The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyotoby Pico Iyer
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.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
"Pico Iyers remarkable talent is enough justification for going anywhere in the world he fancies." Washington Post Book World
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This is a beautiful book with incredibly evocative descriptions of Kyoto and Japanese culture. If you find it dense at first, persist until the story unfolds, opening doors to well-crafted passages on Zen Buddhism, Japanese society and a touching romantic relationship between the author and a Japanese woman.
So far! A beautiful vision of Kyoto and its surroundings. Iyer has a fantastic way with words and ideas. It follows a reading of Learning to Bow and both revel in the joy of children and Japanese women. Not done yet but am very anxious to see how the year comes about. It is fun to rethink the year Bruce Feiler and his role as teacher in the Japanese school.
I read this book several years ago and want to read it again because I am taking a course in Japanese Art History. This is one of my all-time favorite books - I love the author's descriptions of the Japanese people. He has such compassion and understanding. His experiences in Kyoto are so vivid and descriptive that I felt that I was there. I am re-reading this book because I have a strong desire to return to Kyoto and re-experience his times there. I was there years ago but didn't see what he did!! This is one fascinating author!