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Japan Now | Modern Culture
Japan Now

Japan Now

Japan Now presents contemporary writing, politics and culture in a day of talks and debate, exploring the traditions and modernity of this fascinating country.

Saturday 27 February 2016
Japan Now at British Library, Conference Centre


Martin Colthorpe Director of Modern Culture will provide an overview of the day.

Session One: Japan – State of the Nation
Ian Buruma, Richard Lloyd Parry, Naoko Shimazu
Chair: Christopher Harding

Leading thinkers from around the globe discuss modern Japan in the context of its rapid post-war rise and the more recent traumas of economic decline and the 2011 tsunami. Ian Buruma, author of A Japanese Mirror and Inventing Japan discusses Shinzo Abe’s brand of nationalism; Naoko Shimazu, Professor of History at Birkbeck, will explore the iconic moments of Japan’s rapid economic growth, including the Tokyo Olympics of 1964 and the Osaka Expo in 1970; Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia Editor of the Times and author of People Who Eat Darkness, will reflect on the psychological effect of the tsunami on Japanese citizens.

Session Two: Japan in Fiction (i)
Takashi Hiraide and Kyoko Yoshida

Tikashi Hiraide and Kyoko Yoshida are two authors whose work exemplifies the genre-bending ambition of contemporary Japanese literature. Takashi Hiraide’s The Guest Cat – a New York Times bestseller – is a precisely focused novel where a married couple’s life is revitalized by the arrival of a stray cat into their home. By contrast, Kyoko Yoshida’s story collection Disorientalism absorbs diverse cultural references to presents a distorted and dystopian vision of the country. The authors will discuss their writing and its relation to the contemporary nation.

LUNCH: 1.45pm-2.30pm

Session Three: Japan in Fiction (ii)
Fuminori Nakamura and Soji Shimada

This session explores why the dark and dangerous has such a hold on the Japanese imagination, with novelists Fuminori Nakamura and Soji Shimada. Nakamura’s novel The Gun is classic hardboiled detective fiction, where the chance to discovery of a gun leads to a life spinning out of control. Shimada’s The Tokyo Zodiac Murders revolves around the discovery of a dead body, in a room locked from the inside. Japan is a peaceful country with a low crime rate – why take a fictional walk on the wild side?

Session Four: Japan: Tradition and Modernity

This concluding session will look at Japanese aesthetics in a wider sense with contributions from across artforms, and exploring the relationship between tradition and ritual and intense modernity which has characterized modern Japan.

Programmed by Modern Culture in partnership with the Japan Foundation

Supported by Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Books by the participating authors will be available for purchase and signing throughout the event

Book tickets / More information

Follow Japan Now events around UK:

Sunday 28 February 2016
Japan Now at Bath Literature Festival

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Monday 29 February 2016
Japan Now at Anthony Burgess Centre Manchester

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Monday 29 February 2016
Japan Now at International Writers at Leeds, Leeds Central Library

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