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September 17 , 2008

Village Japan

Everyday Life in a Rural Japanese Community


In this elegiac account that is part travelogue, part memoir, British poet and writer Malcolm Ritchie recounts his and his wife's unforgettable three-year-sojourn in Sora, a remote farming and fishing village on the Japan Sea coast. Ritchie weaves together anecdotes, conversations, lyrical verses, and unforgettable character studies to vividly and hauntingly evoke the rhythms of life in a traditional rural Japanese community. Underlying this portrait is the author's growing awareness that the aged inhabitants of Sora and the surrounding villages are the custodians of a fragile, barely surviving, way of life, one that is still informed by the cadences of the natural world, under the tutelage of its ancient gods. The book is a paean to a once noble culture all but effaced by Western industrial/technological materialism-the "cultural carcinogens" of the West-which Asian countries such as Japan have all too willingly embraced. Always profound and moving, Village Japan pays lyrical homage to a side of Japan rarely experienced or glimpsed by foreigners today.

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