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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

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
760: Art Space Tokyo
758: Bar Flower: My Decadently Destructive Days and Nights as a Tokyo Nightclub Hostess
756: Lala Pipo
754: The Erotic Odes
752: Travels in the East
748: Translucent Tree
746: Japanese for Daydreamers
744: Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide
742: Tokyo Guidebooks
740: America & Other Poems
738: Losing Kei
736: Tekkon Kinkreet: Black & White
734: A Wild Haruki Chase: Reading Murakami Around the World
732: Unbeaten Tracks in Japan
730: Noon Elusive and other stories
728: Midori by Moonlight
726: From Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor: Who Was Responsible?
724: Erotic Haiku
722: Vibrator & Sayonara, Dream-eater
720: Love Poem to Tofu & Other Poems: Poetry & Calligraphic art
718-719: A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics
717: The Astro Boy Essays
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
710: Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom
708: Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku
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
700: Japonisme: Cultural Crossings between Japan and the West
698: The Pillowbook of Dr. Jazz
696: Kamakura
694: 69
692: Border Town: A Novel
690: A Diplomat in Japan
688: Glory In A Line: A Life of Foujita, the Artist Caught Between East and West
686: Crossfire
684: Japan-ness in Architecture
682: Nectar Fragments
680: Love Hotels: The Hidden Fantasy Rooms of Japan
678: Shutting Out the Sun
676: The Passion of Phineas Gage & Selected Poems
674: Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne
672: Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the US
670: Autobiography of a Geisha
668: Japanese Portraits: Pictures of Different People
666: Bedtime Eyes
665: Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779-1822
664: Skin Museum
662: The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film
660: The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan
658: Last of the Red Hot Poppas
656: Lost Girls and Love Hotels
654: In the Pool
650: Wrong About Japan
648: Japan Modern: New Ideas for Contemporary Living
646: The Couch Potatoís Guide to Japan: Inside the World of Japanese TV
644: My Handís Tired & My Heart Aches: Letters from Japan 1995-2005
643: Kamikaze Diaries
642: The Blue-Eyed Salaryman
640: Certainty
638: Modern Japanese House
636: Native American in the Land of the Shogun
634: The Reindeer People
632: Undercurrents: Episodes from a Life on the Edge
630: The Snake that Bowed
628: The Black Lizard & The Beast In The Shadows: Two Classics of Suspense and Detection
624: Inside and Other Short Fiction: Japanese Women by Japanese Women
622: Modern Asian Living
620: Japanese in Mangaland
618: Do You Know What it means to Miss New Orleans?
616: A.A. Gill is away
612: JRock, Ink.
610: Toppamono: Outlaw, Radical, SuspectóMy Life in Japanís Underworld
608: Mao: The Unknown Story
606: Japan Houses
604: A Hundred Years of Japanese Film
602: Sai Kon Tan: 100 All-time Precious Proverbs
600: Shadow Family
598: Dr. Noguchi’s Journey: A Life of Medical Search and Discovery 596: Oh Pure and Radiant Heart
594: Inspired Shapes: Contemporary Designs for Japan’s Ancient Crafts
592: Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral History of the Game
590: The Japanese Spa: A Guide to Japan’s Finest Ryokan and Onsen
588: Chibikuro Sambo
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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