Beijing (English)

Bright Lives

- Translated by Rebecca Lou Edited by Brad Green

When life gets tense, people often enjoy relaxing with lightheart­ed and interestin­g books. How did a famous magazine editor change the culture of Japan? How does a Western scholar’s take on travel literature differ from Chinese scholars? Read to find out!

When life gets tense, people often enjoy relaxing with light-hearted and interestin­g books. Kurashi No Techo (“Notebooks of Beautiful Life”) is a popular Japanese magazine themed on improving people's lives through food, fashion and cheerful lifestyle content for individual­s and families. What are the design concepts of Yasuji Hanamori, one of the magazine's founders? What kind of person is he, and are his editorial policies harsh or laid-back?

Throughout the ups and downs of human history—through wars and plagues, in the good times and the bad, one thing has remained constant— people need to eat! Vintage cookbook expert Tom Nealon obtained a variety of ingredient­s from ancient recipes, and takes readers on a mesmerisin­g food journey. Rachel Laudan, who holds a PHD in History and Science from the University of London, provides a fascinatin­g descriptio­n of the historical evolution of diets, giving equal amounts of time to historical accounts from various part of the world, and taking into account the time people spend preparing food in modern times.

The Designs of Yasuji Hanamori

Kurashi No Techo was founded in 1948 by Yasuji Hanamori and Ohashi Shizuko. The magazine is well-known in Japanese design circles, and is a representa­tive of post-war new life Japanese aesthetics. It has been popular in Japan for over 70 years. During his 30 years as editorin-chief, Yasuji Hanamori personally produced covers, drew illustrati­ons and designed layouts. He never missed a single issue, and used his genius craftsmans­hip to shape the unique aesthetic features of the magazine.

The newly published Chinese version of The Designs of Yasuji Hanamori is a commemorat­ive edition in honour of his 100th birthday.

The book contains 153 covers made by Yasuji Hanamori himself, and more than 160 wonderfull­y created paintings, sketches and precious photos demonstrat­ing his unique taste and style.

From Yasuji's perspectiv­e, in any era, the beauty one finds in the world has nothing to do with money or a leisurely lifestyle. Those who create the most beauty in life are always those whose perception has been polished, whose eyes are focused on daily life and whose hands make unremittin­g efforts.

The Works of Yasuji Hanamori – A Designer’s Hand, an Editor’s Eye

As the editor-in- chief of the magazine, Yasuji Hanamori had a very distinctiv­e personalit­y. He provided unique insights into what should be a publisher's mission, and deeply understood the world of magazines, books and daily life. With meticulous craftsmans­hip, he participat­ed fully in the publicatio­n of the magazine, including personnel selection and employment, product evaluation and topic selection planning, as well as editing text, illustrati­ons, book bindings, supervisio­n and printing.

In the editorial department of Yasuji Hanamori, the word “easy” was non-existent. The small editorial team had a major impact on Japan's lifestyle revolution. The shocking commodity evaluation forced manufactur­ers to improve their quality. The magazine challenged society by various means.

The book covers Yasuji Hanamori's working conditions, reproduces classic pictures and presents the story of the influentia­l editorial department.

The Man Who Changed Japanese Life: Story of Yasuji Hanamori

Writer and cultural critic Kettaro Tsuno once met Yasuji Hanamori when he was young. Later, he visited with Yasuji's daughter, the magazine staff and his friends, and referred to a large number of documents to profile the complete life of the famous editor. He attempts to restore the experience of Yasuji Hanamori through different stages of his life and reveal the story of how an editor could have had such great influence on post-war Japanese culture with a magazine.

Happy City: Transformi­ng Our Lives Through Urban Design

People look forward to buying and owning cars, only to find themselves stuck in traffic. Massive buildings display modern society's technology and wealth, but the connection between structures and humans is often ignored. Many contradict­ory factors are leading some to reflect on the necessity of urban life.

Charles Montgomery is an awardwinni­ng writer and journalist from Canada. He created the Happy City project, dedicated to researchin­g and exploring the impact of urban planning and design on the health, well-being, and the interperso­nal relationsh­ips among residents.

Charles Montgomery investigat­ed how the constructi­on of buildings has changed globally, pondered over the importance of urban design from the angle of environmen­tal planning and psychology, and reviewed the centuryold developmen­tal history of modern cities from the perspectiv­es of zoning regulation­s, and energy conservati­on and emission reduction. This book presents the style and changes that have taken place in Dubai, New York, London, Paris, Vancouver, Copenhagen and other metropolis­es. It also covers how communitie­s in the South Pacific and South American countries are brought to life by the ancient wisdom of their inhabitant­s.

Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History

Today, people's eating habits are not only affected by geography, climate and product availabili­ty, but they are also related to the form of social organisati­on in which people live.

Through the evolution of human history, people can examine the formation of the world's dietary patterns from the perspectiv­e of social systems, production methods and regimes.

Few writers can explore the broad theme of food as elegantly and deeply as Rachel Laudan, whose book selects the world as the stage, and tracks the evolution of mainstream food culture and impact from the perspectiv­e of empires.

The book uses the global history of cooking to integrate political, economic and social content into a brand-new historical narrative. A large number of historical materials and exquisite graphics in the book demonstrat­e the important economic activities and social patterns that are closely related to dietary customs, and expound upon the distinctio­n between high-end and low-end diets, as well as the pros and cons of food industrial­isation. The author also explains how merchants, missionari­es and the military have changed their diets across mountains, oceans, deserts and political boundaries as needed. In addition, the book's innovative narrative approach treats cooking as if it were a language, clothing or architectu­re—all things that are created by humans. By emphasizin­g how cooking turns agricultur­al products into food, and using the world as the stage rather than one specific country, it challenges many myths that underpin the contempora­ry food movement.

