Hugh Ashton spent over 25 years living in Japan, working as a writer and journalist. Some of his impressions of Japan and of the people who live there have been recorded in his book of 5 stories: ‘Tales Of Old Japanese’
- Keiko’s House: An old house, its history, and the history of those who have lived there in the past.
- Haircuts: When 92-year-old Mr Kato changes his barber, his life takes on a surprising new meaning.
- Click: One photograph every day. The memories of twenty years, all neatly arranged in albums. Mrs Terada’s camera sees everything.
- Mrs Sakamoto’s Grouse: When Mrs Sakamoto sees a new brand of whisky on the shelves of her local neighbourhood shop, the result is unexpected.
- The Old House: Two boys play in the garden of a deserted house once owned by a notorious miser; which turns out not to be deserted after all.
The stories all have their roots in people and situations that Ashton experienced personally, though none is an exact retelling of events. He explains:
“These stories celebrate the histories, the lives, and the quirks of older people living in Japan, a country where I have spent the past twenty-four years. For those of you who know Japan as either an over-industrialised nation with smokestacks and pollution, inhabited by blue-suited white-shirted worker ants, or as a country of youth-oriented manga and anime cartoons where everyone dresses like a superhero, or even as a geisha and cherry blossom land, the stories in this book may come as something of a surprise.
Once you move out of Tokyo and you live in the suburbs, life becomes slower, and there is time to observe the people around you. As you get to know them, you realise that there is a wealth of history out there, and sometimes some painful memories are hidden behind the smiles. These stories are all based around the older people in my neighbourhood whom I have come to know. None of these, of course, is a recognisable portrait of any one individual, but they all have some basis in the characters and the places around me.”
Ashton’s experiences of life in Japan have also formed the background for his thriller, At the Sharpe End, and his black paranormal comedy (for want of a better description) Leo’s Luck.
“Ashton’s writing is spare and concise, analogous in style to Japanese calligraphy, haiku poetry, or ikebana – and it is precisely this elegant simplicity which gives his work such profound emotional power and quiet beauty.”
“These tales are told with humour and sympathy, and may help to open a few eyes as to what living in Japan is really like for and among the silver generation.”
The book is available to purchase now via Amazon. We also have a limited number of review copies available to people in exchange for a review, media interview or feature about the book.
Please email [email protected] if you would like to request a copy.