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The Lady and the Monk

Four Seasons in Kyoto

Iyer, Pico

(Book - 1992)
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
The Lady and the Monk
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Random House, Inc.
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.

Baker & Taylor
An account of the author's stay in a monastery in Kyoto, Japan, in order to learn about Zen Buddhism, introduces readers to Sachiko--a well-educated, English-speaking, Japanese housewife locked in a traditional marriage but drawn to the author and to Western culture

Series that include this title

Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 1992
Edition: 1st Vintage Departures ed
ISBN: 0679738347
9780679738343
Branch Call Number: 952.1864 I
Characteristics: 337 p. ; 21 cm.

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May 11, 2011
  • achristinej rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Pico Iyer has painted a picture so romantic and moving I fought daily not to book the next flight to Kyoto. What wonderful control of the language! He moves us in and out of streams of consciousness, in and out of mysterious streets, new relationships and magical swaths of forests and land.

His social commentary on the roles of Japanese women, religious monks expectations and life in Japan is interesting, and readers will find parallels with social norms in the United States, though Pico tends to contrast them routinely.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Japan, travel writing, religious exploration, romance, and self-discovery.

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