I had the good fortune to find this book in a Japanese bookstore about fifteen years ago. I didn’t know anything about Alex Kerr, and I could not possibly imagine that years later I would be right next door to the backdrop of his own incredible experiences in Japan.
But Alex Kerr is not a typical “gaijin in Japan” (like yours truly). He is deeply bilingual, as in very knowledgable to the extent of handling himself in literary and artistic circles that deal with classical Japanese culture and language. He is highly motivated and fantastically resourceful as he set up an amazing traditional building, that couples as an inn, in the mountains of Tokushima.
As for this book, it is very interesting and holds throughout a warning and sense of urgency about the situation in Japan that seems to be slipping further and further away from the aesthetic and cultural elements that makes it unique, and original. The theme is furthered in another of his great books, “Dogs and Demons”, which was also a good read, and highly informative.
Alex Kerr still shows up from time to time on panel discussions and in the media. He splits his time between Japan and Thailand these days, but he is as relevant today as he was years back. Highly recommended reading!
Read both of these!