Originally published in Japanese as a call to preserve disappearing facets of Japan's rich and ancient culture, this book takes its inspiration from the 1960s classic, Hidden Hamlets by Shirasu Masako. Like Shirasu, Kerr travels to remote and lesser-known places around Japan where pockets of traditional culture can still be found. Some are faraway--like Aogashima Island, 200 miles south of Tokyo--while others are easy to reach, such as Mii-dera temple just east of Kyoto. The ten engaging essays in this book describe surprising remnants of Japan's fragile physical and cultural environment, including:
- Avant-garde Butoh dancing in the remote village of Tashiro in Akita Prefecture
- How shochu liquor is distilled from tropical ferns on the Pacific island of Aogashima
- An austere but delicious kaiseki meal in rural Tottori Prefecture composed of local herbs and meats
- Anecdotes relating to Kerr's childhood growing up in Japan and his passion for restoring old houses
- The damage caused by governmental infrastructure and reforestation policies, as well as by tourism
- Plus many other topics!
Kerr's sharp eye for detail and exquisite descriptions of Japanese, arts, architecture and foods will inspire readers who already appreciate his unique look at the "reality" of Japan beyond the romance. His personal involvement and obvious love for his subjects encourage us all to think more carefully about our own traditions and environment, and to challenge ourselves to search for better solutions to preserve what is of value all around us.
'A sharp-tongued spokesman for Japan's environment and traditions' â" The New York Times