Tag Archives: Japan

Book Discussion: Silence, by Shusaku Endo

“Christ did not die for the good and beautiful. It is easy enough to die for the good and beautiful; the hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt.”
― Shūsaku Endō, Silence

Japanese 1st edition of Silence (1966)  Japanese 1st edition of Silence (1966)

Shusaku Endo (1923-1996) was a Japanese Roman Catholic novelist. Silence, first published in 1966, has been hailed as Endo’s masterpiece and one of the most significant Christian novels of the twentieth century. To coincide with the January release of Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited film of Silence, the Library Book Club will begin 2017 with this book.

The subject of Silence is the persecution of Japanese Christians in the seventeenth century. In 1637, two Portuguese missionaries undertake a perilous search for their missing Jesuit tutor. The Shogun and Samurai have purged Japan of Western influence, rooting out Christians and subjecting them to torture until they renounce the word of God. Father Rodrigues knows that if they are discovered, they face the same brutal treatment as the Christian peasantry. The deeper Rodrigues journeys into Japan, the more he finds himself questioning the meaning of God’s silence in answer to their prayers and to the suffering of the Japanese Christians.

The Book Club’s discussion of Silence will take place on Tuesday, January 31 at 12:00 in the Library Conference Room. Dale Coulter, professor of historical theology in the School of Divinity, will lead our conversation. Dr. Coulter has just published his reflections on Endo’s work in the influential journal of religion and culture First Things.

The Library has multiple copies of Silence. Distance students and faculty are invited to join in via Google Hangouts.

During January, the Library is also hosting an exhibition of artifacts associated with the persecution of Christians in Japan as well as responsive works by Makoto Fujimura. The works in this exhibition were on display last fall at Wheaton College, which is still hosting photos and outstanding explanatory materials on its website.

Short story discussion: Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami, one of Japan’s most acclaimed living writers, was born in 1949 in Kyoto, the son of a Buddhist priest. In 1978 Murakami was watching a baseball game between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp when Dave Hilton, an American, came to bat. The instant Hilton hit a double, Murakami suddenly realized his life’s vocation. He went home and began writing that night.

“The six stories in After the Quake are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakami’s characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.”*

Haruki Murakami

The Library Book Club will meet on April 23 to discuss After the Quake. The Library has several copies available for check out, and an excerpt of the first one, “ufo in Kushiro” is available on the author’s website.

The discussion will take place at 12:00 in the Library Conference Room. Distance students and faculty are invited to join in via Google Hangouts: https:plus.google.comhangouts_eventc0lnc83s5ok7tecuqdcnjg0mcno?authuser=0&eid=100028809078157626561&hl=en.
For more information about this or other literature events at the Library, see the Library Book Club webpage, or contact Harold Henkel at

*Biographical and book information are taken from Haruki Murakami’s official website: http:www.harukimurakami.com

Go comes to the Library Reference Desk

When two tigers fight, what is left is
one dead tiger and one wounded one.
-Chinese Proverb

Expand your horizons by learning Go. Expand your horizons by learning Go.

Go (Chinese: wéiqí, Japanese: igo, Korean: baduk, common meaning: “surrounding game”) is a board game that originated in China more than 2,500 years ago. Go is widely understood to occupy the position in China, Japan, and Korea that chess does in the West.

Go and chess are both preeminently games of strategy, but the nature of play and the temperament required for success could hardly be more different: While the object of chess is to checkmate the opponent’s king, the object of Go is to control more territory on the board. Chess favors daring and calculation, Go patience and judgment.

It has become widely appreciated in the West that that some understanding and experience with Go can provide insights into the psychology and strategic thinking of countries where Go is part of the cultural heritage. Peter Shotwell, for example, writes that “Japanese executives learned to look at the national and international corporate worlds as Go boards and designed many of their strategies accordingly…One should try to win, but that had to involve allowing the opponent to win something too, because all-out fights might destroy both competitors.”*

The Library has placed a Go set on the Reference Desk that we hope will act as a catalyst for some of our patrons to learn about this rich and even beautiful game. Go will not only teach you another way of looking at strategy and success, but also provide an experience of one of the great arts of China, Japan, and Korea.

Intrigued? Check out this trailer for a forthcoming documentary about Go:


If you are interested in learning to play Go, contact Harold Henkel at 757-352-4198 or harohen@regent.edu for suggestions on getting started.

*Peter Shotwell, Go! More Than a Game, (Ruland, VT: Tuttle Publishing, 2003), xi.

R U Global—Resources for World Leaders: Japanese Religions

Japanese Religions, by Michiko Yusa.
London: Routledge, 2002

Reviewed by Georgianne Bordner, University Librarian

In order to understand another culture, it is important to know something about its religion, since religions and ideologies generally play a central role in any civilization. Michiko Yusa’s Japanese Religions, part of Routledge’s Religions of the World series, helps the reader gain a greater understanding of Japanese culture by presenting a brief introduction to the history, beliefs, and practices of the major religions practiced in Japan, highlighting their influence on the modern world.

Yusa takes a chronological approach to the subject, placing significant religious developments in the context of Japanese history, including Japan’s interactions with the Western world. Beginning with Shinto, Japan’s native religion, the book then surveys the arrival of Buddhism, the development of various Buddhist sects, the spread of Confucianism, and the introduction of Christianity. Yusa concludes with a description of the current popular religion in Japan, which is a mixture of Shinto and Buddhism, with elements of Confucianism, Daoism, and folk religions. Along with the religious history, the author includes informative descriptions and histories of aspects of Japanese culture such as the Japanese garden and the tea ceremony, which are closely linked to religion.

The book’s narrative style makes it accessible to those who have no prior knowledge of the subject, and several additional features add to its usefulness as an introductory text. A timeline chart summarizes the key facts of religious, Japanese, and world history during each of the main historical periods from 11,000 B.C. to the present. A glossary and pronunciation guide help readers who may be unfamiliar with the Japanese terms used throughout the book. A list of major festivals and holidays gives further insight into the dates and events that the Japanese consider to be important. Finally, a list of books, journals, and websites recommended for further reading will be appreciated by those who are interested in going beyond the basic text and learning even more about Japanese religion and culture.

A well-rounded global citizen needs to know something about as many world cultures as possible. Japanese Religions is a good place to start.