Detail of the bridge of the kora, a harp made from calabash and cow hide, with strings aligned in a perpendicular plane

The polyphonous Babel of global music

17 October 2015 8:00 am

‘Following custom, when the Siamese conquered the Khmer they carried off much of the population, including most of their musicians,…

American marines coming ashore at Guadalcanal, 1942 (Photo: Getty)

Hirohito, MacArthur and other villains

4 July 2015 9:00 am

The history of ‘great events’, Voltaire wrote, is ‘hardly more than the history of crimes’. Physically, the war in Asia…

Japanese soldiers salute after filling a channel with coffins during a mass burial of tsunami victims Photo: AFP/Getty

Is there a way to live without economic growth? 

18 January 2014 9:00 am

During Japan’s lost decade in the 1990s I found myself handing out rice balls to Tokyo’s homeless on the banks…

Death of Sardanapalus, Eugene Delacroix, 1827 (Picture: The Art Archive / DeA Picture Library / J. E. Bulloz)

Italo Calvino's essays, Collection of Sand, is a brainy delight

26 October 2013 9:00 am

The Japanese are sometimes said to suffer from ‘outsider person shock’ (gaijin shokku) when travelling abroad. Recently in London we…

Chinese refugees stream through the wrecked streets of Chungking after heavy bombing by the Japanese in 1937

China’s War with Japan, by Rana Mitter - review

22 June 2013 9:00 am

While the second world war raged in Europe, a separate conflict was devastating China, whose effects still linger to this day, says Jonathan Mirsky

Chaps v. Japs

14 January 2012 12:00 pm

Does anyone do derring-do anymore? Here’s the real thing. On Christmas Day 1941, despite Churchill’s call to fight to the…


Living dolls

22 January 2011 12:00 am

Born in Japan, growing up in America in the Sixties, Yoko Kawaguchi was perplexed by the persistence of what she felt to be an anachronistic image of Japanese culture: the geisha.


Blow-out in Berlin

28 August 2010 12:00 am

D. B. C. Pierre’s Vernon God Little was an unusual Man Booker winner (2003).


Reverting to type

17 July 2010 12:00 am

While I was living in Tokyo, a Japanese girl friend of mine fell in love with a British investment banker.


Small but perfectly formed

23 June 2010 12:00 am

Some years ago, Edmund de Waal inherited a remarkable collection of 264 netsuke from his great-uncle Iggie, whom he had got to know 20 years previously while studying pottery and Japanese in Tokyo.


The ultimate price

21 April 2010 12:00 am

Lesley Downer is one of the most unusual authors writing in English.