Minor Press 小出版


Yomimono (“reading material”) is a small English-language journal with a literary bent published “once or twice a year” by author/editor Suzanne Kamata in Tokushima prefecture. It contains a good balance of quality prose and poetry with the occasional interview, essay and review. The contributors are international but not necessarily Japan based, which is a refreshing change from the heavily concentrated expat writing typical of English-language journals in Japan. As such Yomimono is global in scope, but still maintains a partiality to Japan, especially the prose.

The design is simple and straightforward. The cover features a faux-primitive print on single-color, textured paper, while the contents are black and white, with the occasional image. At B5-size (the same as Koe) and 60 pages, give or take, it makes for a long, stimulating read.

Yomimono is 1000 yen (or US$10) per issue and can be paid via Paypal to the editor, Suzanne Kamata, at: suekamata@msn.com.




Borderless Reading ボーダレス読物

The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa

Kawabata Yasunari’s The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa (Asakusa kurenaidan) is perhaps his most unorthodox and challenging novel, and that among a life’s body of work generally marked by experimental writing and diverse styles. The term “novel” may not even accurately capture this mesmerizing vortex of word and perception he wrote early in his career, some decades before he won the Nobel Prize.

Originally serialized in a Tokyo daily newspaper between 1929 and 1930, it captures the zeitgeist of 1930s Asakusa by recording the observations of a wandering narrator. The point of view, however, shifts at some points, blurring who is actually doing the observing. A group of delinquents, most of them female, act as the narrator’s guide, revealing their way of life in this vibrant hub of pre-war Tokyo. The narrative is fractured and fragmentary, with Kawabata even stealing text and snippets from other printed matter of the time. In the end, it almost begins to seem as if Akasaka itself is speaking.

Alisa Freedman’s recent English translation is thankfully available in annotated edition with original illustrations by Ota Saburô.



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