SBP Blog

The Japanese Poetic Tradition of Haibun in Basho's 'Narrow Road to the Interior'

Thomas Joel - Friday, April 27, 2018

Although his name has become synonymous with haiku mastery, Edo era poet Matsuo Bashō’s exalted status in Japanese literature is equally indebted to the prose compositions he wrote throughout his lifetime. However, poetry and prose were not mutually exclusive for Bashō, with some of his finest work dabbling in and fusing both forms of written expression. Read More


On Kenji Miyazawa’s 'Milky Way Railroad': A Fantasia of Self-Realization

Thomas Joel - Friday, March 16, 2018

Milky Way Railroad (Ginga Tetsudo no Yoru) is generally considered by critics and readers alike to be Kenji Miyazawa’s masterpiece of children’s literature. Nevertheless, despite its general popularity, numerous printings, and seemingly accessible view of the afterlife, it remains one of Miyazawa’s most difficult works to understand. Read More


Chinese New Year 2018: The Year of the Dog

Thomas Joel - Tuesday, February 13, 2018
The dog: loyal, clever, bursting with joy, ever loving and unfailingly gracious—man’s perennial best friend. All of which, with the Year of the Dog officially kicking off on Friday, is naturally copacetic with us. But, in the context of Chinese culture, what is the Year of the Dog all about? And what does it signify?  Read More

Coming of Age Day: A Japanese Celebration of Adulthood

Thomas Joel - Monday, January 08, 2018

In the United States and most other countries around the world, young men and women are legally recognized as adults at the age of 18. However, in a handful of nations this milestone is not acknowledged until later in life. One of those countries is Japan, where the age of majority is attained on a person’s 20th birthday.  Read More


Death in Mid-Autumn: The Art and Artifice of Yukio Mishima’s Final Moments

Thomas Joel - Monday, December 11, 2017

“True beauty is something that attacks, overpowers, robs, and finally destroys.”  Read More


​ The Practice of Naikan: How to Express Gratitude in Japan

Thomas Joel - Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The concepts of gratefulness and humility exist in practically every facet of Japanese culture and language, from the use of formal speech when talking to superiors and the subtle gradations of bowing to giving lavish compliments and always conducting oneself appropriately in the homes of others.
 Read More


“Fall Into Haiku”: A Seasonal Poetry Celebration in Albany, California

Thomas Joel - Monday, October 09, 2017

“Real haiku is the soul of poetry. Anything that is not actually present in one's heart is not haiku. The moon glows, flowers bloom, insects cry, water flows. There is no place we cannot find flowers or think of the moon. This is the essence of haiku.”  Read More


The Meticulous Art of Traditional Japanese Woodworking

Thomas Joel - Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Japan is a country with one foot eagerly frolicking in modernity and the other firmly planted in tradition. While it produces some of the most advanced technologies, from artificially intelligent androids and computers to virtual reality entertainment and bleeding edge electronics, it also cherishes steadfast traditions and preserves its centuries-old wooden buildings and furniture.   Read More


Okinawa vs. the US Military: A Big Controversy on a Small Island

Thomas Joel - Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Japan and the United States are two nations with a longstanding military alliance. No country hosts more US troops than Japan, and nowhere in Japan are there more US bases than on the island of Okinawa. Naturally, this has caused more than a little friction between the people of Okinawa and the US and Japanese governments. Read More


​Sequestered to the Edge of the World: Dehumanization in the Japanese Internment Camps

Thomas Joel - Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Detained throughout ten isolated “relocation centers”—a political euphemism for concentration camps—Japanese Americans were crowded into rickety wooden barracks amidst bleak deserts and inhospitable swamplands that offered little shelter from the harsh climates: the sweltering sun and frigid nights, the oppressive Arkansas humidity and turbulent Southwestern dust storms. Read More


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