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36 Views of Mount Fuji: On Finding Myself in Japan Paperback – October 25, 2006
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Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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- Harold M. Otness, Southern Oregon State Coll. Lib., Ashland
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I live in Japan, and the Japan the author describes just doesn't jibe with what I see around me every day. The author claims that her status as a university professor do not make her experiences special or unique. However as someone who has been in a similiar situation and now leads a more normal life, I say that it MUST. I also found her criticism of other foreigners unfair and prone to caricaturization. While there is value in observing the "ugly tourists" and those who have "gone native," it is also important to look inside to see if we can find any of those people inside ourselves. The author chooses not to, and comes across as somewhat elitist as a result.
I was confused by the author's representation of her linguistic skills. She often claims to have little language ability, but then she also claims to have complex communications with people who do not speak English. I had great difficulty justifying the two ideas, as my own experience has been that even when you think you know what is going on, you probably don't. And I speak, read and write Japanese quite well.
I had difficulty with her presentation of a Japanese man who has an outspoken, artistic, independent French wife as typical. I have known a few people like that, and while I'm glad they are my friends, I wouldn't dare try to pass any of them off as typical.
Finally, I got the feeling that the author wasn't really "going to" Japan as much as she was "running away" from America. In her book, Japan generally receives favorable treatment, while America is often criticized. The author seems to have a thinly-veiled Lafcadio Hearn complex, where she wants to replace her American identity with a Japanese one.Read more ›
She also brings some deep personal insights into her own life into the story that make this book so much more than a travelogue!!
This book was a treasure for me to read after just returning from another trip to Tokyo and having experienced many similar situation and discussions.
Ms. Davidson's love and appreciation of a culture and country that is so different from her own shines through out her writing. Her delight in new experiences, different ideas and her open, honest heart make this book a discerning and perceptive narrative.
For many gaijin, Japan is a middleclass paradise... safe, clean, polite, orderly, full of giri (reciprocity); an egalitarian meritocracy. The ultimate middle class experience. At first, Davidson falls in love with Japan but by her fourth visit, she sees it as a sad, depressing place. Her discomfort reaches a peak during a stay at her former host University's Practice House, an ersatz model Western home designed to be a laboratory for teaching young Japanese women Western manners, practices and protocols.
The Western, and particularly the American elite's disdain, if not outright contempt for what's left of the middle class is well known. Academic elites, in particular, loath their middle class students (while craving the middle class tuition dollars that pay their salaries). Davidson tells us about her family's failed efforts to participate in the middle class Chicagoland suburbia of the 1950's. She hates all of the mid-20th century middle class symbolism in her Japanese host's Western Practice House.
Davidson moves on to a job at an elite East Coast University, builds a fabulous Japanese house on a beautiful lakeside setting in the country, and leads a live that most Americans can only imagine. Ultimately, the author chooses to participate in the upmarket options that are only available to her in Elitist America instead of the living in middle class Japan. She makes the decision after a blinding flash of insight gained while vacationing in Paris.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I absolutely love it when I learn something new about something I thought was familiar, especially when it's wrapped in a well-written and captivating story. Read morePublished 6 months ago by D.Beyer
I adored this book as it provided insight into the intricacies of the Japanese way of life and society. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Mary Katz
She describes being in Japan as a gaijin and its difficulties and rewards. She has some very interesting stories of people and places she visits. Read morePublished 16 months ago by NC
The book discusses the author's 10 visits to Japan and how her view of the country changes over time. Because of this book, I bought another one about Japanese culture. Read morePublished on November 18, 2013 by Bookworm
Ms. Davidson writes well and bares her soul. Not that the book is dated, but keep in mind that it describes experiences from the '80's.Published on December 10, 2012 by César Chávez
Cathy Davidson's interwoven stories of her four extended trips gave me a glimpse of a far different Japan than most travelers see. Read morePublished on January 23, 2009 by Amazon Customer
What a nice book about Japan! I've read a lot of books on Japanese culture, mostly written by experts, but this author is totally green and speaks no Japanese. Read morePublished on November 14, 2008 by Lisa Mary
I liked this book. I've been reading a lot of expatriate Japanese travelogues lately and I admire the author for leaving ego and self-indulgence out of the narrative (not... Read morePublished on June 12, 2008 by jordan
If you are planning to travel to Japan, particularly for the first time, this is a good book to read, as it is an excellent guide to the complicated cultural differences you are... Read morePublished on May 6, 2007 by M. Feldman