Tsundoku Digest: September 11, 2019

Here are some very overdue tabs I’ve left hanging in my browser this past month:

Now, Isoko Mochizuki has two bestselling books on Japanese journalism, and a movie made about her career.

Voice acting is a brutal industry in Japan, and female voice actors are further pressured to choose between their careers and resisting power and sexual harassment. Here’s what a voice actor in her 30s has to say about male producers and managers:


“‘You want a job; it’s your dream right? I’m not going to do anything to you; let’s go to a hotel.’ Many clients say things like these to me.”

A show on censorship at the 2019 Aichi Trienniale is, ironically, censored, after a sculpture on Japan’s military sexual slavery rattles the nerves of some old, irrelevant Japanese men in politics.

Alex Barreia on the rising recognition of the other half of Japanese literature:

“The number of new voices that have been made available to Anglophone readers over the last few years has been encouraging,” says David Karashima, a professor at Waseda University who has translated Akutagawa-winning fiction.

Karashima says there are still not as many women published in Japan as men, but this may be changing, in part because there are more women on selection committees for literary prizes. He added that translated Japanese fiction is itself going through a “mini-boom.”

Two architects live in Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower for a year. The location seems convenient but horrible: next to a busy expressway, and outside ugly Shimbashi station. The apartments themselves look like a real life counterpart of the awful apartment Owen Milgrim lives in Maniac (directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga).

What names have parents bestowed upon athletes who participated in this year’s Koshien high school baseball tournament? Interesting picks include 佐々木夢叶 (Yumeto Sasaki), the kanji for ‘Yumeto’ corresponding to ‘realize your dreams (夢を叶う)’, who hails from Akita; and 小林未来雄 (Raio Kobayashi), the kanji for ‘Raio’ meaning ‘future hero’, who hails from Niigata.

Turns out, according to the article, changing your kira kira name is a little complicated. If you want the change the furigana (pronunciation) of your name, you have to submit forms at the local government offices, but if you want to change your name completely, you’ll have to start a case in the family courts, and explain why you want to edit out these embarrassing kanji from your identity.

The number of criminal prosecutions against non-Japanese speakers in Japanese criminal courts is increasing, but the quality and quantity of court interpreters are falling.

I’m not sure if Shinzo Abe is personally ready for gay marriage; it doesn’t really seem to be part of his rejuvenation agenda for the country. But the country is moving with or without him. Delighted to hear that Taiga Ishikawa, author of one of the first LGBTQ+ mainstream books, Where is my boyfriend(ボクの彼氏はどこにいる?), is now a Diet member.

On why the author’s late father became an extremist right wing keyboard warrior in his twilight years. What kind of Japan did he long for?


My father undeniably felt a huge sense of loss. What my father lost was the “Good Old Japan” that he spent in his childhood and saw in his days of youth.


It was a Japan where everyone had to do their bit to help each other, and led modest lives. Where going out to eat ramen was a luxury. Where having a pint with your buddies after work was the way to cool down. Where if you kept your head down and worked, you would get paid. This was the Japan my father loved, and longed for.

Finally, one of my former Japanese language professors’ tweets about an old McDonald’s logo she saw while on a family road trip went viral.