The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto

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When Pico Iyer decided to go to Kyoto and live in a monastery, he did so to learn about Zen Buddhism from the inside, to get to know Kyoto, one of the loveliest old cities in the world, and to find out something about Japanese culture today — not the world of businessmen and production lines, but the traditional world of changing seasons and the silence of temples, of the images woven through literature, of the lunar Japan that still lives on ...
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1991 Hardcover very good/near fine Four Seasons in Kyoto. 337 pp. very good/like new, dj is excellent; book looks new, has an odd little stain, top leaves, a spill of tea, ... perhaps; books is solid and clean. Read more Show Less

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Overview

When Pico Iyer decided to go to Kyoto and live in a monastery, he did so to learn about Zen Buddhism from the inside, to get to know Kyoto, one of the loveliest old cities in the world, and to find out something about Japanese culture today — not the world of businessmen and production lines, but the traditional world of changing seasons and the silence of temples, of the images woven through literature, of the lunar Japan that still lives on behind the rising sun of geopolitical power.

All this he did. And then he met Sachiko.

Vivacious, attractive, thoroughly educated, speaking English enthusiastically if eccentrically, the wife of a Japanese "salaryman" who seldom left the office before 10 P.M., Sachiko was as conversant with tea ceremony and classical Japanese literature as with rock music, Goethe, and Vivaldi. With the lightness of touch that made Video Night in Kathmandu so captivating, Pico Iyer fashions from their relationship a marvelously ironic yet heartfelt book that is at once a portrait of cross-cultural infatuation — and misunderstanding — and a delightfully fresh way of seeing both the old Japan and the very new.

After meeting the well-educated wife of a Japanese "salaryman, " Iyer fashions "a beautifully written book about someone looking for ancient dreams in a strange modern place" (LA Times Book Review)--one that is both a portrait of cross cultural infatuation--and misunderstanding--and a fresh way of seeing the old and the new Japan.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Iyer's travelogue about visiting Japan and living in a monastery is subverted by his encounter with a vivacious woman. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Iyer, author of Video Night in Kathmandu ( LJ 4/1/88), has written a lyrical fable about the Japan of both yesterday and today. He is drawn to Japan, he explains, because ``everyone falls in love with what he cannot begin to understand.'' He begins by traveling to a Kyoto monastery to study Zen Buddhism, which is part of his effort to ``get to the urgent truth.'' This leads him to a friendship with a bourgeois housewife named Sachiko, who is fascinated by the West. Iyer sets out to understand Sachiko and, by extension, Japanese culture. With his light touch for travel writing, Iyer selectively weaves the plaintive love poems and stories of Buddhist priests into his narrative. His sensitive treatment is recommended for most travel collections.-- Susan Fifer Canby, National Geographic Soc. Lib., Washington, D.C.
From the Publisher
"[Iyer] is a sharp-eyed and thoughtful observer, and he is successful in evoking the life of Kyoto's malls, temples, and back streets, moonlit nights on the water, and the vulgarity of the Westernized nightclub and amusement quarter." -- New Yorker

"Pico Iyers remarkable talent is enough justification for going anywhere in the world he fancies." -- Washington Post Book World

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679403081
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/24/1991
  • Series: Vintage Departures Ser.
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 352

Meet the Author

Pico Iyer
Pico Iyer
Pico Iyer was born 1957 in Oxford, England. He was raised in England and California.

Iyer is the author of several books about cultures converging, including Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, The Global Soul, and Abandon. His articles appear often in such magazines as Harper's, Time, and The New York Review of Books. He lives in suburban Japan.
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    1. Hometown:
      Japan

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