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Paradise in the Sea of Sorrow: Our Minamata Disease

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An account of Minamata disease, which struck a small Japanese fishing village due to methylmercury poisoning of the sea. Originally published in Japanese in 1972, with this translated edition published by Michigan University Classics in Japanese Studies in 2003 (notes by Livia Monnet).


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An account of Minamata disease, which struck a small Japanese fishing village due to methylmercury poisoning of the sea. Originally published in Japanese in 1972, with this translated edition published by Michigan University Classics in Japanese Studies in 2003 (notes by Livia Monnet).

30 review for Paradise in the Sea of Sorrow: Our Minamata Disease

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Wren

    Michiko Ishimure writes: What kind of personality should a historian have or acquire in order to record this crime for posterity? What sources could grant him the strength of character, and the integrity needed in order not to be crushed by the load of the task, and by his consciousness of complicity? It will not suffice to say what Chisso did to those fisherman was just another form of ruthless oppression of the working classes by monopolistic capitalism. As a native of Minanmata, I know that th Michiko Ishimure writes: What kind of personality should a historian have or acquire in order to record this crime for posterity? What sources could grant him the strength of character, and the integrity needed in order not to be crushed by the load of the task, and by his consciousness of complicity? It will not suffice to say what Chisso did to those fisherman was just another form of ruthless oppression of the working classes by monopolistic capitalism. As a native of Minanmata, I know that the language of the victims of Minimata Disease – both that of the spirits of the dead who are unable to die, and that of the survivors who are little more than living ghosts – represents the pristine form of poetry before our societies were divided into classes. In order to preserve for posterity this language in which the historic significance of the Mercury Poisoning Incident is crudely branded, I must drink an infusion of my animism and “pre-animism” and become a sorceress cursing modern times forever.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Adhy

    A beautiful book with several key themes on the severe costs of Japanese postwar capitalism on human lives, and the moral decay of modern development and progress, indicative in the environmental (human and non-human) destruction caused by industrialization. Other key points: -the spiritual resources of the rural poor -labor unions' reconciliation with capital, at the expense of the most harmed -colonial legacies of Minamata's Chisso corporation, lack of remorse or sufficient compensation for fifte A beautiful book with several key themes on the severe costs of Japanese postwar capitalism on human lives, and the moral decay of modern development and progress, indicative in the environmental (human and non-human) destruction caused by industrialization. Other key points: -the spiritual resources of the rural poor -labor unions' reconciliation with capital, at the expense of the most harmed -colonial legacies of Minamata's Chisso corporation, lack of remorse or sufficient compensation for fifteen years since the onset of the disease, Minamata City's economic dependence on industrial capital -the alliance between corporations and government bureaucracy, from local to national levels -the absolute insufficiency of corporate apology and indemnities

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sydney

    Impressive not only for the information about mercury poisoning in Japan in the 1950s — a subject back in the mainstream since "The Cove" cam out — but also for the writing style. This is an early work of creative nonfiction or literary journalism comparable to works by Truman Capote or Gay Talese. Depressing subject matter, but amazing book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    Nobody browsing could possibly think to pick up this book without some sort of background knowledge. As readers, we are not commonly drawn to what we think to be another depressing ailment wafting from our toxic societies. That is exactly why this book comes recommended - it is in fact what Paradise in the Sea of Sorrow is all about, and Minamata Disease's status as "another depressing ailment" is the piquantly disturbing reality that pollution does not manifest simply as a chip bag festering in Nobody browsing could possibly think to pick up this book without some sort of background knowledge. As readers, we are not commonly drawn to what we think to be another depressing ailment wafting from our toxic societies. That is exactly why this book comes recommended - it is in fact what Paradise in the Sea of Sorrow is all about, and Minamata Disease's status as "another depressing ailment" is the piquantly disturbing reality that pollution does not manifest simply as a chip bag festering in the local pond but in madness and sorrow on immense and incalculable scales.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Norain

    Another book I abandoned. The issue is very interesting – mercury poisoning in Minamata in 1950s and the pursuit of compensation and lawsuit that dragged on for two decades – but they style of writing is hard for me to digest. Maybe I am new to Japanese style (but they said Ishimure Michiko used a different style from conservative writers so maybe I just cannot churn her style). The translator did quite a poor job too. I have seen this work by another translator and that translation, I believe, Another book I abandoned. The issue is very interesting – mercury poisoning in Minamata in 1950s and the pursuit of compensation and lawsuit that dragged on for two decades – but they style of writing is hard for me to digest. Maybe I am new to Japanese style (but they said Ishimure Michiko used a different style from conservative writers so maybe I just cannot churn her style). The translator did quite a poor job too. I have seen this work by another translator and that translation, I believe, was better.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Judith

    Very sad - and scary - so far. Don't get methyl mercury poisoning, you guys.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

  8. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Hubbell

  9. 5 out of 5

    Peter W

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  11. 5 out of 5

    Giulia Glave

  12. 5 out of 5

    Scout

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aditya Jain

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kaizafuro

  15. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Fedje

  16. 5 out of 5

    valvonauta

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rashmi

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey Colicci

  20. 5 out of 5

    Adele

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marina

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eoz Ud

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aurora Demasi

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eskha Winter

  28. 4 out of 5

    Annegret

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aditya Roy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Justus Johnson

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