A new series from Europa Editions, The Passenger collects the best new writing, photography, art and reportage from around the world.
There are five books in The Passenger series to date – Japan, Greece, Brazil, Turkey and India. Two more are imminent – Berlin and Paris.
I’m often a sucker for good packaging, and these books are very nicely designed. The handy journal size with firm cardboard, slightly textured, covers is a delight to pick up and hold. French flaps add to the strength and aesthetic appeal of the cover. Hiding behind the front one is a map of Japan while the flap contains basic facts and stats about the country, finishing with the ‘Average delay on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) network (2016)’ – which is 24 seconds, in case you were wondering.
Each journal has 192 pages full of art, photography and articles related to the country on offer. The lead article in Japan was a moving follow-up essay by Richard Lloyd Parry, the author of the 2017 Ghost of the Tsunami.
Since writing his book, Parry continues to spend time with survivors and has noted the rise of ancestor worship. This essay discussed visits with a Reverend Kaneta, who still provides spiritual assistance to those who lost family during the 2011 tsunami. The 20 page essay, with photos by Laura Liverani, was without doubt my favourite in the collection, and the main reason I acquired the book.
When people see ghosts, they are telling a story, a story which has been broken off. They dream of ghosts because then the story carries on or comes to a conclusion. And if that brings them comfort, that’s a good thing.(pg 26)
Everything else was a bonus.
Well known Japanese writers and writers about Japan contributed articles including Ian Buruma, Yoshimoto Banana, Murakami Ryu and Sekiguchi Ryoko. They covered a variety of topics including politics, art, culture, history and geography. Scattered throughout where more stats and facts gathered together under headings like ‘Japan in Numbers’ (Japan has the world’s lowest murder rate), ‘The Mythbusters’, ‘The Iconic Object’ (The Woshuretto or the Japanese toilet), ‘The National Obsession’ (which turns out to be blood types. Even anime characters have a blood type), and ‘The Playlist’ (which includes a spotify link for those keen to get their J-Pop on).
Will I be collecting any of the other books in the series?
Probably not at this point.
For me, these books are the perfect choice to pack in your bag when travelling to the featured country. That won’t be happening for a while, but with their sturdy design, distinct sections and visual appeal, they would be just right for reading on planes, trains and in strange hotel rooms, to give you an insider’s sense of the place you are visiting.
Book: Japan Author: Various Photographer: Laura Liverani ISBN: 9781787702196 Publisher: Europa Editions Date: 2020 Format: Paperback