Published in the Dec/Jan 2015 issue of DestinAsian Magazine.
“If woodblock prints are to be believed, the metropolis was once awash in greens and blues. Reedy riverbanks, grassy hillocks and marshes draped with willows all feature in One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, the 19th-century series of woodblock prints of the capital (then called Edo) by master artist Utagawa Hiroshige. Above all are the waterways, wide rivers and narrow canals colored a deep Prussian blue, crisscrossed by gently arching wooden bridges. Boats — cargo boats, piled high with barrels and steered by stooped men in sampans; pleasure boats, their blinds drawn on the courtesans and patrons within — make their way up and down these causeways. One hundred and fifty years ago, Tokyo, at least from the right angles, looked downright romantic. So the question is: What happened?”
Published in the Japan Times On Sunday Timeout section.
“There’s a scene in Junichiro Tanizaki’s serialized novel Naomi (originally titled A Fool’s Love) from 1924 where the besotted protagonist, Joji, watches his wife, Naomi — part Lolita, part Madame Bovary, all trouble — through the pine trees. Having just emerged from a seaside villa, she is sashaying across the sand in nothing more than a cloak and high heels; the pied piper to no less than four men. The beach is Kamakura’s Yuigahama, which was a draw for moga — the new so-called modern girls who emerged after the 1923 Tokyo earthquake shook up the city and its culture.”
Published in The Japan Times.
“Over its long working life, Yoshiwara was home to the courtesans in decadent robes who were depicted in the ukiyoe of Kitagawa Utamaro and the charming, difficult women of Nagai Kafu’s novels and diaries.”
Read the rest on CNN Travel.
The original premise of this article was just to poke around and see what kind of place the Yoshiwara had become. Once I did a little reading and started talking to people though, it took a decidedly dark turn. Surprised they still ran this as a travel story!