I just ran across this album of pictures from the Tokyo Quilt Festival on Jan's b*muse blog (link in the title--for some reason, i can't seem to set up links within texts at the moment).
It was exciting to look at these quilts from Japan. I lived in Tokyo for 8 years before i came to Germany and I love the Japanese sense of color, the asymmetry and "wabi sabi". Recently, looking for material for a short stories course i'm teaching, I found the Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories.
It seemed to be just the right time for me to run across this collection. Some of the stories are deeply disturbing and some confirm my bleak assessment of Japanese society, but it's still fascinating to hear Japanese voices talking at eloquent length about their world. While I was living in Japan, I was often mystified by various elements of the culture. Like many Westerners, I also, frankly, felt alienated by the culture and found it difficult to cope with many of the differences. That's why it's good to have a bit of light shed on the mysteries and also, fun to re-encounter Japanese aesthetics from a safe distance (I left in 2000).