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From the acclaimed author of The Art of Stillness--one of our most engaging and discerning travel writers--a unique, indispensable guide to the enigma of contemporary Japan.
After thirty-two years in Japan, Pico Iyer can use everything from anime to Oscar Wilde to show how his adopted home is both hauntingly familiar and the strangest place on earth. "Arguably the world's greatest living travel writer" (Outside). He draws on readings, reflections, and conversations with Japanese friends to illuminate an unknown place for newcomers, and to give longtime residents a look at their home through fresh eyes. A Beginner's Guide to Japan is a playful and profound guidebook full of surprising, brief, incisive glimpses into Japanese culture. Iyer's adventures and observations as he travels from a meditation-hall to a love-hotel, from West Point to Kyoto Station, make for a constantly surprising series of provocations guaranteed to pique the interest and curiosity of those who don't know Japan, and to remind those who do of the wide range of fascinations the country and culture contain.
About the Author
PICO IYER is the author of eight works of nonfiction and two novels. A writer for Time since 1982, he is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Harper's, The New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, and many other magazines and newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific. He splits his time between Nara, Japan, and the United States.
“With an elegant, understated manner, Iyer offers poignant reflections on his adopted country and its maddening contradictions and shifting parts . . . Subtle observations [that] reveal a great deal . . . Marvelously nuanced"—Kirkus Reviews
“Stitching together observations, statistics, and personal encounters with meditative precision, Iyer depicts a paradoxical culture that finds communion in silence, passion in solitude, and animation in lifeless objects . . . Candid and wholly absorbing, Iyer’s inventive guidebook is more than a collection of cultural curiosities—it’s a tribute to a nation that prizes social consciousness and sees life in temporality."—Booklist [starred]
“Having lived in Japan for decades, the widely traveled and erudite, Oxford-born Iyer presents this lovely pocket compendium of oddities and insights of Japanese life . . . Provocative and elegant, Iyer’s guide succeeds precisely because it doesn’t attempt to be authoritative.”—Publisher’s Weekly [starred]