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The Inland Sea Hardcover – 1971


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Weatherhill; 1st edition (1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0834800632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0834800632
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,578,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The author knows Japan better than any other Western writer. A hauntingly beautiful book." Oriental Economist -- Review --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Long considered a masterpiece of travel writing, Donald Richie's The Inland Sea is the journal-like record of a trip to the seafaring communities of central Japan. Aware of his foreignness, Richie delights in details and muses at length on food, romance, work, and human foibles. This new edition of The Inland Sea contains an introduction by Pico Iyer, a new afterword by the author, a map, and 18 images from the award-winning Inland Sea documentary. Richie wrote The Inland Sea some thirty years ago, but its themes of travel and the Outsider still endure, while its view of a Japan now nearly lost is both sad and indelible. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

This beautifully written book is one of the best accounts of Japan .
JohnJ
Donald Richie wrote a journal in 1962 which formed the ground work for everything in the book.
Ryan M. Parr
Honesty is a characteristic of Richie's writing, along with humor, insight, and detail.
Brian V. Hunt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Daniel C. Wilcock on December 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
I'm glad that this book has been re-issued. I purchased an original copy from the 1970s and it did not sit on my shelf for long before it was in my hands and burning its way into my head.
Richie has made a career writing about Japan, and this is without doubt a masterful travel book filled with germaine research. But it is also a 70's recreation of a trip the author had taken as a younger man.
Since years had passed between the actual travel and the book writing, Richie brings a great deal of his reflections on Japan overall.
Richie is a sensualist and is unabashedly honest about his humanity. He has an affair and finds himself falling into lust for an island girl. But his frankness is redemptive - he's probably telling the story that many authors would skirt around.
And whatever shortcomings the author may have in his life, he makes up for them with his compassion. He visits a leper colony and has empathy for a girl who has been cured but can never return to Japanese society.
The writing, like the photography, is impressionistic. Sometimes Richie will go into a ponderous tangent - such as the time he spends a couple pages talking about the beauty of Japanese skin -but the result overall is moving and somehow heartening.
And unlike the deluded Japan travel book (the Lady and the Monk) by the author of this book's introduction, this book seems real.
In fact, the cover of the original text from the 70s was the following text spread diagonally across the cover: "An intimate view of the "real" Japan by Donald Richie who reflects upon the total Japan experience while sailing the inland sea."
That's the best description possible of this worthwhile book.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Willie D on August 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
I really could not praise this book enough. It is one of my favorite books of all time and a truly astounding piece of "travel writing". However, this edition is a bit wanting.

The new afterward is very good but a bit sobering, confirming that, yes, to a large extent the place you have just read about is now dead as the dodo, all too effectively ending your "fever dream". Also, the new pictures are junk. They look as though they came from a Lonely Planet guide, whilst the original edition had beautiful, mysterious, haunting, high contrast photos that came across more like paintings.

Most puzzling is the page layout which consists of 2 columns per page, like a magazine article. Why? So it looks like something from "Outside" or GQ? Needless to say I preferred the musty tome from the library that read like some brilliant forgotten diary.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Sanchez VINE VOICE on May 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
One of the great values of this book is that it was written at the beginning of the 1970s, and thus shows a rural Japan even less influenced by the west than now. Richie travels from island to island within the Inland Sea of Japan. His insights and comments on the country are intriguing and entertaining. The reader is able to view this truly remarkable region of Japan through the eyes of a foreigner. Richie's language ability in Japanese allows him to become one with the Japanese in conversation (or at least as much as is possible for a foreigner in Japan to become one with the people), and his English writing ability keeps the reader full of emotions - from laughing to feeling lonely, to (perhaps for some) lusting after Japanese schoolgirls. This book really is beautifully written, once the reader gets used to Richie's sometimes abrupt style. This book is different from other travelougues about Japan because the author is not afraid to be honest with his feelings towards the country (though Alan Booth's works are worth reading). Anyone interested in the Japan of today or yesterday should read this book, because life in the Inland Sea is and was definitely distinct (if not better in many ways) from life in Tokyo or Osaka, today or yesterday.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A. Silverstone VINE VOICE on January 1, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Without a doubt, Donald Richie is the foremost Western interpreter of Japanese culture and society. In this reprinting, updated with an afterword, of Richie's travel around the Inland Sea more than 30 years ago, he has captured a world that was then disappearing and now almost gone. This reviewer is, admittedly, not a huge fan of travelogues. However, Richie's prose flows beautifully. The reader is able to see through his eyes and experience the isolated islands of the Inland Sea. Although there are some photographs, one does yearn for more. The map of Richie's journey is printed across 2 pages, and there is a bit lost in the middle. Nevertheless, these are minor problems. This book provides a glimpse and an insight to a part of Japan that was rarely viewed by Western eyes and it is almost too late to see the remnants.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ryan M. Parr on September 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
Donald Richie wrote a journal in 1962 which formed the ground work for everything in the book. In the 9 years until he decided to publish his journal/book, he reprised the journal with additional insertions, in which he sometimes took pieces of his experiences within Japan, that although they did not occur in the Inland Sea of Japan and during the time the journal was written, he nevertheless recognized them as very much a part of what he considers to represent Japan before modernization. Although it is unknown what exactly didn't occur within Japan's Inland Sea, it is undeniable that the book is a masterpiece of a travelogue that very much captures the essence of everything he specifically mentions. He may well have written the journal with the expectation of it being published eventually, once he was ready.

In many ways it is hard to think of it as a travelogue due to the fact that Donald Richie has already experienced half of his life within Japan, and what appears to be an individual reflecting much of his personal life into the narration. It comes across more as an journal written by an individual whom by this point into the published version has become established within Japanese culture and integrated his life within Japan, and is so able to absorb himself into his encounter, that a deeper visual presence of this world and his psyche emerges integrated into this work, that not even a well developed visual experience within cinema could do it justice.

Donald Richie has written many books on Japanese Cinema, namely Kurosawa and Ozu. His visual thinking style is very evident in this book, and I must mention he has a gift for visualization. Compared to Alan Booth, he appears to be far better at writing, and is a far more reflective an individual.
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