At Home in Japan: A Foreign Woman's Journey of Discovery and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $21.95
  • Save: $3.70 (17%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 4 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
At Home in Japan: A Forei... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. It may be marked, have identifying markings on it, or show other signs of previous use.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

At Home in Japan: A Foreign Woman's Journey of Discovery Hardcover – May 10, 2010

27 customer reviews

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$18.25
$7.00 $5.21

Best Books of the Year So Far
Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2015's Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
$18.25 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 4 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

At Home in Japan: A Foreign Woman's Journey of Discovery + A Year in Japan
Price for both: $34.88

Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"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

"A wonderful book about an old Japanese house, a resourceful American woman, and how they come together to honor the past and forge a bright future. What Frances Mayes did for Tuscany, Rebecca Otowa just might have done for the Japanese countryside. Bravo!" —Leza Lowitz, author of Green Tea to Go: Stories from Tokyo
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Hardcover with Jacket edition (May 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4805310782
  • ISBN-13: 978-4805310786
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #823,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rebecca Otowa was born in Southern California and at the age of 12, migrated with her family to Brisbane, Australia. At the time, it was a quiet backwater, but pilot courses in Japanese language were offered at the local high school. Intrigued at first by the idea of writing Japanese characters, she took the course and followed it with a BA (Hons.) in Japanese at University of Queensland. Obtaining a scholarship from the Japanese Government, she arrived in Kyoto April 10, 1978 and has never left since! After getting an MA in Buddhist Studies from Otani University, she married her sweetheart, Toshiro, the 19th generation scion of a 350-year-old farmhouse in the Shiga mountains. The years since then have been a daily challenge, carving her niche in the village, attempting to live up to her mother-in-law's old-fashioned views of housewifehood, and finding beauty and interest in the house and its lovely natural setting. In 2009 she completed At Home in Japan, a collection of essays about her outer and inner life. Her other great love, drawing, is evident in the book, which is extensively illustrated, with a photo insert as well. She continues to draw and paint and write in her spare time, and to grow vegetables and roses, and read many books, including her favorite authors, Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, and Ursula LeGuin.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Austin H. Moore on May 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having myself lived for over two decades in Japan, with more than half that period being spent in an environment very similar to the author's, I was struck by the similarity in our experience and the fact that Ms. Otowa has taken note of some many important details that I had already forgotten.

There are many books about Westerners living unique lives in Japan, but this account is different in that it is written by a Western woman who knowingly gave up a great deal of her original self to become a very different and probably far more satisfied person. Certainly the sacrifices that Ms. Otowa made would be impossible for many women or men born in societies placing great importance on individuality. This makes the stories relayed in this book so interesting. Chapter after chapter I was reminded of many of the thigs that I too have given up (knowingly or subconsciously) and then shown how each of those 'losses' have been replaced by at least twice as many gains.

My house, like the Otowa Family's has a very long history and though I bought mine (rather than marrying into it), the descriptions and care shown by Ms. Otowa for her 'new' home and surroundings ring true. Readers who have never spent time in rural Japan may find some of the stories a bit hard to visualize through text alone. However, the author's hand-drawn illustrations and personal photographs go a long way to filling any gaps in perception.

Hopefully a Japanese translation will follow in the near future in order that Japanese who are so quickly losing touch with their cultural heritage can realize what is being lost before it is too late.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Erica Bell on June 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Like many reasonably educated women secretly would, I suppose, I picked up this book thinking, "Why would a Western woman consciously DO this to herself, move to a country where she is effectively effaced? Where she'll be gaijin forever?" And in several dozen vignettes, Rebecca Otowa never quite answers me.

Instead, her small gem-like meditations hint at a vast transformation based on seasons and rhythms of existence that even I, who live in the country, can only guess at. While we American women were creating prickly self-identities and fighting (we think) for our own place, Rebecca has been busy voluntarily subsuming herself into a graceful and very difficult stasis with a culture entirely antithetical to American sensibilities. That she's even half-succeeded is a miracle.

From her hard-won perch she observes this war--a war within herself. We know very little about Toshiro, her husband, or her two boys, and we don't need to. Unlike most Westerners, Rebecca knows her failings are her own. The book's beauty is--perhaps a little self-consciously--like "wabi sabi", the Japanese aesthetic of the irregular, impoverished or plain.

Interestingly, the result of her undated pieces--almost wholly without reference to the outside past, without a narrative chronological order--is a strange suspension: like a Japanese garden, her life could have been built yesterday, or 500 years ago. This beautiful antiquity is buttressed by Otowa's language: OUR ancestors, OUR house, OUR garden. I found myself shocked a little, and thrilled--in America, to claim ancestry of a race or group you patently are not of is....rude, disrespectful. But there I go again, thinking of the individual experience. See? I wouldn't last one day in Japan!
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Cha on May 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Rebecca has managed to accurately and honestly describe the nuances on life in japan. Being a foreign-born person living in a small Japanese country town gives her a unique insight.

Anyone who has spent time in Japan and who appreciates both its good and bad points will identify strongly, at some point or another, with Rebecca's account.

Her illustrations really bring the book to life--I only wish I could see the original full-color versions. (Hmmm, is there a web site, perhaps?)
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rockin' Oldey on July 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This woman is an absolute trooper for crossing into a complex culture, taking the most traditional role of a village housewife and mother. Few people would be comfortable in a small Japanese farm village where social customs stretch back hundreds of years, complete with communal plots, ancient festivals and obligatory religious and familial duties.

The simplicity of this book's language and serial, "short story" style of organization give it a grace and pace that echos the nature and depth of this author's journey. It is a fascinating personal account written with frank dignity, love and understanding.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on September 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Rebecca Otowa moved to Australia when she was twelve; here she met a Japanese man whom she eventually married, settling in his ancestral home in Japan. I can guess how challenging that must have been. I have many Japanese friends who moved to the US after marrying American servicemen; and, through their experiences, I know how difficult it has been for them to learn English, American traditions, and driving a car. I thoroughly respect Otowa's efforts to do the same in Japan. She tried diligently to learn Japanese traditions, ways of gardening, cooking, reading, writing, and speaking. She learned the art of wearing kimono while taking a course in the tea ceremony as well as how to behave while wearing it; later she wore one at her wedding.

This memoir, filled with poetic writing and descriptions, chronicles Otowa's progress in assimilating into Japanese society. About cherry blossoms in spring, she says, "The sweet five-petaled, papery whitish flowers, sewn together in the center with a cross-stitch of pink, nod and shimmer on long, fragile green bunches of stems standing out against the rough and flaky bark with its characteristic horizontal bands." Without cynicism, criticism, or whining, Otowa embarks on a journey of discovery, raising two sons in the process. She includes lovely pencil sketches of her home, gardens, tea sets, Japanese written characters with translations, flowers, and friends. In addition, there are photographs of Otowa's environment, family, wedding, and children.

Otawa writes about how she volunteers to help others adjust to Japanese life and compares it to the bed of seedlings that she transplanted from a small crowded flat to the big field: "I like to think that I have helped some of them too, as they put down their roots.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
At Home in Japan: A Foreign Woman's Journey of Discovery
This item: At Home in Japan: A Foreign Woman's Journey of Discovery
Price: $18.25
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: sho chiku bai