In My Hands Today…

A Geisha’s Journey: My Life as a Kyoto Apprentice – Komomo 

1950310This is the story of a contemporary Japanese teenager who, in a search for an identity, became fascinated with the world of geisha, and discovered in herself the will and the commitment to embark on the many years of apprenticeship necessary to become one.

It is also the story of a young Japanese photographer who grew up overseas, and who also was captivated by the traditional lives of these women who choose to dedicate themselves to their art. He began following and documenting the life of teenager Komomo as she studied and grew into her role.

Naoyuki Oginos photographs follow Komomos entire journey, from her first tentative visits after finding the geisha house on the internet through her commitment to the hard schedule of an apprentice, learning arts that go back centuries, all the way to the ceremony where she officially became a geiko, as Kyotos geisha are known and beyond. From the cobbled streets where she walks in her elaborate dress to the inner sanctums of her dressing room, these pages offer a rare look at a unique, living art.

The photographs are accompanied by autobiographical text and captions by Komomo, as she shares her thoughts and emotions, and describes the day-to-day existence of a Kyoto apprentice. It is an illuminating view of seven years in the life of a very special young woman.

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In My Hands Today…

Rainbirds – Clarissa Goenawan

33026565Ren Ishida is nearly finished with graduate school when he receives news of his sister Keiko’s sudden death. She was viciously stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, still failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate town many years ago.

But Ren soon finds himself picking up where Keiko left off, accepting both her teaching position at a local cram school and the bizarre arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s catatonic wife.

As he comes to know the figures in Akakawa, from the enigmatic politician to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, alluring student named Rio, Ren delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed, trying to piece together what happened the night of her death. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren struggles to find solace in the void his sister has left behind.

In My Hands Today…

Lost in Tokyo – Jenny Lynne

21935490Still recovering from a traumatic past, nineteen-year-old American college student, Erin, is hoping that her visit to Japan with her best friend, Adam, will be life-changing. Fifteen years ago, Erin’s mother mysteriously vanished. The only possible clue she left behind is a handwritten itinerary for a dream trip to Japan, a trip that Erin doesn’t know if her mother ever had the chance to take. Erin has decided to carry out this itinerary, believing that it might help her find her mother.

But her trip won’t be going according to plan.

Just hours after they arrive in Tokyo, in a jet-lagged fog, Erin and Adam end up in bed together. While struggling with the tension that now dominates their once innocent friendship and the trauma stirred up from Erin’s painful past, Erin and Adam visit the places on her mother’s list. As they explore the wonders of Japan, Erin finds herself haunted by strange “memories” that seem to belong to her mother. Could these memories be real? If so, perhaps her mother can be found.

In My Hands Today…

Disciple of the Wind – Steve Bein

20893493When Tokyo falls victim to a deadly terrorist attack, Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro knows who is responsible, even if she doesn’t have proof. She urges her commanding officers to arrest the perpetrator—an insane zealot who was just released from police custody. When her pleas fall on deaf ears, she loses her temper and then her badge, as well as her best chance of fighting back.

Left on her own, and armed with only her cunning and her famed Inazuma blade, Mariko must work outside the system to stop a terrorist mastermind. But going rogue draws the attention of an underground syndicate known as the Wind. For centuries, they have controlled Japanese politics from the shadows, using mystical relics to achieve their nefarious ends—relics like Mariko’s own sword and the iron demon mask whose evil curse is bound to the blade. Now the Wind is set on acquiring Mariko.

Mariko is left with a perilous choice: Join an illicit insurgency to thwart a deadly villain, or remain true to the law. Either way, she cannot escape her sword’s curse. As sure as the blade will bring her to victory, it also promises to destroy her….

In My Hands Today…

Pachinko – Min Jin Lee

29983711Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

In My Hands Today…

The Concubine’s Tattoo – Laura Joh Rowland

310804Twenty months spent as the shogun’s sosakan-sama — most honourable investigator of events, situations, and people–has left Sano Ichiro weary. He looks forward to the comforts that his arranged marriage promises: a private life with a sweet, submissive wife and a month’s holiday to celebrate their union. However, the death of the shogun’s favourite concubine interrupts the couple’s wedding ceremony and shatters any hopes the samurai detective had about enjoying a little peace with his new wife.

After Sano traces the cause of Lady Harume’s death to a self-inflicted tattoo, he must travel into the cloistered, forbidden world of the shogun’s women to untangle the complicated web of Harume’s lovers, rivals, and troubled past, and identify her killer. To make matters worse, Reiko, his beautiful young bride, reveals herself to be not a traditional, obedient wife, but instead, a headstrong, intelligent, aspiring detective bent on helping Sano with his new case. Sano is horrified at her unladylike behaviour, and the resulting sparks make their budding love as exciting as they mystery surrounding Lady Harume’s death. Amid the heightened tensions and political machinations of feudal Japan, Sano faces a daunting complex investigation.

In My Hands Today…

The Storyteller and his Three Daughters – Lian Hearn

18487023Tokyo 1884: Sei has devoted his life to storytelling, captivating audiences with his tales. But now he is starting to wonder if the new world has left him behind.

Just when he thinks he will never write again, his own life and the lives of the people around him begin to spiral out of control – providing the inspiration for the greatest story he has ever told. A story of love, jealousy, intrigue, and betrayal.

Set against the background of Japan’s first incursions into Korea, Sei offers a wise and witty reflection on the nature of storytelling, its perils and delights, its lies and, ultimately, its truth.