As of 1897, Lafcadio Hearn had already published several books eloquently introducing Japan to the English-reading world, capturing an unfamiliar glimpse of the country and its culture at a critical juncture during the Meiji years in the process. What was there left to glean? A rich harvest, in fact. "Gleanings in Buddha-Fields" is an elegant and evocative and yet imminently informative collection of diaphanously linked essays. The variety of Hearn's points of focus flow with a peculiar rhythm all his own--literature, travelogue, folklore, or the oxygen-thin heights of Buddhist philosophy--but the undertow remains his abiding interest in Japanese religion and spirituality in its many differing manifestations. From themes of karma and rebirth in contemporary love poetry and working songs to heady explications of Nirvana and Emptiness, from the old cultural capital of Kyoto to the bustling commercial center of Osaka, Hearn unfolds this topic delicately in a seemingly rambling roundabout manner in rich (sometimes just a bit overly so) language crafted to entertain, inspire, and perhaps even enlighten. Many works written about Japan by Westerners in Hearn's time hold interest nowadays merely as historical fossils of cultural interaction and tend to be embarrassingly unreliable, something not true of Hearn and his work here, combining as it does a scholarly knowledge unusual in his day, a keenly discerning eye just as rare today, and most of all a genuinely deep and abiding regard for the nation he ended up adopting as his own.