Impishly provocative ... Rarely in any writing on Japan is provocation so elegantly and surgically performed ... Japan and the Japanese have long seemed to lend themselves addictively to interpretation by outsiders. By inviting all types of readers to see the flaws in that tendency from the outset, Iyer neatly sheds the burden of being right about everything while crafting a framework within which to enjoy the place -- Leo Lewis * Financial Times * [A] lovely pocket compendium of oddities and insights of Japanese life ... Provocative and elegant, Iyer's guide succeeds precisely because it doesn't attempt to be authoritative * Publisher's Weekly * With an elegant, understated manner, Iyer offers poignant reflections on his adopted country and its maddening contradictions and shifting parts ... Iyer's subtle observations reveal a great deal about what is beyond the surface of how some Westerners view the Japanese * Kirkus * Pico Iyer is a writer like no other, sui generis -- Jan Morris, praise for Pico Iyer To me [Pico Iyer] was the complete traveller - highly educated, humorous, detached, portable, positive, alert, subtle, a great noticer and listener, calm, humane and fluent in his prose. And he had been everywhere -- Paul Theroux in 'Ghost Train to the Eastern Star', praise for Pico Iyer Iyer's thoughtful nature leads him to peel back layer upon layer, nodding toward the infinite * New York Times Book Review * Candid and wholly absorbing, Iyer's inventive guidebook is more than a collection of cultural curiosities - it's a tribute to a nation that prizes social consciousness and sees life in temporality * Booklist *
After thirty-two years in Japan, Pico Iyer can use everything from anime to Oscar Wilde to show how his adopted home is both hauntingly familiar and the strangest place on earth. He draws on readings, reflections and conversations with Japanese friends to illuminate an unknown place for newcomers, and to give longtime residents a look at their home through fresh eyes.A Beginner's Guide to Japan
is a playful and profound guidebook full of surprising, brief and incisive glimpses into Japanese culture. Iyer's adventures and observations as he travels from a meditation-hall to a love-hotel, from West Point to Kyoto Station, make for a constantly surprising series of provocations guaranteed to pique the interest and curiosity of those who don't know Japan, and to remind those who do of the wide range of fascinations the country and culture contain.