Weekend in Review–Exploring Japanese Fantasy Literature at UQ

Shouldn’t a weekend review come sooner than Thursday? Somehow I managed to put off this post until now, but perhaps in the future I should make more of an effort to post about my weekend at the beginning of the week! Oh well. I hope you all are looking forward to this weekend and the beginning of April!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I attended an event at the University of Queensland held on Friday night called Fantasy and Imagination: Exploring Japanese Creative Writings. The guest speakers included Dr. Carol Hayes of ANU, Edward Lipsett, a translator who co-founded Kurodahan Press, and Roger Pulvers, a man of many talents who recently published The Dream of Lafcadio Hearn with Kurodahan Press.

The man focus of the panel was to discuss whether there is something inherently different about Japanese fantasy when compared to Western fantasy, and to pinpoint what these differences might be, if there indeed are any. I found it to be quite interesting and was especially impressed by Roger’s insight on the subject. He argued that Japanese aesthetics are intended to be felt through the pores, and that while a Western perception of beauty is something that is unattainable by average individuals (he used ornate castle architecture as an example of this), Japanese beauty is felt every day and is inherently the same, from revered Shinto shrines to the humble everyday dwellings. Pretty neat, huh?

Dr. Hayes and Edward both mentioned the lack of action in Japanese fantasy as compared with Western fantasy literature. As a whole, Japanese fantasy is emotionally driven, rather than plot/action driven, which I think, along with the fundamental differences in the Japanese perception of beauty, is the root of what makes Japanese fantasy different from, say, Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings.

After the discussion, we all filed into another room for the reception, where there were complementary drinks and food (I had a glass of white wine and some kind of chicken skewer, both of which were very nice). I was able to meet many interesting people, including all of the speakers except for Edward, unfortunately. I may have even landed another translation gig, but I’m not going to talk about that, lest I jinx it!

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend Cardmaking for a Cause, an event my husband’s co-worker (whose house we stayed at when we had to evacuate during the floods, incidentally) invited me to. It was a women-only event where all the cards made during the day would be donated to local hospitals to sell to patients and visitors, all proceeds raised going to the hospitals themselves to use for improved equipment, etc.

Luckily, all of the cards I made came in prearranged “kits,” which meant all I had to do was stick all of the parts together. This actually saved a lot of time, rather than having to conceptualize and cut everything there on the spot. It was quite a nice, intimate event (though I may have been the youngest woman there…), and during the course of 4 hours my table made over 100 cards! And of course we got to help ourselves to biscuits, coffee/tea, and sandwiches, which always is a bonus.

Sorry for the lack of photos today… I meant to take a couple at the cardmaking event but I only ended up getting a couple that are pretty poor quality. As I type, I am busy cooking my Dad’s awesome chicken barley soup, so maybe I’ll share photos of that next time!

About Anne Lee

Also known as apricotsushi. Anne can be written with the kanji for apricot (杏), and sushi was the most quintessentially Japanese thing I could think of when I was 13, resulting in my goofy, albeit memorable, nickname.