Friday, November 10, 2006

Book #43 - A Year in Japan

by Kate T. Williamson (Author and Illustrator)
Non-Fiction/Travel, 2006
Princeton Architectural Press, softcover, 182 p.
The Land of the Rising Sun is shining brightly across the American cultural landscape. But the only way for a Westerner to get to know the real Japan is to become a part of it. Kate T. Williamson did just that, spending a year experiencing, studying, and reflecting on her adopted home. She brings her keen observations to us in A Year in Japan, a dramatically different look at a delightfully different way of life. Avoiding the usual clichés -- Japan's polite society, its unusual fashion trends, its crowded subways -- Williamson focuses on some lesser-known aspects of the country and culture. In stunning watercolors and piquant texts, she explains the terms used to order various amounts of tofu, the electric rugs found in many Japanese homes, and how to distinguish a maiko from a geisha. She observes sumo wrestlers in traditional garb as they use ATMs, the wonders of "Santaful World" at a Kyoto department store, and the temple carpenters who spend each Sunday dancing to rockabilly. A Year in Japan is a colorful journey to the beauty, poetry, and quirkiness of modern Japan -- a book not just to look at but to experience.
What a beautiful book! I'm so glad I saw it mentioned on Love Made Visible. It didn't take long to read through, but the short written comments enhance the beautiful watercolour illustrations perfectly. Living here, as I do, I found myself often nodding in understanding, but it was nice to see Japan through her eyes. A reminder of many of those things that I don't even think about as being specifically Japanese now, I'm so used to them. A book to keep and browse through often.

My Rating: 4/5

Illustrations © Kate Williamson
See more illustrations at
Kate Williamson's website.

1 comment:

  1. I saw this book on another blog as well (can't remember which one) and I put it on my Christmas wishlist. It looks lovely!


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