Japan Through Writers' Eyes Edited by Elizabeth Ingrams see http://www.travelbooks.co.uk

‘This is a treasure trove of writing about Japan, as seen by numerous Japanese and foreign writers; it is a splendid introduction to the literature of Japan and the country itself. After reading it, you will want to go there, or do a degree in Japanese, or at least eat some raw fish. Elizabeth Ingrams has imposed order on her material by organising it by city of region … There is the appeal of the exotic and the recognition of the familiar.

The Tablet

‘Poetry, fiction and non-fiction excerpts from an impressive breadth of writers… The scope of the book is testament to Ingrams’ enthusiasm…a lyrical and informative journey throughout Japan… an inspirational treasure trove.’
The Japan Society Review

‘Classic snippets of beautiful writing.’
Wanderlust

‘Just as Lost in Translation extracts humour from present-day culture shock in Tokyo so did the Dutch voyager Engelbert Kaempfer in the 17th century. He had to approach the Shogun “crouching with head to the floor like a lobster” before “performing innumerable monkey tricks”… This lively anthology will be equally enjoyed by Japanophiles and the merely curious.’
The Independent

‘A feast of subjective observation. Vivid descriptions of what the authors see and experience make this an excellent primer for travellers who like to read up on their destinations. The best convey a good deal more than merely the visible and tangible… In this volume, Ingrams may have compiled the most far-reaching literary travel companion yet for these diverse and pluralistic islands.’
The Japan Times

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Eland £12.99 (336pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 0870 079 8897

Japan Through Writers’ Eyes, Edited by Elizabeth Ingrams

Reviewed by Christopher Hirst

Friday, 1 May 2009

Just as Lost In Translation extracts humour from present-day culture shock in Tokyo, so did the Dutch voyager Engelbert Kaempfer in the 17th century. He had to approach the Shogun “crouching with head to the floor like a lobster” before “performing innumerable monkey tricks”.

Sampling a Zen monastery in Kyoto in 1990, Pico Iyer found a more familiar milieu: “The cold showers at dawn, the sense of hierarchy, the beatings, the all-male rites” were “eerily the same” as “school in England”. Visiting a pottery, Kipling was astounded to see a man “who had been a month polishing one little vase. He would go on for two months.” This lively anthology will be equally enjoyed by Japanophiles and the merely curious.

Japan Through Writers’ Eyes talk was part of the UK-Japan 150 festival at 6.45pm on 19 March. It featured other writers on Japan: Lesley Downer, Timon Screech and Joanna Hunter, and there was a lively discussion afterwards which included a question on whether Checkov lived in Japan (he visited Sakhalin) and also a question about whether Will Adams the famous advisor to Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, recited Shakespeare on his ship as he sailed East.  The talk was held at at Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street (nearest Tube station Oxford Circus).  For more info visit:

http://asiahouse.org/net/