The 1,000-day countdown to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games started on Oct. 28.

An aerial view of construction of the New National Stadium showed more than 20 cranes at work mainly to install the stands for spectators.

The stadium is expected to be completed in November 2019 and will serve as the venue for the Opening Ceremony the following year. (The Asahi Shimbun)

Bicycles in Copenhagen


Reading material


Here’s a piece I was able to whip together  after the Nobel selection for literature was announced last week, thanks to Professor Ted Goossen at York University:

A lot of disappointment greeted the announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature—who was not Haruki Murakami.

In other parts of the world fans took to social media, wondering aloud if the secretive committee in Sweden was purposely “trolling” Japan’s arguably best known writer, in awarding the relatively unknown — in Japan at least — Kazuo Ishiguro.

Ted Goossen, a professor of Japanese literature at York University in Toronto and one of Murakami’s earliest collaborators in translation, however sees the debate concerning who is more deserving of a Nobel as a dead end.

“It has always been my impression that who wins the Nobel is based less on literary merit and more on the internal politics of a secretive (and fairly Eurocentric) committee,” was Goossen’s response when asked by the Asahi Weekly to enter the fray.

The Canadian academic has been something of the unsung soldier in Murakami’s international literary breakthrough. He has translated early works such as “Hear the Wind Sing” and “Pinball, 1973,” as well as other lesser known titles from the author. Alfred Birnbaum and Jay Rubin worked the longer novels that helped bring Murakami fame.

And it was Goosen who was called upon by Murakami to put into English his preface for the book “Kazuo Ishiguro: Contemporary Critical Perspectives,” an academic work that came out in 2010.

“I think Ishiguro’s most outstanding feature is that all of his novels are so different… Yet each also bears Ishiguro’s unmistakable imprint, and each forms a small yet wonderfully distinct universe in itself,” writes Murakami in Goossen’s translation.

“When all those little universes are brought together (of course this only happens in the reader’s head), a far broader universe—the sum of all of Ishiguro’s novels—takes vivid shape.”

Murakami fans might find the preface a bitter irony, since the same could surely be said of their author, who, in their unicorn world would soon be heading off to Stockholm. For Goossen, however, the Nobel is no true litmus test.

He says the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, which openly issues long and short lists for candidates unlike the Nobel committee, “is of more interest” for literature scholars like himself.

“The only good thing I can see about the Nobel is that it spurs a few people to read more literature, which is a good thing, and throws a spotlight on an author who hopefully deserves it.

“Given his fame and vast readership, Haruki doesn’t really need that spotlight, does he?”

Open city

Five years and five days had passed when I revisited this page earlier this month. In the interim, a lot changed: Technology, Tokyo, me. I threw away boxes and boxes full of old negatives, I let my domain name lapse and never looked back at my photo sharing accounts.

I wanted to erase my digital footprint. But before terminating my server I discovered my “gallery” folders and was impressed–not so much by the photos (which were surprisingly better than I remembered) but at the fact that they lived on, beyond me. In various clouds I found other images from devices thrown away long ago. For reasons unknown to myself, I pulled my finger away from the kill switch and let the photos here see daylight again.

So bear with me as I resuscitate this dusty platform and add more things new and old to it. I promise to myself there will be no photos of food or cats (except for a very infrequent few) and no “thumbs up” button. If you happen to find this place, feel free to wander around and make yourself at home. The Tokyo here is an open city.