36 Views of Mount Fuji

36 Views of Mount Fuji

On Finding Myself in Japan

Book - 1993
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Baker & Taylor
A witty and honest travel memoir delicately reveals the seductive essence of Japan, from a Buddhist funeral to a glimpse of the "Floating World" of the geishas, while chronicling a personal journey of self-discovery. 20,000 first printing. Tour.

Blackwell North Amer
In 1980 Cathy Davidson traveled to Japan to teach English at a leading all-women's university. It was to be the first of four journeys, and the beginning of a deep and abiding fascination.
Cathy Davidson had imagined a Japan of rock gardens with raked sand, of delicately arched wooden bridges and glowing paper lanterns. She was not prepared for the grim modernity of Osaka with its garish billboards and dingy concrete apartment blocks. Yet gradually another Japan revealed itself to her - one of rituals and communal baths, of temples with rice-paper walls, of pleasures that are subtle and lasting and deep emotions expressed without words. Even more unexpected, this Japan suggested to her secrets about herself. Spirited and dazzlingly original, 36 Views of Mount Fuji is at once a look at the seductiveness and disappointments of being a stranger in a strange land, the memoir of a deeply personal interior journey, and a poignant meditation on whether we can see things clearly only at a distance.
Paying homage to Hokusai's famous series of woodblock prints, Davidson depicts a series of intimate moments and small epiphanies that together make up a panoramic view of Japan. With wit, candor, and a lover's keen eye, she tells captivating stories - from that of a Buddhist funeral laden with ritual, to a routine health exam at which she commits every possible faux pas. She spends an exhilarating, sometimes baffling evening touring the "Floating World," the sensual demimonde in which salaryman meets geisha and the normal rules are suspended. On a remote island inhabited by the last matriarchal society in the world, a disconcertingly down-to-earth priestess leads her to the heart of a sacred grove. And she spends a few unforgettable weeks in a quasi-Victorian residence called the Practice House, where, until recently, Japanese women were taught American customs so that they would make proper wives for husbands who might be stationed abroad. There, in a virtual parody of American fifties suburbia, unsuspecting young women ate pot roast, mashed potatoes, and Jell-O salad; slept in American bunk beds; and were treated to recordings of Mel Torme and Perry Como. Davidson effortlessly segues from comical anecdotes to sobering ruminations on the nature of the American family and of Japanese womanhood.
36 Views of Mount Fuji not only transforms our image of Japan, it offers us a stirring look at the very nature of culture and identity. Often funny, sometimes liltingly sad, it is as intimate and irresistible as a long-awaited letter from a good friend.

& Taylor

The author recounts her experiences living and teaching in Japan, and describes how experiencing Japanese culture gave her a new perspective on her own

Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Dutton, c1993.
ISBN: 9780525937074
Branch Call Number: 915.2 DAV
Characteristics: xvi, 295 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.


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Nov 19, 2012

It's so easy to fall in love with Japan, as Davidson shows.


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