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36 Views of Mount Fuji: On Finding Myself in Japan Paperback – 25 Oct 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press; New edition edition (25 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822339137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822339137
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 16.1 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,060,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"No one could have tried harder to fathom Japanese culture [than Davidson]. The result is a series of illuminations not unlike the sudden break in the clouds that finally lets her glimpse Mount Fuji from the window of a bullet train." Francine Prose, New York Times Book Review "Appealing."--Francine Prose, New York Times Book Review "Quick-witted."--Elizabeth Ward, Washington Post Book World "Davidson is a droll guide and a questing soul."--Elle "Beautifully written."--Susan Allen Toth, author of Blooming: A Small-Town Girlhood "Luminous... Nuanced and passionate."--Booklist "[Davidson's] charmingly drawn word-pictures resonate."--Publishers Weekly "A delightful read."--Mary Catherine Bateson, author of Composing a Life "Brilliant, wise, and witty."--Louise DeSalvo, author of Virginia Woolf "A lovely book."--Marilyn French, author of The Women's Room "Davidson is a sensitive observer."--Atlanta Journal-Constitution "Perceptive, frank, and personal."--Library Journal "Superb ... a jewel."--Trenton Times "Honest and even-handed."--Lincoln Journal-Star "Brimming with understated emotion."--Virginian-Pilot and Ledger-Star "Top drawer."--Kirkus Reviews "Trust us. Try it."--New York Daily News

From the Author

Thank you, readers!
As an author of a book that has received wonderful reviews but will never be a bestseller, it is so gratifying that READERS are keeping this book alive by their eager, enthusiastic, and obviously vocal "word of mouth." We're now in the fifth (small!) printing--and it is because you are telling your friends, recommending it to your bookclubs, and on and on. Thank you. For those of you who liked _Fuji_, I have a new book coming out from Norton in April. With photographer Bill Bamberger, I'm publishing _Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory_, the story of what happened when a 103-year old family business was bought out by a conglomerate and then closed down. Bill's photographs (he was there for the final four months of the closing) are very moving. I profile six people (from the CEO to the only woman in the "rough mill" of the furniture factory) to try to understand contemporary macro-economics in human, intimate terms. The way this is like _36 Views of Mt. Fuji_ is that it again tells a large story by looking at small, personal encounters. Again, thanks for reading--and thanks for telling your friends. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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I dreamt Japan long before I went there. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Feb. 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had searched a long time for something readable--insightful but not academically dry-- about modern Japanese culture and found it with this memoir. The writing and storytelling are beautiful, honest, poignant, and funny. The author really takes you with her--from her fascination and even obsession with the Japanese culture to her ambivalence of ever feeling if she'll fit in. You feel like you are travelling with her, experiencing all the funny, touching, wacky things that she sees, as well as all the emotional shifts, decisions, etc. of someone trying to balance her cultural interests, academic career, and family. Any other author could be awkward about this, but she really does it naturally and subtledly, so it feels as though you are part of both her external and internal journey.
I don't know if I've ever read another book that has touched me like this one. I've tried looking for more books to learn about the Japanese culture and about personal experiences in Japan, but I doubt if I will find any more beautifully and sentimentally done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 July 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was one of those rare books where the author carefully draws you into her life, and you get to experience the full gamut of emotions that prompted the author to want to share her story. As she relates her story, you can feel her attachment for Japan and its people grow and suffuse itself into her soul until she will never again be just an American.
It gives more essential insight about the Japanese culture than many of the "What to Expect in Japan" type brochures offered by travel agencies. Instead of itemizing details on how a tourist should act in each situation, it allows the reader a glimpse into the way the deeply engrained rules of Japanese culture governs their interactions with other people. It shows how the personal emotions and feelings that are so openly displayed in the western cultures are just as real and personal in Japan, but are only shared with those few outsiders who cultivate a deep and personal trust with the Japanese.
It moves! the experience of Japan beyond that of beautiful temples and lush scenery, to that of understanding and loving the Japanese people and their country. It is recommended reading for the casual tourist, but it is much more than that for those who want to really experience Japan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Mar. 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am currently living in a small seaside city off the coast of the Japan Sea and have been living in Japan for approximately the same amount of time that Davidson lived here. I read Davidson's book when I first arrived here, when I was just as enamored with Japan as she was. Everything here was new, exciting and exotic. But now, a number of months later, I can't relate to this optimistic, sugar-coated view of Japan. This book is perfect for the tourist of Japan. But for anyone wishing to stay longer than three months here, this book presents a wholly unrealistic view of life abroad. Life in Japan is just that: life. Some days I want to stay here forever; other days I would leave in an instant, if I could. I would like to relate to the Davidson in the book who, despite her inability to learn the language and her rather short stay here, was able to create bonding relationships and form a complete, expert-like opinion of Japan. Yet I found this view of Japan (and all of the 36 other views) totally unrealistic and helplessly romantic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Aug. 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have shared many of the sensations she describes in this book: the way the most mundane conversations can seem like a great accomplishment, because they have been conducted in Japanese, for example. The impulse to speak Japanese whenever you try to speak any foreign language. The feeling that you are "becoming Japanese." Ms. Davidson does not sugar-coat life in Japan whatsoever, and in fact a major theme of the book is explaining why she doesn't live there. I would give it 5 stars except that for a short book, it is a little hard to get through. Some of the observations on life, death, marriage, and photography seem a little sophomoric or naive. But highly recommended nonetheless; it would be a great book to pack on an extended vacation in Japan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Jun. 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was given this book as a birthday present by a friend of mine who knows of my passion for Japan. It is the best description I have come across of my feelings of connection and ambivalence with that culture.
I really love this book. It has helped me to explore my relationship to Japan. Ms. Davidson discusses the contradictions she encountered there, and her efforts to come to terms with them. She also relates how her efforts to embrace Japanese culture and the things she connects with have caused her to create for herself an environment more Japanese than Japan, itself.
I relate to this book so much and salute you, Ms. Davidson, as a kindred spirit. Thank you for writing so candidly, and from the heart, about your experiences. Please write more!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 May 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Finally, a refreshingly balanced account of modern Japan free of tiresome cliches and prejudices. This is a truly enjoyable and entertaining book, not readily categorized, filled with perceptive and sympathetic insights into cross-cultural differences in general and Japanese/Western viewpoints in particular. Part travelogue and part autobiography, I recommend this book without qualification to anyone remotely interested in understanding modern Japan. You may be surprised to find yourself reflecting as much on your own cultural biases as on those of the Japanese.
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