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 LEARNING

Start brushing up on your kanji to prepare for the annual Japanese Language Proficiency Test, this year taking place on Sunday, December 3 throughout the country. Passing the coveted ikkyu (level one) is considered the ultimate mark of achievement for a non-native speaker, indicating a comprehensive level of fluency and a guaranteed boost on a resume. Those who want to take the test must apply in advance by September 5, and application forms can be picked up for ¥500 at many bookstores (see www.jees.or.jp for a complete list). Results will be announced mid-February.

For more information, call the Japan Educational Exchanges and Services at 03-5454-5577. NU

PAST ISSUES
776: Tokyo Fiancee
774: Japanís Minorities: The Illusion of Homogeneity
772: Sparkling Rain: and other fiction from Japan of women who love women
768: Population Decline and Ageing in Japanóthe Social Consequences
766: The Diving Pool
764: Showa Japan: the Post-War Golden Age and Its Troubled Legacy
762: Exhibit C
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758: Bar Flower: My Decadently Destructive Days and Nights as a Tokyo Nightclub Hostess
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718-719: A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics
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714: Mrs Fergusonís Tea-Set, Japan and the Second World War: The Global Consequences following Germanyís sinking of the SS Automedon in 1940
712: Goodbye Madame Butterfly: Sex, Marriage and the Modern Japanese Woman
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706: Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangsterís Daughter
704: The Swordless Samurai: Leadership Wisdom of Japanís 16th-Century Legend Toyotomi Hideyoshi
702: Tokyo Year Zero
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678: Shutting Out the Sun
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672: Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the US
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668: Japanese Portraits: Pictures of Different People
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624: Inside and Other Short Fiction: Japanese Women by Japanese Women
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610: Toppamono: Outlaw, Radical, SuspectóMy Life in Japanís Underworld
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586: The Yasukuni Swords: Rare Weapons of Japan 1933-1945, Japan’s 21st Century Vision
584: Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers, The Stadium: Architecture for the New Global Culture
582: Snakes and Earrings, The Very Small Home

Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers
by Machiko Chiba with wine pairings by J.K. Whelehan (Kodansha International, ¥2,800)

Courtesy of Kodansha International

Pairing wine with food is an art. Very little has been written about Japanese food and wine until now. Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers is the go-to book for both the curious and the serious. It is a collaboration of recipes by Machiko Chiba, a cooking instructor, with wine pairings by J.K. Whelehan, who has over 20 years experience in the wine industry.

Chiba’s recipes are modern— pumpkin and mayonnaise salad, sautéed pork with an avocado sauce and daikon radish gyoza. If you are looking for traditional Japanese recipes, you may be disappointed.

Each recipe is paired with two wines, with detailed notes on why each match works well. This is the heart of the book, and Whelehan’s concepts are easy to grasp, even for novices, and applicable to other cuisines as well. His chapter Pairing Japanese Food and Wine that discusses key ingredients such as soy sauce and mirin and the role they play in blending with wine is ground-breaking.

As a sommelier, it is my job to suggest wines to complement food. With Japanese food, I often lean towards the classics—sparkling Champagne, earthy red Burgundy and crisp Alsatian whites. So I appreciate how Whelehan introduces some fun wines that readers will enjoy experimenting with: Austrian gruner veltliner, Japanese koshu, Australian sparkling shiraz, and even Beaujolais. Some interesting combinations are Chateauneuf du Pape with unagi, Chianti with yakitori, and tempranillo with tuna tataki. Yukari Pratt

 

The Stadium: Architecture for the New Global Culture
by Rod Sheard, photography by Patcick Bingham-Hall (Periplus, ¥4,900)

If sport is “the world’s first truly global culture,” in Rod Sheard’s words, then the stadium must be our universal church. Where else in these modern times, he asks, can we sing a chorus in union or participate in mass rituals like a Mexican Wave?

Sheard is Senior Principal of HOK Sport, the unchallenged world leader in stadium design, and his company has been involved in most (if not all) of the venues included in the book, something that should have been made clear on the cover.

Sheard convincingly argues for the ascendancy of sport and its stars (Michael Jordon, David Beckham, Ichiro, Maradonna) to the cultural status once the preserve of rock ‘n’ roll (The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Madonna). He document sport’s growing power through some of its highest temples: Telstra Stadium, home to the Sydney Olympics; Reliant Stadium in Houston, where Janet Jackson’s wardrobe “malfunctioned”; the redesign for Wembley, English football’s “mecca.” It’s hard to capture such inherently outsized structures in the pages of a book, but Partick Bingham-Hall’s photographs convey both their presence and beauty.

HOK Sport has not, thus far, been involved in many projects in Asia (Nanjing Sports Park is the only one featured in the book), which explains why none of Japan’s impressive stadiums are mentioned (Sapporo Dome can adapt from baseball to soccer at the press of a button). Herzog & de Meuron’s epochal Olympic Stadium under construction in Beijing and the gargantuan 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang both deserve space in a truly “global” discussion. AV




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