Minor Press

“Drug” is a nearly pocket-sized journal of Japanese photography published seasonally for only ¥1000. While most mainstream photography magazines you find at bookstores or camera retailers carry perhaps too many articles on formal photography techniques, the 130 or so pages in this publication are mostly just photographs from an array of Japanese photographers (and the occasional expat). There is some minimal text, yes–like profiles and an interview–but mostly it is a feast for the eyes. Color and B&W, analog and digital, amateur and professional–nothing goes unrepresented.

The journal’s lack of any central theme actually makes it more interesting in some respects. You get a cross-section of the countless varieties of Japanese experience. Filtered by a theme, it would seem less raw, less real. Some of the images are, admittedly, really bad from an aesthetic perspective. And the juxtaposition of images can be rather jarring, too. Still, on flipping through the many images of Japan, public and private, you really start to feel as if you are slipping beneath the skin.



Embracing Defeat

Borderless Reading

The April 29th edition of Asahi Newspaper ran a lengthy interview with John Dower, revealing his thoughts on why and how Japan will recover from the devastation of the March 11th triple disaster. His simple answer: Japan has done it before, and on a larger scale. Dower would know. He is a respected American historian and author of “Embracing Defeat”, a non-fiction work on the post-war occupation era in Japan. His work was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and has been translated into Japanese. It is neither explicitly pro-American nor pro-Japanese. The monumental work relies on historical documents and the personal accounts of participants in, and survivors of, that difficult period to give us a picture of what it must have been like. It is, at times, dark and depressing. There are also flashes of humor. Ultimately, it shows a nation struggling up from nothing to rebuild, however it can. This fascinating read is also a lengthy one at several hundred pages, but essential for anyone who wants to understand post-war Japan– and anyone who doubts post-3/11 Japan.

4 月29日の朝日新聞にジョン・ダワーのロングインタビューが掲載された。日本が3月11日に被った3つの災害からの回復の道筋を語ったものだ。彼の回答はシンプルである。「日本は以前にも、さらに大きな災害からの復興を遂げたことがある。」彼は尊敬を集めるアメリカ人歴史学者で、日本の戦後占領期について書かれたノンフィクション「敗北を抱きしめて」の著者である。この本はピューリッツァー賞を受賞し、日本語に翻訳された。はっきりとした米国支持ではなく、また日本びいきでもない視点から書かれている。歴史的な資料、個人的な話や生存者が語ったことを基に描かれ、当時の様子がどのようなものであったのかを私たちに伝えている。時には暗くて気の滅入る話もあるが、ユーモアも交えられている。国がゼロから復興するために葛藤する姿が示されており、結果的にそれはなされた。数百頁に渡る魅力的なこの本は読み応えがあり、戦後の日本を理解したい人や、3月11日の震災後の復興を懸念する人にとっては極めて重要な一冊である。

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