I’ve been absent from Frog in a Well for some time for reasons I explain here, so feel a bit rusty at this. But I was inspired by my receipt of the new University of Hawai’i Press catalog in Japanese studies (pdf) to write something. Full disclosure: I have published two books with the UH Press and hope to publish more, so mine is by no means an unbiased opinion, but I was really impressed by the depth of the offerings. I’m used to seeing interesting literature and cultural history books. For 2011, a number of historians of premodern Japan publish books that many of us have been anticipating for years. Andrew Goble‘s book Confluences of Medicine in Medieval Japan: Buddhist Healing, Chinese Knowledge, Islamic Formulas, and Wounds of War arrives this year, the first comprehensive exploration of medical history in medieval Japan. My sempai Haruko Wakabayashi publishes Tengu and the Rhetoric of Legitimacy in Medieval Japanese Buddhism, another book I’ve been looking forward to for years. In a similar vein is Hank Glassman‘s much anticipated The Face of Jizô: Image and Cult in Medieval Japanese Buddhism. Another sempai, Luke Roberts, has a new book out as well: Performing the Great Peace: Political Space and Open Secrets in Tokugawa Japan, a study of “spatial autonomy, ritual submission, and informal negotiation” in Tokugawa politics. Some similarly exciting offerings in early modern Japanese studies include Phil Brown‘s Cultivating Commons: Joint Ownership of Arable Land in Early Modern Japan and Timon Screech‘s Obtaining Images: Art, Production, and Display in Edo Japan. Many more titles can be found on modern subjects, including shôjô manga, girl’s culture, Ainu spirits, Western painting in Japan, Buddhist clerical marriage, parks, the Burakumin, Okinawa, and The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. This is just one slice of the various layers of our field, but its richness is encouraging.