Working Titles

Although when I start writing I have an overall idea for a book, I don’t always know exactly how the book will come together. This is true of both my academic books and novels. While with academic books there will be a more formal book proposal that will include a planned contents list and structure,…

Some Reflections on Writing “FOUR” – Why it is in Four Parts

Yesterday I did an interview for a news item for the alumni network of my high school, Concord College about my latest novel, FOUR, which was recently released as both an eBook and Paperback. Although I covered some of this in the interview, and what I said was correct, when I went back over some…

鉄道の日 (Tetsudo-no-hi) Railway Day

14 October is 鉄道の日 (Tetsudo-no-hi) ‘Railway Day’ in Japan, marking the anniversary of the opening of the first railway. That first line ran from Shimbashi to Yokohama. The original Shimbashi was eventually abandoned, with a new station being built. The foundations of the original station were discovered when land was being excavated as part of…

Anniversary of the Opening of the Shinkansen

1 October marks the anniversary of the opening of the first shinkansen (‘bullet train’) line, the Tokaido Shinkansen. The line opened in 1964, just a few days before the Tokyo ‘summer’ Olympics (which were held in October to avoid the heat of a Japanese summer). Since then the network has expanded across the country, and…

Timing Challenges in My Novels

When I started writing my first novel Hijacking Japan, I had no idea that it would take so many years to write. Nor did I realise what the consequences of this would be. When I started writing Hijacking Japan, Japan had no Ministry of Defence and the possible establishment of this featured in the Prologue….

U2 in Concert in Japan

I wouldn’t classify U2 as one of my favourite groups. I didn’t include any of their albums in my post of favourite/influential albums. But there are a lot of their singles that I love and the concert of theirs that I saw in Japan in 2006 was was one of the best and most memorable…

Photographing the Shinkansen: The Hokuriku Shinkansen

I have already done some posts about taking photos of the shinkansen. This one is a bit different as rather than focus on one location, it covers a whole line. Also, as yet, I’ve not had a chance to explore the variety of popular sites that exist along the line and will feature instead two…

Favourite Places in Japan: Ichigaya

One of the questions I often get asked about Japan is where my favourite place (although the question often infers a city rather than something more specific than that) is. I don’t have a single favourite place – it would be too hard after visiting 47 prefectures and having been to Japan so many times,…

Matsumoto Castle

Japan has many wonderful castles, but my favourite is probably Matsumoto Castle in Nagano prefecture. Matsumoto was the first place that I went to on my first (of what was to become many) JR Passes (whereby you can travel around Japan on Japan Railway (JR) trains without having to buy separate tickets) in 1992. That…