 2006) Video
Zazen Boys — Zazen Boys 4 (2008) Video
Sherbets — Vietnam 1964 (2001) Video
GO!GO!7188 — 鬣 (Tategami, 2003) Video
Yapoos — Dadada ism (1992) Video
戸川純 (Togawa Jun) — 玉姫様 (Tamahime-sama, 1984) Video
Speed, Glue & Shinki — Eve (1971) Video
Mono — You Are There (2006) Video
Rosso — Bird (2002) Video
Magical Power Mako — Super Record (1975) Video
P-Model — In a Model Room (1979) Video
Sheena & the Rokkets — #1 (1979) Video
Phew — Phew (1981) Video
ヒカシュー (Hikashu) — うわさの人類 (Uwasa no Jinrui, 1981) Video
矢野明子 (Yano Akiko) — Japanese Girl (1976) Video
寺内タケシとブルージーンズ (Terauchi Takeshi and the Blue Jeans) — 羅生門 (Rashomon, 1972) Video
岡林信康 (Okabayashi Nobuyasu) — 見るまえに跳べ (Miru mae ni tobe, 1972) Video
ミドリ (Midori) — 新世界 (Shin Sekai, 2010) Video
サディスティックミカバンド (Sadistic Mika Band) — 黒船 (Kurofune, 1975) Video
Mass of the Fermenting Dregs — Mass of the Fermenting Dregs (2008) Video
女王蜂 (aka Ziyoou-vachi) — 魔女狩り (Majo-gari, 2011) Video
0.8秒と衝撃 (aka 0.8syooogeki) — 1暴2暴3暴4暴5暴6暴、東洋のテクノ。 (1bo 2bo 3bo 4bo 5bo 6bo, Touyou no Techno., 2011) Video
Gellers — Gellers (2007) Video
downy — 無題 (Mudai, aka 4, 2004) Video
Zelda — Carnaval (1983) Video
The Stalin — Stop Jap (1982) Video
Hi-Posi — 体と歌だけの関係 (Karada to Uta Dake no Kankei, 1995) Video
銀杏BOYZ (Ging Nang BOYZ) — 君と僕の第三次世界大戦的恋愛革命 (Kimi to Boku no Daisanji-Sekai-Taisen-teki Ren’ai Kakumei, 2005) Video

I look forward to translating more lyrics by these artists and many others soon. If there are any specific songs you want translated, feel free to leave me a comment.

25 Essential Japanese Albums

After posting a lot of translations back in October, I took a long break, but I’ve finally found my way back to the site, and I hope to keep up with it regularly from now on. I’m a huge fan of Japanese music — I’ve listened to hundreds (if not thousands) of albums since I discovered Japanese rock in 2002–, but I know there are a lot of people out there skeptical about its place in the world. “Why would you listen to Japanese music when you could just listen to music in English?” seems to be the usual question asked by people who don’t understand that the language of music is universal. The other reaction tends to be, “You like that kiddie-pop crap?” — usually from people who have only heard the more obnoxious anime theme songs. So, without repeating artists, I’ve narrowed down a list of twenty-five Japanese albums — spanning forty years — that I think are essential to any music lover’s collection, albums that I believe should answer the burning question “Why Japanese music?” — a list that just might have the power to convert the unbelievers. Without further ado, here are the albums, in no particular order:

椎名林檎 (Shiina Ringo) — 加爾基 精液 栗ノ花 (Karuki Zamen Kuri no Hana, 2003) Video
Number Girl — NumHeavyMetallic (2002) Video
ジャックス (Jacks) — からっぽの世界 (aka Vacant World, 1968) Video
Flower Travellin’ Band — Satori (1971) Video
J. A. Seazer — 国境巡礼歌 (Kokkyou Junreika, 1973) Video
友川かずき (Tomokawa Kazuki) — Fault of Flowers (1993) Video
Boris — Heavy Rocks (2002) Video
Cocco — くムイウタ (Kumui uta, 1998) Video
ゆらゆら帝国 (Yurayura Teikoku) — ゆらゆら帝国のめまい (Yurayura Teikoku no Memai, 2003) Video
芸能山城組 (Geinoh Yamashirogumi) — 輪廻交響楽 (aka Ecophany Rinne, 1986) Video
Happy End — Happy End (1970) Video
頭脳警察 (Zunou Keisatsu) — 頭脳警察 1 (Zunou Keisatsu 1, 1972) Video
金延幸子 (Kanenobu Sachiko) — み空 (Misora, 1973) Video
INU — メシ食うな (Meshi Kuu na, 1981) Video
The Blue Hearts — The Blue Hearts (1986) Video
The Roosters — The Roosters (1980) Video
Bloodthirsty Butchers — Kocorono (1996) Video
Bugy Craxone — Northern Hymns (2002) Video
Cowpers — 揺ラシツヅケル (Yurashitsudzukeru, 2000) Video
Eastern Youth — 雲射抜ケ声 (Kumo Inukegoe, 1999) Video
Quruli — The World is Mine (2002) Video
高円寺百景 (Koenji Hyakkei) — Nivraym (2001) Video
Thee Michelle Gun Elephant — Sabrina Heaven (2003) Video
King Brothers — King Brothers (aka Rainbow, 2001) Video (clip is from their 2010 album)
World’s End Girlfriend — Hurtbreak Wonderland (2007) Video