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on 8 December 2001
This book is a journey. It is written in a very personal way and the author shares his insights about Japan. In here you can follow the author as he discovers not only the country itself, but also its people, culture, traditions and history.
Instead of writing the book in a chronological way starting with old history and then describing the development to today's world, the author use his own learning experiences to take you on a journey and share his insights to the reader. You get to know a lot about everything from Kabuki to Art collecting and Calligraphy, from Kyoto to Osaka and about Japan in general and why it is so different. It also makes you think about the development, what is happening in a society and why.
After living one year in Japan myself, I can say that this book teaches you just as much in one read.
If you are curious about anything on Japan - buy it now!
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on 30 August 2005
This is not a book that will help you understand the Japanese, this is a book that will show you a very small glimpse of Japan, and its transformation over the past 30 or so years. The author had written his view of Japan in such a way that it doesn't feel like he is imposing it, it is almost like he is pushing you to go and find out for yourself create your own opinions and impressions. Alex Kerr is so descriptive that you can easily find yourself in the places he talks about, amongst the people, and the art works. It is a book that shows you the decline of some of Japan's most famous art forms, the lost countryside, the forgotten rituals, and yet it manages to make you fall in love with the Japan of today, it gives you a nudge in the right direction if you do want to find places that still have traces of the "Lost Japan". It's a touching piece of work
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on 30 December 2004
This is an out of the ordinary account of Japan written by an out of the ordinary man. Alex Kerr's delicate sensibilities and aesthetic obsession can make him initially difficult to relate to, but when you accept him as one on a perpetual quest for beauty, fascinated with the beauty Japan once held and dismayed by its loss, it is impossible not to admire him for his convictions and devotion and heed what he has to say about the state of contemporary culture in Japanese society.
The book acts as both a guide to various aspects of Japanese art, from caligraphy to roof-thatching to kabuki, each of which Kerr explains with a delicate touch from an insider's perspective, and as an account of his own life story, with examinations of various facets of his entanglement with Japan.
It left me satisfied at an immensely rewarding and reflective read, but eager to deepen my knowledge of the subject that Kerr has devoted his life to.
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on 10 August 2008
, Jul 15 2007
This book consists of what were originally 15 separate essays on different aspects of Japan, ranging from Kabuki to Osaka life, to the remote Iya Valley. The author, Alex Kerr, is an American who has spent most of his interesting and varied life in Japan. Each essay is based on his own experience, e.g., the years he spent backstage at the Kabuki theater, his experience as a businessman during the "bubble years" when Japan's economy was booming, and restoring a house in the Iya Valley.

While Kerr loves Japan, much of the book is very negative. He feels that Japan has lost much of what is valuable and unique in both culture and environment during the rush to rebuild in the post WW II years. The book ends on an artificial high note, almost as if the editor said, "Give me a positive ending!"

All said, Kerr's book is very worth reading. He offers a unique perspective, he is intelligent, thoughtful and readable.
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This is a short yet descriptive look at Japan and how it's culture and countryside has changed over the years. The author is obviously biased in that he lived in Japan and loves the country and laments the loss of those things he held dear, and there is nothing wrong with that. This is a personal account of life in Japan and the way it is changing and is an interesting, informative read. Well worth a read.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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on 10 July 2000
The author reviews most arts and social practices of Japanese traditional culture and shows us how most are declining. Alex Kerr's sensibility and his conviviality with the subjects provide us with first hand accounts of the facts and transmits the nostalgia he feels about "what was" this ancient culture. Very enjoyable.
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on 16 October 2003
reading this book is an invalubale insight into japan, filling you with the joy of the culture and the sorrow of it's demise, a wonderful taste of another life. Both inspiring and evoking, you can picture it all so clearly and can't help but wish you there to breathe in every experience. I would highly reccomend this book to anyone seeking out the lost culture of japan.
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on 17 September 2001
This is a delightful and well written book about the author's experience of, and personal take on, the way Japan has lost its way. It combines history and culture with anecdote and autobigraphy Well worth reading.
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on 28 November 2015
I lived in Japan for three years and this is one of the two best books I've read on the country. Marvelously insightful and very well-written, an absolute pleasure to read.
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on 19 April 2004
Not a bad book.If you plan to visit japan and want to know about their culture...don't bother with this book.it's all about the decline of art forms and how the writer laments their loss.It won't perpare you for the culture shock of Japan,and basically will give you little or no insight to current Japanese culture.
It's not a bad read however.You could read worse i guess.
Have a dig round though,this one is a bit over hyped.
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