The Honorable Visitors

The Honorable Visitors (January 1994)
Donald Richie

The honorable visitors is a collections of Richie's stories of people's trip to Japan. They are all more or less famous, or at least famous in their own times, or possibly famous for coming to Japan during their times.

Some hated Japan (William Faulkner was under impressed and overly inebriated), while others loved it (Chaplin fell in love with the stage dramas). Overall this is a wonderful assembly of short stories describing the good and not so good visits of famous or artistic folks to Japan from around 1882 - 1982. 

The tale which held the most interest for myself was of Chaplin's visits to Japan. Chaplin, as mentioned above, simply adored Kabuki and Noh. He spent as much time as he could in the theaters of Tokyo and was taken their by some of the most important people in Japan, including Prime Minister Inukai and his family. However, he also had occasion to attend sumo matches, including the ones on May 15th 1932. It was during his time their, along with the Prime Minister's son, that The May 15th Incident occurred. 

For anyone unfamiliar, The May 15th Incident is when a coup d'etat was attempted and Prime Minister Inukai, a friend to peace and outsiders such as Chaplin, was assassinated by a right wing group hopeful of a war which Inukai was doing his best to avoid. 

Richie goes so far as to suggest that it is believed by some that the right wingers thought they'd get a two for one killing that night, with the world famous and beloved movie star killed also. Would that have sped up WWII? An interested piece of food for thought.

Another wonderful piece of writing by Richie, and although seemingly not in print currently, it is still cheaply available in used form, at least when I checked earlier today.

Highly recommended. Another bit of Richie beauty.

Amazon Japan