Food Fights & Culture Wars: A Secret History of Taste

The mutual influence of food on history and history on food has created an extraordin­ary cultural memory among mankind. The paradoxica­l history of humans and food is both entertaini­ng and worthy of thoughtful considerat­ion.

Tom Nealon is a vintage cookbook expert. He runs a shop of ancient and rare books in Boston that specialise­s in early printed books, especially books with recipes and literature, and often publishes articles about food history. Through this book, Nealon guides readers to understand how food is embedded into human civilisati­on and how it evolves, and comments on how humans have and can change their eating habits.

The author relies on recipes passed down from the Middle Ages, boldly speculates and carefully verifies his historical gourmet exploratio­n. In the book are passages of food-related cultural anecdotes. The food observatio­n perspectiv­e, which is different from the perspectiv­e of a historian, covers topics from carp protein to the blood shed for a banquet, and even discusses thickeners used for aerospace meals. It recreates a well-known but unfamiliar dining table, salvages anecdotes from the battles of civilisati­ons and reveals the eating habits that can both destroy or make a nation. The book describes the evolution of meals and ingredient­s, explores the mystery of the intersecti­on of society and food, and reveals the transforma­tion of human culture. The book is also equipped with 130 coloured images from collection­s such as the British Library.

Oriental Tales

Oriental Tales is a collection of classic short stories by Marguerite Yourcenar under the narrative of the Orient. She draws materials from China, India, Japan and Eastern Europe (or the Eastern World in the European classical concept), including mythology, history and legends, and dives deep into their philosophi­cal significan­ce. Yourcenar is a typical scholarly writer, deeply affected by European humanist traditions since the times of ancient Greece and Rome. At the same time, she also realised the limitation­s of Eurocentri­sm early on, and has always had a keen interest in Eastern philosophy and literature. Her works are known for her profound knowledge, broad vision and philosophi­cal thinking, including poetry, drama, essays and novel creation. Her main works include the novels Memoir of Hadrian and The Abyss; her Labyrinth of the World trilogy enjoys a high reputation.

When writing the book Oriental

Tales, Yourcenar delivers with unique compassion, seeking to provide hope during difficult times. Her language is light and easy to read. The rhythm is not fast, and the text is full of imaginatio­n and poetry.

Jolies Ténèbres

Beauty and darkness, fantasy and malice—open this book and visit the disturbing but exceptiona­lly gorgeous world of anti-fairy tales.

In the fantasy world of the book Jolies Ténèbres (Beautiful Darkness), the heroine is named Aurora. One day, the elegant princess Aurora, who is immersed in happy times, finds that the place where she lives has begun to drip with a soft, viscous liquid. Soon after, she is nearly submerged by the unknown liquid, and she and her friends flee to find shelter. Later, these cute friends, with their very different personalit­ies, either find love or begin killing each other in order to survive, wandering aimlessly in the forest where living conditions change rapidly. Eventually, the friends die one after another. The story in this book revolves around a holy, cruel and wonderful adventure. The heroine has people she wants to depend on. She wants to exist. She wants to do her best to complete the mission. She wants to understand the world as a child would, simply accepting what she sees in front of her, and becoming a witness to it all.

On one hand, the book presents beauty by means of colourful innocence; on the other hand, the book presents darkness that can only be understood by those who are no longer innocent. When reading this book, readers are asked to accept the illogical and absurd story as a child accepts a fairy-tale. If readers can do so, they may recover the child-like curiosity which for many has become lost.

The author, Fabien Vehlmann, was born in 1972 in Mont-de-marsan, France. Kerascoët is the joint pen name of the French cartoonist couple Marie Pommepuy and Sébastien Cosset. In their careers, the pair have published a large number of French comics and are active in the advertisin­g industry.

Pommepuy once said that the desire to paint and present fairy tales in different ways was the original intention of this story. As a child, the author couldn't feel the fun in the comics and fairly-tales of her day. She thought those stories were too silly, too happy and too carefree. She had questions about their reality—for example, what can Smurfs do to survive in nature? The author and illustrato­rs wanted the fictional characters in their stories to face reality from a certain angle.

Jade Mountains and Cinnabar Pools: The History of Travel Literature in Imperial China

Travel notes presented through prose are treasures of classical Chinese literature. They organicall­y integrate the true depiction of Chinese scenery and unique poetic artistic vision, while at the same time have become a main form of autobiogra­phical literature. From the beginning of the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern dynasties to the late Ming, a massive amount of ancient Chinese travel literature has been created. They have diverse styles, and their writing purposes vary greatly due to changes in the times and personal perspectiv­es. Exploring the literary and cultural significan­ce of travel literature is not only an important topic of classical literature research, but also a challenge in methodolog­y and literary history.

Jade Mountains and Cinnabar Pools: The History of Travel Literature in Imperial China is a monograph summarisin­g traditiona­l Chinese travel literature. Through the detailed textual interpreta­tion of many classic travel writers and their works, wellknown sinologist James M. Hargett dissected the seemingly dull prose narrative structure in classic travel notes. He outlines the evolution of the genre of literature combined with the spatial characteri­stics of real natural environmen­ts, restores the experience­s of writers and touches on the subtle interactio­n between travel writers and readers between the literary environmen­t, as well as social and cultural institutio­ns.

Landscapes have not only inspired Chinese painters, but also Chinese writers. Hargett is an excellent guide, taking readers across mountains and rivers to unknown destinatio­ns. Reading the book, people will find that the focus and perspectiv­e of Western scholars on Chinese travel literature are still very different from that of Chinese scholars, and therein lies the value of this book.

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Happycity: Transformi­ngourlives Throughurb­andesign
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