36 Views of Mount Fuji

36 Views of Mount Fuji – On Finding Myself in Japan
Cathy N. Davidson

Cathy and her husband Ted visit Japan for the first time in 1980 to teach book coverEnglish at Kyoto University. Expecting the typical Japan shown to the tourists, inhabited by flower-arranging geisha living in tiny wooden houses, they are shocked by the industrialized nation they encounter. However, they soon discover a Japan where tradition and modern life are not mutually exclusive. Although not everything can be changed (e.g., having open conversations even with friends remains difficult) and some plans fail outright (like permanently moving to Japan), it becomes clear that the couple have lost their heart somewhere in Japan. This book contains 16 encounters with Japanese culture – profane, funny, and embarrassing ones, but always personal – and describes also their aftermath.

On my way towards Japan, I try to gather as much info about the country and its people as possible. This means that I currently read anything I can find about Japan: history books, literature, travelogues, … This book is extraordinary. Cathy Davidson describes her experiences with Japan and its culture, both the good and the bad ones, with unromanticised candor. And still, in every word her love for the country is palpable, just as is her pain at the realisation she will not be able to live there permanently. Highly recommended!

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