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Teito Monogatari by Hiroshi Aramata

 
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:08 am    Post subject: Teito Monogatari by Hiroshi Aramata Reply with quote
Okay, I apologize in advance if making this is rather redundant considering that I've already spoken of "the project," but it's occured to me that many of you might not know what Teito Monogatari is, and considering that users here like discussing books in depth, especially if considering what to read, I think you deserve to know more about it.

Teito Monogatari, roughly translated as Tale of the Imperial Capital, is one giant novel comprised of 12 volumes plus side stories, spanning practically the entire history of Tokyo in the modern age, from 1908 to 1999. Its author, Hiroshi Aramata, is renown for his encyclopedic knowledge of various subjects and for his specialization in history and cartography. Thematically, it's equal parts a fantasy, a historical novel, a horror story, and a romance (I believe).

The plot boils down to this: around the time that the leaders of the Japanese government are concerned with trasforming Tokyo into a new metropolis to rival the great cities of the West and take its place in the eyes of the world, a mysteriousman in military uniform named Yasunori Kato, a practitioner of onmyōdō (the ancient Japanese art of cosmology and occultism), seeks to raze the city and all in it to the ground and thus fulfill the curse of Taira no Masakado. Around 939-940, Masakado led a rebellion against the Kyoto government of the Heian period, atempting to establish an independent city-state on the land where Tokyo now stands; since his failure, he has been deified and venerated as a protector of the city, but it is said that his spirit would destroy it if it were ever to be awakened. With this in mind, Kato plans to do just that - awaken Masakado's spirit - by directly targeting the Tatsumiya family,particulary the girl Yukari, as they are direct descendants of Masakado. Of course, Yasumasa Hirai, leader of the Tsuchimikado Clan (the royal onmyōdō practitioners of the court), catches wind of Kato's plan and sets out to stop him, setting off a series of events that will span several generations, each of which must confront Kato, who is something far more than a mere man.

I hope this is enough to satisfy your curiosity; for further information, check out the Wikipedia page on the series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teito_Monogatari). I got most of my information from there, and I can trust it because I'm friends with the page creator, and he's researched it quite thoroughly. I should also point out that the novel inspired a 1988 film adaptation (seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRSGRUTdzdw), which became something of a film series, and an anime OVA (of course, that adaptation succumbs to the typical sensationalization on anime).
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Wow--very cool. Thanks for posting this!

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
You're very welcome! I know that this novel and the series/franchise that evolved from it has a small fanbase over here in the West, and the creator of the Wiki page and I, among others, are raising awareness of the book to support an English translation if it becomes possible.

Here's a few things you might not know about the book:

1) It's a bestseller and a pop culture phenomenon over in Japan; the first volume alone sold 3.5 million copies upon release. The character of Yasunori Kato has actually transcended the original medium and become an icon, comparable to Dracula's influence on Western audiences. For those of you who haven't checked out the links I provided, Kato is quite obviously the template for the "evil caped general" design made internationally famous by the villain M. Bison from the Street Fighter video game series.

2) Among the historical characters, events, and concepts that become important parts of the story in some way or another are:

*the Meiji era and its impact of Japanese society
*writers Kōda Rohan, Mori Ōgai (doctor and author of Gan/The Wild Geese), Kyōka Izumi, and even Yukio Mishima
*author and physiscist Torahiko Terada
*biologist Makoto Nishimura, creator of Japan's first working robot, Gakutensoku
*Shibusawa Eiichi, "father of Japanese capitalism," who practically invented Japan's modern banking system
*Masatoshi Ōkōchi, third director of the RIKEN (Institue of Physical and Chemical Research), who expanded scientific advances for commercial ends
*Noritsugu Hayakawa, founder of the Tokyo Underground Railway and subsequent father of the modern day Japanese subway system
*author and philosopher Ikki Kita
*Haruki Kadokawa, founder of the Kadokawa Shoten publishing company
*Karl Haushofer, who indirectly ifluenced Adolf Hitler's expansionist strategies
*legendary mystics Abe no Simei adn En no Ozumu
*the Feng Shui concept of "the Underground Dragon"
*the Capital Festival, which includes the Aoi Matsuri, the Gion Matsuri, and the Jidai Matsuri

I should also bring up that this is only part of what the book is supposed to cover, I believe. The entire story goes up to the year 1999, and that's quite a lot of history to cover.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Natsukashi- Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Just in case you missed the other thread, this is the Facebook page we are using to gain support for the translation of the novel into English.

Exposure of this novel outside of Japan is long overdue. The novel had a significant influence in J-pop culture, reigniting interest in "onmyoji" and other aspects of Japanese folklore. It helped pave the way for series like Baku Yamemura's ONMYOJI novels to explode onto the market. It's influence can be seen in a lot of modern Japanese media that DOES get exported over here...so there's really no reason English enthusiasts of Japanese pop culture shouldn't be aware of it. For J-history buffs, it should also be very interesting. It's kind of akin to Harry Turtledove's alternate history novels over here. I personally like to think of it as E.A. Doctorow's RAGTIME meets Bram Stoker's DRACULA in 20th century Japan.
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