Shaw Kuzki’s middle-grade novel Soul Lanterns begins in August 1970. A generation earlier, an atomic bomb leveled Hiroshima. Nozomi and her friends have grown up attending yearly memorials and learning about “the flash” in their peace studies class. When a much-loved art teacher takes an unexpected leave of absence, Nozomi begins to wonder about how the war really affected the adults in her life.

Unlike the ever-changing silhouettes of western dress, the iconic cut of the Japanese kimono, a straight-seamed T-shaped robe, was developed in the Heian period (794 -1185) and has remained relatively unchanged through modern times. Central to almost all ensembles in traditional Japanese dress, kimono designs were seen as intimate reflections of the wearer’s identity. Newly available in paperback, Kimono: The Art and Evolution of Japanese Fashion is a vibrant showcase of objects in the world-renowned Khalili Collections in London. Edited by Anna Jackson, Curator of Japanese Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum, it thoroughly explores how this wearable art changed over time technically and aesthetically, often as a response to the cultural context in which it was produced.

Like clockwork, every year around the spring equinox, as the ducks and egrets return to the rivers and sprigs of green grass begin sprouting in lawns, people in Japan take to the hills to pick mountain vegetables, herbs and other wild foods. As translator and writer Winifred Bird explains in her new book, Eating Wild Japan: Tracking the Culture of Foraged Foods, with a Guide to Plants and Recipes, there is no common Japanese phrase that corresponds precisely to the English terms “wild food” or “foraged food”.

“100 poems by 100 poets”: compiled in the 13th century by the famed poet, Fujiwara no Teika, (1162–1241) the Hyakunin-isshu (百人一首) is the most widely-read poetry anthology in Japan. Long celebrated in the arts, including in a famous woodblock series by Hokusai, the anthology is part of the curriculum of all Japanese school children, much as students in England might study Shakespeare.

Tokyo Love Story: A Manga Memoir of One Woman's Journey in the World's Most Exciting City, Julie Blanchin Fujita, Marie Velde (trans)(Tuttle, March 2021)
Tokyo Love Story: A Manga Memoir of One Woman’s Journey in the World’s Most Exciting City, Julie Blanchin Fujita, Marie Velde (trans) (Tuttle, March 2021)

A funny and intimate travelogue of one woman’s unexpected adventures in Japan. French illustrator Julie Blanchin-Fujita arrived in Tokyo for what she thought would be a one-year stint, and ended up never leaving.