Mount Mitake lies about an hour by train from downtown Tokyo, in Chichibu Tama Kai National Park.Read more
Month: July 2017
The Symbolism of Japanese Hydrangea
In my first Hiro Hattori / Shinobi Mystery, Claws of the Cat, I mention an arrangement of hydrangea blossoms in the room where the murder occurred. Flowers have great importance in Japanese culture. The art of ikebana, or traditional flower arranging, developed hundreds of years ago and was considered an appropriate art for both men and women–many samurai studied ikebana as well as swordsmanship. In Japan, flowers have long been displayed in seasonal contexts. Certain flowers are considered “appropriate” for, symbolic of, and associated with, specific times of year. Additionally, flowers carry traditional meanings that are understood by students of ikebana and Japanese culture. HydrangeaRead more
Last weekend I attended San Diego Comic Con, where I spoke on a panel about “Creating Effective Villains” along with Brian Pinkerton, Genese Davis, and Eric Kieron Davis. (Side note: If you haven’t read Genese Davis’s fabulous fantasy thriller THE HOLDER’S DOMINION, about a female gamer who goes head to head with a hacker, get thee to a bookstore immediately. I’ll wait.) But one doesn’t merely go to comic con for the length of a panel – especially if you’re a gamer and comic/sci-fi/fantasy geek like me. I spent some time on the convention floor, making friends: And checking out all theRead more
What Did Ninjas Eat?
While researching my newest Hiro Hattori mystery, BETRAYAL AT IGA, I needed to learn a little more about 16th century Japanese cuisine. So … what did ninjas eat? Click through to my guest post on the No More Grumpy Bookseller blog to find out how I answered that all-important question. As a bonus, the blog is hosting a giveaway for a free copy of the novel – as long as you enter before July 30, 2017! (And I promise, unlike some clickbait headlines, I really do answer the question – without ads.)Read more
Jisei – the Poetry of Death
During the medieval period, samurai often wrote special poems, known as jisei, in the hours before their deaths. The tradition originated in Zen Buddhism, and fused three important principles from Zen tradition: – The material world is transient and impermanent – Understanding reality requires an absence of self-nature and acceptance (or pursuit) of emptiness – Attachment to the world causes suffering The earliest recorded jisei was written by Prince Ōtsu, a younger son of Emperor Temmu, just before the prince’s execution in 686. Customarily, composition of jisei was done only by members of Japan’s nobility, samurai, poets, or Buddhist priests. The poem was supposed toRead more
A Visit With Suzy Approved – and Ninjas!
Since it’s release week for BETRAYAL AT IGA, I’ve had the honor to talk with a number of bloggers, radio, and TV interviewers. I’ll try to share them all, for people who want to learn more about the Hiro Hattori novels, my writing process, and the books I read when I’m not writing! First up, this great interview with Suzy Approved Book Reviews, in which I get to talk a little more about my TBR pile and my favorite cities in Japan! I took today’s ninja-related photo at the Iga Ninja Museum in Iga-Ueno, Japan, while researching Betrayal at Iga. This is only part of the large collection of shurikenRead more
Happy Ninja Day!
OK, it’s actually the release day for my newest Hiro Hattori novel, BETRAYAL AT IGA – but since Hiro is a ninja (who solves mysteries along with his partner-in-crime-solving, Father Mateo) I think it’s fair to declare today Official Ninja Day too!Read more
Beyond the Trope: Ninjas and Japan!
Curious about ninjas–either the real, historical ones or the fictional ones that appear in my Hiro Hattori mystery novels? I recently had the opportunity to talk about ninjas, fiction, and my upcoming mystery, BETRAYAL AT IGA, with one of my favorite podcasts: Beyond the Trope. Check out the podcast here, and when you finish take a look at the archives for more fantastic podcast content!Read more