ByÂ Rashaad JordenÂ (Yamagata-ken, 2008-10) forÂ JQÂ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia Sub-Chapter, Rashaad currently studies responsible tourism management atÂ Leeds Metropolitan University.Â For more on his life in the UK and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog atÂ www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.
As mysterious as Japan seems to be, there are numerous occurrences in the country that leave you amazed.
EnterÂ Kelly LuceÂ (Kawasaki/Tokushima-ken, 2002-04). The JET Program alum’s first published collection of fiction,Â Three Scenarios in WhichÂ Hana Sasaki Grows a TailÂ (which is alsoÂ the title of one of Luce’s stories) often utilizes magic realism to tell stories that take place in Nippon.
Three ScenariosÂ contains ten stories and the first one, titledÂ â€œMs. Yamada’s Toasterâ€ (which previously appeared in the anthologyÂ Tomo), tells the tale of a toaster that can predict one’s death (the toaster even predicted the death of Ms. Yamada’s husband by popping out a piece of bread three days before he suffered a heart attack). In other stories inÂ Three Scenarios, a teenage girl disappears during karaoke and a stone is haunted by a demon.
While there may be times in Luce’s stories that Japan may seem inconsequential, the “it could only happen in Japanâ€ moments make her stories came alive. For example, inÂ â€œThe Blue Demon of Ikumi,â€ a foreigner woman who was considered a demon because a child died under her care is set to be executed (she eventually escapes).Â InÂ â€œWisher,â€ people make seasonal wishes at a fountain’s stone steps, such as students and parents praying before entrance exams in autumn and during summer for travel. And in the above-mentionedÂ â€œMs. Yamada’s Toaster,â€ some villagers wish to make the toaster a deity.
In general, it seemed likeÂ the stories would abruptly end, leaving you to wonder what would happen or did I justÂ miss something. Luce definitely does a good job of including cultural references in her stories. All of them contain some sort of cultural observation, making it obvious that she lived in Japan. But there were times it was difficult figuring out what happened in the stories.
However, it’s nice to read about Japan with a touch of magic in it, and the author will be launching a two-month U.S. book tour beginning Oct. 9, giving readings in various cities in Texas, California and Illinois. For more information, visitÂ www.kellyluce.com.
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