From Publishers Weekly
For almost three decades I have been the housewife, custodian, and chatelaine of a 350-year-old farmhouse in rural Japan, writes Otowa in her informative and delightfully illustrated memoir. In 1978, American-born Otowa came to Japan as a university student, filled with an exaggerated confidence in my paltry store of knowledge, undercut with a pervading suspicion that I didn't know as much as I thought I did. Four years later she married into a traditional Japanese family. The short but engaging chapters (none is longer than four pages) explore one aspect of her adopted life. But like any good essayist, Otowa wanders into wider country. In Comfort, she recounts the snuggly family comforts obtained from the continued use of the traditional kotatsu, a low table with a blanket or quilt spread over it and a heating device inside. In Sweets, she delves into the complex obligations attached to the painstakingly shaped, delicately colored, beautifully presented and ritually consumed edible forms. And in Bamboo, Otowa reveals the special spot, exotic as a unicorn, and as common as mud, the plant holds in her heart. Filled with personal insights garnered from years spent learning to fit into a radically different culture, Otowa gently illuminates what it means to discover your identity in a foreign land. (May)
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"Anyone interested in knowing what it is like to become fully immersed in another culture—yet always as an outsider—will enjoy this thoughtful account immensely."—Library Journal
"Pungent with sounds, tastes, colors and village and family lore...Otowa gives us a book of celebration, radiance, and renewal."—Japan Times