That’s a great day for me! The voucher copies to my Nippon trilogy The Discovery of the East Pole were sent to me and have savely arrived. Now it’s more than just eBooks.
In addition, I have set up an English website for the novel containing a summary and lots of background information for non-German audiences and publishers: www.east-pole.com. Enjoy!
I am very happy and enthusiastic that the Olympic Games 2020 will be held in Tokyo. Good choice! The place wil be mostly around the charming Komazawa Park in the Setagaya district where the first games were held in 1964. Here is a round-trip-video of Komazawa koen taken on a bicycle.
The German ebook-version of my Nippon trilogy ‘Higashikyouku no hakken’ is published in four books – three parts of the trilogy and one complete edition – in Amazon Kindle Shop, Google Play Store, Apple iTunes (coming soon) and more than 150 further ebook-shops. On www.entdeckung-des-ostpols.de readers may find many documents and pictures illustrating this very first ‘true historical fiction’-novel. There are alltogether 8 galleries with more than 400 pictures, among them pics about my life with Japan.
More about the story and the evolution of the script in this post.
I am very happy with the four “theme spheres” that I have created for the book covers. On the cover of part I you see the golden chrysanthemum, the seal of the Japanese emperor, on the cover of part II it is the shape of Japan on a map of the 17th century and the cover of part III shows a dragon painted by Hokusai. The cover of the complete edition also shows a picture of Hokusai, the famous ‘Great wave of Kanagawa’.
Part I: Shiboruto Part II: Secret Maps Part III: The Road to War
Cover of the complete edition of the Nippon trilogy
There is an excellent article by Gianni Simone in Japan Times about the challenges of learning Japanese, based on facts and testimonials of now experienced Nihongo speakers, “Tackling the Nihongo Mountain, by Strategy: from Base Camp to the Plateau and Beyond”. I agree with every single proposition in this essay. I am glad to read it right now as I am trying to brush up my Japanese. I encountered exactly the problems mentioned by Simone an her testimonials. I am strong in terms of vocabulary, grammar and even reading and writing kanji. But conversation in Japanese vernacular is something totally different, and in this respect my experiences with Japanese language learning at Waseda was frustrating – read my post “Some pieces of advice for ETP27”, especially the paragraph “Push your teachers to teach you colloquial Japanese!”
From the very first idea of writing this novel, it took 25 years to finish it. In 1987, I read the story of the German physician Philipp Franz von Siebold who went 1823 under Dutch flag and (false) identity to Japan. Within the port of Nagasaki, there was a tiny, artificial island called Dejima, and it was the only spot where foreigners – exclusively Dutch citizens – were allowed to live and entertain trade with the Japanese since the seclusion of the country two centuries ago. Siebold, called “Shiboruto” by the Japanese, soon became famous for his medical expertise and his broad knowledge in practically all western sciences, which he shared freely. He fell in a lifelong love to a young Japanese woman. Their daughter was to become the first female medical doctor in Japan. Find more about Siebold’s life and work on Wikipedia.
Philipp Franz von Siebold (*1796, †1866), drawing by Kawahara Keiga
The center, key and turning point of the novel is Siebolds acquisition of geographical maps of Japan through bribery and their subsequent smuggling to Europe. This was a fatal mistake. Japan’s natural shape was the best protection against the foreign naval powers that colonized almost all of Asia. The navigators did not have a single reliable map of the rough, rocky and steep Japanese coastline. It was extremely dangerous to cruise in those waters. The foreign powers even didn’t have a clue where Edo, the capital of Japan, is located. Siebold, who loved Japan and its people, was an ambitious man and wanted to gain reputation by offering these maps to the scientific community. Twenty-five years later, US-Commodore Perry held copies of Siebold’s maps in hand, when he entered the bay of Edo with his squadron of steamships. He proudly showed the maps to the shocked Japanese, thus letting them know that they were naked and had lost their natural protection. He threatened them to enter the port of Edo and to destroy the whole city – it was the biggest city in the world – with his impressive Paixhans guns, the first ones to fire explosive shells. Finally, he forced the Japanese 1854 to sign the Convention of Kanagawa. He did not formally “open Japan”, even if he thought so, and even if the story is told that way in all history textbooks around the world since this event (see my essay Rethinking the History of Japan II: The Myth of America’s ‘Opening of Japan’). The real ‘opening of Japan’ was reached by the Russian admiral Putjatin in an operation which is described in the novel as The Miracle of Shimoda (chapter). Nevertheless, the arrival of Perry’s so-called black ships marked the beginning of Japan’s incredible tragedy that ended in WW II.
The novel tells the entire story until August 6th, 1945.
About 95% of “The Discovery of the East Pole” is based on historical facts and persons. Thus, I believe to have written the first historical novel based on the principle of true historical fiction, a completion to true (contemporary) fiction as in Capote’s novel In Cold Blood. It offers a plethora of historical events, facts and developments that are mostly unknown to present-day Germany, Great Britain, Russia, United States and especially Japan herself.
The script is more than 900 pages or 1,75 million letters in size and devided into three rather equally large parts or books:
II. Secret Maps
III. The Road to War
I hope my agent will sell it to a powerful publisher, because I want to see it spread all over the world.
The bay of Nagasaki with fan-shaped island Dejima in 1830
By the way, David Mitchell, the author of Cloud Atlas, has written a nice historical novel on Nagasaki and Dejima around 1800, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. It is well researched and brilliantly written, but far less ambitious in terms of plot, historical truth, political background, philosophy and insight into the enigmas of Japan than Shiboruto. I consider my novel immodestly as the ‘literary opening of Japan’. When you read it, you will look beyond the thick veil of romantic, mystical and exotic stereotypes and illusions on Japan and discover something even more fascinating and beautiful.
I am happy to announce today, December 21st, the publication of my Uniqueness Hypothesis, a subject that I have been working on since 2004. This philosophical, astonomical, astrobiological and finally religious essay has been published in DIE WELT (which means “The World”), one of the major German newspapers, under the nice title “Endlich allein / Finally Alone“ . The subtitle says “The current state of human knowledge is that Life only exists on Earth. To accept this as a working hypothesis could be beneficial to sciences, religions and cosmonautics. A secular Advent meditation by a protestant on the occasion of the International Year of Astronomy, dedicated to pope Benedict XVI.”
My suggestion for a title was “On the Eighth Day of Genesis – The Uniqueness Hypothesis.”
Please find the essay in English and in full length here.
And this link will show you the German article in the more convenient pdf format:
Uniqueness Hypothesis Publication Germany WELT 091221