I heard a report on NPR about the new Google-Adobe font that will be available for the major Asian languages. Ken Lunde, who wrote “CJKV Information Processing: Chinese, Japanese, Korean & Vietnamese Computing” which has been one of my most turned-to books, My ears pricked up while listening to Marketplace on Monday when Kai Ryssdal has a brief segment that announced a new font that Google and Adobe collaboration on that will make Asian text more consistent. See “New Google-Adobe font makes Asian scripts consistent, and that’s a big deal.” I really like fonts,Asian languages andI contracted at Aldus before Adobe bought them in the late 1980’s shipping products  like PageMaker 3.02 for Japanese and PageMaker 4.0. I focused on high-end printers at the time.

All that reminded me of a book I bought years and years ago, “日本字デザイン” published in 1958. I was fascinated by application of Western typography design to traditional kanji. Here are a few select pages of this book.

 

I’ve collected books since I was a child. I have way too many books, but even as I cull them, they seem to increase in number. I love bookbinding as a hobby and I’ve made a few small books in my time, mostly hinge, post, or Japanese stab bindings. I adored the Japanese drama “ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖” (Biblia Antiquarian Bookshop) which is a delightful mystery and reverence toward books. Ayame Goriki as the proprietor of an used books store with in depth knowledge of books and literature and Akira as her employee who struggles to read. Each episode revolves around one book or series of books and a real world mystery.

I was thrilled when futurelearn offered a course “Japanese Culture through Rare Books” from Keio University. it is in Japanese with subtitles. It is easy to follow with my 2 years of college Japanese with the subtitles. I created a flashcard set on Cram for the terms in the course to include language learning as well.

I’ve listed my favorite Korean and Japanese dramas. Now here’s my take on Chinese language dramas, focusing on my favorite genres of historical and fantasy (or better yet, historical fantasy) dramas.

First is the 2015 Taiwan drama The Crossing Hero (仙剑云之凡)  starring Jiro Wang(汪東城)as a modern day detective who gets mixed up with two imperial military guards from the Ming Dynasty played by Bruce Xie (謝孟偉) and Hu Yang (胡洋).

Next I watched the Chinese take on the Korean drama “My Love from Another Star” which was one of my favorites (not to mention very, very popular in China. My Amazing Boyfriend (我的奇妙男友) is a similar, but not identical story starring Korean fashion model Kim Tae Hwan (김태환]) in his first acting role as an immortal, rather than alien. I watched the story and thought it was an interesting adaptation, but I found the heroine played by Wu Qia (吴倩) to be extremely annoying and petulant.

Now I am in the middle of Scarlet Heart (步步驚心). I planned to watch the upcoming Korean version Scarlet Heart Ryeo (달의 연인 – 보보경심 ) but started to watch the Chinese (2011) version and was hooked. The story of a modern young woman cast back to the Qing dynasty during the Kangxi Emperor’s reign. My son calls this “who’s that prince” since there are so many of them vying to become the crown prince and next emperor.

I started watching a current Chinese drama Yun Zhi Fan (仙剑云之凡) based on the Taiwanese video game The Legend of Sword and Fairy (仙劍奇俠傳) in part because the costumes looked great and Elvis Han (韩东君) was adorable in his purple wig. This drama hasn’t finished, but it is enjoyable.

Last week I posted about Korean dramas. I also love Chinese and Japanese dramas. Japanese is by far my best Asian language as I had the opportunity to attend school there and I am currently studying Chinese partly for work and partly for my master’s thesis on computer-aided language instruction. Any Korean I know is either from Kdramas or my son, who studied Korean at University (although I did learn hangul for fun.)

I remember how much I loved the Taiga drama (大河ドラマ) drama Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康). I left Japan long before the series completed and have long wished to see the end. Japanese television isn’t outside of anime is not as accessible as Korean or even Chinese TV, often only on sketchy streaming sites. There are several Japanese dramas that I particularly enjoyed on some of the mainstream services.

The most charming was Atelier developed by Fuji Television for Netflix. Mirei Kiritani plays Mayuko Tokita a young women just hired to work for an exclusive lingerie shop called Emotion in Ginza owned by Mayumi Nanjo (Mao Daichi). It reminded me of “The Devil Wears Prada.” Highly recommend it.

Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo (イタズラなKiss: Love in Tokyo) is based on the manga “Itazura Na Kiss” written by Tada Kaoru. There are drama versions in Korean, Chinese, and even Thai as well, but the Japanese is by far my favorite. It is extremely charming and Honoka Miki and Yuki Furukawa as the leads are adorable. The Japanese first and second seasons are available on Crunchyroll, Viki, and DramaFever.

Another beautiful and slightly intellectual drama is Antiquarian Bookshop Biblia’s Case Files ( ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖) based on novels “Biblia Koshodo no Jiken Techou” novels written by En Mikami. Beautiful Shioriko Shinokawa (Ayame Gouriki) is the owner of an antiquarian bookshop who solves literary mysteries each episode along with dyslexic Daisuke Goura (Akira). There is  list of the books in the series on DramaWiki. There is a related Japanology episode on used book shops in Japan and another on  宮沢 賢治 (Miyazawa Kenji) that tie in nicely with the series (you can find these on japanologytv.) The series is available on Crunchyroll.