This is a truly amazing study. I read it for a class I was taking on medieval Japan. The professor warned that this book was very dense and difficult to read, but I thought - No problem! It's under 200 pages, I'm a fast reader, I like the subject.
So let me restate: this book is a DENSE read. Every sentence has deep significance, and don't be surprised if you have to reread paragraphs several times, even if you're used to memorizing things with a once-over.
That said, this book was so good that it gets 5 stars despite the difficulty of reading it. LaFleur deftly weaves together strands from medieval forms of Japanese Buddhism (specifically Tendai and Shingon) during the Kamakura and Ashikaga bakufus with earlier cultural tendencies from Heian times right through to the flowering of new cultural ideas in Tokugawa Japan. He does not shy away from appreciating art or fine points of theology on their own terms, but also does not hesitate to show how the two blended together and shaped one another.
I personally enjoyed the sections on the Hojo-Ki by Chomei more than his sections on No and Kyogen, but that's personal preference. You will also gain a new understanding of major poets and monks of the era, such as Chomei, Basho, and Zeami. Rather than try and define such difficult concepts as yugen, he illustrates them through use of those individuals and their own efforts at definitions.
Read a chapter at a time or all at once, a great book.