In conversation with... Erin Niimi Longhurst

Hi Erin! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of Japonisme. Can you please briefly describe your book?

A: Thank you so much! To me, Japonisme is about the aspects of Japanese culture that I grew up cherishing, and wanted to share with people who might not have experienced it or heard about it before. It’s my attempt at capturing the words, feelings, and practices that have shaped my upbringing, and think that others might find inspiring or interesting as well.

Which aspect of Japonisme comes second nature to you in your daily life and which – on the contrary – do you have to make a more conscious effort to apply?

A: This is an excellent question! I think the chapters about food, and the appreciation of it, definitely comes second nature to me – I find cooking incredibly comforting, and love the social aspect around food and how it brings people together.

I think taking the time to appreciate the little things, that I touch upon in wabi-sabi and ikigai takes a bit more effort. Daily life is messy, and it’s sometimes hard to take those moments to appreciate the things that are around you when you’re stuck in a difficult situation.

Is there a traditional Japanese practice that you haven’t tried yet and would like to?

A: There are so many, but I think martial arts – things like Aikido, or Kendo (swordsmanship) are something I’d definitely like to explore at some point.

Having recently become addicted to it, I was attracted to the pages about Japanese confectionery. You have indicated your top four but which one wagashi could you definitely not live without?

A: Another excellent question! I think taiyaki, the little cakes that are shaped like fish but are filled with red bean or a creamy filling – I have a sentimental attachment to those.

What is your favourite place in Japan – and why?

A: Kamakura, where my grandparents would spend almost every weekend. It’s a seaside city just outside of Tokyo, and I have a deep personal connection to the temples there. I always say it doesn’t feel like I’ve come home until I’ve gone there.

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?

A: I’m working on a couple of little projects, all about food. I’ve had quite a mixed upbringing, and hope to focus on other cuisines that have influenced my life other than Japanese food. Everything is still early days, though, so can’t give too much away yet!

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. Does this somehow disrupt your writing schedule?

A: I’m lucky enough to work with a number of fantastic charities and organisations through my company, Social Misfits Media. Social media is what I do for a living, so it’s hard to get away from it sometimes! I firmly believe that social media is a tool for good, but it’s all about balance. I’m very good at restricting myself and limiting the time I spend on devices – I walk to work, so it forces me not to stare at a screen, for example, and plan times into my day when I don’t have my phone nearby. Taking proper lunch breaks, planning in time for exercise – it’s more about taking care of my mental health so I don’t get too overwhelmed by it all.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Just to get started, and not to overthink it! Like with anything, it definitely takes time – I wrote my blog for years before anybody read it really, but I did it because I enjoyed the process. Just keep at it.

Thank you for your time!
Japonisme was published by HarperCollins on April 19th and you can find it wherever they sell good books, online or offline.

Comments

  1. Great interview! I'll probably go check out this book as well to know more about Japanese culture :)

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  2. I found the book"A little book of Japanese contentment" at a little book shop in Hoboken New Jersey. It's a greatfull time with this book.

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